Tutanota vs. ProtonMail: which is the better secure email service?

Tutanota vs Protonmail

For those in the know and protective of their privacy, Tutanota and ProtonMail are the industry leaders in “secure email.” Both have an excellent reputation built on guarding user emails from prying eyes – even their own eyes.

So which one is better. Let’s take a side-by-side look at Tutanota vs. ProtonMail to see which one is better in general—or better for you.

Tutanota vs ProtonMail: security and privacy

Both services offer excellent security and privacy – it’s their entire selling point. Both offer end-to-end encryption that even they don’t have the keys to decrypt.

Tutanota encrypts more spaces within its ecosystem, but we give a slight edge to ProtonMail. ProtonMail has a restrictive spam filter, complete anonymity, and RSA 256-bit encryption compared to Tutanota’s 128-bit protocol. ProtonMail also benefits from Switzerland’s excellent attention to privacy.

TutanotaProtonMail
EncryptionRSA 2048-bit, AES 128-bit, no PGP, encrypted subject lines,
calendars, and address books, perfect forward security
RSA 2048-bit, AES 256-bit, OpenPGP
AnonymityIP addresses stored, but hiddenNo IP address stored
PrivacyProtected by German law, 14 Eyes,
company commitment
Protected by Swiss law, company commitment
Spam FilteringPermissiveRestrictive

Winner: ProtonMail

Encryption

Tutanota offers end-to-end symmetrical encryption—RSA 2048-bit for user-to-user emails, AES 128-bit for user-to-non-user emails. Even Tutanota can’t decrypt your messages. The service uses the same algorithms as PGP, but their process enjoys several advantages over PGP in that it encrypts subject lines as well as the email body. It also offers perfect forward security, meaning hacking a past session doesn’t give a cybercriminal access to future sessions. Tutanota also encrypts your address book and your calendar.

protonmail openpgp settings
ProtonMail OpenPGP settings

ProtonMail also uses end-to-end symmetrical encryption—RSA 2048-bit for user-to-user emails, AES 256-bit for user-to-non-user emails. It uses OpenPGP, an industry-standard email encryption algorithm that has several weaknesses mentioned above—no encryption of subject lines, and no perfect forward security. Like Tutanota, ProtonMail’s encryption prevents even ProtonMail itself from decrypting it and reading your messages.

Anonymity

Tutanota stores IP address information with its messages, but it anonymizes that data, making it very difficult if not impossible for anyone to trace the message back to the user without hacking the industry-leading encryption.

Meanwhile, ProtonMail offers complete anonymity to its users. In addition to end-to-end encryption, it strips messages of IP addresses, making it completely impossible for anyone to trace the message back to the user, at least using the IP.

Privacy

Tutanota is a German company. Germany is one of the “Fourteen Eyes” alliance of intelligence-sharing countries, but emails that pass through Tutanota are protected by the German Federal Data Protection Act, which prohibits the use or collection of personal data without express permission or a law that specifically allows it. 

ProtonMail is headquartered in Switzerland, with servers hidden under a kilometer of granite, safe even from a nuclear blast. Famously neutral and independent, Switzerland has some of the best privacy laws in the world, and ProtonMail’s parent company is very privacy-focused.

Spam filtering

Tutanota offers an intelligent spam filter with parameters users can use to identify spam and filter out unwanted messages. While they are constantly making improvements, user feedback tends to identify Tutanota’s spam filter as not restrictive enough. Users may have to blacklist emails they don’t want to see.

tutanota settings screen
Tutanota settings

ProtonMail offers an intelligent spam filter with parameters users can use to identify spam and filter out unwanted messages. While they are constantly making improvements, user feedback tends to identify Tutanota’s spam filter as too restrictive. Users may have to whitelist emails they do want to see.

protonmail spam filters
ProtonMail spam filters

Tutanota vs ProtonMail: features

Different features will be valuable to different users. ProtonMail has the advantage of ProtonVPN in its priciest plan, but we’re giving this close race to Tutanota thanks to the availability of encrypted calendars in every plan, even the free plan.

FeatureTutanotaProtonMail
AutoResponderYes (paid plan)Yes (paid plan)
Custom DomainsYes (paid plan)Yes (paid plan)
Secure Form CodeYes (pricey add-on)No
VPN SubscriptionNoYes (highest plan only)
Custom CSSNoYes
Secure CalendarYes (free)Beta only

Winner: Tutanota

Features that both secure emails have

For paying users, both Tutanota and ProtonMail offer an autoresponder and custom domain aliases. When it comes to secure calendars, Tutanota gives it for free while ProtonMail is still in the beta stage of this solution. Therefore, this micro-battle goes to the former secure email.

tutanota main screenshot
Tutanota interface

Unique features

The most interesting feature is Tutanota’s SecureConnect. It allows you to implant Tutanota code into your website to create a contact form with the same security and privacy as Tutanota itself. This is a niche feature, and an expensive add-on not included in any plan. Companies that want to receive secure messages from their website visitors, however, may find SecureConnect invaluable.

What separates ProtonMail from Tutanota is its VPN subscription. It’s becoming more common to see secure emails bundled together with other online security solutions, such as password managers or file encryptors. In this case, ProtonMail’s Visionary plan includes a subscription to ProtonVPN, which privacy-minded users should consider anyway.

Some of ProtonMail’s paid plans also include ProtonMail Bridge, an app that runs in the background and automatically encrypts or decrypts messages in applications that support IATP or SMTP. This is probably of limited use to most users, just like the CSS customization functionality.

Getting back to more widely-used features, we find that Tutanota has a native desktop application. In contrast, ProtonMail can only be accessed by webmail or using a third-party email client.

Tutanota vs ProtonMail: pricing

While the free plan is more restrictive and the packages more expensive, we still give this one to ProtonMail. The a la carte model of Tutanota leads to sticker shock and analysis paralysis – once you start adding features, your plan gets complicated and pricey. Despite the higher price tags, ProtonMail offers valuable features within each package that more than justifies the cost.

TutanotaProtonMail
Pricing SchemePackage + add-onsPackage only
Price Point€€
ValueGoodGreat

Winner: ProtonMail

Value for the price

Tutanota offers a free plan with 1 GB of storage. It also offers a €1.20/month Premium plan, a €4.80/month Teams plan, and a €7.20/month Pro plan. Slight discounts are available for annual plans. It is worth noting, however, that Tutanota uses an a la carte approach, with services able to be added. This allows the users to customize their plan, but popular features can quickly erase the savings enjoyed by Tutanota users.

ProtonMail offers a free plan with 500 MB of storage and a limit of 150 emails per day. The paid plans range from €5/month for Plus, €8/month per user (up to 5,000 users) for Professional, and €30/month for Visionary. While these prices are higher and the menus fixed, both the Professional and Visionary plans offer powerful and comprehensive feature packages. Visionary, for example, includes a free subscription to ProtonVPN. Tutanota doesn’t offer anything close to this value, even in the Pro plan.

Tutanota vs ProtonMail: storage and attachments

With no advantage in attachment size, this match goes to ProtonMail based on storage. Yes, the free plan offers less data, but the data offered to the paid plans run circles around Tutanota’s data allowance.

TutanotaProtonMail
Free Storage1 GB500 MB
Paid StorageUp to 10 GBUp to 20 GB
Attachment Limit25 MB25 MB

Winner: ProtonMail

Data allowances

Tutanota offers 1 GB of storage for the Free and Premium plans, 10 GB of storage for the Teams and Professional plans. Tutanota limits attachments to 25 MB.

ProtonMail offers 500 MB of storage for their Free plan, 5 GB of storage for the Plus plan, 5 GB per user for each user (up to 5,000 users) for the Professional plan, and 20 GB of storage for the Visionary plan. ProtonMail also limits attachments to 25 MB.

Tutanota vs ProtonMail: ease-of-use

Both Tutanota and ProtonMail are reasonably easy to use. The winner, however, is ProtonMail. We were impressed by its ease of setup, useful settings, and third-party integrations.

TutanotaProtonMail
SetupThree steps, TOS acceptance, 64-digit recovery codeTwo steps, verification
InterfaceResponsiveFeature-rich
Performance and speedFast and strongFast and strong
App integrationsNative desktop app, no integrationsMany popular integrations

Winner: ProtonMail

Setup

Setting up a Tutanota starts by clicking the “Sign Up” button in the upper right-hand corner of every page. You will be presented with an assortment of plans to choose from. If you select the “Free” plan, a window pops up notifying you that Tutanota limits users to one free plan each.

The next page asks you to create your username (i.e. your email address) and create and confirm your password. Two checkboxes verify your age (16+ per German law) and your acceptance of the terms of service.

The next page takes you to your recovery code, a 64-digit code that authorizes you to change your password and second factor. Save it carefully, or the loss of your credentials could lock you out of your account, permanently! You’re then taken into a login page and can access your new inbox.

Tutanota recovery code
Tutanota recovery code

The ProtonMail setup process is lightning-quick and easy. Upon clicking the “Sign Up” button, on every page next to the “Sign In” button, you will be taken to a page with dropdown menus from which to select your plan. The “Plus” plan is automatically unfurled, but you can easily select “Free” above it, “Professional” or “Visionary” below it.

Once you select your plan, you will be directed to a simple, one-page setup screen, asking for your new username, password with dual confirmation, and recovery email. Click “Create Account,” and you will be taken to a verification page, where you can choose Captcha, SMS, email, or phone verification. Captcha is probably the quickest. Verify your account, and that’s it! You’re ready to start customizing your inbox.

User-friendliness

Tutanota is remarkably easy to use. It resembles many other email inboxes, making it intuitive and easy to navigate. The interface is also elegant – it’s responsive and fun to use.

ProtonMail doesn’t lose out on this front – it’s also very user-friendly and intuitive. It loses some points, however, from a home screen that includes a huge prompt to upgrade your account. ProtonMail has a lot more settings, though, including custom CSS import.

ProtonMail custom filters
ProtonMail custom filters

Performance and speed

Tutanota sends and delivers mail quickly and reliably. Service was interrupted during a 2020 DDoS attack, but overall performance is excellent.

ProtonMail also exhibits excellent speed and performance, with no noticeable delays or interruptions in service. ProtonMail also offers excellent attachment upload speed and transfer. However, the Preview Panel is a little slow to load, since this is the step at which the message gets decrypted in ProtonMail.

App integrations

Tutanota’s proprietary encryption has the side-effect of negating the ability to integrate it with third-party email clients. This may not matter to many users, since Tutanota includes a native desktop app, but people who love Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail may be disappointed.

ProtonMail integrates with the most popular third-party email clients, including Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, and Mozilla Thunderbird.

protonmail integrations
ProtonMail integrations

Tutanota vs ProtonMail: customer support

ProtonMail is the clear winner. By offering a larger subreddit, a more useful knowledge base, and direct email support even to free users, it far surpasses Tutanota in terms of user support.

TutanotaProtonMail
Knowledge baseDecentExcellent
SubredditBigMassive
Email supportPaid plans onlyAll plans (escalated service with paid plans)

Winner: ProtonMail

Knowledbases and email support

Tutanota offers a Subreddit and a user knowledge base. It also has direct email support, but only for paid users.

ProtonMail offers direct email support, even for free users. Free accounts supposedly have “limited support,” meaning longer wait times can probably be expected, but it’s better than nothing. It also has a larger Subreddit, as well as a knowledge base that is much easier to search and navigate.

Verdict

  • Privacy and Security: ProtonMail
  • Features: Tutanota
  • Pricing: ProtonMail
  • Storage and Attachments: ProtonMail
  • Ease of Use: ProtonMail
  • Customer Support: ProtonMail

Both Tutanota and ProtonMail are excellent mail applications, but ProtonMail stood out in many categories. While we give Tutanota the slight edge on feature selection, we slightly preferred ProtonMail for privacy, security, pricing, storage, attachments, and ease of use. Where ProtonMail really outshines Tutanota is customer support, which matters more than people sometimes give credit for.

It was a close race, but our pick in the Tutanota vs. ProtonMail side-by-side comparison sweepstakes: ProtonMail!

FAQ

Is Tutanota better than ProtonMail?

Tutanota is dead set focused on maintaining your privacy, while ProtonMail is more interested in private email service. It means that they’re trying to be easy to use and comfortable services, while Tutanota sacrifices convenience for anonymity.

Can ProtonMail be traced?

For people on the outside, there’s no way to track ProtonMail. However, if you get in trouble with law enforcement, they will cooperate. ProtonMail is not a neutral service. The service developers clearly state that they do not want to be a criminal’s email provider. Which means that you can potentially become traced.

Is Tutanota open-source?

Tutanota doesn’t use third-party code on the principle that it would be hard to make sure the privacy claims. Their source code is fully documented on GitHub, so if you want to make sure how some elements work, you can do it.

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