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Free Email Account Options

We all use email. Every single day. But, with so many options out there, what email provider is the best from amongst them all?

This article is not going to give you the answer; nope, I’m not that nice. All that I am going to do here, is to list the options that I would suggest, with all the pros and cons, so that you can make an informed decision.

Having said that though, it is always advised to doublecheck information before taking it as fact. What am I saying? I am saying that errors and ommitions may occur and that I am not to be held responsible if you choose a really crappy provider instead of a better one, due to reliance on this article.

Ways of accessing email

There are two main ways to access your email:
1 Via email clients
2 Via the web, also known as webmail

We are going to look very quickly at these two methods of accessing your email.

Email Clients

Email clients are software applications that you install onto your mobile phone, tablet or computer itself to manage the email you send and receive. To access this email, the client interacts with a remote email server.

Email clients you’ve likely heard of include Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Apple Mail.

If you want to access this type of email from the web, rather than the client’s computer application, the email client uses one of the email protocols described below. For example, although you might have Outlook installed on your computer, you can also log in to your email account via outlook.com using a specific email protocol.

Webmail

Webmail is a form of email you access exclusively from the internet, and therefore it exists primarily on the cloud rather than your computer. Instead of an installed application fetching your email, you manage your inbox right from your internet browser. This means that you will have to go to the website of the webmail provider by typing in the address, e.g. www.GMail.com.

Webmail providers you’ve likely heard of include Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL (all of which have made the list of free email accounts to choose from below).

If you want to access your webmail from a mail app on your mobile device, rather than your desktop web browser, your webmail provider can use one of the email protocols that I will be describing next.

Email Protocols

Email protocols are the systems that actually retrieve your email for you. They can be used to fetch email client accounts on the internet, and fetch webmail accounts on a mobile app. Here are the three main types of email protocol your account can use.

  • POP3
    POP stands for “post office protocol,” and is best suited for people who have just one email account and email client. POP3 is the latest version of this email protocol, and allows you to access email while offline. It therefore requires less internet bandwidth.
  • IMAP
    IMAP stands for “internet mail access protocol,” and is one of the older email protocol available today. IMAP4 is considered the latest version, and unlike the POP protocol, you do not download your email to your offline email client. Instead, all your email stays online while you’re accessing and managing it.
    IMAP is particularly useful for people who have more than one email account and access them from multiple devices or locations.
  • Exchange
    Exchange is a Microsoft email protocol, and is pretty similar to the IMAP protocol explained above. This protocol allows you to not only access your email over the internet from multiple devices, but also tasks, calendars, and contact information tethered to that email address. For this reason, it’s particularly helpful to organizations whose employees share many types of information and collaborate remotely.

Finally, can we already get to the list of options, please?

Now, take a look at the collection of free email service providers listed below that you can get your hands on today – both webmail and email clients included. For each email service provider, I highlighted the pros and cons and gave my own opinion on the services, to help you find the best fit.

AOL

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: people who use email for most of their communication.
Email address format: example@aol.com, example@aim.com

Dating back from 1993, America Online (I feel nostalgic just typing those words) has quietly kept up with today’s standards for a good user experience. The classic AOL is now once again one of the best free email accounts available to you.

Purchased by Verizon in 2015, AOL offers an email service from its classic news-driven homepage, and comes with the contemporary spam filters and virus protection you’d expect from your email provider. You can also send text and instant messages from specific windows in your email inbox.

AOL does have something over Gmail, though: unlimited storage. Additionally, you can import email contacts from a CSV, TXT, or LDIF file so you’re not creating your “buddy list” (get it?) from scratch.

Pros

  • Can import email contacts from a CSV, TXT, or LDIF file.
  • Unlimited storage space
  • Polished user interface
  • Spam and malware protection
  • POP3, SMTP, and IMAP support

Cons

  • Can’t attach files from online storage sites (only your own local computer).
  • Lots of ads.
  • You can’t create email aliases
  • Missing filtering settings supported by other providers.
  • Uncertainty as to what features will remain available in the free version.

CTemplar

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: people who value privacy, doesn’t need more than one email address and send and receive sensitive information.
Email address format: example@ctemplar.com

CTemplar is a secure email platform that claims that they are not connected to or controlled by a government or publicly traded entity. They use advanced encryption and security protocols. Their website is open source and protected by Iceland’s world leading privacy laws.

Pros

  • End-to-End Encryption using Open Source Cryptography (Contents, subjects, attachments and contacts)
  • Benefit from the World’s Strictest Data Protection Laws: Iceland. It has zero sharing agreements and maintains the strictest data privacy laws in the world, so your data stays encrypted on our servers and nowhere else.
  • Anonymity and Zero Access to Your Data. Our industry leading “Hash & Salt” technique guarantee even we do not know your login information. We do not store your IP logs, which can be traced to your anonymous email account. Your privacy is guaranteed with CTemplar.
  • Simple-to-use Interface: Simply send and receive your emails, just like a regular email account, and rest assured knowing your privacy is 100% secure.
  • Their code is Open Source: you can check at anytime:
  • Onion Site Address: http://ctemplarpizuduxk3fkwrieizstx33kg5chlvrh37nz73pv5smsvl6ad.onion/

Cons

  • Not much is known regarding this service

Disroot

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: Anyone who wants a free, open-source, secure, simple and easy-to-use email service with productivity and communications tools bundled in an Office-style web service for private usen based on principles of freedom, privacy, federation and decentralization.
Email address format: example@disroot.org

Disroot is a free secure email provider based in the Netherlands. Although free email services, especially those without premium options, are generally not recommended, Disroot is an exception. The service was set up in response to the lack of similar services and is run by volunteers, supported by donations.

There’s not just email here; Disroot has a comprehensive range of productivity and communications tools bundled in an Office-style web service. Unlike many of their peers, Disroot is open-source, decentralized, and some of their services are federated, too.

Services provided:

  • Email
  • Cloud
  • Social Network
  • Forum
  • Chat
  • Documents
  • Spreadsheets
  • Paste Bin
  • File Upload
  • Search Engine
  • Polls
  • Project Board

Although there are many reasons to use open-source software, most people do so because of what it stands for. To them, the open-source community represents the freedom and ideals of the early internet, before large companies came to dominate the sector. Disroot is part of this movement, expanding beyond open-source into decentralization and federalization.

Federalization is a popular feature of alternative social networks, allowing different services to communicate with one another. However, Disroot’s email service remains resolutely private. The service has been operational since 2015, although usage is hard to pin down as the company doesn’t keep track of active users.

In fact, the company hopes to know as little about you as possible. Disroot’s Privacy Policy explicitly states that they only collect essential data needed to provide you with their services. They do not sell it, analyze it, or access any of your stored data. Where Disroot falls short of the other providers on this list is encryption.

Disroot is not end-to-end encrypted, nor are your emails encrypted on the server. According to their Privacy Policy, all emails are stored in plain-text, unless you have manually encrypted them using PGP or GPG. There are no mobile or desktop applications either; you can only access your account through their webmail client. However, Disroot does support IMAP and POP3 so that you can access your emails through third-party apps.

Federation and Decentralization

Most internet services are run from centralized point owned and run by corporations. These store private data of their users and analyze it using advanced algorithms in order to create accurate profiles of their ‘users’. This information is often used to exploit the people for the sake of advertisers. Information can also be obtained by governmental institutions or by malicious hackers. Data can be removed without warning due to dubious reasons or regional censorship policies.

A decentralized service can reside on multiple machines, owned by different individuals, companies or organization. With federation protocols those instances can interact and form one network of many nodes (servers hosting similar services). One might be able to shut down one node but never the entire network. In such a setup censorship is practically impossible.

Think of how we use E-mail; you can choose any service provider or set up your own, and still exchange emails with people using another email provider. E-mail is built upon a decentralized and federated protocol.

These two principals, together, sets up the backdrop for a huge network that depends on a rather simple infrastructure and relatively low costs. Any machine can become a server and be an equal participant in the network. From a small desktop computer at your home to a dedicated server or racks with multiple servers. This approach provides the possibility to create the biggest user owned global network – just as the Internet was intended to be.

Pros

  • Free 2gb cloud storage.
  • Mailbox size is 1 gb.

Cons

  • Not meant for business use.
  • No mobile apps.
  • Email is stored in plain text.

GMail

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: anyone who already uses and loves the rest of Google’s products or uses Android.
Email address format: example@gmail.com, abc@googlemail.com, abc+xyz@gmail.com, abc.xyz.pqr@gmail.com

When it was launched in 2004, Google’s email service shook up the whole industry: For the first time in history of free email, a provider offered users an inbox size of 1 GB. This marked the beginning of a head-to-head race between free email providers as to who could offer the most storage space; a race that still continues today. In line with this, the launch of Gmail has also seen storage space become a decisive factor in this competition. The result of this is that more free email providers, along with larger inboxes, are also offering cloud services when it comes to file storage. This means that Google can now offer a total storage capacity of 15 GB across all the connected Google services, including Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. The maximum size of email attachments has also increased in proportion to this growth, and now stands at 25 MB.

GMail also supports the use of your own domain and is currently the second most popular email provider, according to Litmus Labs.

Yes, Google’s GMail has reached over a billion users and become the global leader in email services.

It is an everyday email inbox you can sign up for by registering for a Google account.
But it’s built into Google Suite, a group of free apps that allow you to chat, video-conference, and share files with the people in your contact list.

You can also use your Gmail address to log into and manage your YouTube account, as well as collaborate on shared documents and spreadsheets right from a cloud-based Google Drive.

It is accessible through web and using third-party programs and can be accessed via mobile apps on devices running iOS and Android.

Gmail does everything it can to make your inbox less chaotic, including advanced filters that automatically push emails into separate folders as they arrive. And none of these functions costs a dime.

Gmail is used for personal as well as business communications.

Pros

  • 15 GB storage space
  • It is accessible from any device.
  • Reliable
  • Polished mobile apps
  • Advanced features
  • Undo Send for emails.
  • Email forwarding.
  • Powerful search.
  • Provides security with two-step verification.
  • Supports many keyboard shortcuts.
  • You can use it in offline mode as well.
  • Native File Collaboration
  • Integration into the Google universe
  • Many possibilities re. settings and personalization.
  • Clear and well-organized user interface.
  • Apps for Android and iOS.
  • Supports S/MIME and TLS encryption.
  • Security/Privacy: Gmail offers an optional “confidential mode” when you send emails. This mode restricts the recipient from forwarding, copying, printing, or downloading emails sent with this feature. Confidential emails can be given expiration dates and force SMS passcode requirements to open the email.

Cons

  • At times it gets slow in loading.
  • Data protection policies vague
  • Server locations unclear
  • Managing different folders and labels can be somewhat confusing for novice users.
  • Lately, down time has been experienced in South Africa where the full service was totally offline.

GMX Mail

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: people who need multiple emails with one central inbox.
Email address format: example@gmx.com or example@gmx.us

While you may not have heard of GMX Mail, it’s been around for quite a while (since 1997) — and it has a bunch of features that make it worth considering. First off, GMX offers 65GB of storage. That’s a lot of storage for a free email service. In fact, they claim that allows you to keep nearly half a million messages in your Inbox!

Another feature worth noting is the ability to send large attachments. While many services have caps for your email attachments, GMX Mail allows you to send files up to 50GB. That’s great if you share a ton of photos, presentations, or other large files from your account.

But the feature of GMX Mail that really sets it apart is the ability to set up to 10 alias email addresses all from within one account. This can be useful in many situations — both personally and professionally. On a personal note, you could use one alias for all of your online purchases and logins — to keep marketing emails separate from your personal messages. From a business perspective, multiple email addresses can be useful for managing role based emails such as support@yourdomain.com or sales@yourdomain.com.

Pros

  • Up to 65 GB email storage
  • Top-quality security, including antivirus, email encryption, and an intelligent spam filter
  • 50 MB email attachment limit
  • Multiple email account management.
  • You can attach a file from online storage.
  • It provides a free online calendar.
  • Mobile apps for your smartphone so you can keep up with emails on the go
  • Free online storage of 2 GB is provided.
  • Up to 10 alias addresses in one account

Cons

  • No two-factor authentication is provided. This means that there is a chance that your email account can get accessed from an unauthorized device.

Guerilla Mail

Visit website:
Who should use it: Anyone looking for a disposable temporary E-Mail address
Email address format: example@sharklasers.com, example@Guerillamail.info, example@grr.la, example@Guerillamail.biz, example@Guerillamail.com, example@Guerillamailblock.com, example@Guerillamail.de, example@Guerillamail.net, example@Guerillamail.org, example@pokemail.net, example@spam4.me

Guerrilla Mail is a free disposable email address service launched in 2006. Visitors are automatically assigned a random email address upon visiting the site. Email is kept for one hour before it is deleted.

No personal data is required to create an account, but if you’re still worried about it being traced back to you, Guerilla Mail will let you send anonymous messages without an account. Another great feature is their self-timing messages, which means that any messages you recieve last an hour, for extra protection against breaches.

Pros

  • Useful to receive email from potential spammy websites.
  • Absolutely free.

Cons

  • Not a permanent email address solution.
  • Not intended for serious wistle blowers or those wanted by the authorities.

iCloud

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: people who use Mac and want everything on one system.
Email address format: example@me.com or example@icloud.com

Launched in 2011, iCloud is by far the best email service provider for Mac users.

If you’re a Mac user, you may want to consider using iCloud Mail as your email provider. Their free email account comes with 5GB of storage that you can use to sync your photos, files, or email. It’s important to note that storage is shared between all of your apps and devices — so if you take a lot of photos on your iPhone, you may eat into your email storage allowance for the month. Upgraded plans start at $0.99/month and go up to $9.99/month.

One of the biggest advantages of using iCloud over other email providers on this list is the ease of integration with Apple products. Apple builds its desktop and iPhone mail apps with all email clients in mind, but it pays special attention to making the experience delightful for iCloud users.

Pros

  • It provides cloud storage for documents, photos, and music and allows you to download these files on iOS, Mac, and Windows devices.
  • Easy access to many products or services like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
  • It allows you to share files up to 5 GB.
  • Free online storage of 5GB.
  • Easy to use search functionality
  • easy-to-use rules
  • The ability to label senders as VIP. When a contact is marked as VIP, new messages will automatically filter to a separate tab on the left, saving you both time and energy.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are supported.

Cons:

Inbox.lv

Create free account
Visit website
Email address format: example@inbox.lv

Powered by kaspersky, inbox.lv provides you with 10 GB free space for all those emails. It also includes Anti-virus and Anti-spam protection.

Straight forward service.

Pros

  • 10 GB storage.
  • Simple to use.

Cons

  • No guarantees regarding privacy.
  • Very little is known about the service so, would not recommend it for business use.

Mail.com

Create free account
Visit the website
Who should use it: small businesses, freelancers, and the self-employed.
Email address format: It will allow you to select a custom domain from a big list of options.

It doesn’t get more self-explanatory than “Mail.com,” does it? This email provider knows its audience – or should I say, audiences.

Right off the bat, you’ll probably notice Mail.com doesn’t have stellar storage space compared to the options above: only 2 GB. But what this webmail service lacks in gigabytes it makes up for with … drumroll … more than 240 free custom domain names. You can replace “@mail.com” at the end of your username with just about anything that describes you. Here are some options Mail.com has precreated for you to choose from:

  • example@mail.com
  • example@email.com
  • example@myself.com
  • example@dr.com
  • example@cheerful.com
  • example@rocketship.com
  • example@catlover.com
  • example@Toothfairy.com (who knew she was online?)
  • example@Bartender.net
  • example@Musician.org
  • example@Columnist.com
  • example@Engineer.com
  • example@Accountant.com
  • example@programmer.net
  • example@photographer.net
  • example@teachers.org
  • example@secretary.net

Just imagine, there’s more than 230 plus options to select from. Good luck.

Mail.com also provides features like Virus protection and Spam Blocker. The mail collector feature gives more flexibility to its users.

Pros

  • It offers unlimited email storage.
  • It allows you to select a custom domain name from a list of 200 names.
  • It provides 2 gb of free online storage.
  • Mail Collector feature allows you to collect emails from other accounts.
  • Facebook integration.
  • Reliable virus protection and a spam blocker.
  • Message forwarding.
  • Import and export of data in ics and CVS formats.
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.

Cons

  • No two-factor authentication provided.
  • Ads in the web interface.
  • No free pop3 and IMAP access in the free version.

Mailfence

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: people who value privacy, doesn’t need more than one email address and send and receive sensitive information.
Email address format: example@mailfence.com

Mailfence is a free secure email service from the creators of ContactOffice. Following the Snowden revelations documenting US government surveillance, ContactOffice felt there was a need for a privacy-focused email service.

Their servers are in Belgium, and, as with many European countries post-GDPR, the country has strong privacy laws. These regulations usually favor the consumer rather than the company, strengthening protections. Unlike some countries—namely the Five Eyes nations—there is no evidence to suggest Belgium collaborated in the NSA surveillance schemes.

One concern when choosing a new digital service is whether it will remain operational for years to come. ContactOffice was started in 1999, and so the company has proven longevity. They also earn operational funds for Mailfence by licensing the software to businesses. To do so, they need to keep their software proprietary, so, unfortunately, Mailfence is not open-source.

An account also provides access to calendars, contacts, and document storage. Free accounts come with storage space for 500MB of emails, 500MB of documents, and one calendar. Entry, Pro, and Ultra accounts upgrade this storage and add additional features. Bolstering their privacy-focused credentials, you can even opt to pay for your account using Bitcoin.

For many years, there was no Mailfence mobile application. However, in January 2021, the company launched a progressive web app (PWA) for the secure email service. Rather than building dedicated apps for Android and iOS, the company opted for a device-agnostic approach.

This also aligns with the company’s pro-privacy stance. Rather than comply with the demands of Apple and Google’s policies, anyone with Chrome or Safari installed can access the app. Using the PWA, you can send and receive encrypted emails, access other Mailfence services, and interact with your private or group workspaces.

Mailfence is end-to-end encrypted and supports OpenPGP. You can generate a key on your computer, which is then encrypted using 256-bit AES and stored on Mailfence’s servers. They also support two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to your account.

Taking a stand for your principles is admirable in itself, but alongside that ContactOffice donates 15 percent of the income from their Pro and Ultra plans to the pro-privacy organizations. Currently, donations go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the European Digital Rights Foundation (EDRi).

Read more about how Mailfence provides a secure email service.

Pros

  • Servers are located in Belgium
  • Fully inter-operable with any OpenPGP service.
  • Includes Digital signatures. Your digitally signed email guarantees the recipient that it has been sent by you and only you. There is no way of faking the sender address.
  • Comes with a Keystore. Create, import, publish and manage OpenPGP keys easily. Nothing to install.
  • Has a SSL certificate with no American certification authority involved in the certification chain (not that easy to find).
  • RSA/ECC encryption
  • Calendar
  • 2 Factor authentication.

Cons

  • Free account limited to 500MB of emails, 500MB of documents.
  • CAPTCHA code is not accessible to the blind or vision impaired.

Mailo

Create free account
Create free acount for a child
Visit website
Who should use it: Anyone who wants to introduce young ones to secure email in a child-friendly way or, who would like something a bit different.
Email address format: example@mailo.com, example@net-c.cat, etc.

Located in France, Mailo seeks to provide an alternative to the GMails, Outlooks and Yahoos of the world by providing a service that refuses the practice of e-mail analyzing for advertising purposes.

Messaging, calendar, notes, task list, address book, cloud, photo album, etc.: Mailo provides a whole range of services and features that is rather impressive.

They also claim that they are The only company that provides a mail system and service that is suitable for families and children.

You can even create a child account that is specifically tuned for your child’s age.
Mailo accounts remain valid without a time limit and are deleted only after extended inactivity.

With its secure messaging for kids, the possibility of creating email addresses with private domain names or the provision of numerous synchronization protocols, Mailo is one of the most complete solutions on the market.

For users looking for more options and storage space, I recommend that you have a look at the Premium pack.

Tip: the pack Mailo Family allows you to have 5 premium accounts for only € 2 per month.

Pros

  • PGP encryption and signature
  • Antivirus and antispam
  • 1 GB for your e-mails
  • 500 MB for your documents and photos
  • 5 aliases
  • Advertising banners
  • IMAP4, EAS
  • Access to all Mailo services: mail, calendar, address book, cloud, – sharing…
  • Android and iOS apps available.
  • ActiveSync synchronization
  • CalDAV, CardDAV and WebDAV access
  • Transfer and collect of external accounts
  • Includes Two-factor authentication
  • Can import and export from CSV, LDIF and VCF formats

Cons

  • No POP3 / POP3S access
  • no E-mail forwarding

Outlook.com

Create free account
Visit the Outlook website
Who should use it: people who use many different platforms to connect with others.
Email address format: example@outlook.com or example@hotmail.com

If you ever cringed at the sight of a “Hotmail.com” email address, you can thank Outlook for this outdated domain name. But there’s good news: Microsoft has reinvented its longstanding email service, and your free Outlook.com email address has many progressive features currently being enjoyed by its 400 million users and waiting for you.

Honestly, it would be very difficult to find a single business owner or office worker who isn’t familiar with Outlook. In 2013, Microsoft released Outlook as a web-based suite of webmail, contacts, tasks, and calendaring services, called Outlook.com.

Outlook is the current evolution of “Hotmail”, which was acquired by Microsoft on December 31, 1997 for $500 million – its largest acquisition at the time.

While it touts a calendar and message filter that is similar to Gmail, Outlook also integrates with a number of other popular communication apps. You can connect Skype, Facebook, PowerPoint, PayPal, and even task-management software such as Trello – making it very easy to reach and work with non-Outlook users without leaving your inbox.

Outlook offers 15 GB of free storage for each user, along with a super-clean interface in 106 different languages.

Pros

  • If you have deleted the message by mistake, Outlook will allow you to recover it.
  • Storage: Outlook accounts can have up to 100GB of storage per mailbox and 5 GB of cloud storage with a Microsoft account.
  • It supports many add-ins.
  • By just right-clicking an email you can search the other emails from the same sender.
  • It allows you to hide real email address by using different aliases.
  • Automatic organization of emails.
  • Mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
  • With this account, it is easy to work with Skype and Outlook calendar.
  • Email Scheduling: Emails can be scheduled to send at a certain time. Outlooks snooze feature lets you be reminded about emails at a later date.
  • AI-Powered Sorting

Cons

  • Sometimes it takes time loading.
  • Security/Privacy: Outlook does not currently offer any encryption for free users. If you have an Microsoft 365 Family or Microsoft 365 Personal subscription (formerly Office 365) you can gain access to an email encryption feature.
  • Outlook limits the size of files you can send to 10-20MB depending on the version of their service you are using.
  • Limited customization options
  • Sensitive spam filter

ProtonMail

Create free account
Visit the ProtonMail website
Who should use it: people who value privacy, doesn’t need more than one email address and send and receive sensitive information.
Email address format: example@protonmail.com or example@protonmail.ch

ProtonMail first launched in 2013 and was developed by a team of CERN Large Hadron Collider scientists in the wake of the 2013 Snowden leak, and has since become the #1 most-used secure email service with over five million users.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the open-source, encrypted email provider exited beta in March 2016. ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption so that messages are only viewable by you and the recipient. Accordingly, it is widely considered one of the best private email services.

ProtonMail is designed with the principle of zero access and zero knowledge, which means that the email servers and staff that work with them have no way of reading or sharing your emails.

The main difference between ProtonMail and some of the other more popular email services mentioned in this list, is that this one is centered around encryption. The idea is that you can send mail without fear that the people at ProtonMail, or anyone else besides the recipient, can read the message.

Messages sent to other ProtonMail users are always encrypted.
If you encrypt a message, you can also set an expiration time so that it’s destroyed and unreadable after the duration you specify.

The maximum expiration time is four weeks (28 days) but you can choose something sooner, too, like 1–6 days or 1–23 hours, or a combination of both. If you message a non-ProtonMail user and don’t define an expiration time, the message will still expire in 28 days.

Recipients who receive encrypted messages open the email through a link that asks for the password, where it’s decrypted and displayed in the browser. They can reply through an encrypted channel via the same message they decrypted, and don’t even need to have a ProtonMail account.

Another privacy-minded feature is Link Confirmation, which helps guard against phishing attacks by displaying a popup window when you select a link, letting you confirm where it goes before actually going there.

in Switzerland—a country well known for its tough stance on privacy and data protection.

ProtonMail is incorporated in Switzerland and all data is stored on the company’s servers deep-down in a nuclear bunker, more than three thousand feet below the ground in the same country of Switzerland, a location considered much better than invasive jurisdictions such as the US and the UK. This means that the firm can provide a strong privacy policy that promises never to store your IP address or other personally identifiable data.

While it is possible that Swiss authorities could serve the firm with a warrant to provide whatever data it has because it keeps no logs (other than payment information) it would not have anything to hand over.

However, free users are asked to verify their account, which means that you will need to provide another email address when you create the account. This is not ideal and does mean that to start a free account that isn’t tied to you, you will need a “burner” email address elsewhere.

Most importantly, ProtonMail is open-source, and it has been audited. In addition, it provides full PGP compatibility for sending encrypted emails. And all emails are securely encrypted on its servers while at rest.

This is impressive considering that you can use it for free with one address and 500 MB of storage space. If you value privacy and don’t need more than one email address – you really have no reason not to leave the likes of AOL and Yahoo behind.

Although there are premium options, many of the service’s users are on free accounts. It is reasonable, then, to wonder how they can sustain the service without leaning on targeted advertising or other forms of income. Fortunately, the company operates a Defence Fund which can support the service for up to a year without any other revenue.

Even though ProtonMail only offers just 500 MB of free space, but for the worthy trade of encrypted email, allows you to send messages that nobody else can see, and disappear after a month.

What’s the catch? Is the service hard to use? As with most webmail platforms, ProtonMail is easy to use on any device without any software needed to encrypt your emails. Its inbox interface is as easy to understand at a glance as the other email services on this list, and offers quick color-coded labels to help you further organize which emails deserve the most care and protection.

Importantly, ProtonMail has open-sourced parts of their service. The code is available on ProtonMail’s GitHub for anyone to view and verify the security of the platform.

Unlike Gmail or Outlook, email you send with ProtonMail is encrypted before it’s sent to the ProtonMail servers. That means that no hacker intercepting emails sent from ProtonMail will be able to decrypt and read your emails.

ProtonMail’s encryption and web interface are also open source, which has allowed experts to audit and confirm its high levels of security.

That said, ProtonMail’s super-secure encryption can sometimes be a barrier to usability. It isn’t possible to add your ProtonMail inbox to a mobile mail app like iOS Mail or K-9 Mail because these generic apps have no way of encrypting emails on the client side, which means ProtonMail won’t let you connect in the first place.

Users that don’t mind a dedicated app can get ProtonMail for Android and iOS. On desktop, however, you’re free to use a variety of popular generic clients as long as you install ProtonMail Bridge, which acts as an encryption layer on top of the client.

Some features are:

  • End-to-End Encryption

Automatic Email Security

They use end-to-end encryption and zero access encryption to secure emails. This means even their own staff cannot decrypt and read your emails. As a result, your encrypted emails cannot be shared with third parties.

Although emails to and from other ProtonMail users are end-to-end encrypted, if you communicate with unencrypted services like Gmail, ProtonMail will scan these emails to protect against spam. However, these messages are scanned in memory, meaning that they aren’t kept and will be overwritten in very little time. As soon as the email has been examined, it is then encrypted. If all this talk of encryption is getting confusing, you may want to read up on encryption terms you should know.

  • Anonymous Email

Protect Your Privacy

No personal information is required to create your secure email account. The company will even allow you to pay for premium accounts in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. According to their privacy policy, By default, they do not keep any IP logs which can be linked to your anonymous email account.

Your privacy comes first.

  • Open Source

Free Secure Email

On their website, they say that “We believe email privacy should be available to all. That’s why our code is open source and basic ProtonMail accounts are always free. You can support the project by donating or upgrading to a paid account.

It has a free plan along with three other plans i.e. Plus ($5.66/month), Professional ($9/month), and Visionary ($34/month).

Pros

  • Does not keep any logs of your email activity
  • This calendar encrypts event title, description, location, and participants, making it impossible for any third party (including ProtonMail) to see the details of a calendar entry.
  • It provides end-to-end encryption.
  • It allows you to set the expiry date for email, i.e. Self-destruct emails.
  • It offers many features like an autoresponder, email filters, and multi-user support with paid plans.
  • Excellent security
  • Cares about your privacy
  • Based in Switzerland
  • Mobile app for iOS and Android devices are available.
  • It provides more security through encryption.
  • Can send encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail users.
  • Completely open source.
  • Public key export (to send to other PGP users and to verify messages manually).
  • Over 20 account languages

Cons

  • It provides limited storage and support with the free plan.
  • No email encryption with a free account.
  • Web client feels outdated
  • POP3 not supported

Important note:

It is often argued that when it comes to secure communication, the outdated email system is completely broken, and ProtonMail is not going to change that. Furthermore, any webmail system that implements encryption within the browser (using JavaScript) is also likely fundamentally insecure. As ProtonMail itself admits on its Threat Model page,

NOT RECOMMENDED: Edward Snowden – If you are Edward Snowden, or the next Edward Snowden, and have a life and death situation that requires privacy, we would not recommend using ProtonMail. For extremely sensitive situations, it is simply not a good idea to use email as a medium for communication.

TutaNota

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: people who value privacy, doesn’t need more than one email address and send and receive sensitive information.
Email address format: example@tutanota.com, example@tutanota.de, example@tutamail.com, example@tuta.io, example@keemail.me.

Tutanota (Latin for “secure message”) was Launched in 2011 by the German company Tutao GmbH.

With over two million users, Tutanota is one of the most popular and regularly recommended secure email services. It uses end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and has an A+ SSL certificate. These factors—plus the fact that it’s an externally-audited, open source tool—make its security equal to other services and yes, superior than others.

One of the first things that stand out is that you can’t proceed with creating your account until you make a really secure password. Some places will urge you to make your password stronger but still accept it; Tutanota requires it.

Tutanota was one of the world’s first services to implement DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE) in order to secure users against hackers impersonating them or their email recipients.

Webmail access is available, alongside native apps for Android and iOS. However, it’s incompatible with generic apps like iOS Mail or Android K-9 because end-to-end encryption isn’t possible without a client that supports it.

The web interface is really easy to use and provides nice menu transitions that really bring together the mail folders and email settings. When sending messages to non-users, you can choose to make them password protected or to keep them unencrypted. If a password is chosen, the recipient will get a custom link to open the message, where they must enter the password to read and reply.

Probably the nicest feature about this is that when the user responds back to the one not using Tutanota, the messages are still contained within the temporary account. This means you can have back and forth communication with any other email service and they can keep the link open the whole time.

Even though it isn’t as well known as Gmail, Yahoo, etc., Tutanota still lets you have an email signature, use up to 1 GB of storage, and automatically add emailed recipients as a new contact. Premium features can be had for a cost.

While that sounds great in theory, it’s also worth noting that Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service collaborated with their American counterparts, the NSA, in their surveillance programs. While that impacts all data held in Germany, there’s no suggestion that Tutanota has ever been complicit. However, for the privacy-focused, it is worth keeping this in mind.

Tutanota uses end-to-end encryption to ensure the privacy of your emails. Where things differ slightly is in how the service handles external emails. If you send a message to another email service like Gmail, Tutanota sends a link to a temporary account where the recipient can view the message.

Tutanota is open-source, too, with the code available on the Tutanota GitHub page. All data stored in your inbox is encrypted, with only metadata like sender, recipient, and date visible. However, their FAQ states that they are looking into encrypting metadata too.

The company uses 2048-bit RSA and 128-bit AES encryption methods. However, they do not support PGP, a feature often used to judge secure email providers. That said, they believe their encryption offers advantages over PGP, like encrypting the subject line.

In early 2020, the company launched the Tutanota Calendar, an encrypted online diary. There’s also room for them to build more encrypted services in the future, like the planned cloud storage.

According to their Privacy Policy, they do collect mail server logs. Although these are only kept for seven days, they do contain sender and recipient email addresses, but no customer IP addresses.

While you can open a Tutanota account for free, they too offer paid-for options. A Premium account costs just 12€ per year and allows you to add an additional user, use up to five aliases, and enables support for custom domains.

I am not entirely convinced that Germany is the best place for such a service to be based, and the ability to pay anonymously with cryptocurrencies can’t come soon enough, but overall I’m very impressed by the service. I would be happy to recommend it as it stands, but Tutanota isn’t resting on its laurels as there is plenty more work to be done.

Pros

  • 1 GB free storage
  • No-logs policy
  • Spam filter
  • 20+ supported languages
  • Encrypted calendar
  • Outstanding privacy

Cons

  • Fourteen Eyes country
  • No support for PGP and IMAP
  • Expensive extra storage
  • Recent service outages
  • No cryptocurrency payment option

Yahoo Mail

Create free account
Visit Website
Who should use it: creatives and those who send and receive attachments frequently via email.
Email address format: example@yahoo.com

Yahoo is a web portal and search engine. It was launched in 1994.

Yahoo! Mail sits just behind AOL in storage space with a whopping 1 TB (that’s a terabyte) for free, along with a few key social media integrations.

Yahoo Mail doesn’t make the headlines so much, these days, but its latest version is a polished and professional service which stands up well against the top competition.

The well-designed interface resembles Gmail, at least initially, with a large view of your inbox, one-click filters for common messages and content (Photos, Documents, Travel), and easy browsing of all the emails in a conversation. But you can also organize mails into custom folders, and the layout can be tweaked to display a message preview in a couple of clicks. Mobile users have some additional features like the option to unsubscribe to newsletters and such, without ever leaving the Yahoo Mail inbox.

A powerful underlying engine can integrate with Facebook, supports sending SMS and text messages, is accessible via web, POP and (in some situations) IMAP, and can forward email to another address. Valuable extras include disposable email addresses to protect your privacy, and a mammoth 1TB of mailbox storage means you can keep just about everything you receive, for a very long time.

Demanding users might find issues, over time. Mail organization can’t quite match the flexibility of Gmail’s labelling scheme, for instance, and there aren’t nearly as many low-level tweaks, settings and options as you’ll often see elsewhere. But overall, Yahoo Mail is an appealing service which needs to be on your email shortlist.

In addition to custom background themes and being able to search key information from your inbox, Yahoo! Mail also makes it easy to find every photo, video, and document you’ve ever attached or received via email in their own tabs on your inbox’s sidebar. This makes the platform especially appealing to those who share documents on a regular basis or simply want an album made of every photo they’ve ever had shared.

It provides other services like Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, and Yahoo Groups as well. Yahoo Mail has good spam blocking capabilities.

Rather controversially though, Yahoo Mail has announced (sort of? It was buried in their knowledge base) that beginning January 1, 2021 automatic forwarding of emails from your Yahoo inbox to another email account will no longer be a feature of free Yahoo Mail accounts. Users who still want email forwarding will need to pay $3.49 USD per month for Yahoo Mail Pro or $12 USD per year for a forwarding service add-on.

This unexpected change is certain to be a preview of many changes from Yahoo Mail coming into 2021. You can expect that Yahoo will continue to make changes to their current service and introduce new features in order to gain a greater appeal for business users.

As a sidenote though, Over 200 million people use Yahoo’s email service for personal purposes, but not many know that Yahoo! Mail provides a business plan that costs just $1.19 per month. Included in the plan is a custom domain name, 1 TB of free storage, and support for email aliases, which let you give different email addresses to your employees under the same domain name.

The only thing that keeps me from recommending this service to friends, is its history of security breaches. In 2017, for example, the company reported that all Yahoo user accounts were compromised, and that’s just one of many large-scale security incidents that happened since the email service was launched in 1997.

Pros

  • Good Spam filters.
  • Finding images, videos, and documents which are sent or received as an attachment is easier.
  • Allows you to search key information from your inbox.
  • Allows you to create 500 disposable addresses without containing your personal data.
  • Importing contacts from a file, Facebook, Google or Outlook account.
  • Allows you to connect external email accounts to Yahoo mail.
  • Blocking senders.
  • Easy to use Yahoo Calendar.
  • AI-Powered Sorting: Though not as granular as Gmail’s inbox sorting, Outlook does offer two inbox that messages can be sorted into: Focused and Other
  • Large Attachments: Emails in Yahoo Mail can’t exceed 25MB. If you need to attach a file over 25MB you have to share files from a third-party cloud storage provider such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Storage: Yahoo offers 1TB of storage on free accounts, allowing users to keep everything they receive
  • Support for keyboard shortcuts
  • Lets users send free SMS messages
  • Comes with calendar, contacts, and instant messaging

Cons

  • If compared with other providers, it has fewer filters or rules.
  • To attach a file, it should be available locally on your device. It doesn’t support attachment of online files.
  • It has Inbox ads.
  • Poor security track record
  • No IMAP access
  • Doesn’t support smart email organization

Yandex Mail

Create a free account
Visit website
Who should use it: anyone seeking a free email with additional storage capabilities outside of US/UK/Canada/Australia, etc.
Email address format: example@yandex.com

Yandex is a popular search engine in Russia. Yandex email services were launched in 2001. It provides good security options. With email service, it has several other features like timer, customizable interface, and access to other Yandex services.

They also provide other free services such as 10 GB of cloud storage, Yandex.Calendar, and a search engine. Similar to Google, your Yandex email account makes it possible to access all of these services using one login.

The interface is very nice to work with. It’s easy to read and provides a simple layout while still keeping all the necessary tools intact. Like most of the other providers in this list, this one supports email filters, contact importing and exporting, tasks, and hotkeys.

However, it’s also unique in many ways that make it one of the more interesting ones out there. You can forward multiple messages with ease; they’ll send as file attachments, there’s an option to download emails as EML files, delayed messaging is supported, you can be notified when an email sends and be reminded later if you don’t get a reply, and the part after @ can be your website domain name (for free).

Pros

  • Protection against Spam and fraud.
  • Smart filtering of emails which means, emails coming from real people are highlighted.
  • It provides built-in anti-virus.
  • It allows you to create tasks and task lists.
  • It allows logging into the app with PIN or fingerprint.
  • 10 GB of storage to share with email and other Yandex services.
  • Lets you sign up with an existing Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail account.
  • Auto-sorts emails into useful categories.
  • Can notify you when an email has been received by the recipient.
  • Can alert you if a recipient doesn’t respond after so-many days.
  • Includes a built-in translator.
  • Shows detailed information on your account’s access log.

Cons

  • 2FA requires a special Yandex app (most providers use Google Authenticator).
  • Can’t change the 24-hour time format.
  • Email accounts all end in the same domain.

Zoho

Create free account
Visit website
Who should use it: startups and small businesses.
Email address format: example@zoho.com or your own custom domain, example@yourdomain.tld

This is one of the lesser-known free email accounts to make this list, but it holds a lot of potential for businesses.

The first thing you’ll notice about Zoho is its user-friendliness. From integrating with Google Drive, Box, and other cloud-based file managers, to its built-in task manager, this email service offers a simple way to accomplish all of your daily tasks.

The real difference-maker, though, is the ability to customize the domain name for up to 25 connected email addresses. Want to replace “@zoho.com” with the name of your business’s website? You can do so under Zoho Lite, which gives you 5 GB for free – all under username@yourdomainname.com.

Pros

  • Allows up to 25 users.
  • It has an expense tracker.
  • It allows you to tag people and share folders with them.
  • It allows you to create your own rules for managing incoming rules.
  • Advanced searches.
  • Deleting and archiving email in bulk.
  • By just right clicking the email, you can search the other emails from the same sender.
  • It is ad-free.
  • It is accessible from Android and iOS devices.
  • Simple and clean design.
  • Free mobile apps
  • Support for large attachments
  • Solid spam protection
  • More than 50 keyboard shortcuts.

Cons

  • Web access only.
  • No support for email forwarding.
  • No facility to import contacts from social media.
  • It is made for small businesses
  • Lacking customer support
  • Doesn’t support two-factor authentication
  • Account deactivation after 6 months of inactivity

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list of email options and services however, this should definitely give you a headstart in your research for the perfect email partner or perhaps, I’ve listed just the option you wanted.

Either way, I trust that you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Last updated on Tuesday, 9 March, 2021.

This post originally appeared on the Hanif.co Blog

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