If you're concerned about online privacy as far as your email goes, if you're worried about things like tracking and having your data mined by Big Tech, if you're maybe looking to move away from Gmail, then the good news is, there are quite a few private, secure email services available. One very reputable alternative is ProtonMail. In fact, Proton's my top choice for secure, encrypted business email -- it's what I'm using myself these days for my online business email. That said, if you're like most Gmail users, the thought of untangling yourself from Google and Gmail might sound very complex and difficult...either for your personal email or for your business. Yet at the same time, issues like privacy, security, and wanting to move away from Big Tech could have you feeling like you're between a rock and a hard place.
Here are links and resources mentioned in today's video. Enjoy!
Well I'm happy to tell you that ProtonMail in fact makes it very easy and straightforward to de-Google yourself...and it won't take a whole lot of effort either.
But'cha know what? I'm totally getting ahead of myself here. We'll talk a little bit more about migrating to ProtonMail in just a bit. First up, what is ProtonMail and what makes them such a great choice for secure, encrypted email?
Well, ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, who has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world. Further, as the world's largest secure email provider (with over one million users), Proton's mission is all about privacy and security online.
From a practical, day-to-day standpoint, ProtonMail is fast, secure, intuitive, and easy to use. Your Proton account is accessible via a web client, you can integrate it into your desktop client (like Thunderbird or Outlook, etc) if you like, and you can also use Proton on your mobile device.
Signing up for a ProtonMail account can be done completely anonymously too. This means that no personal information is needed, like your name, address, or phone number.
So here's the plan: What we'll do here is first is, we'll take a look at ProtonMail's core function -- secure, private email. Then we'll take a quick look at their included contacts manager and encrypted calendar.
And then finally towards the end we'll go over Proton's pricing options...where I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Okay, let's start with their core service, email!
Of course the core of ProtonMail's service is encrypted email. But let's be clear about what this means, exactly.
First, all your email that's stored with ProtonMail will be totally secure. Not even the ProtonMail service itself can access your emails.
Second, emails sent between ProtonMail users or recipients who use other encrypted email services like Tutanota or MailFence will be totally secure and encrypted as well.
This means that no one other than the sender and receiver can read the contents -- third party apps, the ProtonMail service itself, and really anyone else cannot gain access to the contents of your emails.
However, if you were to send a regular email to a non-ProtonMail user, of course your message won't be secure...meaning that the receiver's email service, third party apps, and others can read the contents of your email.
However, you can optionally password-protect the emails that you send. When you send a password-protected email to a non-ProtonMail user, they receive an email that says "You have received a secure message."
Then when they click to view the secure message, they'll have to input the password you've set. Once in, they'll be able to view and reply to your message in a ProtonMail-like interface.
So just keep all this in mind as you're using ProtonMail. Maybe you aren't concerned about protecting messages that you send and instead simply want to protect your stored email.
Or if you are sending sensitive information to non-ProtonMail users, be sure to password protect your messages so that everything remains secure for you.
Further still, ProtonMail is certainly suitable for businesses and workgroups both large and small. So maybe you're in a situation where you want end-to-end encryption with all internal communications. That of course is completely possible with ProtonMail.
As far as the ProtonMail service itself, admittedly at first I was a little turned off of the user interface at first. I was just so used to Gmail's clean, modern interface.
By contrast, ProtonMail's interface felt blocky and even kinda dated. But after using ProtonMail for just a short while, I quickly got used to it. These days it really doesn't bother me at all.
In fact, now that I'm used to it, I really like it! Plus I'm totally willing to give up a few conveniences if it means moving away from Big Tech's prying eyes.
Beyond that, ProtonMail has all the standard stuff you'd expect in an email client -- things like folders, labels, spam protection, filters, auto-responders, email archive, and so on.
And if you're thinking of using Proton for your business, know that you can set up custom domain-branded email accounts too -- so "email@example.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org."
One other feature I want to note here is the ability to optionally send self-destructing emails -- that is, you can set a timer to auto-delete emails that you send, which is really cool.
And recently ProtonMail announced a feature that allows you to "unsend" an email you've just sent. I'm sure we've both been in situations where that would have been helpful in the past!
I should mention too that there are quite a few customizations and settings available for you too, including interface themes, behaviours, and other mail settings. And don't forget, if you want you can integrate ProtonMail into a desktop email client like Apple Mail or Outlook if you like, which is done via something called ProtonMail Bridge.
However for myself, I just stick with the web-based client the majority of the time. But as mentioned, you can use ProtonMail's mobile app too, which combines your email and Proton's contacts manager, on your smartphone or tablet.
The app is fast, syncs perfectly to your web client, and I've had zero issues with it. Okay now, speaking of Proton's contacts manager, that's next...
Alright, the second component to ProtonMail's service is their built-in contacts manager. And truthfully, there isn't a whole lot to say here...I mean, this is a straightforward, fast, easy to use, and very functional contacts manager, which is exactly all we need, right?
And of course, your contacts manager will be accessible via ProtonMail's web client and your mobile device, all totally encrypted.
As far as adding contacts goes, anytime you send an email, the recipient will automatically be added to your contacts manager. Of course, you can also manually add contacts if you'd like, too.
Further, you can import contacts via vCard and CVS which is great. This makes moving your contacts over from Gmail fast and painless. I did this myself and it worked perfectly.
Another great feature inside ProtonMail's contacts manager is the ability to create contact groups -- maybe for different workgroups or based on projects. So that may be of interest to you.
Beyond that, there isn't a whole lot for me to add here -- it's a secure, encrypted contact manager that simply works!
What's much more interesting, to me at least, is Proton's calendar. Let's take a look...
Okay next up, ProtonMail comes packed with a fully-encrypted calendar. However as this time their calendar is still in beta...and in fact, it's been in beta for as long as I can remember!
This means that the only way to use the calendar, at least via your web browser, is to sign into the Proton Beta version. This does get a bit confusing because in the ProtonMail beta version, you can still access your email, your contacts manager, and everything else, as well as your calendar.
Otherwise when you log into ProtonMail normally your calendar won't be available.
As far as functionality, I've been using ProtonMail's calendar quite a bit and it works very well -- in fact, it's my go-to calendar these days. It's intuitive and functional, especially if you're coming over from Google's calendar. More on that in a sec.
With your Proton calendar, you can create multiple calendars if you need, adding and editing events is simple and intuitive, and the calendar provides a variety of views, like Day, Week, and Month.
Further, if you're migrating over from Gmail, importing your events from Google Calendar is an absolute breeze. Simply export your calendar from Google in the .ics file format, and import directly into your Proton calendar. I did this myself and it ran perfectly without a hitch.
All in all, I only have two minor gripes here: First, as already mentioned, the calendar can only be used in ProtonMail's beta version...and again, this can be confusing because then it's like, well should I use the beta email and contacts too and just keep everything running there, or should I use the regular email and beta calendar?
Admittedly, that's a pretty minor gripe! The second minor gripe is that Proton's calendar is only available as a separate mobile app on Android and iOS...however again, this is so incredibly minor that it's hardly worth mentioning.
I only bring this up because I absolutely love how Tutanota, another encrypted email service, packs their email, contacts manager, and calendar all into a single fast-running mobile app. I'd love to see something similar in Proton's mobile app...and who knows, maybe it's on the way.
So there's a run-through of ProtonMails email, contacts manager, and encrypted calendars. Next up, let's get down to brass tacks and talk pricing!
Alright now, as far as ProtonMail pricing goes, you can certainly take ProtonMail for a test drive by signing up for a free account if you like to see if it's gonna be a good fit for you -- either personally or maybe for your online business before you're ready to sign up for a paid plan.
Free accounts come with 500mb of storage, and a contacts manager and calendar...however there are some limitations here...like limited customer support, no email filters, autoresponders, or custom domain names, and you're limited to 500 messages a day.
Proton's paid plans start at just $5 per month, which is crazy low cost, and their lowest tier includes 5gb of storage, your contacts manager and calendars, custom domain names, email filters, autoresponders, and a few other goodies.
And if need be, you can always add extra storage, addresses, and domains to your plan if you need to customize things a bit.
On a personal note, I've been using Proton for about a year. Right now I'm on their Professional plan, which is running me all of $8 per month, and I've gotta tell you, it's been fantastic.
ProtonMail's fast, secure, and I've had zero problems using it for my online business. Plus, the peace of mind knowing that my email is safe and secure is priceless.
Overall, I'm totally impressed with ProtonMail and I'm struggling to think of any downsides to fill you in on. It's incredibly streamlined, simple to use, and runs great!
Further, ProtonMail gets tons and tons of rave reviews and is rapidly growing in popularity as a well respected encrypted email service.
I suppose one downside is migrating over from another email service, say like Gmail. This can feel like a pretty daunting task. In fact, I put off moving over to Proton for about a month or so, just dreading the entire process.
But you know what? When I finally sat down to do it, it really was very straightforward, easy, and painless. I wish I hadn't put it off for so long! Seriously, it was no big deal!
Now as a matter of fact, I've put together a video on exactly this -- moving over from Gmail to Proton and some things to look out for. If you're interested in checking that out, I'll leave a link in the show notes below for you.
In the meantime, one other item that I've gotta squeeze in here is this: ProtonMail also offers a free VPN with it's plans. If you aren't sure what a VPN is, essentially this is software that protects your privacy online while you're surfing the web.
If you're interested in learning a bit more about VPNs (in a totally plain-english, non-technical way) then I've got a video on exactly this that I'll link to in the show notes for you.
So should you use ProtonMail yourself? Well, if it's secure, private, encrypted email that you're after, that gets you away from the prying eyes of Big Tech, then ProtonMail is a top choice.
And since you can sign up for free, why not give ProtonMail a test drive and see if it's a good fit for you?
The only encrypted email service that's even close to ProtonMail (at least in my experience) is Tutanota. I use both Tutanota and ProtonMail and both are very good -- I use ProtonMail for my business email, and Tutanota for personal use.
Both offer secure, encrypted services, and are very, very similar to one another...although ProtonMail feels a lot more developed and geared more towards professional, business-grade email.
If you're interested, I've also done a full review on Tutanota which (once again) I'll link to in the Show Notes below. So why not give both Tutanota and ProtonMail a try and go with the one that feels best for you?