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Best secure email providers of 2020

Best secure email providers
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PRICE
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

When it comes to popularity and ease of use, there is no beating major email service providers like Google and Microsoft.

But these services still have a long way to go before they can be termed “secure.” Communication conducted over email isn’t normally secured by end-to-end encryption and can easily be subpoenaed by government agencies in case of legal conflict. 

There are a number of other privacy and security issues to contend with. Gmail, for example, allows third-party service providers to scan your private emails to display more personalized advertisements. Generally speaking, corporations like these aren’t known for handling private data seriously.

However, there are more than a few email providers that offer increased security in exchange for a steeper price. These providers boast significantly better privacy practices than their mainstream counterparts, with strong protocols that dictate user rights in case of a subpoena or breach. 

When on the lookout for a secure email provider, you have to keep in mind factors like data center location, end-to-end encryption, and zero-access guarantee. In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the most secure email providers currently in the market, perfect for conducting internal business communications and receiving sensitive information from other users. 

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The best secure email providers:

  1. ProtonMail
  2. Mailbox.org
  3. Zoho Mail
  4. Posteo
  5. Privatemail

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Founded in 2014 by researchers from CERN, ProtonMail is a Switzerland-based secure email provider (Image credit: protonmail)

1. ProtonMail

Most popular secure email provider

End-to-end encryption: Yes | Server location: Switzerland | Pricing: $5/month to $30/month

Security is top notch
Streamlined and modern UI
Subject lines lack end-to-end encryption
Not designed for sending emails en-masse
Support is lacking

Founded in 2014 at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), ProtonMail is a secure email provider featuring end-to-end encryption and a zero-access guarantee. The service was created in response to leaks from Edward Snowden and has its data centers based in Switzerland in an underground bunker strong enough to survive a nuclear attack. 

One of the defining features of ProtonMail’s service is the “self-destructing” emails, which are automatically removed from the recipient’s inbox after a set time period. Moreover, you are not asked to divulge any sensitive information when signing up for a new account.

The free plan comes with limited storage and messages and users looking for more may opt for any of its tiered premium plans. ProtonMail Plus costs $5/month or $48/year, while ProtonMail Professional costs $8/user/month or $75/user/year. Finally, ProtonMail Visionary costs $30/month for up to six users.

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Aside from secure email, Mailbox.org offers cloud storage, video conferencing, and more (Image credit: Mailbox)

2. Mailbox.org

Secure email workflow for business users

End-to-end encryption: Yes | Server location: Germany | Pricing: €1/month to €25/month

Lots of additional tools
Friendly UI
No free plan
No metadata encryption

Dedicated to serving business users with a strong requirement for security, Mailbox.org is a secure email provider based in Germany. It has a very user-friendly interface, and, despite being a secure email provider, it is compatible with mobile devices and third-party clients. 

Aside from a secure email service, Mailbox.org also comes with encrypted cloud storage, video conferencing features, a functional address book, a calendar, and a task planner. It is a well-rounded solution for businesses looking for an encrypted workflow alternative to Google or Microsoft. 

There is no free plan available, but the three premium-category plans are all very affordable. Secure Mail costs €1 per month and offers 2GB of email storage, 100MB cloud storage, three email addresses, and video conferencing capabilities. This is followed by the Team Mail plan at €2.50 per user per month and the Business Mail plan at €25 per month.

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Zoho Mail is a secure email hosting solution with a focus on data encryption and user-friendliness (Image credit: Zohomail)

3. Zoho Mail

Affordable email with a focus on security

End-to-end encryption: Yes | Server location: US, Europe, Australia, China, and India | Pricing: $1/user/month to $4/user/month

User friendly and feature rich
End-to-end encryption
No zero-knowledge guarantee
No live chat support

With servers located all over the world, Zoho Mail is a secure email hosting solution with a focus on data encryption and user-friendliness. Unlike other secure email providers, it tries to achieve a subtle balance between features and privacy to give users a friendly experience. 

Aside from the usual email service with adequate spam and mail filters, Zoho Mail also offers additional features like a calendar, a task manager, and a contact portal. In terms of security, Zoho offers an encrypted environment in which data is safe whether it is stationary or on the move. The data stored on its servers can still be accessed by the company and subpoenaed by government agencies, although there is a very specific protocol to follow in either case. 

Zoho Mail comes with three paid plans to choose from: Mail Lite is available for $1 per user per month and features 5GB of storage space per user. This is followed by Mail Premium, which offers 50GB of space per user for an increased price of $4. There is also an additional plan that costs $3 per user per month, which is suitable for users who would also like access to the company’s other solutions, such as the web-based word processing and presentation software.

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With its data centers located in Germany, Posteo is the email provider of choice for digital crusaders (Image credit: Posteo)

4. Posteo

Anonymized email for activists

End-to-end encryption: No | Server location: Germany | Pricing: $1/month

Trustworthy handling of user data
DANE-based authentication system
Ad free
No end-to-end encryption

With its data centers located in Germany, Posteo is the email provider of choice for digital crusaders and activists. It does not offer end-to-end encryption per se, since emails can be read in plain text by third parties if there is a leak. However, all data on its servers is secured, whether moving or stationary. 

Furthermore, Posteo uses a technology called DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE), which protects against hackers who try to impersonate the sender or the recipient to gain access to sensitive information. Posteo also doesn’t store any identifying data on its users and fights frequent legal battles to ensure the privacy of its users.

Posteo offers a single paid plan worth €1.00/month for a single user. Additional storage can be purchased for 0.25 EUR per GB per month, whereas extra aliases and calendars cost 0.10 EUR per month. 

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Based in the US, Privatemail doesn’t offer the same amount of security and privacy as its European counterparts (Image credit: Private Mail)

5. Privatemail

Secure email with a few hiccups

End-to-end encryption: Yes | Server location: United States | Pricing: $8.95/month to $64.95/month

Feature-rich cloud storage offering
Strong security practices with end-to-end encryption
Expensive
Subject to lax privacy legislation

With its servers located in the United States, Privatemail is subject to certain legal restrictions and doesn’t offer the same amount of privacy from law enforcement or government agencies as an email provider based in Germany or Switzerland. However, it offers end-to-end encryption and secure cloud storage. It also boasts some really strong security practices.

Apart from offering email services, Privatemail features a very secure cloud storage service that’s included in all of its paid plans. The cloud storage feature is pretty powerful, with options to synchronize files between different devices and with a specific folder on your computer. There’s also an email calendar that business users will be thankful for. 

Privatemail Standard and Privatemail Pro cost $8.95 per month and $15.95 per month, respectively. Standard comes with 10GB of email and cloud storage each, whereas Pro offers 20GB of space for email and cloud storage. There are business plans available for enterprise-level users, costing $64.95 per user per month and offering 100GB of storage and a custom domain. 

Also see these secure email providers

We've recently been testing out the leading secure email providers. Check out reviews below to find out more about each service provider: