Most people utilize Gmail for their email service. It’s easy to see why considering how many other Google services are tied into having a Gmail account. If you’re not using Gmail, you undoubtedly have a Yahoo, Hotmail (or Outlook), iCloud email account, or something similar. A few of you may even utilize an email address provided by your Internet Service Provider, or ISP, which in my opinion isn’t the greatest option considering what happens if you choose another ISP down the road.

That all being said, I believe now is the time for you to strongly consider a different email provider, ProtonMail or Tutanota (derived from Latin and contains the words “tuta” and “nota” which means “secure message.”).

There are several reasons for this, namely privacy.

Privacy Matters

Email providers like Google, Microsoft, and even a privacy advocate like Apple, have the ability and often do scan your emails for a variety of reasons. At one point, they even allowed 3rd party companies to scan specific content in your email so they can better “serve you” with targeted advertising. Allegedly, most of this stopped around 2017, but the fact that this even happened in the first place should cause you to pause. In Apple’s case, news came out a few weeks ago that they have been quietly scanning iCloud email accounts for CSAM since around 2019. And although we can all agree that the safety of children should be a priority for everyone, especially by technology companies, the fact is a provider that has the ability to scan your email account for anything without your direct consent is troubling.

In recent months, we’ve all seen the big tech companies censoring alt voices on their platforms. If you’re a white heterosexual Christian conservative male that doesn’t want to mask up or take a mandated vaccine, you better think twice about offering any opinion on the matter publicly on any social platform, or take the risk of being censored, temporarily banned, or worse. If Google already possesses the technology to use AI to scan video content on YouTube and can tell whether or not you mention anything related to COVID or vaccinations so they can slap a warning label on your content or temporarily ban your channel, imagine that same technology being used against you in the emails you’ve sent or received on Gmail. That’s a huge “no thanks.”

Oh, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram use similar technology on the posts that you make. A few months ago, anything regarding the bogus 2020 presidential election caused a stupid warning label across your posts stating their “fact-checkers” found your post not to be accurate. Now, they are doing something similar with COVID-19 and vaccines. Imagine changing these search parameters around to filter out any kind of religious speech they don’t agree with. But we’ll save that for another post entirely.

Security Matters

While sending or receiving email, it’s typically happening over an SSL/TLS connection. This is just a fancy way of saying the communication channel between two computers, in this case, you as the email sender and your recipient, is encrypted. This security protocol is common practice with any major email provider, that is the connection itself for sending/receiving is a secure connection. Both ProtonMail and Tutanota use TLS encryption because it’s newer technology and offers more robust security features than SSL.

Taking it a step further, ProtonMail and Tutanota encrypt the actual email message itself along with your contacts, calendar, and entire mailbox. This does not happen with providers like Gmail, Office 365, Yahoo, or standard email provided by your ISP. If you want to continue using Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo and encrypt the actual email message, you would have to install 3rd party software like OpenPGP. ProtonMail and Tutanota make it simple and do this for you automatically. Any message sent to another user (ProtonMail to Protonmail and Tutanota to Tutanota) is automatically encrypted, whereas non-ProtonMail or non-Tutatnota users have the option to be sent unencrypted emails, or encrypted emails. If a non-ProtonMail or non-Tutanota user receives an encrypted email, they receive a link where they have to go and enter a pre-known password to decrypt the message.

There are other things to consider when it comes to security and you can read how each provider handles their security by visiting the links below. Bottom line, if you want private and secure email, choose either ProtonMail or Tutanota. If you don’t, well, keep using what you’ve been using.

On a side note, if you’re the one in charge of your business or organization I can’t imagine many things more important than private, secure communication between your co-workers, employees, or even 3rd party vendors. If you’re able to automatically encrypt any and all communication within your @domain.com email account, choosing a service like ProtonMail or Tutanota is a no-brainer since they offer custom domain email services that allow you to set up mail domains as a business or paid subscriber.

Related Links:

Choosing Between Two Great Services

I first signed up with TutaNota instead of ProtonMail because they offered me more bang for my buck. The mailbox space for free accounts with Tutanota is 1GB compared to that of 500MB with ProtonMail. However, I was already going into this with a paid account, so free disk space didn’t really matter much to me. The cost per user and the overage costs, like added disk space or additional accounts, are more affordable with Tutanota. If you are setting up new accounts that don’t have any old emails associated with them that need to be transferred, Tutanota is a great choice.

But this is where I started to realize that ProtonMail was better for what I needed.

Usually, when I do something like this it’s all or nothing. The thought of not having all of my email accounts that I use personally or for business under one roof made me start wanting to itch. Tutanota offers PC/Mac/Linux applications that can be downloaded, and that’s how I started. I got used to running both the Tutanota and Apple Mail applications but preferred it if I could keep all of my email accounts together within Apple Mail. This is where ProtonMail Bridge comes into play. ProtonMail Bridge allows you to use your @protonmail.com address on your email programs like Outlook or Apple Mail, but it’s not available to free accounts. You will need to have a paid account in order to use this feature. Since I was already going to be a paid subscriber, this is what sealed the deal for me to switch to ProtonMail.

Switching to ProtonMail also solved the issue with mail migration. I didn’t want to lose my previous emails or even have them stored offline, which they had been since my move to Tutanota. I wanted to migrate everything to my new encrypted mailbox. At the time of this posting, Tutanota does not have mail migration available yet but has plans to eventually provide that service. You can however import your contacts. Setting up ProtonMail Bridge was simple (they offer a great video and text tutorial on the subject). Once I began the migration and started checking my filters and folders on the webmail version of ProtonMail, I realized I liked the user interface and overall design of ProtonMail better than I did Tutanota’s, but that could just be my preference.

Unlike Tutanota, ProtonMail does not have a desktop app you can download for your computers or devices. If you’re going to use ProtonMail, it will either be via their webmail portal or as a paid subscriber, using ProtonMail Bridge so that you can use standard mail applications. Your mobile devices and tablets however are a different story. To ensure end-to-end encryption, Tutanota offers its own app on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store, and will not work on your native mail apps. The same can be said about ProtonMail. Unfortunately, ProtonMail Bridge does not work on iPhone/iPad or Android phones/tablets. Instead, you’ll need to download their mobile app from either Apple Store and Google Play Store. That said, both Tutanota and ProtonMail mobile applications are pretty straightforward and easy to use.

Sign Up With ProtonMail

Once you sign up for your ProtonMail email account, here are a few things you will need to do if you want to completely move away from Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and the like.

  1. Create your free (or upgrade to a paid version) ProtonMail email account. You can do so if you haven’t already, sign up for either their Personal/Professional Plans or Business Plans.
  2. Download the apps on your mobile device. Apple Store | Google Play Store
  3. In your old email account, you will want to add a vacation response that automatically sends a message to anyone in your address book who sends you an email notifying them of your new email address. Quick tips for Gmail | Outlook | Yahoo
  4. If your email provider allows, set up an email forward so that all incoming messages forward to your new @protonmail email address. This will allow you to slowly but surely update your email address with any mailing lists you may be on. Quick tips for Gmail | Outlook | Yahoo
  5. Notify your contacts of your new email address.
  6. If you delete your old email account, make sure to download all of your messages from each mailbox from the server using Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird prior to your account deletion. This will ensure your ability to search your mailbox for any important messages or attachments after you delete your old account. Account deletion isn’t necessarily something many people will need to do, however. This primarily applies to those business accounts using the same @domain.com email address moving forward; as they’re just moving from one email provider over to ProtonMail.
  7. Enjoy using your new, private, secure, encrypted email account, and never worry about being censored by something you send or receive to/from another user, or your mailbox being scanned by anyone other than yourself when doing a search.

Sign Up With Tutanota

Once you sign up for your Tutanota email account, here are a few things you will need to do if you want to completely move away from Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and the like.

  1. Create your free (or upgrade to a paid version) Tutanota email account. You can do so if you haven’t already, here.
  2. Download the apps on your mobile device, tablets, computers, and laptops.
  3. In your old email account, you will want to add a vacation response that automatically sends a message to anyone in your address book who sends you an email notifying them of your new email address. Quick tips for Gmail | Outlook | Yahoo
  4. If your email provider allows, set up an email forward so that all incoming messages forward to your new @tutanota.com email address. This will allow you to slowly but surely update your email address with any mailing lists you may be on. Quick tips for Gmail | Outlook | Yahoo
  5. Notify your contacts of your new email address. You can do this inside of Tutanota’s app or web version by looking for the share icon (three dots connected with lines) on the lower-left side of the screen.
  6. If you delete your old email account, make sure to download all of your messages from each mailbox from the server using Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird prior to your account deletion. This will ensure your ability to search your mailbox for any important messages or attachments after you delete your old account. Account deletion isn’t necessarily something many people will need to do, however. This primarily applies to those business accounts using the same @domain.com email address moving forward; as they’re just moving from one email provider over to Tutanota.
  7. Enjoy using your new, private, secure, encrypted email account, and never worry about being censored by something you send or receive to/from another user, or your mailbox being scanned by anyone other than yourself when doing a search.

Congratulations! You have taken a large step forward in taking back a little of your privacy and enhancing your security online. There are many other things to do in addition to this that we will cover in future articles.