10 Best Private and Secure Email Services for 2023

Contents

In May of 2023, SmartMail doubled the amount of storage for all their plans to 20GB without increasing the cost, thereby giving all their users a nice gift.

The 9 Best Free Private Email Providers

The majority of email users simply sign up with a service like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, assuming that these provide adequate functionality and security. While there’s nothing wrong with these popular email providers, there are a number of more powerful alternatives that offer free accounts. In fact, some email providers share email data with advertisers and government agencies. If you’re interested in a more secure email account, continue reading to learn more about some of the best free private email accounts currently available.

Clean Email

Take control of your mailbox

4.4 based on 1011 user reviews
Table of Contents
Share this post

What Is Free Private Email?

Private email providers go beyond regular email services by taking more steps to protect your data and information. The best private email services do everything they can to keep the content of your messages secure.

Different private email accounts come with different security-related features along with other tools that you might expect with a conventional email provider. We’ll explain the differences between a few of the most private email services you can find.

Clean Email

Designed and built with your privacy and security in mind.

1. Zoho Mail

Zoho offers a mail service targeting professionals and users who take their privacy seriously, and there are also Zoho applications for things like chatting, notes, and calendar, which you can integrate with your email account.

Zoho Mail best private email provider

Unlike email services like Gmail, Zoho is a private email service and doesn’t scan your keywords for marketing or advertising purposes. The free subscription limits you to 5 GB of email storage, but it’s still a strong option that is accessible on mobile.

With Zoho, your email messages are in good hands, hosted in secure data centers with impeccable physical security, advanced DoS and DDoS control, and sophisticated intrusion-detection systems in place.

All emails are stored on Zoho Mail servers in an encrypted format, and all communication between email clients and Zoho Mail happens over SSL, which means that your data cannot be tampered with during transit.

  • Integration of Zoho’s web-based online office suite
  • Doesn’t scan email messages for marketing purposes
  • California, where Zoho Mail is based, is within the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes

2. Neo

Neo has curated a robust business email hosting suite specifically designed to empower small businesses, freelancers, and creators with a secure & private communication platform for their sensitive business exchanges. Packed with potent features, Neo assures users of a protection level akin to enterprise-grade security, which acts as a sturdy shield for all accounts against potential threats. Additionally, its sophisticated anti-spam feature drastically diminishes the deluge of junk mail, thereby reducing susceptibility to viruses.

Neo best free private email provider

In addition, Neo broadens its business email offerings to users lacking a domain name by providing a complimentary domain with a .co.site extension. Going above and beyond, Neo presents users with a free single-page website, aiding them in developing their brand persona and boosting their reputability.

  • Provides superior security through encryption to protect against threats like spam, malware, ransomware, phishing, and more
  • Features two-factor authentication for additional account safety
  • Offers high-quality apps for web, Android, and iOS, providing a perfect blend of security and speed
  • Alongside the email account, users are gifted with a free one-page website and a .co.site domain name
  • The email service lacks functionality to be accessed in offline mode
  • This email service does not have predictive text

3. PreVeil

PreVeil Email provides individuals and SMEs with a compliant, end-to-end encrypted email platform that integrates with their existing services like Outlook, Gmail, and AppleMail. Users keep their existing email addresses and can communicate from their desktop, mobile, browser, or an app.

PreVeil free private email provider

Free users get up to 5GB of data storage. A paid enterprise subscription provides admin capabilities and includes 10TB of storage. PreVeil’s platform also includes Drive’s file storage and sharing capabilities that integrate with Windows Explorer and MacFinder.

All emails and files on PreVeil are secured with end-to-end encryption which ensures information is only encrypted and decrypted on a user’s device – never on the server. Even if an attacker compromises the server, they only get gibberish. Nobody but the intended recipients can read the data – not even PreVeil.

  • Protects all data with end-to-end encryption
  • Meets CMMC, NIST, DFARS, and ITAR compliance requirements
  • Users keep their existing email address
  • Integrates with commonly used applications like Outlook and Gmail
  • Limited storage for free users
  • Administrative capabilities only come with the paid version

4. ProtonMail

ProtonMail is one of the leaders among secure email providers, and it’s a great starting point for users interested in protecting their information. You don’t need to supply any sensitive or personal information to create an account, making the entire website anonymous and secure (learn more about how to send anonymous emails).

ProtonMail free private email provider

You can access your free private email on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device with ProtonMail, and it does not store the IP address you use to sign in. Furthermore, it offers some of the best security features of any email service, including Secured Socket Layer connections, hardware-level security, open-source cryptography, and end-to-end encryption.

According to the people behind it, ProtonMail does not have access to its users’ information, and there have been multiple independent audits that have confirm this to be true. However, ProtonMail’s tamper-proof architecture makes it impossible to integrate the service with third-party clients, which makes it difficult to deploy it in the enterprise setting. Likewise, account recovery is impossible, so caution is advised when changing security settings.

The free version of ProtonMail is limited to 500 MB of email storage space and 150 messages per day. Additionally, it doesn’t include all features that are available to paying customers, such as custom email filters, autoresponder, catch-all email, and multi-user support.

  • Excellent security
  • Doesn’t ask for any personal information during sign up
  • Passed multiple independent security audits
  • The free account comes with major limitations

5. Tutanota

Tutanota is a private email service with options for both private and business users, and the free plan provides more than enough features for most individuals. You’ll be limited to a Tutanota domain name, a single user, and 1 GB of email storage.

Tutanota best private email provider 2023

Like Zoho Mail, Tutanota also offers notes and calendar tools, both of which are just as encrypted as its email service. Tutanota is completely open source and offers applications for both Android and iOS devices.

Tutanota uses two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption for additional security, and even free users have access to an ad-free interface. You can also utilize email filtering features to keep unwanted content from cluttering your inbox.

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Clients for all major operating systems
  • Encrypted calendar
  • No IP logging
  • Limited free account
  • Based in Germany, where the NSA has facilities

6. MsgSafe.io

MsgSafe.io protects its users by allowing them to create an unlimited number of virtual email addresses. Each virtual email address can be a different online persona that lets you communicate with others without disclosing your main email address. If you’re a business owner, you can use one virtual email address for communication with business partners and customers and a different email address for communication with employees.

MsgSafe allows unlimited number of virtual email addresses

All emails are automatically protected with end-to-end encryption, which ensures that even MsgSafe.io staff can’t read your email messages, let alone a third party. If you have your own domain name, you can bring it with you to MsgSafe.io and set it up with ease. Just like all MsgSafe.io users, you will instantly benefit from advanced email analysis and filtering, whose purpose is to keep unwanted emails at bay.

The free version of MsgSafe.io includes 1 GB of email storage space, and you can upgrade at any time if you need more. All plans include unlimited incoming emails, GPG and S/MIME support, secure 1:1 audio and video chat, and multiple other useful features.

  • Virtual email addresses
  • Custom domain name support
  • Secure 1:1 audio and video chat
  • Limited free plan

7. Mailfence

Since ContactOffice Group launched Mailfence in November 2013, this encrypted email service has managed to earn excellent reputation with users and security experts alike. For starters, its servers are based in Belgium, a country that requires all surveillance requests to go through a court.

Mailfence free encrypted email service

Because Mailfence combines OpenPGP (the most widely used email encryption standard in the world) with digital signatures, users always know who they’re communicating with and can rest assured, knowing nobody can read their private correspondence.

In addition to standard email features, Mailfence also provides contacts, calendar, documents, and secure online collaboration. The web-based client works great on screens large and small, but Mailfence is also working on a dedicated mobile app, and it should be out fairly soon.

Included in the free plan is 500 MB of email storage space, 500 MB of storage space for documents, one secure collaboration group, and support for two-factor authentication. The most affordable paid plan costs just 2,50 € per month, and it adds POP, SMTP, and IMAP access, as well as custom domain names.

  • Digital email signatures
  • Many extra features
  • Mobile app in the works
  • The free plan includes only 500 MB of email storage space

8. Yandex

Yandex is another secure option for your next email account which doesn’t require a phone number to register. Rather than two-factor authentication, Yandex uses your fingerprint and an app-specific PIN number to further secure your account.

Yandex free private email provider in 2023

Like Tutanota, Yandex automatically filters emails so that you only see content from real senders. Other messages are moved to separate folders. You can also thoroughly personalize the interface and access up to 10 GB of storage, more than is available with the free plans for either Zoho Mail or Tutanota.

Yandex offers a polished app for Android and iOS. It also includes built-in antivirus features, a customizable interface, and a timer tool allowing you to set up messages to send in advance. Yandex is a great free option for private users.

  • Robust two-factor authentication
  • Doesn’t require a phone number when signing up
  • App for Android and iOS
  • Based in Russia, a country that’s known for spying on its citizens and requesting sensitive information from internet service providers

9. GMX

GMX may not be as well-known as some of the other items on this list, but its features match and in some cases exceed those of its competitors. In addition to strong filters for viruses and spam content, GMX provides up to 65 GB of storage for emails for free users, more than any other free service on this list.

GMX most secure email provider

GMX offers mobile applications optimized for both iOS and Android, making managing your inbox just as easy on a smartphone as it is on a computer. You’ll have access to the full set of GMX tools no matter what device you’re using.

GMX enables users to attach up to 50 MB of files in each email. You can also import your contact list directly from other applications, including Facebook. GMX uses ad revenue from its app and website for funding, but these ads aren’t as intrusive as they are with some other email providers.

  • 65 GB of storage space for emails
  • Support for large attachments
  • App for iOS and Android
  • The English version doesn’t support two-factor authentication

Bonus: The Benefits of Clean Email

No matter what email provider you decide on, Clean Email is a great way to keep your inbox de-cluttered and filter incoming content based on your unique needs. It can help you spend less time managing your inbox and looking through generic content and spam.

Clean your emails with Clean EmailClean your emails with Clean Email

Clean Email provides numerous helpful productivity features including the ability to unsubscribe from multiple email lists at the same time. You can set up custom spam filters that will be applied to future emails, such as labeling, moving, archiving, and removing based on different senders.

Auto Clean feature in Clean EmailAuto Clean feature in Clean Email

Clean Email’s Cleaning Suggestions tool categorizes your emails and asks what you’d like to do with each set. Social media notifications, for example, can be archived, removed, or kept in your primary inbox, allowing you to clean up your inbox with just a few clicks.

Cleaning Suggestions feature in Clean EmailCleaning Suggestions feature in Clean Email

While Clean Email does offer premium subscriptions, you can manage up to 1000 emails at no cost. We take your privacy seriously and never sell, share, or track our users’ data.

Privacy Guard is a fantastic tool from Clean Email that helps you protect yourself from hackers, thieves, and other criminals looking to make use of your personal data. Whether stealing credit card numbers, identity information, or bank accounts, these thieves take advantage of data breaches and email spam to try to make your life more difficult (learn more about email spam checkers).

Privacy Guard feature in Clean EmailPrivacy Guard feature in Clean Email

  1. Launch the Clean Email app with your account.
  2. Click “Privacy Guard” on the left pane of the home screens.
  3. When the check is completed, you will be notified if your email address was found across known data breaches.
  4. If found, you will be advised to take immediate actions to protect your personal data.

Wondering how to become an email guru? Follow our guides on how to stop email spoofing, what a disposable email address and the email security best practices are.

Conclusion

You can’t go wrong with any of the private email services on this list, and all of them offer powerful security features to ensure that your data stays out of the wrong hands. No matter which one you choose, you can be confident that your information is more secure than it would be with a more popular email provider.

Free Private Email Providers – FAQs

What is a private email address?

A private email address is one that is hosted by a private server that can offer stronger privacy, security, and stability than many public domains. When you use certain email providers such as Google or Hotmail, you are subject to the rules and regulations of their public servers. Private servers let you enjoy a more secure experience, allowing you to run your email as you want it.

Which free email is best for privacy?

There are many great email providers that offer free options. Zoho Mail is likely the best one thanks to all of its features and functionality. This is a service provider for professional and personal users alike, valuing privacy and security over advertising and tracking. You can even benefit from chat applications, notes, and an intuitive calendar that helps you plan your days, weeks, months, and even years.

How can I get a free anonymous email account?

If you want an anonymous email account for any purpose, you simply have to register with a provider that does not require personal information. ProtonMail is one such service that allows you to remain anonymous while making use of a fully functional mail address. All you have to do is sign up for a username, create a password, and then complete your account setup. Your information is completely secure, and you don’t need to give anything like a credit card number, real name, or backup mail address.

How can I get a private email address?

If you want a private email that is not subject to the rules of many public providers, simply sign up for one with a free or paid private email service. Some of our favorites include Zoho Mail, ProtonMail, Mailfence, and MsgSafe.io. They all have specific benefits, so choose the one that works best for your needs. If you want privacy, security, and ease-of-use, these are truly the way to go, and provide many advantages over public services like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.

How do I create private email in Outlook?

Using your private email account in Outlook is easy. First, open up Outlook on your preferred device. Then, navigate to Account Information, and click “Add Account.” Type in the email address that you have set up with your private service provider. After this, a new screen will pop up for your password. Enter your password and hit “Connect.” Choose POP3 or IMAP to set up your server settings. IMAP is preferable for many because it allows you to access your account from any device, but some people still use POP3 if they want to benefit from additional security.

10 Best Private and Secure Email Services for 2023

secure email

Are your emails and attachments safe from prying eyes?

Unless you are using a secure email service that respects your privacy, the answer is probably no. Most large email providers, such as Gmail and Yahoo, do not respect the privacy of your inbox. For example,

  • Google is adding ever more advertisements into your Gmail Promotions section. We’re also seeing reports that some people are finding ads interspersed between messages within their Gmail Inbox.
  • Gmail was caught giving third parties full access to user emails and also tracking all of your purchases.
  • Advertisers have been allowed to scan Yahoo and AOL accounts to “identify and segment potential customers by picking up on contextual buying signals, and past purchases.”
  • Yahoo has been caught scanning emails in real time for US surveillance agencies.

While Gmail does allow users to opt out of some invasive features, the basic business model of these services revolves around data collection.

Big-name email services put lots of money into security, but they are also large targets and not invulnerable. A while back, the big news was the ease with which hackers were able to compromise thousands of Microsoft Exchange email servers. You might well be safer using a smaller, less well-known email service.

Another concern is where your email service is located and how this may affect your data and privacy. Some jurisdictions have laws to protect data privacy (Switzerland), while others have laws in place that erode it (the US and Australia). We’ll cover this in more detail below.

On a positive note, there is a relatively simple solution for keeping your inbox more secure: switch to a secure email provider that respects your privacy.

What is the best secure email service in 2023?

With so many different types of users, there is no single “best secure email” service that will be the top choice for everyone.

While some may prioritize maximum security and strong encryption, others may want convenience and simplicity with user-friendly apps for all devices.

Here are just a few factors to consider when switching to a secure email provider:

  • Jurisdiction – Where is the service located and how does this affect user privacy? Where is your data physically stored?
  • PGP support – Some secure email providers support PGP, while others do not use PGP due to its vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
  • Import feature – Can you import your existing emails and contacts?
  • Email apps – Due to encryption, many secure email services cannot be used with third-party email clients, but some also offer dedicated apps.
  • Encryption – Are the emails end-to-end encrypted in transit? Are emails and attachments encrypted at rest?
  • Features – Some features you may want to consider are contacts, calendars, file storage, inbox search, collaboration tools, and support for DAV services.
  • Security – What are the provider’s security standards and policies?
  • Privacy – How does the email service protect your privacy? What data is being collected, for how long, and why?
  • Threat model – How much privacy and security do you need and which service best fits those needs?

The goal of this guide is to help you find the best secure email solution for your unique needs.

This list is not in rank order. (Choose the best secure email service for you based on your own unique needs!)

Here are the most secure email providers that protect your privacy.

1. Proton Mail – Secure email in Switzerland

Based in Switzerland
Storage 15-500 GB
Price $3.49/mo.
Free Tier Up to 1 GB
Website Proton.me

Proton Mail

Proton Mail is a Switzerland-based email service that enjoys a great reputation in the privacy community. It was started by a team of academics working at MIT and CERN in 2014. Shortly thereafter, it was promoted in American media as “the only email system the NSA can’t access” – which was around the time Lavabit was shut down for not cooperating with the US government.

Looking at the service itself, Proton Mail has a lot going for it. It utilizes PGP encryption standards for email and stores all messages and attachments encrypted at rest on Swiss servers. Proton Mail has a unique feature for “self-destructing messages” and they have also added address verification and full PGP support.

Regarding encryption, however, it’s important to note that Proton Mail does not encrypt the subject lines of emails or certain metadata, inherent limitations of the PGP standard. Most of the email services we discuss here use PGP, but I wouldn’t count on any of them to keep me safe from the NSA or their counterparts in other major countries.

Additionally, the Proton Mail search function can only search subject lines within your inbox, but not the actual content of your emails. This is another functional limitation that comes from integrating more encryption and security into the service.

Proton Mail does offer some great apps for mobile devices (Android and iOS). You can also use Proton Mail with third-party apps through the Proton Mail Bridge feature (restricted to paid users).

Overall Proton Mail is a well-regarded email provider and should be a great secure email option for most users. Switzerland remains a strong privacy jurisdiction that is not a member of any surveillance alliances.

Note: Proton Mail is now integrated into the Proton suite of services. The full suite includes Proton Mail, Proton Calendar, Proton Drive, and Proton VPN. You can learn more about these products in our full Proton Mail review.

+ Pros

  • End-to-end (E2E) and zero-access encryption for Email, Calendar, and Contact information
  • Operates under Swiss jurisdiction
  • All data stored on servers in Switzerland
  • Apps for Android and iOS mobile devices
  • Web client, encryption algorithms, Android and iOS code are all open source
  • Support for custom domains
  • Strips IP address from emails
  • Can be used with third-party email clients through the Proton Mail Bridge feature
  • Can import contacts and emails

– Cons

  • Subject lines not encrypted
  • Sometimes requires personal information for verification of new accounts

Proton Mail Coupon:

Get 33% Off Proton Mail with two-year plans using the coupon below:

(Coupon is applied automatically.)

2. Mailfence – Fully-featured secure email in Belgium

Based in Belgium
Storage 5-50 GB
Price €3.50/mo.
Free Tier Up to 500 MB
Website Mailfence.com

Mailfence 2023

Mailfence is a fully-featured secure email provider offering calendar and contacts functionality, file storage, and PGP encryption support. It is based in Belgium, which is a good privacy jurisdiction with strict data protection laws.

For those wanting full PGP control and interoperability, without plugins or add-ons, Mailfence is a solid choice. Whether you are a personal user or you need a secure email solution for your business or team, Mailfence likely has all the features and options you’d want.

While many secure email services sacrifice features and functionality for security, you can have it all with Mailfence. This makes Mailfence a great alternative to full email and productivity suites, such as G Suite or Office 365.

In testing everything out for the Mailfence review, I found it to work very well with an intuitive design, a slick layout, and tons of features. Mailfence also offers email and phone support, in addition to cryptocurrency payment options.

Note: Due to financial requirements imposed by Google, Mailfence has dropped support for POP/IMAP connections to Gmail servers.

+ Pros

  • Offers end-to-end encryption and digital signatures
  • Mobile and web apps
  • Data is stored on Belgian servers
  • Offers OpenPGP encryption
  • Messages, Documents, Calendar, Contacts, and Groups
  • SMTP, POP, and IMAP support
  • Can synchronize with other email clients
  • Supports password-protected messages with expiration time
  • Removes IP addresses from mail headers
  • OpenPGP user keystore
  • Great user interface (recently updated)
  • Cryptocurrency payment options

– Cons

  • Logging of IP address and some other data
  • Code is not open source

Website: https://Mailfence.com

3. Tutanota – Private and secure email in Germany

Based in Germany
Storage 1 – 1,000 GB
Price €3.00/mo.
Free Tier Up to 1 GB
Website Tutanota.com

Tutanota

Tutanota is a Germany-based secure email service run by a small team of privacy enthusiasts, with no outside investors or owners. Although it is not as widely known as Proton Mail, Tutanota is a serious player among secure email providers. Its hybrid encryption system overcomes some of the drawbacks of PGP, and your privacy rights are protected by the GDPR and other pro-privacy EU regulations.

Note: Tutanota claims that their encryption can be updated/strengthened if necessary against quantum-computer attacks. Here’s the latest on quantum encryption from Tutanota.

All messages in your inbox, contacts, and calendar are encrypted at rest on servers in Germany. For sending encrypted emails with Tutanota, you have two options:

  1. Emailing another Tutanota user, which encrypts everything automatically (asymmetric encryption)
  2. When sending an email to someone outside of Tutanota, the user receives a link to the message and a password key for encryption/decryption purposes (symmetric encryption). The outstanding feature here is that Tutanota establishes an external mailbox for that particular contact, where all the exchanged messages are securely encrypted. This proves to be quite useful, especially in a business context.

tutanota symmetric encryption emails

While Tutanota uses high encryption standards and is arguably one of the most secure email providers anywhere, it also comes with some tradeoffs. This includes no support for PGP, IMAP, POP, or SMTP. Additionally, you cannot import existing emails into your encrypted Tutanota inbox.

To make up for the lack of IMAP support, Tutanota has built its own open source desktop clients for Windows, Linux, and macOS, with offline mode included. This means that you can access your emails, calendars, and contacts even when not having access to the web.

If you are looking for a transparent, high-security email provider run by a team of privacy enthusiasts, Tutanota is a solid choice.

+ Pros

  • Encrypted messages (including Subject lines) Address Book, Inbox Rules and Filters, Search Index, encrypted at rest and stored on German servers
  • Can search body of encrypted messages
  • Can send encrypted messages to non-users
  • Strips IP address from emails
  • Desktop, mobile, and web apps
  • Open source code (including mobile apps)
  • Great apps for mobile devices
  • Free accounts with 1 GB of storage
  • Encrypted calendar with iCard support
  • Encrypted contacts
  • Inbox rules with Spam filter
  • Multiple email addresses (aliases)
  • Support for custom domains and other price+ features
  • Discounts and additional support for non-profits
  • Publishes regular Transparency Reports

– Cons

  • Does not work with PGP
  • Currently no way to import existing emails
  • Will not work with 3rd-party email clients

Website: https://Tutanota.com

4. Mailbox.org – Private email in Germany

Based in Germany
Storage 2 – 100 GB
Price €1.00/mo.
Free Tier None
Website Mailbox.org

Mailbox.org

One German secure email service you should definitely consider is Mailbox.org. It provides robust security for your email, but it also functions as an all-inclusive productivity suite, similar to Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365). It offers a huge lineup of features, including Mail, Calendar, Address Book, Drive (cloud storage), Tasks, Portal, Text, Spreadsheet, Presentation, and Webchat. Impressively, Mailbox.org still has a user-friendly interface and design despite all the features.

mailbox-org-layout

When choosing a secure email provider, you often have to choose between features and security. With Mailbox.org, you can arguably get the best of both worlds. From the security and encryption side, Mailbox.org offers full PGP support and options to easily encrypt all your data at rest on their secure servers in Germany. You can also use Mailbox.org with mobile apps and third-party email clients.

Lastly, Mailbox.org is very affordable, with basic plans starting at only €1 per month and going up for more storage and features. You can pick up a free 30-day trial if you want to test-drive this privacy-focused email provider.

Note: Mailbox.org does receive requests for information from “public authorities.” In 2022, they received 55 requests for information, and ultimately rejected about 13% of them. They responded to the rest of them as required by law.

+ Pros

  • PGP support (server-side or E2E through Mailvelope app)
  • Company and servers located in Germany with strong privacy protections
  • HSTS and PFS for messages in transit
  • Protected against man-in-the-middle attacks
  • Message and spam filters
  • Virus protection
  • Full text search
  • POP, IMAP, SMTP, ActiveSync support
  • vCard, CardDAV, CalDav support
  • Messages are encrypted at rest
  • Supports custom domains
  • Mobile apps for some of the Office features
  • Open source

– Cons

  • No mobile email clients (but can be used with third-party email clients)
  • Some tracking during registration
  • PGP encryption leaves message subject and metadata exposed

Website: https://Mailbox.org/

5. Posteo – Privacy-focused email in Germany

Based in Germany
Storage 2 – 20 GB
Price €1.00/mo.
Free Tier None
Website Posteo.de

Posteo email

Posteo is yet another German email service. It provides strong privacy and security to its users, and in many ways is similar to Mailbox.org. Both are comprehensive email providers that employ PGP encryption. They even charge similar prices. However, Posteo distinguishes itself in a few significant aspects:

  • It does not support custom domains.
  • There is no designated spam folder (emails are either sent to the inbox or not accepted).
  • There are no trial or free versions, which is somewhat offset by the reasonable prices they charge.

Posteo really makes an effort to protect the privacy of its users. IP addresses are automatically stripped from emails, no logs are kept, and they offer strong encryption standards. In short, this email takes security and privacy very seriously.

Posteo also supports completely anonymous registration and anonymous payments – even allowing you to send cash in the mail for no digital trail. (We see this trend with VPN services as well.) And if you pay with a credit card, PayPal, or some other digital method, they manually separate account details from payment info.

+ Pros

  • Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Notes are encrypted at rest with OpenPGP on secure servers in Germany
  • Configurable spam filter
  • Migration service for moving from another email service to Posteo
  • Subject, headers, body, metadata, and attachments are encrypted
  • Includes Messages, Calendar, Contacts (Address Book), and Notes
  • Completely Open Source
  • Strong commitment to privacy, sustainable energy, and other social initiatives
  • Self-financed; good track record (operating since 2009)
  • No logs, IP address stripping, secure email storage with daily backups
  • Allows anonymous (cash) payments
  • Supports SMTP, POP, and IMAP protocols

– Cons

  • Custom domains not supported; no “.com” options available
  • No spam folder (spam emails are either rejected or delivered to regular inbox)
  • No trial or free version
  • Cryptocurrency payments not supported

Website: https://Posteo.de/

6. Runbox – Private and sustainable email in Norway

Based in Norway
Storage 2 – 50 GB
Price $1.31/mo.
Free Tier 30 day trial
Website Runbox.com

Runbox secure email

Runbox is a Norwegian company that has been in the email business for over 20 years. Norway is a good secure-email jurisdiction, with a strong legal framework for privacy. All Runbox servers are located in secure Norwegian data centers, running on clean, renewable, hydropower energy.

One unique feature of Runbox is that it gives you 100 aliases to use with your account. Secure file storage is also included, with different pricing tiers. Runbox fully supports SMTP, POP, and IMAP protocols and can be used with third-party email clients. They released Runbox 7 over a year ago, and are improving it all the time, with a massive number of updates taking place so far this year. which is a webmail client, but they do not offer custom mobile or desktop clients.

Unlike some other secure email providers, Runbox does not have a built-in option for encrypting your entire mailbox. And while you can use PGP with Runbox, it is not yet built into the platform. Another drawback is that Runbox does not offer a built-in calendar, but this feature may be included in Version 7 (when released).

Runbox offers 30-day free trials and makes importing your existing emails simple with the guides on their site. They also go the extra mile by giving you a 60-day money-back guarantee so you can really get a sense of whether this service suits you before getting locked into a subscription.

+ Pros

  • IP addresses stripped from messages
  • Includes Webmail, Contacts, and Files
  • Servers run on renewable energy
  • Supports SMTP, POP, and IMAP protocols
  • Synchronizes with other email clients
  • GDPR compliant
  • Norway has strong data protection laws
  • 100 email aliases per mailbox
  • Custom domain names on some paid accounts
  • Numerous payment methods accepted (including cash and cryptocurrencies)

– Cons

  • Browser-based; no desktop or mobile apps
  • Not open source
  • Data not encrypted within the Runbox system or at rest
  • No business-specific features

Website: https://Runbox.com

7. CounterMail – Private and secure Swedish email service

Based in Sweden
Storage 4 GB+
Price $4.83/mo.
Free Tier 7 day free trial
Website CounterMail.com

CounterMail

Next up on our list is CounterMail, a secure email provider based in Sweden. CounterMail has been operating for over 10 years with a philosophy to “offer the most secure online email service on the Internet, with excellent free support.”

Note: Before we go any further, you should know that registering for CounterMail currently requires an invitation from a premium CounterMail user. If you don’t know someone who already uses this service, you are not welcome right now.

CounterMail uses OpenPGP encryption with 4,096-bit encryption keys. They protect their users from identity leaks and Man-In-The-Middle attacks with RSA and AES-CBC encryption on top of SSL. Unfortunately, they do not have their own mobile or desktop apps.

In order to ensure your privacy, they keep no logs and they store your mail on diskless servers. Countermail anonymizes email headers and also strips the sender’s IP address. All emails and attachments are stored encrypted at rest using OpenPGP on servers in Sweden.

While CounterMail is a bit more expensive than some other secure email providers, they explain this price difference comes from using only high-quality servers and implementing strong security measures. It may not have all the frills, but CounterMail is a serious security-focused email provider with a 10+ year track record.

+ Pros

  • Supports cryptocurrency payments
  • Secure, built-in password manager
  • All emails and attachments stored encrypted on no-logs, secure servers in Sweden
  • Custom domain support
  • Message filter and autoresponder features
  • Uses RSA, AES-CBC, and SSL encryption to protect against leaks and MITM attacks

– Cons

  • Design and UI feels outdated
  • More expensive than other secure email options
  • Now requires an invite to register

https://CounterMail.com

8. Kolab Now – Fully-featured Swiss email

Based in Switzerland
Storage 2 GB+
Price $5.47/mo.
Free Tier 30 day trial
Website KolabNow.com

Kolab Now Email

Based in Switzerland, Kolab Now is a private email service offering lots of features and full email suite functionality. A Kolab Now subscription includes email, contacts, calendars, scheduling, collaboration/sharing tools, and cloud file storage. Right now they are running a public beta of their voice and videoconferencing system. All of the features and options make Kolab Now an excellent choice for business users, teams, and privacy-focused individuals.

While Kolab now does offer numerous features and support for all major operating systems and devices, it also does not offer as much encryption for those who want the highest levels of security. End-to-end encryption for emails is available but not built-in and emails are not stored encrypted at rest.

The price is also on the higher end, especially if you want access to all features and more storage. However, for those wanting a feature-rich email suite hosted in Switzerland, Kolab Now may be a good fit.

+ Pros

  • Accepts cryptocurrency payments
  • Full support for POP, SMTP, and IMAP
  • Switzerland jurisdiction with strong privacy protection
  • Full email suite with numerous features to replace Gmail, Office365, etc.
  • Support for custom domains, teams, and business users
  • End-to-end (E2E) encryption is available, but not built in

– Cons

  • Email not encrypted at rest (but stored in high-security Swiss data center)
  • Expensive

Website: https://KolabNow.com

9. StartMail – Private email hosted in The Netherlands

Based in The Netherlands
Storage 10-20 GB
Price $3.00/mo.
Free Tier 7 day trial
Website StartMail.com

StartMail

StartMail is a secure email service brought to you by the team behind Startpage, a private search engine based in the Netherlands. While there was surprising news about System1 investing in Startpage, StartMail is its own unique entity under StartMail B.V. – a company operating under Dutch law in The Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a good jurisdiction for privacy and StartMail aims to keep as little data as possible to run their operations (see privacy policy). Unlike most secure email providers, StartMail handles encryption server-side, rather than in the browser – see their white paper explaining why. So if E2EE (End-to-End encryption) is a top priority for you, StartMail isn’t a great option.

StartMail allows users to utilize PGP encryption with emails also being encrypted at rest on their Dutch servers. One cool feature of StartMail is they give you the ability to create temporary, disposable email addresses “on the fly” to use with different services. IMAP and SMTP are also supported if you want to use StartMail with third-party apps such as Thunderbird.

In May of 2023, SmartMail doubled the amount of storage for all their plans to 20GB without increasing the cost, thereby giving all their users a nice gift.

+ Pros

  • Can create temporary, disposable email addresses
  • Accepts cryptocurrency payment
  • IMAP and SMTP support; can use custom domains
  • Headers and IP address stripped from all emails
  • Accounts come with 10 GB file storage

– Cons

  • No custom mobile apps
  • Not open source
  • Higher prices

Website: https://www.StartMail.com

10. Soverin – Basic private email in the Netherlands

Based in The Netherlands
Storage 25 GB
Price €3.25/mo.
Free Tier No
Website Soverin.net

Soverin email

Soverin is a basic secure email service at a reasonable price. Plans come with 25 GB of storage and custom domains are supported. All data is stored on servers in Germany. Soverin strips IP addresses from headers while also using strong encryption standards, although email is not stored encrypted at rest by default.

For those wanting a basic private email service with lots of storage that is protected by European privacy laws, Soverin may be a good choice. It can also be used with third-party email clients and importing old emails is relatively simple.

+ Pros

  • 25 GB of data storage for all plans
  • Data protected under Dutch privacy laws and GDPR
  • Can be used with third-party email clients

– Cons

  • No custom mobile apps
  • Not open source
  • No built-in encryption options

Website: https://Soverin.net

Email jurisdiction and data privacy

Where your email service is located (jurisdiction) can seriously impact the security of your data. Depending on your threat model, this could be a major consideration. For an overview of jurisdiction and privacy, you may want to read our article on the Five/9/14 Eyes surveillance alliances.

Here are some reasons to pay attention to jurisdiction.

United States (leading member of the Five Eyes)

Tech companies in the US can be forced to give government agencies direct access to their servers for “extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information” – as explained in the PRISM surveillance program. Data requests can also be accompanied by gag orders, which forbid the company from disclosing what’s going on (see also National Security Letters).

Several instances have been reported where American email service providers were compelled to surrender information. In a notable case, Lavabit chose to shut down the business instead of disclosing user data. Riseup, another email service provider in the US, was forced to hand over data to law enforcement agencies.

There are a few known cases of US email providers being forced to give up data. In one prominent example, Lavabit decided to shut down the business rather than give up user data. Another US email provider, Riseup, was also forced to give up data to authorities.

After exhausting our legal options, Riseup recently chose to comply with two sealed warrants from the FBI, rather than facing contempt of court (which would have resulted in jail time for Riseup birds and/or termination of the Riseup organization).

There was a “gag order” that prevented us from disclosing even the existence of these warrants until now. This was also the reason why we could not update our “Canary” [warrant canary that warns users about these events].

Europe in general is more privacy-focused than some locations

Once again politicians in Europe are trying to find an excuse to limit or ban the use of encryption by their people. This time around, the argument is that encryption must be banned to fight child abuse. Once again it is up to tech companies including Tutanota and Mailfence to protect the privacy rights of the populace. In April, a group of companies sent an open letter to the European Parliament arguing against the mass surveillance that the elimination of encryption would be meant to enable.

How this will turn out is unclear, but the possibility of the EU banning encryption casts doubts on the viability of any secure email service based in the EU.

We’ll let you know what happens with this.

All email providers must comply with the law

While these examples may seem alarming, the truth is that all email providers must comply with legal requirements in the country they are operating in. For example, Proton Mail, a Switzerland email provider, has also been forced to log IP addresses and disable accounts by valid court orders, as they disclose in their transparency report.

Note: If you are concerned about your email service logging your IP address, then simply use a good VPN service. Two of the top providers we have tested are NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

Considering everything, some jurisdictions are much better than others, so choose wisely. As a general rule, I’d still avoid email services in the US, and perhaps other Five Eyes jurisdictions.

Want secure email? Pay for it.

The unlimited “free” email business model is fundamentally flawed. It offers a free service, which is used to collect data and thereby monetize the user and make money on ads. With these privacy-abusing “free” services, you are actually paying for the product with your data.

In contrast, here we recommend privacy-friendly, secure, ad-free email services. While some of these private email services offer limited free subscriptions, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan for more storage and premium features (the freemium business model).

Fortunately, you can “vote with your dollars” by supporting these privacy-respecting businesses and upgrade to paid accounts. This will help secure email providers to grow, improve, and serve more people with an ethical business model that does not rely on exploiting their users’ data.

Secure email shortcomings and PGP flaws

Most secure email solutions mentioned in this guide utilize PGP for end-to-end encrypted email. PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy and was invented back in 1991 by Phil Zimmermann.

PGP flaws – While PGP is considered a trustworthy, secure encryption method, there have been some flaws in implementing PGP that have made headlines recently – see also the EFAIL vulnerabilities.

While the news did attract lots of attention, the “flaws” were mainly limited to the incorrect implementation of PGP by third parties. To my knowledge, this did not affect the secure email providers mentioned in this guide.

Limited Use – Another fundamental problem with adopting secure email is that few people are willing to go through the hassle of PGP key management, encryption, decryption, etc. There are some solutions, to this, however, and by some measures encrypted email usage continues to grow.

Many providers address this issue by making encryption automatic and seamless. Tutanota, for example, uses built-in AES encryption that automatically encrypts emails between Tutanota users, including headers, subject line, body, and attachments. They also provide a secure, two-way communication contact form called Secure Connect.

Vulnerabilities – Even when using a secure browser, there are still vulnerabilities to consider with browser-based email clients. Phil Zimmermann gave an interview highlighting some of these shortcomings:

“The browser is not a terribly safe place to run code. Browsers have a large attack surface,” he said. Wherever encryption and decryption take place, though, it’s a vast improvement on no encryption. But even encrypting messages may not be enough, depending on the threat model. The very nature of email makes it vulnerable.

“Email has an enormous attack surface,” Zimmermann said. “You’ve not only got cryptographic issues but you’ve got things like spam and phishing and loading images from a server somewhere that might have things embedded inside.”

On a positive note, however, there are many options for securing and hardening your browser – see the secure browser and Firefox privacy guides. Furthermore, most secure email providers offer protection against these attack vectors by blocking email images by default while also utilizing virus filters.

Keep in mind, however, that non-browser email clients can also be problematic – potentially revealing unique information about your operating system (user agent) as well as your IP address and location.

Regardless of these limitations, using a secure email provider will help keep large tech companies from harvesting your email data for third parties.

Secure email vs secure messaging apps

Depending on your threat model, you may also want to consider using secure messaging apps, which do not have all of the vulnerabilities discussed above with email.

We have tested many different encrypted and secure messaging apps and compiled a list of our favorites. Here are a few reviews of some of the best options we’ve tested:

Encrypted messaging apps generally offer a higher level of security over email, plus they are much easier to use than PGP email encryption.

Finally, encrypted messaging apps are also convenient for back-and-forth conversations, document sharing, and collaboration with others. For more information, check out our roundup guide on the best secure messaging apps.

Always use a good VPN with email

One fundamental problem with email is that it can expose your IP address and location to third parties, by design.

While some secure email services strip IP addresses and conceal metadata, many others do not. And as we saw with the Proton Mail logging case, email services may be forced to log user IP addresses by valid court orders, without disclosing any information to the user. We’ve seen this with email providers in the US, Germany, and even Switzerland.

Finally, there’s also the fact that many email services keep logs for security, which may include user IP addresses, connection times, and other metadata. Of course, whenever you have logs, this data could end up with third parties (for various reasons).

To effectively conceal your IP address and location, you will need to use a good VPN (Virtual Private Network) service. Popular VPN services, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, offer VPN clients (apps) for all major operating systems and devices.

VPN with Secure Email

A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and a VPN server, encrypting your traffic and concealing your real IP address and location. The VPN will encrypt and anonymize your internet traffic, while you carry on with business as usual. Some of the larger providers, such as NordVPN and Surfshark, offer apps for all major operating systems and devices, along with large server networks around the world.

Because a VPN offers significant privacy and security benefits, it’s a smart idea to use one whenever you’re online. Internet providers in many countries are recording user browsing history by logging DNS requests. Depending on local laws, this information could then be sold to advertisers or handed to government agencies in countries with mandatory data retention laws. With a VPN, your DNS requests are encrypted and handled by the VPN server and unreadable to your ISP or other parties.

Conclusion on secure and private email services in 2023

Regardless of your circumstances, opting for a secure and private email service is a wise move to protect your privacy. Major email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Microsoft don’t always prioritize your privacy, so you have to look after it yourself. Paying your money to one of our recommended email services means you won’t be paying your privacy to some “free” email service.

Once you switch to one of these email services your private communications will be much more secure. Then all you need to do is avoid non-technical attacks, like the typical email scams that never seem to go away.

See the main privacy tools guide for other privacy and security essentials.

We also have a guide on encrypting email.

And if you want more info on these secure email providers, you could check out the reviews below:

  • Proton Mail Review
  • Tutanota Review
  • Mailfence Review
  • Mailbox.org Review
  • Hushmail Review
  • Posteo Review
  • Fastmail Review
  • Runbox Review

Have you used one of these secure email providers? Feel free to leave your feedback/review of the service below.

This secure email guide was last updated on May 30, 2023.

About Heinrich Long

Heinrich is an associate editor for RestorePrivacy and veteran expert in the digital privacy field. He was born in a small town in the Midwest (USA) before setting sail for offshore destinations. Although he long chafed at the global loss of online privacy, after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, Heinrich realized it was time to join the good fight for digital privacy rights. Heinrich enjoys traveling the world, while also keeping his location and digital tracks covered.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Andrew August 10, 2023

You might want to check out Skiff Mail (skiff.com) on the rankings. It’s open-source, end-to-end encrypted, and we just launched adding a custom domain on the free tier.

quietme July 23, 2023

The info on this page needs updating re Tutanota. They have tripled the price of their lowest paid plan to 3 euros pcm. Other references to Tutanota on this website may also need updated to this.

Andrew Milich July 14, 2023

You might want to check out Skiff Mail (skiff.com). It’s open-source, end-to-end encrypted, and we just launched adding a custom domain on the free tier. That means you can use it as a business email with your own domain.

Anonymous July 8, 2023

What about Swisscows email?

  • Jack Sparrow July 14, 2023

Heh, yeah I was wondering that two. Given that Swisscows was in the top 10 for best privacy focused search engines on this very website, I’m surprised that their email service isn’t mentioned in this list.

jesse deebox July 17, 2023

They were milked for all they were worth a long time ago.

Mikey July 4, 2023

FYI if you are an American citizen and you access an internet service outside the United States, the federal government can eavesdrop on your communications without a warrant thanks to the patriot act and other laws passed since the “war on terror” began in 2001. If you choose a service hosted in the USA, the government would be required to obtain a warrant. Of course, the law has not stopped them, there are zero consequences if they eavesdrop on your communications, there is nothing holding them to account and since the Snowden revelations I’ve come to the conclusion my fellow citizens don’t care if the government intercepts and stores every bit of communication that takes place. However, if they wanted to use your messages as evidence against you in court, they would need to obtain a warrant. For a USA citizen, these services hosted in foreign countries might not be the smartest choice.

  • Kathy July 5, 2023

This is so much more involved where a short blurb can’t go into. Like the US gov on the US citizens with stateside mailboxes, reported somewhere in one of the anti-terrorism ACT’s, the gov deems all messages 6 months old in a mailbox as abandoned and can get copies of those. Sure all governments have to go their own court systems to have your info and then locally residing people stand the best chances to defend themselves of a charge wherever they live. Don’t forget the US government has it’s foot in more countries the the eye’s nations in tow. You have to warrant a target on your back to cause a government all the trouble in going after you. Encryption is a lock and a lock is to keep honest people stay honest but a dishonest person will break any lock. Doesn’t say much for secure technology of the digital realm nor the governments we have today. Just think how many times your image and even plate tags are captured in a bustling metro area.

american September 13, 2023

Something to note though, if your “USA hosted service” has/uses servers literally anywhere else in the world, they probably move or copy your data to those servers from time-to-time for backups or load balancing or any number of things, and that’s where a large part of “foreign data” is collected… so you still could be fucked

brokep June 26, 2023

My comment here is in relation to Lavabit.com Every mention of Lavabit on this site is in reference to its noble shutdown rather than comply with a tyrannical NSL. However, https://www.lavabit.com is alive and well since January 20t 2017. Full disclosure I have been working at lavabit since 2018. I believe a full review of the service is due here.
The server is fully open source
https://www.github.com/lavabit/magma
The VPN server they offer on Android (Google play & F-Droid) is also open source
https://www.github.com/lavabit/pahoehoe

  • Kathy June 26, 2023

brokep: @lavabit
Strange the site has the tab MEET THE TEAM and only a management team of two people shown = ladar levison Founder in Chief, richard delgado Business Guy. Then I’ve looked in from time to time over the years and the site looks really the same. Even, this is still there “Volcano—our free, open source mail client—takes full advantage of the Dark Internet Mail Environment”. Is COMING SOON so is LAVABIT still actively developing the Volcano mail client and as ever is going to happen? When? I agree Sven should have Heinrich look into lavabit and maybe why he hasn’t is because the lights are on but no-one is home, like in the press and active developments even the site being updated. Be nice to have an understanding to another good mail service worth the privacy previewed.