Why These Services?
When Gmail was first launched (remember that invite only system?), it was a marvel of email with ever expanding storage. Competitors soon upped the ante with more storage of their own. Yahoo offers a full terabyte of storage today. The services are definitely seem enticing, especially for the upfront price of free.
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others make their email services free in exchange for ads and data mining. Google reads every single email that goes through its service. Google will call it analyzing and its for the sake of ease. Google can remind you about bills or show you ads related to that car you emailed about.
I won’t lie. These services can be convenient and if your emails are innocuous, you may even benefit from it. The problem still exists though that the email provider is reading your email. It has access to the information and that’s a problem when servers are breached. Try a quick search of your email service with the word server breach (ie, Gmail server breach or Yahoo mail server breach).
Encrypted email offers protection against snooping eyes and data breaches. These providers offer end to end encryption meaning that only the user with the correct password is able to decrypt and open the email. The email is stored encrypted on the servers. There is no question about who has access to your email or who can read it.
If you value your privacy and the security of your information, use an encrypted email service.
Protonmail offers 500 MB while Tutanota doubles that at 1 GB.
Protonmail offers two free domain name options: protonmail.com and protonmail.ch. Tutanota has more options: tutanota.com, tutanota.de, tutamail.com, tuta.io, and keemail.me. Honestly, none of these names really excite me. I can’t imagine telling someone to email me at Chris at tuta dot io. Tutanota is derived from Latin meaning “secure message” so the name is at least apropos.
Edit August 2020: Protonmail has an additional option for email addresses: pm.me. Register for an account as before and access the the Inbox. The settings will yield an option to enable the pm.me address. The protonmail.com will still be valid with the shorter address as well.
Protonmail has web access as well as Android and iOS apps. IMAP support is strictly limited to paid plans and requires their Protonmail Bridge to handle encryption. Bridge will work with Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail though Protonmail states it should work with any IMAP program.
Protonmail is located in Switzerland. They claim it is under 1000 meters of solid rock in “Europe’s most secure data center.” On the bright side, your emails will survive a nuclear apocalypse. Swiss privacy laws are far stricter than those in the US. Your data should be pretty safe.
Tutanota is located in Germany. They make no such claims about mountain bunkers but Tutanota still has bragging rights with German privacy laws.
Germany and Switzerland are both subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR addresses how data can be processed and moved ensuring that your data should be safe and secure. The US lacks anything comparable.
Protonmail restricts free accounts to 150 emails per day. Tutanota doesn’t.
Tutanota is powered by renewable energy. That makes me happy.
Both services are ad free.
Paid Personal Tiers
The free plans may be enough for most users especially if this isn’t a primary email address. However, if you need a custom domain or more storage, both services offer various pain plans.
Protonmail enables their Bridge to work with IMAP programs under paid plans. Tutanota only offers its own applications.
Paid Business Tiers
Protonmail paid plans start at €5/month or €48/year for 5 GB. Extra storage, domains, and addresses are available a la carte to help customize.
At this point, I think Tutanota literally took Protonmail’s pricing and just doubled offers. Oh, Proton is giving you 5 gigs for €48? We’ll give you 10 gigs!
Tutanota also has an a la carte option if you’re interested in the full course meal. 10 GB for €24, 100 GB for €120, and 1 TB for €600 a year. Additional domains, whitelabel, and sharing are available.
Tutanota donates part of their business plan profits to give a 50% discount to non profit organizations. I couldn’t find anything like that with Protonmail.
Somethings are really straightforward. Free users should probably use Tutanota. It just offers more for the money. Or free. Whatever.
Similarly, non profits are probably wise to choose Tutanota as well. The steep discount on plans is too enticing to pass up.
If you’re really, really worried about the safety and security of your email, get Protonmail. The data center is buried in a freaking mountain. Its not going anywhere.
Since I wrote this comparison of two top secure and private mail services, I’ve also reviewed Msgsafe.