Gmail was first released in 2004, and since then it has grown to become the most popular email platform with billions of personal and business users around the world. While Gmail is easy to use, and offers a wide range of useful features, there are numerous, safer email service providers available today like ProtonMail which is well known for being secure and privacy-focused. So the question is: Do you want to sign up for a mainstream email service our choose a private email solution? Find out which is better – Proton Mail or Gmail? - with this comparison! Because when choosing the best email provider, one size doesn’t fit all. Selecting the best one for you can be difficult, which is why we’ve done some research to help you!
Maybe you want to move away from big-tech and surveillance and are looking for a Gmail replacement, or maybe you’re interested in opening an additional email account for more private matters – we have all your questions covered! In this guide we take a look at ProtonMail vs Gmail, the pros and cons of each of these popular mail providers as well as the key differences.
ProtonMail and Gmail, two popular email providers, differ significantly in features and security. Proton Mail places a strong emphasis on privacy, offering end-to-end encryption and zero-access encryption for stored emails, ensuring that even the provider cannot access the content. Users can create accounts anonymously, and the service operates under Swiss jurisdiction, which like Germany is known for robust privacy laws. Gmail, on the other hand, is ad-supported, scanning emails for targeted ads. While it employs security measures like TLS, two-factor authentication and offers convenience with its integrated ecosystem, Gmail lacks default end-to-end encryption, raising concerns about data access. The choice between ProtonMail vs Gmail depends on individual priorities, whether it's a focus on privacy and security with ProtonMail or the convenience of integration with Google's services provided by Gmail.
So read on to find out which is the best choice for you: Gmail or ProtonMail – or another email provider entirely!
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ProtonMail, the much lesser known email provider was created in 2014 by scientists and engineers at CERN in Switzerland with a strong focus on privacy and security. Over the years, it has increased its products and and added Proton Calendar, Proton Drive and ProtonVPN. Like Tuta Mail ProtonMail has become a popular email provider for individuals and organizations who prioritize privacy and security.
A key selling point for ProtonMail is their security features; they use end-to-end encryption, which means only the intended email recipient is able to decrypt and view the messages. In addition to end-to-end encryption, unlike most email providers they don’t collect heaps of personal data, you can sign-up anonymously and there’s no IP address logging.
While we’ve let you in on the benefits of ProtonMail, it’s only fair to mention that there are some downsides and it does have it’s limits. In the next section we take a deeper look at the pros and cons of ProtonMail.
End-to-end encryption: Proton Mail has a zero-access encryption system which means that only the intended recipient can view and decrypt the email contents. Even Proton isn’t able to view the contents of the emails sent. In 2014, they started using PGP encryption to secure emails, and in 2019, they brought out elliptic curve cryptography allowing for faster speeds and better security.
Anonymous sign-up: When you sign-up for Proton’s free or paid email accounts you don’t need to give them any personal information which means you can remain anonymous. However, if you try to register via Tor for a free email account, it might be difficult as Proton Mail will not let you create an email address absolutely anonymously without at least forcing you to donate to the service.
Zero IP address tracking: ProtonMail doesn’t log IP addresses used to access their services.
Free account access: While their free account is limited to only 500 MB, no email alias addresses, no filters, ProtonMail is allowing users around the world to protect their right to privacy for free which is a major push in the right direction if you ask us!
Daily message limit: Users on the free email plan are limited to sending 150 emails daily. For individual use this number should be sufficient, but if you are an email power user, the free offer will not work for you. Enterprise and individual users have the option to get a paid Proton Mail subscription which allows you to send up to 1000 emails per day.
Limited storage: With the free Proton Mail account users initially get 500MB storage space and Proton gradually allows you to unlock up to 1GB of total storage space. Users also have the option to get a Mail Plus account which offers 15GB total storage for 4.99 €/mt or a Proton Unlimited account which offers 500GB total storage space for 12.99€/mth. This pricing struggles to compete with commercial email providers like Google’s Gmail who offer much larger, 15GB for the free version, and up to 2TB for 9.99€/mth with the Premium subscription.
Limited integrations: ProtonMail can integrate with some third-party services but this is limited and a lot fewer compared to Gmail. ProtonMail supports IMAP so that you can use popular email clients like Outlook or Thunderbird with it. However, to use this feature you first need to have a paid plan and second need to install the Proton bridge (for decrypting your emails before they are sent to Outlook or Thunderbird), which is a bit clunky, particularly on Linux.
Gmail, owned by the big tech giant Google has been around for years and is the free email provider of choice to billions of people around the world. It first came on the market in 2004, and at the time the 1GB storage space Google offered with Gmail as well as conversation threads was super modern and advanced compared to other popular providers like Yahoo or Hotmail (now Outlook).
You can get a free Gmail account for personal use which offers generous storage space, good organizational features and a powerful search function. Particularly if ProtonMail’s free version is too limited for your taste, this legacy email provider makes a good ProtonMail replacement. For professional email use, you can pay for a Google Workspace subscription, where you not only have your Gmail account but also access to all Google Workspace tools too. For many people the free Gmail account works well, but if you need access to Google Workspace and all its tools then you’d need to pay a subscription fee.
Google has a wide range of other applications like Google Drive, Google Calendar and Google Hangouts which all integrate and work effortlessly with Gmail. Google offers so many features and apps, it’s no surprise its a super useful and popular provider for enterprises and individuals.
While Gmail has a great user-interface and nice features and services, what’s often overlooked is its lack of privacy. Because Gmail’s email service is supposedly free, it means you’re paying with your privacy – they are mining tons of your data, snooping about and ad-targeting. This is how you pay for Google to be free.
Below we’ve reviewed and put together Gmail’s pros and cons.
Ample storage space: Gmail gives it’s free and paid users plenty of storage space, including 15 GB of free storage, allowing you to store a good amount of emails and attachments. For many, the storage offered for a free account is more than enough.
Google service integration: Google has a wide range of other services like Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Drive which all integrate seamlessly allowing users to access various productivity tools, schedule events or collaborate on documents at ease from the email interface.
Great user-interface: Gmail is super user-friendly and it has an intuitive interface making it easy for users to navigate and manage their account. Gmail is constantly updating and creating new features to enhance the user experience. The interface design is organized, clean and easy to navigate.
Lack of user privacy: Gmail scans the content of your emails – yes, you read right. Gmail actually tracks everything you buy, but here you can find out how to delete this information. In addition, if you use the free version, Google has started to place annoying ads directly in your mailbox. For this, of course, Google has a profile about you, generated from all the Google services you use. So when you see adverts that seem far too similar to what you’ve been speaking about in your emails or on other Google services, it’s because they analyze your every click on the web and target you with relevant ads to increase revenue. If this makes you uncomfortable, you should start looking for a privacy-first email provider!
Expensive paid subscriptions: Gmail does have a free plan which is usually adequate for personal use, but if you want to make the most of Gmail you can get a basic plan which starts at 5.75€ per month. The Google price plans are a bit more expensive compared to their competitors and if you’re an enterprise, the price increases quickly.
For many people, Gmail’s lack of privacy is a big turn off and it should be! Looking for a secure email alternative? Check here to see how Tuta Mail compares to Gmail and why it’s the best email provider around!
Now that we have briefly reviewed the pros and cons of Proton Mail vs Gmail, it may be becoming more clear that ProtonMail is excellent for user privacy whereas Gmail is excellent for its user-interface and integration with the Google suite. Both email providers are great depending on your needs and concerns, so at the end of the day it’s up to you and what fits best for you. In this next section we highlight the main differences between both providers Gmail vs ProtonMail.
Google has a wide range of products in its ecosystem and it works effortlessly with these useful products, particularly for professional email use. Gmail has many useful features and an easy-to-use interface which is customizable for your needs. Proton Mail on the other hand, also has a user-friendly interface but it has fewer features and isn’t as customizable as Gmail. Additionally it doesn’t have as many integration options.
Remember, Gmail is a product of tech giant Google whose business model is based around using data for targeted advertising to push revenue. When you sign up for a free Gmail account, you are required to put in a lot of personal details, whereas ProtonMail requires only a username and password. So although Gmail’s features are great, using their products comes with a loss of privacy. This compares to ProtonMail who prioritizes privacy. In addition, Google is based in the US, a country known for its surveillance and being part of the Five Eyes.
Gmail uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt data when it’s sent between the user device and Google’s servers. Using TLS is standard practice for emails, it’s creating a tunnel where the emails are being sent through protected with a layer of encryption. However, within this tunnel, the emails are still sent in plan text, so not encrypted, and are at risk of being scooped up by malicious actors or three letter agencies like the NSA. Gmail also encrypts emails on Google servers.
So the question that many will ask themselves is: Is ProtonMail safer than Gmail? The answer is yes, because Gmail does not have end-to-end encryption by default like Proton Mail. This makes ProtonMail the more secure option of the two. As mentioned, ProtonMail is known for it’s end-to-end encryption so by default all your mails and files are end-to-end encrypted and, thus, properly protected from eavesdropping. So while Gmail is safe, it still can’t compete with Proton Mail.
As mentioned before, each email provider of this ProtonMail vs Gmail comparison has its pros and cons and not one is better than the other. In the end, which is best depends on your needs and personal preference. What is more clear is that if privacy is your number one concern, then ProtonMail is hands down better. If you’re looking for an email provider that’s got lots of features, is user-friendly and has great integration with other services, then Gmail is your go-to!
But maybe you’re not convinced that Gmail or ProtonMail are best for you. We’ve created a guide of the the 10 best private email services available in 2024 that might be of interest to you.
Still aren’t sure if any of the two are the perfect email provider for you? Try Tuta Mail today.
Tuta Mail stands out for its focus on privacy, security and open source. With clients on all platforms, including Linux desktop clients and fast and easily accessible mobile apps, Tuta Mail is the go to choice for everyone looking for privacy and convenience at the same time.
With Tuta Mail, the entire mailbox is end-to-end encrypted. Your address book, calendar and all your emails are secure – not even the Tuta team can access them. Emails between Tuta users are automatically end-to-end encrypted (asymmetric encryption) and if you send an email to an external recipient, you can still encrypt and decrypt (symmetric encryption) the email with a chosen password. And even better – this automatic encryption works on all mobile and desktop devices giving you privacy and convenience on your chosen device! Tuta Mail ensures encrypted emails are made easy.
Tuta Mail is open source – all email clients are open source. Because of the open source implementation, nothing is hidden! Everyone is able to look at the code. This is another way we ensure that any flaws are quickly detected and fixed. In addition, Tuta owns its infrastructure, thus, we are our own ISP. This is important as it makes sure that your emails can not be intercepted by your ISP when connecting to your Tuta mailbox. We store all your data encrypted on our own servers, which are based in secure data centers in Germany, protected with the strong GDPR legislation. We would never host any of your data with cloud services like Google or AWS.
Tuta is committed to sustainability like many of our users. While Tuta continues to build and improve its private and secure email service, it doesn’t skip on its environmental responsibility. All user data is stored on Tuta owned secure servers which are powered by 100% renewable energy. Additionally, Tuta’s offices are supplied with electricity sourced from a renewable energy provider. Another benefit of having a Tuta mail account? Your emails are green, secure and private!
In addition, Tuta is setting the standard in a post-quantum world. The Tuta team is already working on post-quantum secure encryption – not just for email, but also for its calendar, its address book and an upcoming Drive solution.
Don’t settle for less in a post-quantum world, sign up for a Tuta Mail account now.
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