Protonmail Review & Gmail vs Protonmail - A Detailed Comparison

January 15, 2024
|
10 Minutes
Modified on:
January 15, 2024
|
Written by:
Swati Bucha
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Introduction

“Open a new email account for free!”

Don’t we love it when giants like Google and Yahoo offer us an experience for free? But here is the catch: we pay for it with our privacy. The provider has a complete view of our activities. Encrypted email providers like ProtonMail have thus emerged as a great alternative. They prioritize your security. Some of their services even offer additional features—for instance, the Proton Unlimited level. A subscription to this will provide you complete access to its VPN, encrypted device, calendar, and password manager. With exceptional end-to-end email encryption along with added features, it doesn’t get better than this. 

What is ProtonMail?

Definition 

Developed first in 2013 by a group of scientists and engineers from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), ProtonMail is an encrypted email service ensuring privacy and security. The primary goal of the service is to facilitate secure email communication. Even though ProtonMail stores your data, it does that with zero-knowledge encryption, meaning nobody other than you can access messages and additional information. 

Key features 

Some of the key features of ProtonMail include: 

  • End-to-end encryption: Messages sent and received via ProtonMail are encrypted. So, if A sends a message to B, only B can decrypt and read the contents of the message. This means even ProtonMail cannot access your private conversations. 
  • Zero-access encryption: This ensures the service provider has zero access to the encryption keys needed to decrypt use messages. Even though reasonably similar to the above feature, this helps introduce an additional layer of security.
  • Anonymous account creation: With ProtonMail, you can create an account without providing personal information. 
  • Self-destructing emails: There’s a feature in ProtonMail that lets you send emails that can automatically delete themselves after a specified period. 
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA): It refers to an additional verification step to further enhance the security of your account. 

Despite all the benefits, pricing is the most important consideration for most users out there, isn’t it? Let’s look at ProtonMail’s pricing and compare it with competitors like Neo. 

How can ProtonMail Help and Protect your Business?

In addition to pricing, trust is critical in choosing your next business email service. Do you trust the platform with your conversations? A lot of people and even businesses fall victim to poor online security. Business email compromise was among the top five most expensive data breach attack vectors 2021, costing over $5 million. This is why your business needs an effective and reliable email service. 

  • ProtonMail can be very useful in ensuring security: it relies not entirely on user information. It does not store personal information such as name, address, photos, credit card information, or phone numbers. End-to-end encryption properly guards these files, prohibiting access for anyone else.
  • ProtonMail applies multiple layers of protection against spying: the first layer comes from HTTP, a protocol their entire site runs on. This protocol ensures there is no eavesdropping. The next layer is added by 2FA, which protects every account by asking you for the password and other information only known to you. Only after inputting the information you can access your inbox. There is a third layer safeguarding your mailboxes: encryption.
  • ProtonMail’s servers offer the last protection layer: these are situated outside mainland China to ensure you don’t lose access to your emails, even if the Chinese government decides to shut down their sides one day. All in all, ProtonMail thoroughly protects your business.
  • ProtonMail can also help your business streamline operations and grow overall: the email service offers a searchable mailbox list, IMAP support, sophisticated filtering options, unlimited accounts per domain name, and POP3 support. Some email services have great delivery features, but your security is compromised, while others guarantee protection but lack advanced features. With ProtonMail, you get a nice mix of security and privacy features.

Gmail vs. ProtonMail : Pros & Cons

You may wonder how to choose between well-established giants like Google’s Gmail and ProtonMail. Let’s look at the critical differences between Gmail and ProtonMail. 

Pros

ProtonMail Gmail
You can create an account anonymously Flexible and easy to use for first-time users
ProtonMail does not track users’ IP addresses It has an intuitive interface, making emailing easy
Paid users have the choice to pay anonymously using methods like Bitcoin High compatibility with Google Workspace
Elliptic curve cryptography ensures faster speed and extra security Access to Gmail SMTP service to send and receive email via Outlook and third-party clients
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) secures emails and transferred files Junk-free mail inboxes
Address verification enables you to identify who receives your email Cutting-edge spam filtering

Cons

ProtonMail Gmail
Users can only send 150 emails every day, and for paid users, the limit is 1,000 emails per day Gmail can view personal information, app usage, and email contents
Smaller data cap as compared to Gmail – only 500 MB of secure cloud storage Lacks custom folders that are used to sort out emails
Minimal organizational tools Paid plans are more expensive, starting at USD 6 per month
No filters or flags Prices of enterprise-level plans integrated with Google Workspace grow rapidly

Gmail vs ProtonMail : Price and Features Comparison

Feature ProtonMail Gmail
Pricing - Free plan available - Paid plans start at $7.99/month (for individual unlimited plan) or $6.49/month for businesses - Free plan available - Paid plans start at $6/month for Google Workspace Starter
Storage Capacity - 500 MB (Free), up to 500 GB (Paid) - 15 GB of shared storage (Free), up to 30 TB (Paid)
Attachment Limits - 25 MB - 25 MB (larger attachments converted to Google Drive links)
User Interface - Clean and minimalist design - Limited theme options - Clean and familiar design - Extensive theme and layout customization
Email Organization - Labels, folders, filters - Labels, categories, filters
Email Content Search - Available for paid users - Available
AI Reply Suggestion - No - Yes
Privacy and Security - End-to-end encryption - No personal information needed for account creation - Operates under Swiss privacy laws - Standard encryption (TLS, 128-bit AES) - Uses user data for analytics and services - Operates under U.S. jurisdiction
Integrations - Limited, mainly with other Proton services - Deep integration with Google Workspace and other apps
Customization - Limited to eight theme colors including dark mode - 30 themes available for customization

Guide to creating a ProtonMail Account.

Here is a stepwise guide to creating your ProtonMail account: 

  1. Sign up for ProtonMail: Start by visiting their website. You can click the Create a free email account tab on the homepage to get started for free.  Or you can sign up and move on to the next step.
  2. Choose a ProtonMail plan that works best for you: Various options, from free to multiple paid plans, offer additional features and storage alternatives. Consider your needs and make your pick. 
  3. Create your account: Once you have selected a plan, the website will prompt you to create a ProtonMail account. Enter the required information, including a username, password, and recovery email address. For robust security, you choose a strong password with uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. 
  4. Verify your email address: After you create an account on ProtonMail, the website will send a verification email to the address you provided when registering. Open that email and click on the verification link to confirm your email address. 
  5. Set up additional security features: ProtonMail offers several features, including 2FA, for enhanced protection. Even if someone can get your password, they will still have to use a second authentication to access your account. 
  6. Customize your ProtonMail account: After you have set up your account, you can customize your experience. For instance, you can personalize your display name or signature to make it how you like. 
  7. Manage your ProtonMail inbox: The email service provides a user-friendly interface. You can organize your emails into folders, mark important emails, and use search functions to find specific emails faster. You can also utilize advanced filtering and labeling features to streamline your inbox management further. 
  8. Compose and send emails: Now that you have your account set and explored all the features, you are ready to send out your first email. Click on the “Compose” button and enter the recipient’s email address, the email's subject, and the content. ProtonMail allows you to enter plain text and rich HTML formatting for your emails. 
  9. Manage contacts: Maintaining a well-organized contact list is recommended to streamline communication. On ProtonMail, you can create groups, import contacts, and edit contact details as needed. 

In addition to creating an account, users can use the ProtonMail mobile app and the ProtonMail Bridge to enhance communication and business performance. 

  • ProtonMail mobile app: An iOS and Android-friendly mobile app that can be downloaded from the respective app stores. You can download and log in to a ProtonMail account using the app anytime and anywhere to avoid missing out on an important email. 
  • ProtonMail Bridge: A desktop application that helps integrate ProtonMail with other popular email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, and Thunderbird. This way, you can use ProtonMail’s secure services while tethered to your preferred email client, facilitating a seamless experience. 

Key points to remember to use ProtonMail effectively

  • Update your password regularly to ensure security
  • Keep safety in mind when opening email attachments from unknown sources
  • Leverage ProtonMail’s encryption feature to send emails securely
  • Learn ProtonMail keyboard shortcuts for enhanced productivity

You can also check the guide to to gmail for business account creation in case you want to compare two processes.

Troubleshooting common issues

If you encounter issues while using ProtonMail, it is wise to consult the ProtonMail support center. They will offer extensive support, comprehensive guides, and FAQs that can resolve some difficulties. If that does not work out, you can gain personalized support.

Conclusion

ProtonMail stands out as a champion of digital privacy in the realm of email services. Its commitment to end-to-end encryption, zero-access encryption, and user anonymity makes it a go-to choice for individuals and businesses prioritizing secure communication. While there may be a slight learning curve for those new to secure email practices, the benefits in terms of privacy and security far outweigh any minor inconveniences.

In a world where data breaches and privacy concerns are prevalent, ProtonMail’s dedication to safeguarding user information makes it a commendable choice for those seeking a secure and reliable email service.

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