5 best free secure email providers

Many people are choosing to leave insecure email providers such as Outlook, Yahoo, and Gmail. Those services have been shown to scan user’s emails for advertising data. And have even been caught providing access to the contents of emails for government snoops at the NSA. 

If you are sick of having your privacy invaded, you may be wondering if it is possible to start getting better email security for free. The good news is that there are plenty of secure email providers on the market that provide a simple, single address service for free.

While you don’t necessarily get masses of storage space, and all the extra features that come with a Google account, you do get secure encrypted messaging; which means that when you send and receive emails, you know that only you can access the contents of those emails.

We have listed the 5 best free private email providers. All the free services in this list use secure end-to-end encryption, offer great apps and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) support. 

What are the best free secure Email providers?

  1. ProtonMail
  2. Tutanota
  3. Mailfence
  4. Hushmail

The best free secure Email providers: In-depth analysis

Below we have listed the 4 most secure free email providers. All of these services will keep your private emails private and are great alternatives to gmail, outlook, and other services that sell your data to the highest bidder. Click through the email providers website for more information about their service.

1. ProtonMail

500MB storage free - Does not keep any logs of your email activity - iOS and Android app

  • Pricing

    From $0.00 / month

ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, a location considered much better than invasive jurisdictions such as the US and the UK. This means that the firm can provide a strong privacy policy that promises never to store your IP address or other personally identifiable data. 

While it is possible that Swiss authorities could serve the firm with a warrant to provide whatever data it has because it keeps no logs (other than payment information) it would not have anything to hand over.

However, free users are asked to verify their account, which means that you will need to provide another email address when you create the account. This is not ideal and does mean that to start a free account that isn’t tied to you, you will need a “burner” email address elsewhere. 

Most importantly, ProtonMail is open-source, and it has been audited. In addition, it provides full PGP compatibility for sending encrypted emails. And all emails are securely encrypted on its servers while at rest. 

This is impressive considering that you can use it for free with one address and 500 MB of storage space. If you value privacy and don’t need more than one email address - you really have no reason not to leave the likes of AOL and Yahoo behind. 

2. Tutanota

1GB of storage free - Send and recieve emails securely without PGP - Apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iPhone

  • Pricing

    From $0.00 / month

Tutanota is a really superb email service that permits users to have one email address and 1GB of storage for free. This is truly outstanding, particularly if you are a beginner to sending secure emails and you do not want to learn about PGP keys (PGP encrypted email can have a bit of a steep learning curve). 

With Tutanota, you get the ability to send and receive emails securely without PGP keys. This is done using strong AES encryption with Perfect Forward Secrecy. So what does this mean? With Tutanota you can use a special link system and a password to send end-to-end encrypted emails to anybody: no matter which service they currently use. 

What’s more, Tutanota is designed to strip IP addresses from the header of emails, and it can even encrypt metadata. As a result, you get an extremely secure email service that makes it very difficult for anybody to track your emails, and impossible for them to see the contents. Users can even send self-destructing emails!

Perhaps the only downside is that the firm does store some minimal metadata logs about messages sent using the service for 5 days (to keep the service running smoothly). However, this should not be a concern to the 99.9 percent of users. 

3. Mailfence

1GB of storage (500MB email, 500MB documents) - Two factor authentication - Email support

  • Pricing

    From $0 / month

This secure email provides is based in Belgium and it is a service that is highly impressive. For free, users are permitted to get a single email address with 500 Mb of storage. And the advantages of using this service are numerous. 

End-to-end encryption is provided thanks to strong PGP compatibility. However, for beginners, the option is there to securely encrypt emails using a “shared secret” password system. This means that anybody can instantly start sending secure emails - without the need to learn about complicated PGP keys. 

Mailfence has awesome extra features such as a calendar, contacts, and documents storage. It is also easy to sync the service across all your devices - and lets you quickly import your old contacts from your old email address using a CSV file. 

While Mailfence does store some logs about its users - including user IP addresses and metadata - it only does this to comply with Belgian laws. And it does provide a full transparency report that reveals exactly how many requests from the authorities it receives. 

However, no matter what warrants it receives it will never be able to provide access to the contents of emails thanks to the strong end-to-end encryption it provides. Excellent for beginners.

4. Hushmail

15MB of storage - Full PGP compatibility - App for iPhone

  • Pricing

    From $0 / month

This Canadian provider is another secure email service that permits users to get an account for free. Without paying consumers can get a single address with 15 MB of storage. Admittedly, that is not a lot of storage space, which means that you are not going to be able to receive emails with massive attachments or to have a large inbox of emails that you don't bother to delete. However, if you are happy to delete your emails as you go along, this free service may be ok for you. 

Users get access to full end-to-end encrypted emails thanks to full PGP compatibility, and all emails are stored securely at rest. IMAP and POP are supported which means you can use this email account with a third party client to avoid any possible Javascript vulnerabilities.

Being based in Canada, which is part of the 5 Eyes, means that it is from a country that is not considered excellent for privacy. This may be enough to put some people off the service. However, it is worth remembering that the end-to-end encryption does mean that even if the authorities do approach the firm, they will not be able to access the contents of encrypted emails. 

Not as good as some services higher in this article, but a free, secure email provider that is much better than the likes of Google.

Free secure Email Alternative

Signal

Unlimited storage - encrypted messages - Apps for Android and iPhone

Ok, so we will begin by admitting that this is not actually an email service. However, it is free, and when it comes to sending messages with strong end-to-end encryption there is nothing that really rivals Signal for ease of use and security. 

Signal is completely secure, and it is one of the few services that promise never ever to work with government authorities. Singal’s developer Open Whisper is on the record as stating that it will never provide backdoors for the authorities, and the Signal protocol is both open source and extremely robust. 

The nice thing about Signal is that it is absolutely free. That means anybody, anywhere can send messages using the service without paying a dime. And, with Signal you know that nobody will ever see the contents of your messages - other than the intended recipient. 

So, while this isn’t technically an email service, it does allow you to send encrypted messages over the internet. We think that for many people Signal is a better option for communicating than via an email address with a big tech firm such as Google. And for this reason, we recommend people to look into this free service!

Conclusion

If you want to start sending secure emails for free, you are going to need an email provider that provides end-to-end encryption for nothing. This is extremely rare because providing strong end-to-end encryption is not easy. 

Many free emailing services exist such as KOLAB Now, and those services are considered better than Gmail because they do not actively break into user’s emails to scan them for marketing purposes. However, many of those email providers do not provide encryption for data at rest or end-to-end encryption. 

As a result, those free email accounts can not be considered secure. Because, if they are approached with a warrant by the government they will have to (and be able to) provide access to the contents of your emails. 

In this guide, we have listed only email services that provide strong encryption that ensures only the senders and recipients of message ever have access to the contents. This is true email security, and these services al provide it for free.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. Ray is currently rated #4 VPN and #3 internet privacy authority by Agilience.com.

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