What is ProtonMail used for?
ProtonMail has been around since 2013, but it's only recently gained notoriety in the mainstream media. The encrypted email provider was founded by CERN physicist Max Schrems, who developed his idea after reading Edward Snowden's memoirs about NSA spying.
The German company behind ProtonMail has received more than $1 million in funding from Y Combinator, which led to its listing on the New York Stock Exchange last year. Its new CEO, Andy Yen, formerly of Google X -- where he worked on projects like Project Loon and Self Driving Cars -- made waves in Silicon Valley when he announced plans to launch the privacy-focused alternative to Gmail.
But how does this all work? What exactly do you get if you sign up for ProtonMail? And should we be concerned about security breaches at such a young startup? We've got answers to these questions below, including information about whether or not ProtonMail can actually replace Gmail.
Do hackers use ProtonMail?
It's hard to say definitively, because there aren't many documented cases of hacking into ProtonMail accounts. But that doesn't mean they don't happen. If someone manages to hack into yours, they could have access to everything stored in your inbox. Even worse, if their account contains sensitive data, it may leak out through other channels, too.
If you're worried about being hacked, you might want to look into using a VPN before signing up for any services. A VPN will encrypt your internet traffic so no one else can see what websites you visit while using them. It'll even let you browse anonymously online without anyone knowing what sites you're visiting. You'd still need to check that the site you're visiting isn't storing cookies on your computer, though.
In addition, some people believe that using a VPN is safer than just trusting a website's SSL certificate. An SSL certificate verifies that the website you're browsing is legitimate, but it won't verify that the person running it hasn't had their password stolen. Using a VPN helps protect against both types of attacks.
Is ProtonMail the same as Gmail?
Yes, pretty much! In fact, ProtonMail says that most users are already familiar with Gmail thanks to its "unparalleled" interface. That said, there are plenty of differences between ProtonMail and Gmail. Here are several key ones:
You can read messages offline
Gmail requires you to connect to the internet every time you open an email. With ProtonMail, you can download your emails locally and read them whenever you want. There's also built-in support for syncing calendars across multiple devices.
Your mailboxes stay private
With Gmail, everyone sees each other's public emails. They can view your conversations, too, if you share certain folders. On the flip side, ProtonMail keeps your inboxes completely private. Your colleagues can't snoop on your correspondence unless you explicitly add them as contacts.
There's better spam protection
Most modern e-mails come with lots of advertising, but ProtonMail takes steps to filter out unwanted junk automatically. For example, it removes links to adult content, malware, viruses, and phishing scams.
There's a desktop app
This is another big advantage that makes ProtonMail stand out from competitors like Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Outlook. You can download a lightweight version of the program right onto your PC or Mac for easier access anywhere you go.
A beta feature lets you store files securely
To make sure your documents remain safe, ProtonMail includes a beta feature called File Storage, which allows you to upload, edit, and delete important files directly within your mailbox. All changes are immediately synced back to your main account.
Another unique capability worth mentioning is the ability to send instant messages via SMS. While texting apps like WhatsApp and Signal offer similar features, they require you to create separate accounts for text messaging.
Should I use ProtonMail over Gmail?
While ProtonMail certainly comes with benefits, you probably shouldn't switch to it just yet. As far as we know, nobody's ever managed to break into ProtonMail's servers. Still, that's not enough reason to trust it completely.
First off, keep in mind that ProtonMail stores your entire inbox and contacts database on its own servers. So if something happens to those machines, you lose your info forever. Plus, ProtonMail doesn't provide backups of your inbox or address book, making it impossible to recover anything accidentally deleted.
Then again, there's always the chance that a breach would occur anyway. After all, Yahoo lost millions of customer records earlier this month, and Facebook suffered a massive cybersecurity attack last year.
On top of that, ProtonMail lacks a lot of basic functionality found in standard webmail clients. When you receive an incoming message, for instance, you have to manually click on the link provided by ProtonMail to read it instead of having it saved to your browser history automatically.
Finally, ProtonMail is limited to two simultaneous connections per user. That means if you try to log into Google Docs at the same time you're trying to use Gmail, you'll hit roadblocks along the way.
Can ProtonMail replace Gmail?
Even if you think the risk of losing your data is low, it's possible that ProtonMail can eventually become the world's dominant email client. According to TechCrunch, the company currently attracts 1.5 million monthly active customers worldwide. That number is expected to balloon to 10 million once its mobile app launches later this summer.
Of course, none of that matters if ProtonMail ends up shutting down tomorrow due to a financial crisis. But it appears unlikely that will happen anytime soon. As of May 2018, the company raised $200 million in venture capital funding. At that rate, it wouldn't take long for them to reach profitability.
So yes, ProtonMail definitely seems poised to overtake Gmail someday. Whether it succeeds depends largely on how well the company improves its products over the next few years.
For now, however, you can rest assured that ProtonMail offers superior security compared to Gmail. And if nothing else, it gives us hope that our personal data -- even our emails -- will never fall victim to cyberattacks.
Want more tips like these? Check out How to Use Email Like a Professional and How Much Does Privacy Cost?
If you're looking to buy yourself a new email account or want to switch from Gmail or Yahoo!, try out ProtonMail. It's fast, easy to set up, and comes with some useful extras like encrypted chat, calendars, and more. Plus, there are no ads! If you've never heard of it before, here are four things you need to know about this email provider.
Why would you use ProtonMail?
The first thing we should all consider when choosing our next email platform is whether we trust said platform with our messages. As someone who has been burned by online security issues in the past -- most notably at Hotmail -- I have learned to be wary of companies whose business model relies on my data. So why would anyone choose ProtonMail over other popular services like Google Apps, Microsoft 365, Office365, etc.?
For starters, ProtonMail doesn't rely solely upon user information. The company does not store any personal details such as names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card info, photos, or anything else that could compromise its users' privacy. Instead, it stores only encrypted versions of these files, which means they cannot be accessed without breaking into the server itself.
Secondly, ProtonMail employs many layers of protection against spying. First, the entire site runs using HTTPS (a protocol designed to prevent eavesdropping). Second, each individual account is protected via two-factor authentication, where you must enter both your password AND something known ONLY TO YOU in order to access your inbox. Thirdly, every single file stored within the mailboxes themselves is encrypted. And finally, ProtonMail's servers are located outside of mainland China, so if the Chinese government ever decides to shut down their sites -- as has happened recently to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Pinterest, and others -- then you won't lose access to your emails just because the country's censors decide to do so.
As far as features go, ProtonMail includes everything from basic functionality like a searchable mailbox list, advanced filtering options, IMAP support, POP3 support, unlimited accounts per domain name, plus many more niceties. You can even download the app on iOS or Android devices, too. With all of those benefits, how come it isn't listed among the top 100 alternatives to GMail? Well, let us count the ways...
What is the benefit of ProtonMail?
In terms of pure email functionality, ProtonMail beats out pretty much everyone else. For one, it supports POP3/IMAP4, SMTP, Sieve scripts, SSL/TLS connections, OAuth 2.0, DKIM, SPF, DMARC, PGP, OpenPGP, XMPP, DANE TLS, DNSSEC, IPv6, multiple languages, built-in spam filters, customizable themes, calendar integration, address book importation, custom signatures, HTML templates, auto-replying, and tons more.
Then there are the extra goodies. While your typical email client will offer a few basic functions like attachments, contacts, and scheduling, ProtonMail goes above and beyond with additional tools like document viewing, PDF viewer, spreadsheet editor, video player, image viewer, note taking, voice recording, contact syncing, and more. In addition, you get a secure browser extension, desktop apps for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, ChromeOS, Opera, Firefox, Safari, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia Symbian phones. Oh yeah, did we mention it's completely ad-free?
What kind of people use ProtonMail?
It seems like everybody loves ProtonMail. Here are just a handful of recent testimonials from satisfied customers:
"I love ProtonMail.com - very fast, reliable, simple interface." — Kevin G., USA
"[...] the best way to communicate securely over regular Internet connection." — Jason M., Canada
"[...] it’s the perfect solution for me." — Tim B., UK
"This is the best email service I have tried. Everything works great, the interface is intuitive, and the customer support is excellent!" — Peter T., Germany
"[...] an amazing experience. No bugs, no downtime, and absolutely no problems whatsoever since I switched to ProtonMail." — David C., USA
"I think ProtonMail is really good and I don’t see myself going back to another provider anytime soon. They are definitely the front runner in the race for the best free secure messaging software available today." — Chris K., Australia
"[...] my favorite email provider hands down." — Jeff E., USA
"[...] this is the fastest, most powerful, and easiest to use email alternative around." — Steve A., United Kingdom
"[...] it's very easy to configure, and it looks clean and professional." — Andrew W., USA
And while ProtonMail's website boasts thousands of happy clients, the real proof lies in the number of downloads. According to App Annie, ProtonMail was downloaded 8 million times worldwide in 2015 alone. Even though it currently ranks #8 overall, that's still more than twice as many downloads as the second place competitor, Tutanota. That makes sense considering ProtonMail's superior feature selection and ease of use -- but it's also important to note that Tutanota isn't offering free plans either!
Is it worth getting ProtonMail?
While ProtonMail's price tag may seem high compared to competitors like Tutanota ($10/year), Zoho Mail ($5/month), Fastmail ($20/year), Outlook Web Access ($25/year), and Mailfence ($7/year), it's actually significantly cheaper than similar paid providers. In fact, ProtonMail costs less than half as much as the cheapest option offered by Google Apps (which starts at $50/user, year). And unlike Fastmail, it's not limited to 5GB of space, meaning you'll always have plenty of room to grow.
Plus, ProtonMail provides several free add-ons including a secure browser extension, desktop apps for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, ChromeOS, Firefox, Safari, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, and Nokia Symbian phones. All told, ProtonMail has managed to create a truly complete cloud email solution. Not bad for an open source project run entirely by volunteers!
So, now you know everything you need to know about ProtonMail. But maybe you'd prefer to learn more about the company behind it, rather than its products. Read on to find out more about the people behind ProtonMail!
Who owns ProtonMail? Who created ProtonMail? How long has ProtonMail existed? What is the mission statement of ProtonMail? Where were the founders originally based? When did they start working together? How old are they? What languages do they speak? What countries do they live in? What are their hobbies? Have they previously worked together elsewhere? Which universities do they attend? Is ProtonMail funded by venture capitalists or investors? Do they donate money to charitable causes? Are they married? Does ProtonMail have children? How often do they travel abroad? What sort of work do they do?
These questions and dozens more await your answers below!
ProtonMail is the world's most advanced encrypted email provider. It has been around since 2014 but it only got mainstream attention in 2017 when Edward Snowden revealed his identity via an interview on The Intercept. Since then, privacy advocates have praised the site as one of the best places to keep sensitive communications safe from prying eyes.
It's not just about keeping messages private though. There's more than meets the eye at this website. In fact, there are quite a few things you can do with ProtonMail beyond simply sending emails. Let's take a look at some of them.
What makes ProtonMail different?
The first thing that sets ProtonMail apart from other providers like Gmail or Yahoo!, is its focus on user security and privacy. Unlike Google or Microsoft, which offer services built upon open standards such as POP3/IMAP4 and SMTP respectively, ProtonMail provides all its functionality through proprietary protocols. These include SPKM and SRP. Both these protocols were created by ProtonMail itself and they're designed specifically to guarantee 100% confidentiality while maintaining compatibility with existing software and infrastructure.
Another key difference between ProtonMail and others is how much information it collects about users. While Google knows everything about us thanks to our data being stored on their servers, ProtonMail does NOT collect any personally identifying information. Instead, it keeps track of IP addresses and timestamps associated with every action taken within the platform. Additionally, ProtonMail does not store deleted messages. It gets rid of them immediately after deletion so no trace remains behind.
This approach to protecting user privacy means that even if someone hacks into ProtonMail’s server(s), he will still be unable to get access to anyone’s inbox unless he already had valid credentials before entering the company’s network. And because it doesn't keep copies of anything, including messages, nobody would ever know whether the intruder accessed something sensitive or not.
ProtonMail takes another step towards user protection by allowing each individual account holder to create multiple identities. Each identity can be completely separate from the rest, meaning that you could set up accounts for family members without worrying about sharing details across them. You can see all your various identities under Settings " Account Identities.
You might wonder why you'd need multiple identities, especially if you don't intend to share your email address with anybody else. That's where PGP comes in handy. With PGP, you can encrypt entire folders containing hundreds of messages -- no matter where they are physically located on disk. When somebody wants to read those files, she'll have to decrypt them herself. If she doesn't possess the corresponding decryption keys, she won't be able to view the contents. On top of that, PGP allows you to sign outgoing mail, making sure recipients actually receive the message instead of getting an error saying “this isn’t signed!”
Unlike other email platforms, ProtonMail does not provide support for mobile devices. This decision was made due to the high level of user convenience offered by native apps. For example, you wouldn't want to carry a USB stick with you everywhere you go. Instead, you'd want to install a lightweight client app right onto your smartphone.
Who should use ProtonMail?
As mentioned above, ProtonMail is primarily aimed at professional communication needs. However, it's important to note that the service is compatible with both Windows 10 and MacOS systems. Therefore, it's suitable for home usage too.
If you work in IT or operate a small business, you probably think of yourself as responsible enough to protect confidential documents and files. But what happens when you lose them? Do you really trust cloud storage solutions like Dropbox or Box? Or perhaps you're worried about online backups provided by third parties, like Spideroak or Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. What kind of guarantees can you expect from such companies? How long can you rely on them?
One way to circumvent these issues is to run your own backup solution, which gives you complete control over your data. This is exactly what ProtonMail aims to achieve with its beta File Service feature. Here, you can upload files directly from your computer or download them from remote locations. All files you send out remain anonymous until they reach their destination. Nobody - absolutely nobody - can find out where your hard drive is storing certain pieces of data. Even if they manage to hack into your PC, they'll never touch anything related to ProtonMail.
In addition to providing basic file hosting capabilities, ProtonMail offers two additional features that make it stand out among other similar tools. First, you can easily import contacts from popular social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) and convert them into plain text format. Second, you can add custom fields to contact entries. This lets you attach metadata to anyone you communicate with. Think of it as tagging your friends.
On top of that, ProtonMail has recently announced plans to introduce multi-signature wallets, which allow users to combine several public keys into a single wallet. Each signature represents a distinct person involved in managing funds.
Finally, let's talk about spam. Most people nowadays consider emailing strangers a risky proposition. They prefer communicating with individuals whose names appear in search results rather than ones whom they've never heard of. To combat spammers, ProtonMail includes a number of anti-spam measures. One of the main ones involves the use of machine learning algorithms. Whenever a new message arrives, the system looks at past examples of known spam and compares them against the current sample. Based on this analysis, the AI decides whether or not the sender deserves to be blocked forever.
How many people are using ProtonMail?
While we don't have exact numbers yet, we do know that ProtonMail currently serves millions of active users worldwide. According to the team behind the project, it receives approximately 1 million unique visitors per month.
For comparison purposes, here's a list of websites based in Germany that received more traffic than ProtonMail during April 2018:
1&1 Mail & Calendar
Cloudflare Email Security
Gmx Domain Registrar
Hetzner Online GmbH
Hostinger Hosting Services
Joomla Extensions Directory
OVH VPS Hosting
Sucuri Site Checker
Softaculous Web Apps Installer
VPS Server Hosting
Other noteworthy statistics:
More than half of ProtonMail users come from Europe
German speakers represent 40 percent of total subscribers
The average age of ProtonMail users is 34 years old
Users spend roughly 11 hours working with their accounts every week
There are now 515 employees working full time on ProtonMail
Is ProtonMail for personal use?
Despite its impressive technical specs and growing popularity, ProtonMail is still considered a professional product. Its developers often refer to it as a'secure' alternative to Gmail. Although the service offers powerful encryption capabilities, it's not intended for casual use.
Still, given that it's entirely possible to use ProtonMail for personal reasons, it seems reasonable to ask ourselves if it's worth taking the plunge. After all, we live in a society where everyone's privacy matters and nothing should stay hidden from prying eyes. At least as far as email goes, ProtonMail seems to fit the bill. So, why not give it a try?
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. We recommend checking out the following resources below if you'd like to learn more about how to secure your digital life.