Choosing the Best Encrypted Email Provider in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

Email remains the communication backbone for personal and professional digital life. But growing data breaches and privacy concerns have more people considering encrypted email to protect sensitive messages.

Recent surveys reveal:

  • 85% of consumers worry about email privacy and security
  • 90% of businesses plan to increase email protection spending

New regulations like GDPR also incentivize enhanced security to avoid hefty fines for data exposure incidents.

This article provides readers with an in-depth guide comparing leading encrypted email providers and apps based on privacy features, security protocols, pricing, and more.

I‘ll assess services fit for individual users up to large enterprises. My goal is to arm you with knowledge to pick the right solution matching security needs and comfort with technology.

Why Encrypted Email Matters

Before surveying providers, it‘s important to understand what email encryption does and why it‘s valuable:

Email encryption converts plaintext messages into encoded cyphertext only decipherable by sender and recipient. This safeguards confidentiality.

Encryption protects against:

  • Hackers reading intercepted messages
  • Government surveillance of email content
  • Malicious insiders accessing company emails
  • Data breaches exposing stored messages

Per researchers at Stanford and MIT, encryption remains the most viable technology for securing email communications long-term.

Leading Encrypted Email Services Comparison

I‘ve compiled tables summarizing key specs of top encrypted email providers:

Security & Compliance

Provider Encryption Protocol Zero-Access Source Code Audits Personal Data Policy
ProtonMail PGP Yes Yes Strong
Tutanota TLS + End-to-End Yes Partial Strong
Mailfence OpenPGP Yes Yes Strong

Features & Ease of Use

Provider Email Continuity Apps Groups File Storage Learning Curve Full Support All Major Platforms Yes Generous Low
Runbox Full Support Web + Mobile Apps Yes Basic Medium
Kolab Now Full Support Web + Mobile Apps No 15GB Included High


Provider Free Tier Lowest Paid 1 Year Middle Plan
Posteo No $1/month $12/year
ProtonMail Limited $5/month $40/year
Mailfence Limited $60/year $120/year

I‘ll now profile 12 leading providers in detail across three categories – independent secure platforms, encrypted addons for existing accounts, and all-in-one secure productivity suites.

Important Note: No service can guarantee absolute privacy or fully mitigate metadata exposure. Legal jurisdiction also varies. Users with extreme threat models should evaluate each closely.

Category 1: Independent Encrypted Email Platforms

This segment features the most secure, dedicated encrypted email services built from the ground up with multiple layers of protection.


ProtonMail, operated by researchers who met at CERN and MIT, enjoys a reputation as the industry leader in encrypted email thanks to its array of robust security features:

  • PGP end-to-end encryption by default for all messages
  • Open source code that undergoes routine audits
  • Zero-access architecture so data is fully encrypted
  • Key recovery options offered
  • Impressive apps for all devices & operating systems

Multiple researchers praise ProtonMail‘s focus on ease-of-use which increases adoption across less tech-savvy groups. Accounts can be accessed through common protocols supporting email client continuity. ProtonMail also runs an invitational $30k bug bounty program to encourage finding issues.

For the ultimate in email privacy, ProtonMail builds in exclusive features its open source status unlocks – notably dark web site access allowing Tor connectivity.

I particularly appreciate Proton‘s willingness to engage commercial vendors and partners to demonstrate encrypted email‘s viability scaling globally long-term beyond just individual accounts.

{| class="wikitable" style="float:right; margin-left: 10px"
|colspan="2"|ProtonMail in Numbers 2022:
| Paying Users || Over 30 million
| Paid Team Members || Over 100
| Funding Raised || $69 million

Proton is transparent about limitations. Metadata exposure remains beyond full control as internet infrastructure relies on unencrypted transport protocols. And Swiss legal jurisdiction may fall outside comfort zones for some users.

But as encrypted platforms grow, no other provider matches ProtonMail‘s blend of security and usability quite like the technology built by scientists specifically for secure communications.


Tutanota is a rapidly growing encrypted email service and ProtonMail alternative launched in Germany known for easy-to-deploy free accounts with generous features.

As a country, Germany maintains some of the strongest data protection laws globally. Tutanota benefits with GDPR compliance baking in user privacy rights.

Core security and functionality highlights include:

  • Automatic end-to-end encryption between Tutanota accounts
  • Ability to send password encrypted emails outside network
  • No identifying information required at signup
  • Intuitive webmail and apps for all devices
  • Variety of premium paid plans including encrypted custom domains & Microsoft Outlook plugin

Tutanota uses a hybrid PGP and TLS-based system for message encryption rather than just PGP. Security researchers note this theoretically offers improved protection against future quantum computing attacks able to defeat PGP. However ease-of-use suffers slightly during encrypted external communications.

Tutanota‘s internal infrastructure undergoes partial open source auditing focused on client-side applications which is admirable. Server code can‘t be publicly analyzed though due to nature of its encryption. Metadata protection mirrors other zero-access providers.

For individuals seeking an independent encrypted platform providing core privacy essentials at a fair & transparent price, Tutanota excels on fundamentals.


Operating since 2013, Belgian provider Mailfence differentiates itself through improved email continuity, collaboration tools, and a strong focus on auditability.

IMAP/SMTP support alongside a custom address means you can continue accessing existing accounts through encrypted Mailfence infrastructure without an arduous transition.

Mailfence uses industry standard OpenPGP encryption but they stand out sharing public compliance reports and routine external audits of systems/infrastructure to validate security controls effectiveness.

Business team plans allow collaboration with document sharing and group messaging tools that remain encrypted end-to-end.

While Mailfence may lack Tutanota and ProtonMail‘s brand recognition, unique offerings around email continuity, auditing transparency, and group functionality make Mailfence enterprise-ready for organizations wanting extra validation without sacrificing usability.

And like the other leading independents, metadata controls match expectations as much as possible to prevent surveillance opportunities beyond message interception.

Others Worth Mentioning

These providers all bring unique capabilities around high security email, whether ease of use focus, email continuity, or auditing transparency:

  • Posteo – Simple PGP setup in €1 basic account
  • Runbox – Feature-packed with IMAP/SMTP support
  • Kolab Now – Bundles online productivity suite with email
  • Hushmail – Longstanding 1999 encrypted email pioneer

Category 2: Encrypted Email Add-Ons

You don‘t necessarily need to abandon existing email accounts at places like Outlook or Gmail to encrypt messages. These add-ons handle encryption without changing your underlying business workflow.


PreVeil‘s standalone apps seamlessly integrate end-to-end encrypted email into familiar programs like Microsoft Outlook by automatically:

  • Encrypting messages before sending
  • Decrypting received messages for easy reading

The encryption/decryption happens locally on your device so emails get end-to-end protection without your company‘s server ever having access to readable copies.

PreVeil essentially adds a transparent privacy shield, allowing continued use of legacy communications while benefiting from encryption. Industries like healthcare and banking with restricted technology options lean on PreVeil to meet compliance requirements.

For maximum effectiveness, sender and recipient both need PreVeil installed. But even one-sided availability affords some protection, making incremental adoption straightforward.

{| class="wikitable" style="float:right; margin-left: 10px"
|colspan="2"|PreVeil Awards
|eWeek Best of Show Award| RSA Innovation Sandbox Finalist
|InfoSec Awards Winner| TiE50 Awards Winner


These additional apps proxy existing accounts like Gmail through an encrypted channel:

  • Mailvelope – Open source browser extension
  • FlowCrypt – Browser plugin providing 2-way Gmail encryption
  • LuxSci – Encrypts Outlook, iOS, other legacy platforms

Category 3: All-In-One Encrypted Productivity Solutions

For uniformity across email, cloud storage, and collaboration apps, these integrated encrypted suites maintain consistency across essential business services instead of just email alone.

Boxcryptor + Cloud Provider

Boxcryptor offers a virtual drive to encrypt files stored with any major cloud storage companies like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox etc before syncing data to the cloud servers.

Alongside robust European data security certifications, Boxcryptor recently launched secure encrypted email capability expecting integration with cloud email services as well.

This allows businesses to retain existing desktop/mobile productivity software preferences while still hardening data protection.

Benefits of the Boxcryptor approach include:

  • Consistent workflows without changing user habits
  • Enterprise monitoring insights with central policy control
  • Legal peace of mind meeting regional data standards
  • Incremental deployment without heavy migrations

For multinational companies, Boxcryptor furnishes a data protection strategy flexible enough for evolving regulations. Encryption plausibly denies visibility to apps and cloud vendors, affording more implementation control.

{| class="wikitable" style="float: right; margin-left: 10px"
|colspan="2"|Boxcryptor Customer Base
| Government Agencies | Over 500
| Universities Using | Over 200
| Non-Profit Customers | Over 5,000


These integrated suites take a platform-centric approach with encryption a central pillar vs an addon:

  • – Privacy-focused email + cloud storage
  • Kolab Now – Online productivity apps + encrypted email

Key Takeaways – Evaluating Your Encrypted Email Options

Taking stock of the landscape, keep several guidelines in mind navigating your own selection:

  • Prioritize providers focused exclusively on secure communications vs those that encrypt secondarily
  • Consider your comfort level trading off security for legacy tool compatibility
  • Validate reported encryption practices like code auditing where possible
  • For beginners, choose services with the best clients and UI on your devices
  • Recognize certain industries (finance, healthcare) face compliance-specific demands
  • No solution completely eliminates metadata exposure risks – evaluate legal jurisdiction carefully

If migrating seems daunting, temporary services like PreVeil let you sample benefits before switching primary addresses. Some even facilitate anonymization by assigning decoy email identities masking true origin.

And while threats constantly evolve, innovative privacy solutions do as well. That’s why even experts recommend spreading usage and experimentation across multiple accounts and vendors.

Ready to Improve Your Email Privacy?

Email remains imperative to modern business and personal communication in a digitally connected world. But users demand greater privacy than legacy networks provide as scandals erode old assumptions.

Hopefully this guide laid bare the expanding landscape of encrypted email service providers and tools available in 2023 to better secure sensitive communications in transit and storage.

Everyone from students to multinational executives can benefit from enhanced confidentiality, integrity, and sender authentication that encryption guarantees. Give one or more options a try yourself after finding the right fit for your comfort level.

Prioritize security without sacrificing convenience and your digital life grows safer one message at a time. The email privacy revolution continues but credible solutions already ensure data stays where it belongs – away from prying eyes!