Choosing a Gmail Alternative: Top 9 Email Services
Gmail seems like an easy way out — need an email account? Create it with Google! And why wouldn’t you, especially if you are using Google as a search engine. Gmail is ever-present in the top right corner. But there are so many Gmail alternatives that are equally as good or even better than Google’s email service.
If you’re concerned with Google’s attitude towards the privacy of data or you just don’t want to go with the mainstream options, in this article, you’ll find information about different Gmail alternatives to help guide you through the vast number of options.
What to Consider When Choosing an Email Service Provider
Before we get to the list of Gmail alternatives, there are few things to consider when choosing an email service.
The convenience of the user interface
All email services come with a user interface in the form of a web email client — the web app that allows you to send and receive emails.
While you might be drawn to a more sleek and good looking design, the UI should also be convenient for you to use. Consider the layout and possibilities to change it, color schemes that don’t irritate your vision, and other elements of design that can enhance your experience with the interface.
Availability of features
Aside from the essential sending, receiving, and replying to, email services can offer additional features that should make your email management experience better. These features can be postponing email delivery for up to 30 seconds so you can undo sending, schedule send, offline use, etc. Some services also offer add-ons and integrations that can be connected via settings.
If the service you are considering has a paid and free version, compare the different plans to see if feature availability and storage capacity differs. The free version might be too limited for your needs.
Internet protocol support
The basic internet protocols are IMAP, POP, and SMTP. While the latter is a protocol for sending emails and all services should support it, the story with the other two is different.
IMAP allows you to view emails on any device as it stores all data on its servers. POP, on the other hand, downloads emails onto the device you’re using at the moment of reading emails. This makes email available offline, but only on the device it was downloaded to. This distinction might be crucial if the service you choose doesn’t support either.
European-based services have to comply with the GDPR policy by law. This policy denotes individuals’ control over their personal data. For example, users can inquire about what data service has about them and, in some cases, request to erase it.
Please note that Gmail also states that it complies with the GDPR policy and values privacy, however, its track record isn’t the brightest. Take time to research the service you’re interested in more details and not just what is written on the website.
Custom domain availability
If you are looking for an email service for your business, having a custom domain (such as email@example.com) can take professionalism up a notch. If this feature isn’t available, you will have the service name after the @ sign.
In most services it is available, the feature costs an extra fee per account or is included in a paid plan.
Open source means that the software code is public. This is good if the service has a large community of developer supporters who can search for vulnerabilities and respond to issues.
Otherwise, if the community is small and the service isn’t commercially supported, you might run into issues that won’t be quick to resolve.
A Comprehensive List of the Top Email Services
The list is devised in no particular order as the final decision on what service is the best for you should be based solely on your needs. Here, you will find some popular names and newer or less heard of providers.
Tutanota is one of the best open source email services for sending private emails as it focuses mostly on email encryption and privacy. This service can be used on any device, mobile, or desktop.
Based in: Germany
Storage capacity: starting at 1 GB
Price: starting at 12€ for private use and 48€ for teams.
- Email encryption — end-to-end and multifactor authentication to make sure your emails are private and can’t be decrypted.
- Support of all devices — works with all platforms (web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux).
- Contact manager — encrypted contacts.
- Calendar — encrypted calendar events.
- Your entire inbox is encrypted. Tutanota is fully equipped to make sure no part of your inbox can be spied on. Therefore, every part of it is encrypted, including email storage, subject line, body, and attachments.
- It’s highly secure. Tutanota uses the TOTP (Time-Based One-Time Password) algorithm and U2F (Universal 2nd Factor) for second-factor authentication.
- Its servers are in Europe. This means that the service provider is legally obligated to comply with the GDPR policy.
- It’s ad-free. The service is paid and doesn’t analyze user data, and therefore it’s ad-free.
- No option to import and encrypt old emails. You can’t import emails from any other account, only emails sent to a registered Tutanota account can be encrypted.
- Doesn’t use OpenPGP or standard email protocols (POP, IMAP, SMTP). This means that the service does not support other email providers or third party apps; for example, email clients.
Posteo is a low-cost email service that is heavily invested in user data privacy and the sustainability of company policies and environmental health. The company is also self-sufficient in terms of funding. This increases the safety of your data as the company doesn’t need to share any information with investing parties. Posteo also uses open-source software.
Based in: Germany
Storage capacity: 2 GB to 20 GB
Price: 1€ per month for email, 0.25€ per every additional GB
- Email encryption — uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol.
- Support of all devices — Can be used with any mobile or stationary device, and most email clients (e.g., Mailbird, Thunderbird, Outlook).
- Spam and virus filters — built-in filters to protect your inbox from unnecessary and potentially dangerous messages.
- Country codes — You can have the .net ending on your email address as well as .de, .co.uk, and other country codes.
- Contact manager — encrypted address book.
- Calendar — encrypted calendar events.
- It is highly secure. Posteo encrypts everything that goes in and out of your inbox, including email, attachments, storage, and contact information.
- It offers email migration. You can migrate up to three email accounts from other services.
- As well as contacts migration. You can migrate your contacts from select email services. This includes Microsoft email services, iCloud, AOL, and GMX.
- Its servers are in Europe. This means the service provider is legally obligated to comply with the GDPR policy.
- Can be used anonymously. You can opt out from giving your personal information during registration and payment (anonymized payment system).
- Doesn’t offer custom domains. This is inconvenient for business accounts as you won’t be able to add your company’s name after the@ sign. However, you get two alias addresses at no extra cost.
- Doesn’t have a spam folder. Any email deemed suspicious or viral by the filters will be rejected.
StartMail is another email service provider that prioritizes user data security. It does however track user data needed to provide the services for the duration of each browsing session. The only piece of data that remains is your IP address — encrypted and kept for security reasons.
Based in: The Netherlands
Storage capacity: 10 GB
Price: starting at $29.99 (USD) per year
- Email encryption — all emails are encrypted and you can send password-encrypted messages to users who don’t use encryption.
- Unlimited aliases — can be used as temporary disposable email addresses.
- Access from any device — can be used on all mobile and desktop devices.
- Supports custom domains. You can customize the name after the @ sign; for example, if you want to add a company name.
- Highly secure. StartMail uses PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption as well as server-side encryption to protect your email communication.
- Based in Europe. StartMail complies with the GDPR policy as all Europe based companies are obligated to.
- The service accepts cryptocurrency. You can pay for email services with any currency.
- Requires a credit card to register. There is a trial version of the service, but you need to confirm that you have a working credit card to start using it.
- It doesn’t have a mobile app. This could be troublesome if you check emails on the go, though the interface can be accessed with a mobile browser.
As people get more into sustainability and responsible business, it’s impossible not to mention Runbox. The company uses renewable energy from hydropower stations to enable its operations. As for their products, Runbox offers open-source web hosting services and email.
Based in: Norway
Storage capacity: 2 GB to 50 GB or email storage; 200 MB to 5 GB of file storage.
Price: starting at $19.95 per year
- Email encryption. Provides an encrypted connection (SSL) to access your emails.
- Access from any device. You can access your account on any mobile or desktop device.
- It’s highly secure. The company doesn’t track user activity. There is also two-factor authentication, spam and virus filters, and other features to make sure your email is secure.
- Supports all email accounts. You can use your Runbox account to send messages from other non-Runbox accounts. It also supports different email clients, including Mailbird, Thunderbird, Outlook, and Apple Mail.
- Supports different payment methods. You can pay with cryptocurrency and even send anonymous payments.
- It is GDPR compliant. Since the company is based in Norway, it is bound by the data protection policy.
- 60-day money-back guarantee. Although it has a free trial, Runbox also offers to pay back if you are not convinced their services are for you.
- PGP encryption isn’t a default setting. This can be an issue because PGP requires a little technical knowledge or digestible instructions to set it up.
If you aren’t tired of heavily secure email services, Mailfence is another provider focused on providing an ad-free, spy-free email experience. It provides all-around data privacy and allows you to send encrypted emails even to accounts that don’t support the OpenPGP protocol.
Based in: Belgium
Storage capacity: 5 GB to 50 GB in paid versions
Price: free or starting at 2.50€ per month
- In-browser email encryption — not even the service can access your emails except you and recipients.
- Digital signatures — to prove an email was sent by you.
- Keystore — for managing OpenPGP keys.
- Expiry date — for sending time-limited emails.
- Highly secure. Aside from email encryption and keys, Mailfence is also based in Belgium that has strict privacy protection laws, and where private data can be requested only with a court order.
- Supports email migration. Mailfence allows you to migrate messages to a custom domain.
- Spam and virus protection. Mailfence has algorithms for filtering spam messages and can protect anything that is transferred by email from viruses (anti-virus algorithms don’t extend to the information stored on your device).
- Supports different payment methods. You can pay for services with the standard card and wire transfer methods, and also using cryptocurrency.
- Data logs. Although Mailfence follows data protection standards, it does log information, such as your IP address, email addresses, browser data. There’s a possibility this can be harmful to email security.
Zoho is renowned for its business software suite that also includes email hosting. This email service is intended for business use, and along with that promises a fast and clean operation. The Zoho suite that can be used with the email service also enhances email management and team collaboration for businesses.
Based in: India
Storage capacity: from 5 GB and up to 1 TB
Price: free limited or starting at 0.9€per month.
- Email encryption — supports both S/MIME and end-to-end encryption.
- Admin panel — for managing your business domain.
- eDiscovery — for email retention following legal protocols.
- Support of different devices — web, iOS, and Android applications.
- Scrub — for bulk deleting or archiving.
- Huge storage space. Zoho Mail is one of the few email services that offer a Terabyte of storage space.
- Integration with Zoho apps. You can use the email service in conjunction with Zoho CRM and other apps for scheduling, note-taking, Zoho Docs, etc.
- Ad-free service. All email plans are free of advertising materials.
- Limited office functionality. The add-ons and integrations aren’t a perfect replacement for a desktop office suite or Google Workplace apps.
iCloud Mail is the tried and tested email service from Apple. Its webmail client is clean-cut and intuitive, which makes for an easy swap with Gmail. Like all Apple products, it is more reliable in terms of anti-virus protection and performance.
Based in: US
Storage capacity: starting at 5 GB
Price: starting at $0.99 for additional storage
- Spam filtering — manual and automatic.
- Two-factor authentication — for added security.
- Apple sync — for seamless Apple experience.
- Connects all Apple devices. An iCloud account can be used as your Apple ID on all Apple desktop and mobile devices. Using it on Windows is also possible.
- Ad-free. Your email experience won’t be interrupted by advertising pop-ups.
- Reliable performance. iCloud Mail has a standard feature set, however, it’s made for steady operation. It’s also well protected from spam and viruses.
- Plain interface. The email service interface is pretty standard and lacks advanced features and integrations.
- Doesn’t support POP3. It only works with the IMAP protocol, meaning you can view emails on any device, but also would need to set up offline access separately.
Yahoo Mail is an email service offered by Yahoo web services and owned by Verizon Media. Yahoo is one of the oldest proprietary email services that is still popular to this day with over 200 million users as of 2020.
Based in: US
Storage capacity: up to 1 TB
Price: free or up to $3.19 per month for business use
- Localized domains — so you can have a national domain suffix, such as @yahoo.es.
- Stationary — for email personalization.
- Tabs — for easy browsing experience within Yahoo.
- User-friendly interface. Yahoo has an easy and intuitive design with excellent customization options.
- Supports all standard protocols. You can use either IMAP or POP to receive emails and therefore use Yahoo with other email services and email clients.
- Huge storage space. Yahoo is also one of the few email services that offer up to a Terabyte of storage.
- Security issues. It’s not the best Gmail alternative in terms of email security and your privacy.
- Not add-free. You will be bombarded with advertising materials. This also suggests that Yahoo monitors your email communication to customize ads.
AOL, or America Online, was once one of the biggest email service providers and it’s now owned by Verizon Media. However, it still offers a safe and high-quality email experience with its browser and app interfaces. It also offers added settings to personalize your email experience.
Based in: US
Storage capacity: up to 1 TB
Price: starting at $9.99 per month
- ID protection — for preventing identity and credit card fraud.
- Reputation monitoring — for tracking your contact details online and alerting you if any mentions were found.
- Multilingual support — 54 languages, arguably the most translated email service.
- AOL instant chat — for communication with other AOL users.
- Custom domains. You can add your own domain to an email address. One such domain supports up to 100 accounts.
- Huge storage space. Most services offer up to 50 GB of storage, whereas AOL offers 20 times more than that.
- Support of all devices. Aside from the web version, AOL also has mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
- Adjustable spam filter. You can choose how strictly you want to filter incoming emails.
- No possibility to import social media contacts. You can’t connect different address books like with a Google account that offers backup.
- Not an ad-free email service. Ad-free email use requires a Desktop Gold subscription plan.
Comparison Table of Top 9 Gmail Alternatives
Gmail is not always the most obvious or the best choice for your requirements and needs, but you can choose a Gmail alternative to fill the gaps you experience with Google’s mailbox. If you’re just looking for a Gmail replacement, good options to go for are Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud. However, if you are looking for an alternative because of Gmail’s inconsistent attitude towards data protection, a better choice would be to go for one of the Europe-based services that are legally bound to comply with the GDPR policy.
Once you choose the most suitable Gmail alternative for you, check out Mailbird — a desktop email client that improves your inbox experience with advanced native features and popular app integrations. It’s also designed for managing multiple email accounts in one place. You can register with different services depending on the purpose and manage them all in one app instead of opening too many browser tabs or juggling a few apps.