Top 4 Free Email Alternatives To Gmail That Protect Your Privacy | Best Gmail Alternatives 2016

If you’re like me, you’re really beginning to get fed up with Gmail. What was once the go-to email provider in the world, millions have been leaving as Google began violating users’ privacy, instituting draconian policies, removing all customer service support whatsoever, and altering the user interface in ways that millions of users protested.

There have also been many other issues and reasons to leave gmail, including a hardly-usable mobile interface, continuously locking you out of your own account due to false alarms like trying to log in from a coffee shop or a friend’s house (since they immorally have been tracking your logins through IP geolocation and other unwanted tracking mechanisms), and worse, not letting you restore your own account despite knowing all your own information and even inputting a valid verification code.

I just got locked out of two of my primary gmail accounts today, and I did not log in through a new location. This is the second time in a matter of months that I have been locked out of both of these accounts – the other time I was locked out of them for a full month when I tried to access my accounts when I was traveling, because even though I received the verification email and input the correct verification code, it failed saying, “Unfortunately, based on the information you provided, we were unable to verify that you own the account.”

Oh yeah? So your own verification code wasn’t right, Google? Then why did you even bother to send it to me? Obviously, the verification code system with Google is simply broken, because the same thing happened with both accounts today, it sent me the verification code, I received it, I input it, and then it gave me the same error.

I am really fed up with gmail, and over the last couple years I have done a lot of research on gmail alternatives. The only reason I haven’t switched is because it is going to be a massive hassle – I manage many email accounts and it is a complicated setup that will take days to configure across all my accounts.

Additionally, I haven’t found a good free email provider that has some of the required features I want. This includes: dark theme (mandatory for me), delayed message sending (gets a whole lot of use from me – it is a gmail “labs” feature), pop3/imap support (yahoo does not have this in the free version), and html signatures that I can save different signatures for different “send from” emails.

Nonetheless, gmail won’t be able to hold me for much longer, and sooner or later I’m going to get so fed up I would rather compromise some of those features than have to use gmail anymore. So here is my top 4 list that is the result of many months of research and trial and error. I started out as a top ten list, but decided to make it a top 4 list because there are very few really good email providers out there worth using. However, I listed the other ones and some other alternatives after the list.

4 Zohomail

Zohomail
More info: I found the user interface to be clunky, but it is very easy to set up, and is a viable alternative to gmail. They make it very easy to set up an account, and you can even set up your account by logging into your gmail account. Ironic, I know.

It has withstood years of testing and still gets good reviews. It is worth checking out to see if you like it. It is not as privacy-focused as the others; however, I do think it's secure, and certainly a more secure option than gmail.

Visit them: zoho.com/mail

3 Tutanota

Tutanota
More info: Tutanota is another privacy browser. The user interface is very basic, and the features are limited. For example, there is not even any IMAP or POP3 support. I would like to see them update their UI and also add in a dark theme and expand their feature set. However, I do like that they are privacy focused. They support end-to-end email encryption, and also have a free mobile app for Android and iOS.

They started to gain recognition when Protonmail was still limiting accounts and people were looking for a good privacy browser. You can think of Tutanota as kind of a barebones privacy email. Worth checking out.

Wander over: tutanota.com

2 Yandex Mail

Yandex Mail
More info: Yandex comes out of Russia, and we know Russia is big about privacy. Since it comes from the Google competitor in Russia, the Yandex search engine, which is the biggest search engine in Russia, then you can be sure that this email provider isn't going anywhere. It also means that funding and support for Yandex will be able to hold up as more and more Americans and Europeans begin trying out Yandex.

If Yandex continues to improve their mail service, they can become a serious contendor as a gmail alternative. Additionally, they now have a Yandex.com domain (as to the formerly Yandex.ru), which really opens them up to the world, since not too many people can read Cyrillic (Russian letters are called Cyrillic). Better yet, they have a dark theme! The feature set is limited, but they do offer 10GB of storage. I hope they continue expanding their features!

Take a look: mail.yandex.com

1 Protonmail

Protonmail
More info: Protonmail started out of Switzerland as a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo (it's like Kickstarter), with the idea that they could make a truly private email client that was also flexible and easy to use. The Protonmail campaign raised half a million dollars, making it one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever.

I was in at the beginning, and have used it on and off ever since. It is certainly reliable and stable, the only trouble was that because it was so popular, and totally free, they had limited signups. Now, however, you should be able to sign up for a Protonmail account, as they have now fully opened it up to the public.

Some of their great features include a double password system for security - a login password and mailbox password, end-to-end email encryption, and a free mobile app. Some downsides are that the free version of Protonmail has limited storage (500MB) and limited number of emails you can send per day (150). However, even as a second provider, Protonmail is worth using for more important emails.

Check them out: protonmail.com

Now, keep in mind that unfortunately, none of these solutions are as powerful feature-wise as gmail. Gmail simply wins hands-down when it comes to features, especially with Gmail Labs with features like delayed sending (including an “undo” sent mail up to a minute later), Canned Responses, and the Unread Messages browser tab icon.

However, are all these cool gmail features really worth sacrificing your privacy, or having to deal with all the problems like getting locked out of your account every time you travel and total lack of customer service? For me, anyway, I’m beginning to get so fed up that I’m about willing to forego that, because it may in fact be less hassle to have to double-check my emails before I send rather than be able to read it afterward and undo if there was a typo; or have to copy and past a canned response from a text file rather than have a dropdown menu to do it. It might actually be less hassle to do that than to have to deal with gmail problems.

Better yet, some of these email providers in the list have revolutionized email privacy, especially Protonmail, which is why I put it at number one on the list. If you are really concerned about email privacy, you absolutely should not be using gmail! Instead, choose an email provider which emphasizes privacy. Email can never be 100% private (for reasons too long and complicated to fit in this post, but try this article), but at least it can be way more secure than gmail.

Then again, I have many accounts and a very complicated setup. If you only have one gmail account and that’s all you use, then there is no reason for you not to switch today. After all, you can forward gmail to your new email address, so you always get any old emails from anyone who you forgot to send your new email address.

Some of the other free alternatives include AOL mail (many issues with receiving mail), Yahoo mail (no IMAP or POP3), Outlook (major privacy concerns), Mail.com (a “1&1 Company”, and 1&1 is a terrible web host), or paid email providers such as FastMail.

Self-Hosted Solutions

Another viable alternative to gmail is self-hosted mail, such as Roundcube or Squirrelmail that is available through cPanel in many web hosts including Plex Hosting and Host Dolphins.

roundcube

The only problem with a self-hosted solution is that not only is it notoriously difficult to manage for non-tech people, but also the interfaces of Roundcube and Squirrelmail lag far behind modern webmail clients. At least Roundcube has a decent web interface design. Squirrelmail’s interface looks like it is from 1990. This is a limitation with cPanel, and the absolute only reason I personally don’t use cPanel as a webmail solution.

There are also other self-hosted email software out there that you can actually install on your server; however, I highly recommend against this because it is really too difficult to do without constantly worrying about hackers using your server to send spam. It is more trouble than it’s worth, trust me.

Also, any of these self-hosted 3rd-party mail software worth using costs money – a lot of it. You might as well take that same money to pay for something like StartMail; at least then you would not have to deal with the splitting headache of managing a self-hosted email server and the constant privacy worries and hacker concerns. Instead, I strongly recommend only to use one of the three email software that ships with cPanel, if you do go the self-hosted route.

The third webmail that I didn’t mention that ships with cPanel is Horde; however, I didn’t mention it because I don’t recommend it; in fact, if you are a webmail administrator then I recommend to actually disable Horde in WHM to deter spammers. This might change in the future though because the last I checked, Horde has been redoing their software and this might improve in the future. Let’s give it some time though.

If cPanel ever does bring in a truly modern webmail client; or if one of the three it ships with decides to revolutionize their UI and cPanel supports the upgrade, then it will revolutionize the world of email, because it will allow anyone with a web hosting account and a domain name to have maximum email privacy by self-hosting their email. I am looking forward to that day!

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26 thoughts on “Top 4 Free Email Alternatives To Gmail That Protect Your Privacy | Best Gmail Alternatives 2016

  1. Hey nice post. I hope it’s ok that I shared it on my FB, keep up the great work.

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  2. Which is best secure email hosting company for small business?? Data per account 10 GB max, at least 10 accounts required, company domain name to be, use on desktop/mobile both, Data security most essential

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  3. There is a search engine called StartPage that protects your searches as well as an email service StartMail.

    I’m sure there are other free email accounts that protect your email from snooping eyes. I believe StartMail is one of the first to offer a paid version that will keep your emails private. I’m thinking of switching to them. Still deciding which way to go.

    The other is Protonmail, I understand it costs less than Startmail. It is supposed to be the most secure email service in the world and its servers are in Switzerland.

    The other way I found was to do the encryption yourself using GPG tools. It allows you to encrypt your mail before you send it out along with a key so that someone could email you back an encrypted email. This method is free just download GPG tools.

    I hope this information will be helpful in providing you some options to traditional free email services which will give you more privacy.

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    • ProtonMail is free, actually (you can pay for upgrades but it is free for normal use). Startmail is not free, it is a paid-only service. If you have to pay, that changes everything because then you need to weigh your options.

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  4. You are on point in your posted comments here. Furthermore, to the concerned folks here, see: Echelon Project, Carnivore Project, Lantern Project, then Congressional internal scandal articles published/archived Jan 2000 and April 2000 Netscape.net (stealing emails off of satellites using pirated software… by the “law makers” themselves), optical signal splitting of telephone/cell phone lines at AT&T in Oakland, California, anything of YOU and by YOU belongs to YOU as per Davis v. Mississippi which means secret data mining = stealing, and there is lots more info out there. See EPIC.org and their tools section.

    God did Bless America. Now it’s for Us to enforce His blessings!

    Sending good wishes to all.
    Emily

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  5. I am looking for a free secure email service I use it for a lot of political clubs.

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  6. Do any of these services offer pop mail so I can avoid the web interface?

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  7. Yandex (like others) will shut you down for lack of use.
    I appreciate this article. I am going to try one of recommended email services.

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    • It happened to me too. My Yandex account was removed for no apparent reason not once but twice.

      I’m glad to learn from this article of the other email providers.

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  8. Zoho and Yandex will be snitching services (look at juicy ToS), cannot by mixed with the other two.

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    • Strictly avoid anything US/Russian for the rest of your life.

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    • Can you please elaborate on this?

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  9. you are recommending a mail service owned not just by a state bur by the Russian state as secure? BAHAHAHA

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    • I would trust Russia with my personal mail long before I trusted the U.S. government. Russia is probably the least likely to hand my mail over to the U.S. government, especially since I am no one of political importance! Gmail on the other hand doesn’t even need a court order, the U.S. government can probably already read all my emails in my gmail account! But the U.S. government does not have access to mail servers in Russia. Therefore Russia servers are far safer. Plus, few Russians know English very well at all. So most Russians can’t read my mail even if they wanted to just like most Americans can’t read Cyrillic.

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      • Are you kidding? Most of the hacks of credit card companies, banks etc. have originated in Russia, and the perpetrators are never prosecuted. So obviously they know English well enough to hack into our systems. The Russia gov’t would love to get their hands on anything American, just look at what they did to our election. I would not be worried about the US gov’t looking at my emails unless I was plotting a ter rer attack.

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        • I sense a liberal tinge to your many unfounded and erroneous assertions. Sounds like you are listening to the liberal conspiracy theories. Russia had nothing to do with our election. Trump won by the electoral college. Don’t you know that popular vote does not elect the President? You can’t “hack” electoral votes, there aren’t enough of them to “hack”. There are only a few hundred electoral votes (538 to be exact). (America is a republic, not a democracy. America was never intended to be a democracy. America is a Constitutional Republic.)

          Also your comment about “I don’t care about the government looking at my emails because I have nothing to hide” – obviously you do not care about freedom, which is the fundamental principle of the United States. Your comment is a common liberal cop-out. “Oh, I’m doing nothing wrong so I don’t care if they take away all my freedoms”.

          Samuel Adams, one of the founding fathers of America, said, quite aptly:

          “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”

          I will translate this for you: “If you love to be a slave to your masters, the liberal socialists, and give up your freedoms to do so, suit yourself. We Americans don’t care what you say and we will ignore you. May you crouch down and lick the liberal hands which feed you. May your chains of liberal bondage to the slavery of comfort at the cost of your freedom weigh you down,” (he was being sarcastic when he said, “sit lightly upon you”) “and we deny you as one of our fellow Americans!”

          Remember this isn’t even me saying this (although I agree), this is one of our founding fathers of America saying this.

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  10. i work at a (not gonna to tell) database centre. All of you would be surprised how much gmail or google know about you. It is actually frightening. I myself was shocked. I am seriously scared of what they know, and need to run asap.

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    • Hearing this does scare me a bit. I should quit gmail sooner rather than later. I need a complete replacement!

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  11. I have a lot of g-mail that I need to sort, edit, and print. Thousands of messages. Google will not help. I need the name of another provider to whom I can forward these messages, edit them, and print them out. If I have to, I will go with a paid provider, as these messages represent money to me (either lawsuit or book sales, her choice).

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    • You might want to take a real hard look at ” Inky.”
      Just duckduckgo it! Lol!

      I am not affiliated with Inky, yet, since I just found them last Friday and just downloaded their apps.
      But they really look like a real great all-turn-it-ive, and it is better than Thunderbird, and the others except claws mail, and or salusafe (only 100MB) as personal on-board email servers (Windows and Android)!

      Oh yea, my 20GB SPAM email is hosted in Russia called *****@inbox.lv (moderator removed email for privacy).

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      • Thank you for the tips! I will look them up.

        Update: I looked up Inky. It does not look like Inky is a real email program, rather it is just an interface so you can read gmails, microsoft emails, etc all from the same place. This is not a replacement for gmail. Also, there is a free version but to have the features you have to pay. So no, Inky is not a solution to replace gmail and it is also not a free solution.

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  12. Thank you so much for this. I stumbled across your informative article on my quest to find an alternative to gmail. Totally fed up. Like you, I don’t relish migrating multiple accounts to a new platform, but the time has come. I am a frequent international traveler and am heartily sick of losing access to my gmail because Google has deemed the activity “suspicious”.

    I have experienced everything you described, including Google continuing to deny me access even with their own valid access codes. And traveling overseas, I rarely have the ability to receive a two step verification code by phone anyway, as I use different SIMs in each country. If you do manage to jump through their hoops and change your password and gain access to your accounts, you’re still not home free.

    And it’s not just, “Thank you very much, User. You have proved that it’s you and you’re in Spain.” The next night you’re at a different hotel a hundred miles away, and you have to go through the entire nonsensical exercise yet again. On a recent trip to Ireland, I went through (no joke) 12 passwords that I had to create AND REMEMBER (insert angry emoji here) for just one of my accounts.

    And you’re right – Customer Service isn’t a concept that Google embraces. I’ve tried for months to find an email address to suggest to them that they offer a service, such as bank credit cards do, where you could inform them of upcoming travel plans so that they know it’s you in advance. There isn’t one. I even asked my son-in-law, who works for Google. He just shrugged. There isn’t one.

    I am currently sitting in a hotel room 23 miles from my house, and once again I have been shut out of my gmail. 23 freaking miles – I didn’t even leave the State.

    I had already done some research, and heard of two of the services you recommended. I appreciate your reviews of them, as it helps narrow down my choice. You can be sure that one of them will shortly be obtaining a new account.

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    • I am sorry to hear about your experiences. I also have had the same experiences. Whenever I travel or move, I lose access to my google accounts. Some accounts I will never have access to ever again. I need to get off gmail before it is too late and I lose access forever.

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      • Hello John, I feel the same and afraid. My phone clicks all the time on frontier. I never trusted Gmail because it would not erase my words and was deceiving. Do you approve of Hushmail for emails? I paid for my account but it’s not encrypted. I feel every key stroke is monitored. I appreciate your advice and will study it, and try to stay off websites except yours. I only do boring searches.

        Thank you again,
        Julie

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        • Hi Julie, Hushmail is not safe and cannot be trusted. They lied about their business model “not collecting user data” because it did collect user data and they turned this personal data over to the government when asked for it.

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