12 best Gmail alternatives for secure emailing

Guy Bauman

February 19, 2024

  • # Phishing Protection
  • # Account Protection
  • # Fraud Prevention

Popularity doesn’t equal greatness. 

With its user-friendly interface and robust features, Google’s Gmail is a go-to email service for many. But there are growing concerns about privacy, security, and data handling — increasing demand for Gmail alternatives. 

If you’re ready to make the switch to a different email service provider, here are 12 great options. 

Is Gmail safe?

Gmail is generally safe for day-to-day use. It’s encrypted with transport layer security (TLS), so hackers aren’t likely to get in. However, the main problem comes from Google itself, which is known for misusing and selling user data without proper communication or authorization. That data might go to advertisers, government agencies, or partners without your knowledge — which is a huge deterrent for some.

Here are some of Gmail’s weaknesses:

  • Privacy issues: Gmail has faced scrutiny over how it handles user data, particularly regarding targeted advertising and data sharing.

  • Security features: While Gmail offers standard security measures, users seeking advanced protection or better ways to stop spam emails may find it lacking.

  • User interface and customization: Some users prefer a more personalized or streamlined email interface than what Gmail offers.

  • Independence and diversity: Relying on one provider — such as Google — for multiple services can be risky. If it gets hacked, criminals could access everything. Diversifying your digital tools enhances your overall security.

12 best Gmail alternatives

Tech companies have seen Gmail’s issues and the resulting gap in the market — and they’ve filled it with email services that aim to do better. Here are 12 of the best Gmail alternatives, their distinct features, and their potential drawbacks:

1. Mailfence

Known for prioritizing user privacy and security, Mailfence offers end-to-end encrypted email and transparent policies about your data. The best part is that it’s free. But users might miss Gmail's seamless integration with Google Drive and Google Docs, as Mailfence focuses more on security than on a wide range of integrative features.

2. StartMail

StartMail stands out for its privacy protections under Dutch law, providing encrypted emails and IP address-hiding that anonymizes your emails. Its higher price point might be a drawback for some users, and while prioritizing privacy, it offers fewer organizational tools.

3. Posteo

This eco-friendly German-based service puts privacy and green energy at the forefront. It’s only €1 (or $1.09) per month, so although you have to pay, it’s next to nothing. Posteo may lack integration with third-party productivity tools, such as seamless collaboration on documents and spreadsheets, but it does have a calendar and address book function.

4. Microsoft Outlook

As a Microsoft product, Outlook integrates well with Microsoft Office apps, offering features like task management, calendar scheduling, and advanced search tools. However, users transitioning from Gmail might find Outlook's interface and organization system more complex or less intuitive, and Microsoft has its own data-related controversies that make some question its privacy.

5. Zoho Mail

Ideal for businesses, Zoho Mail provides robust features like encryption, threat protection, and email marketing tools. While beneficial for professional use, its extensive suite of features might be overwhelming for personal email users looking for simplicity. The pricing ranges from $1–$6 per user, per month.

6. Spike

Another workplace-oriented platform, Spike's unique approach integrates email and real-time messaging, which is ideal for managing high email volumes efficiently. It also has useful features like language translation, instant email unsubscription, and undo send. For the email app, the basic version is free, and pro plans are $5–$10 per user, per month.

7. Thunderbird

Thunderbird — previously Mozilla Thunderbird — is secure and ultra-customizable. Users can tailor the interface, add extensions, and use various themes. And since it’s an app, not a website, there’s less web tracking and a lower chance of online data breaches that reveal your email data. Thunderbird is open-source and free to download.

8. iCloud Mail

For users who love the Apple ecosystem, iCloud Mail offers excellent device synchronization. However, it may lack certain advanced features available in Gmail, such as the depth of search functionality and the range of third-party integrations. It also doesn’t have the same level of privacy as others on this list.

9. GMX Mail

GMX Mail offers a user-friendly interface and is known for its reliable email services. It provides features like customizable e-cards, up to 10 email aliases, and efficient organization through folders and filter rules. It also integrates with Microsoft Office. While GMX Mail is a secure option, it might not match Gmail's advanced AI-driven email categorization or extensive suite of productivity tools. 

10. Runbox

Runbox offers ample storage and custom domain options, and since it’s based in Norway, it’s subject to strict privacy laws that protect your data. Its primary drawback is the interface, which can feel less modern and intuitive compared to newer email services. At $19.95–$179.95 per year — depending on your storage preferences — it’s slightly more expensive than others on this list.

11. MsgSafe.io

This service highlights its robust security features like end-to-end encryption and secure chat. While it excels in security, MsgSafe.io might not provide Gmail's comprehensive email management features, such as an extensive spam filter, AI-driven email categorization, or the same level of integration with productivity tools. There’s a free plan and paid options from $5–$20 per month.

12. Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail is a well-established email service with a robust set of features, including a substantial amount of storage and an intuitive interface — all for free. It also offers features like Yahoo Calendar and Notepad. But Yahoo Mail falls short in terms of security because it lacks end-to-end encryption.

3 security features to look for in a Gmail alternative

Advanced security features can protect your data — both from hacks and phishing scams and from data selling. Here's an expanded look at the best email security features to consider:

  1. Encryption standards: Arguably the gold standard for email privacy, OpenPGP end-to-end encryption ensures that emails are encrypted from the sender to the recipient. This makes them unreadable to anyone intercepting them en route. 

  2. IMAP/POP3 support: Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) are standard protocols that allow you to access encrypted email from any device without compromising your data. 

  3. Open source: When an email service is open source, it publishes its code publicly so anyone can see it and understand its practices. This means open-source platforms, like Thunderbird, are ultra-transparent about security practices and other details.

How to choose the right email service provider

Just because an email provider has strong security doesn’t mean it’s right for you. You also have to consider factors like storage, migration, and ease of use. Here's an expanded look at key considerations for the various types of emails like Gmail:

  • Price: While some users may be okay with the basic offerings of a free email provider, others might need advanced features. Once you know what your priorities are, weigh the cost against the value of the features.

  • Design and user experience: The interface should be intuitive and user-friendly. Remember, an email service should enhance your productivity, not hinder it.

  • Storage capacity: Essential for managing your email archives, storage capacity varies widely among providers. Consider how much storage you'll need for your emails and attachments and whether you’re okay with a service that deletes some automatically after a year or two.

  • Security features: When it comes to your data, robust security is non-negotiable. Features like end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and ways to prevent phishing scams keep your email account safe, so check out what options each provider offers.

  • Integration capabilities: Whether you’re using email for work or play, integrating with other productivity tools makes for a more seamless experience. Gmail integrates well with Google's suite of applications, but alternatives like Outlook and Zoho Mail offer similar integrations with their respective ecosystems, which can be a deciding factor if you already use these tools.

Secure your whole digital footprint

Switching to a secure email service protects your personal information from online threats. But it’s not the only thing you can do to stay safe online. 

IronVest has dozens of features that can help you protect your data and stay vigilant against hacks, phishing, and data breaches. In particular, its masked email feature offers an added layer of security, hiding your primary email address without asking you to navigate to a different inbox. 

If you want to take your email privacy to the next level, explore IronVest today and enter a world of enhanced digital security.

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