Tutanota vs. ProtonMail: which is the better secure email service?
For those in the know and protective of their privacy, Tutanota and ProtonMail are the industry leaders in “secure email”. Both have an excellent reputation built on guarding user emails from prying eyes – even their own eyes.
So which one is better. Let’s take a side-by-side look at Tutanota vs. ProtonMail to see which one is better in general—or better for you.
Tutanota vs ProtonMail: security and privacy
Both services offer excellent security and privacy – it’s their entire selling point. Both offer end-to-end encryption that even they don’t have the keys to decrypt.
Tutanota encrypts more spaces within its ecosystem, but we give a slight edge to ProtonMail. ProtonMail has a restrictive spam filter, complete anonymity, and RSA 256-bit encryption compared to Tutanota’s 128-bit protocol. ProtonMail also benefits from Switzerland’s excellent attention to privacy.
|Encryption||RSA 2048-bit, AES 256-bit, OpenPGP||RSA 2048-bit, AES 128-bit, no PGP, encrypted subject lines, calendars, and address books, perfect forward security|
|Anonymity||No IP address stored||IP addresses stored, but hidden|
|Privacy||Protected by Swiss law, company commitment||Protected by German law, 14 Eyes,company commitment|
Tutanota offers end-to-end symmetrical encryption—RSA 2048-bit for user-to-user emails, AES 128-bit for user-to-non-user emails. The service uses the same algorithms as PGP, but encrypts subject lines as well as the email body above that. Even Tutanota can’t decrypt your messages. It also offers perfect forward security, meaning hacking a past session doesn’t give a cybercriminal access to future sessions. Tutanota also encrypts your address book and your calendar.
ProtonMail also uses end-to-end symmetrical encryption—RSA 2048-bit for user-to-user emails, AES 256-bit for user-to-non-user emails. It uses OpenPGP, an industry-standard email encryption algorithm that has several weaknesses mentioned above—no encryption of subject lines, and no perfect forward security. Like Tutanota, ProtonMail’s encryption prevents even ProtonMail itself from decrypting it and reading your messages.
Tutanota strips IP address information from its messages, making it impossible for anyone to trace the message back to the user, at least using the IP.
Meanwhile, ProtonMail offers complete anonymity to its users, too. In addition to end-to-end encryption, it also strips messages of IP addresses. However, there was a case when they logged an IP address of their user after the Swiss government request – to avoid that and unsure anonymity on all of your mails, we suggest combining an email service together with a good VPN.
Tutanota is a German company. Germany is one of the “Fourteen Eyes” alliance of intelligence-sharing countries, but emails that pass through Tutanota are protected by the German Federal Data Protection Act, which prohibits the use or collection of personal data without express permission or a law that specifically allows it.
ProtonMail is headquartered in Switzerland, with servers hidden under a kilometer of granite, safe even from a nuclear blast. Famously neutral and independent, Switzerland has some of the best privacy laws in the world, and ProtonMail’s parent company is very privacy-focused.
Tutanota offers an intelligent spam filter with parameters users can use to identify spam and filter out unwanted messages. While they are constantly making improvements, user feedback tends to identify Tutanota’s spam filter as too restrictive.
Meanwhile, ProtonMail uses a smart spam detection system that automatically puts your incoming messages in an inbox or spam folder. Sometimes it’s bound to misplace your emails, so you can use a whitelister as a method to bypass the blocks if they seem too strict for you.
Tutanota vs ProtonMail: features
Different features will be valuable to different users. ProtonMail has the advantage of ProtonVPN in its priciest plan, but we’re giving this close race to Tutanota thanks to the availability of encrypted calendars in every plan, even the free plan.
|AutoResponder||✔️ (paid plan)||✔️ (paid plan)|
|Custom Domains||✔️ (paid plan)||✔️ (paid plan)|
|Secure Form Code||✔️ (pricey add-on)||❌|
|VPN Subscription||❌||✔️ (highest plan only)|
|Secure Calendar||✔️ (free)||Beta only|
Features that both secure emails have
For paying users, both Tutanota and ProtonMail offer an autoresponder and custom domain aliases. When it comes to secure calendars, Tutanota gives it for free while ProtonMail is still in the beta stage of this solution. Therefore, this micro-battle goes to the former secure email.
The most interesting feature is Tutanota's SecureConnect. It allows you to implant Tutanota code into your website to create a contact form with the same security and privacy as Tutanota itself. This is a niche feature, and an expensive add-on not included in any plan. Companies that want to receive secure messages from their website visitors, however, may find SecureConnect invaluable.
What separates ProtonMail from Tutanota is its VPN subscription. It's becoming more common to see secure email providers offer other online security solutions, such as password managers or file encryptors. In this case, ProtonMail's Visionary plan includes a subscription to ProtonVPN, which privacy-minded users should consider anyway.
Some of ProtonMail's paid plans also include ProtonMail Bridge, an app that runs in the background and automatically encrypts or decrypts messages in applications that support IMAP or SMTP. This is probably of limited use to most users, just like the CSS customization functionality.
Getting back to more widely-used features, we find that Tutanota has a native desktop application. In contrast, ProtonMail can only be accessed by webmail or using a third-party email client.
Tutanota vs ProtonMail: pricing
While the free plan is more restrictive and the packages more expensive, we still give this one to ProtonMail. The a la carte model of Tutanota leads to sticker shock and analysis paralysis – once you start adding features, your plan gets complicated and pricey. Despite the higher price tags, ProtonMail offers valuable features within each package that more than justifies the cost.
|Check Pricing||Check Pricing|
Value for the price
Tutanota offers a free plan with 1 GB of storage. It also offers a €1.20/month Premium plan, a €4.80/month Teams plan, and a €7.20/month Pro plan. Slight discounts are available for annual plans. It is worth noting, however, that Tutanota uses an a la carte approach, with services able to be added. This allows the users to customize their plan, but popular features can quickly erase the savings enjoyed by Tutanota users.
ProtonMail offers a free plan with 500 MB of storage and a limit of 150 emails per day. The paid plans range from €5/month for Plus, €8/month per user (up to 5,000 users) for Professional, and €30/month for Visionary. While these prices are higher and the menus fixed, both the Professional and Visionary plans offer powerful and comprehensive feature packages. Visionary, for example, includes a free subscription to ProtonVPN. Tutanota doesn’t offer anything close to this value, even in the Pro plan.
Tutanota vs ProtonMail: storage and attachments
With no advantage in attachment size, this match goes to ProtonMail based on storage. Yes, the free plan offers less data, but the data offered to the paid plans run circles around Tutanota’s data allowance.
|Free Storage||1 GB||500 MB|
|Paid Storage||Up to 10 GB||Up to 20 GB|
|Attachment Limit||25 MB||25 MB|
Tutanota offers 1 GB of storage for the Free and Premium plans, 10 GB of storage for the Teams and Professional plans. Tutanota limits attachments to 25 MB.
ProtonMail offers 500 MB of storage for their Free plan, 5 GB of storage for the Plus plan, 5 GB per user for each user (up to 5,000 users) for the Professional plan, and 20 GB of storage for the Visionary plan. ProtonMail also limits attachments to 25 MB.
Tutanota vs ProtonMail: ease-of-use
Both Tutanota and ProtonMail are reasonably easy to use. The winner, however, is ProtonMail. We were impressed by its ease of setup, useful settings, and third-party integrations.
|Setup||Three steps, TOS acceptance, 64-digit recovery code||Two steps, verification|
|Performance and speed||Fast and strong||Fast and strong|
|App integrations||Native desktop app, no integrations||Many popular integrations|
Setting up a Tutanota account starts by clicking the “Sign Up” button in the upper right-hand corner of every page. You will be presented with an assortment of plans to choose from. If you select the “Free” plan, a window pops up notifying you that Tutanota limits users to one free plan each.
The next page asks you to create your username (i.e. your email address) and create and confirm your password. Two checkboxes verify your age (16+ per German law) and your acceptance of the terms of service.
The next page takes you to your recovery code, a 64-digit code that authorizes you to change your password and second factor. Save it carefully, or the loss of your credentials could lock you out of your account, permanently! You’re then taken into a login page and can access your new inbox.
The ProtonMail setup process is lightning-quick and easy. Upon clicking the “Sign Up” button, on every page next to the “Sign In” button, you will be taken to a page with dropdown menus from which to select your plan. The “Plus” plan is automatically unfurled, but you can easily select “Free” above it, “Professional” or “Visionary” below it.
Once you select your plan, you will be directed to a simple, one-page setup screen, asking for your new username, password with dual confirmation, and recovery email. Click “Create Account,” and you will be taken to a verification page, where you can choose Captcha, SMS, email, or phone verification. Captcha is probably the quickest. Verify your account, and that’s it! You’re ready to start customizing your inbox.
Tutanota is remarkably easy to use. It resembles many other email inboxes, making it intuitive and easy to navigate. The interface is also elegant – it’s responsive and fun to use.
ProtonMail doesn't lose out on this front - it's also very user-friendly and intuitive. It loses some points, however, from a home screen that includes a huge prompt to upgrade your account. ProtonMail has a lot more settings, though, including custom CSS import.
Performance and speed
Tutanota sends and delivers mail quickly and reliably. Service was interrupted during a 2020 DDoS attack, but overall performance is excellent.
ProtonMail also exhibits excellent speed and performance, with no noticeable delays or interruptions in service. ProtonMail also offers excellent attachment upload speed and transfer. However, the Preview Panel is a little slow to load, since this is the step at which the message gets decrypted in ProtonMail.
Tutanota’s proprietary encryption has the side-effect of negating the ability to integrate it with third-party email clients. This may not matter to many users, since Tutanota includes a native desktop app, but people who love Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail may be disappointed.
ProtonMail integrates with the most popular third-party email clients, including Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, and Mozilla Thunderbird.
Tutanota vs ProtonMail: customer support
|Email support||Paid plans only||All plans (escalated service with paid plans)|
Knowledbases and email support
Tutanota offers a Subreddit and a user knowledge base. It also has direct email support, but only for paid users.
ProtonMail offers direct email support, even for free users. Free accounts supposedly have “limited support,” meaning longer wait times can probably be expected, but it’s better than nothing. It also has a larger Subreddit, as well as a knowledge base that is much easier to search and navigate.
|Privacy and Security||❌||✔️|
|Storage and Attachments||❌||✔️|
|Ease of Use||❌||✔️|
Both Tutanota and ProtonMail are excellent mail applications, but ProtonMail stood out in many categories. While we give Tutanota the slight edge on feature selection, we slightly preferred ProtonMail for security, pricing, storage, attachments, and ease of use. Where ProtonMail really outshines Tutanota is customer support, which matters more than people sometimes give credit for.
It was a close race, but our pick in the Tutanota vs. ProtonMail side-by-side comparison sweepstakes: ProtonMail!
Is Tutanota better than ProtonMail?
Tutanota is dead set focused on maintaining your privacy, while ProtonMail is more interested in private email service. It means that they're trying to be easy to use and comfortable services, while Tutanota sacrifices convenience for anonymity.
Can ProtonMail be traced?
For people on the outside, there's no way to track ProtonMail. However, if you get in trouble with law enforcement, they will cooperate. ProtonMail is not a neutral service. The service developers clearly state that they do not want to be a criminal's email provider. Which means that you can potentially become traced.
Is Tutanota open-source?
For the most part. While their Linux, iOS, Android, and web client code is open-source, they do not publish the source code for the Windows and macOS versions of their app. However, they claim it is the same as the one used for the Linux app and just uses Electron to make it work on Windows and macOS.
Which service is better supported: Tutanota or ProtonMail?
Tutanota developers used their own encryption, while ProtonMail uses OpenPGP. So, interaction with other clients should be more comfortable with ProtonMail. Meaning that it smoothly works with other non-ProtonMail accounts. With Tutanota, both users will have the easiest time only with other Tutanota users.
Related secure emails guides from CyberNews:
Tutanota review: private email service with a no-nonsense approach
ProtonMail Review: one of the most discrete email providers
Fastmail Review: the private email service that started the trend