Gmail—The Behemoth Email Service
Google's Gmail has been the golden standard of email services for a long time now, boasting the largest number of active users, despite it being blocked in many largely populated countries. Being owned by one of the ‘Big Five’ of the tech industry plays a huge part in their success, as it allows users to be part of a complete ecosystem of Google products. Thus, facilitating their daily interaction with different services.
Another reason for Gmail’s immense popularity is its user interface. Having a user-friendly interface that’s very elegant yet versatile and easy to use, is paramount to their success.
Billions of people use Gmail for all of their emailing needs, be it personal or professional. However, with the ungodly amounts of sensitive data being exchanged through Gmail, it’s no wonder people are paranoid. That paranoia has only been exacerbated, thanks to Google’s run-ins with the law after several class-action lawsuits challenging their misuse of private information.
Ultimately, one of the main driving factors for Gmail's dominance boils down to the fact that it’s free, offering features and traits other email services could never afford without a subscription fee.
All that said, Gmail does have some fierce competition, some of which have had more years in development. So, I've vetted a list of potential Gmail alternatives, including both free and paid options to suit all your personal and professional needs.
Best Gmail Alternatives
- Zoho Mail
- AOL Mail
- Outlook (Formerly Hotmail)
- Yahoo! Mail
ProtonMail has been steadily garnering more popularity through bigger and better marketing campaigns. The service’s user base exploded practically overnight, following Google’s run-in with the law over their use of private information.
This email service aims to keep your data private by using end-to-end and zero access encryption, meaning that even the company can’t see your data. Not to mention that the signup process doesn’t require you to input any personal information.
Additionally, the service is open source, meaning that any shady code or any infringement of the user’s privacy can be spotted by the general public without the intervention of any legal entity. It’s a very welcomed addition that works towards bolstering the trust between the user and the service provider.
ProtonMail has accumulated the support of many influential entities in the cybersecurity space, such as the European Commission and the Fondation Genevoise pour l'Innovation Technologique, both of which are to thank for the European Union’s recent crackdown on cybersecurity and the wellbeing of its citizens online.
ProtonMail is available for free, offering you 500Mb of storage, 150 messages per day, and limited support. These perks are more than enough for most users. However, should you opt for the paid PLUS plan, you’ll have access to 5Gb of storage, 1000 messages per day, deep customization options, encrypted messages, custom domains with up to 5 aliases, and priority customer support. All for the cheap asking price of €4 per month. The other two plans, VISIONARY and PROFESSIONAL, offer exaggerated versions of the PLUS plan with the addition of ProtonVPN and unlimited daily messages.
However, the limited customization options might be a deterrent for a lot of users and the overall basic look of the interface leaves a bit to be desired.
All in all, ProtonMail is one of the best alternatives to Gmail, despite its few shortcomings.
2. Zoho Mail
Much like Google, the company behind Zoho Mail is responsible for many other services. This allows Zoho Mail users to be part of an ecosystem that syncs all your data and keeps it organized, regardless of which platform it’s on.
With a modern-looking user interface rich with features like calendar, notes, and contacts, Zoho Mail seems like a full-fledged alternative to Gmail. With easy-to-use customization options and pre-bundled themes, you can also customize the user interface to your heart's content
The email provider guarantees full privacy to the user as it deploys end-to-end encryption and S/MIME encryption. It also claims to use no additional data, apart from what's needed to function properly.
Similar to ProtonMail, Zoho Mail offers 3 paid plans alongside a free plan. The latter provides the user with up to 5 separate email addresses, 5Gb of storage, and web access only, which could be a deal-breaker for mobile users. That being said, for the measly price of $1, you can enjoy a near-featureful experience, with offline access, a mobile app, and attachments of up to 250 Mb. If that’s not enough, opt for the Premium plan that offers more convenient features and access to other paid Zoho services.
While the service was created with small businesses in mind, it is also ideal for individual users who are looking for a more private and secure alternative to Gmail, without compromising their user experience.
Founded in 2011, Tutanota proudly claims to be “the world’s first end-to-end encrypted mail service that encrypts the entire mailbox”. It’s made a name for itself since then, becoming one of the hallmark names among privacy-focused Email services.
Like ProtonMail, Tutanota is also open source, ensuring a transparent and trustworthy relationship with the user. Its main goal is to protect its users worldwide from the prying eyes of governments, hackers, and any ill-intended people. Again, like the previous two services, it uses end-to-end encryption for maximum security.
Since its launch, the service has improved and expanded significantly, evolving from a barebones email service to a fully-featured one. Tutanota provides excellent and, most importantly, secure replacements for some of Gmail’s features, such as an encrypted calendar and encrypted contact form for more business-oriented users.
Adding to the positives, Tutanota’s user interface is relatively modern-looking, albeit a tad basic. It offers all that you would expect from a modern-day email service, such as separate customizable folders for emails, the ability to archive emails, and much more.
Tutanota is available for free on desktop and mobile devices, with a whopping 1GB of storage out of the box and all security features included. However, should you want extra domains or multiple email addresses, you’ll have to pay anywhere between €1 and €100 depending on the perks you want, which you can handpick yourself.
The only downside, and it’s a bit petty in fairness, is that you can’t link Tutanota to any email management software like Microsoft Mail.
4. AOL Mail
The name AOL most likely resonates with many 1990s and early 2000s kids, and either brings nostalgia and warmth with it or deep despise for the olden days of the internet. Much like dial-up internet, AOL has dropped in popularity and its existence in today’s world is a mere technicality.
Bought in 2015 by Verizon Communications, AOL Mail has since been further developed, leading to the migration of all their in-house email customers to AOL Mail in 2017. Thanks to the migration, AOL Mail witnessed a meteoric rise in its user base, effectively exposing new users to AOL Mail. Speaking of features, this Email service provides an unlimited mailbox, three different supported protocols for improved compatibility, spam and virus protection, and much more.
AOL mail's user interface is elegant and well-designed, featuring seamless integration with Verizon’s other services.
The good news is that AOL provides most of the features for free, albeit at the cost of having to endure some adverts here and there. You could, however, make a monthly payment of $4.99 to remove the ads.
On top of that, monthly paid plans are in place for those willing to pay a monthly fee for more premium perks. The AOL Premium plan costs $9.99 and offers more in-depth security measures such as Norton Antivirus, Identity Guard, Data Secure and Backup, and Safe Central. You could also pay for individual add-ons if you don’t wish to buy a pre-packaged plan.
To sum it up, AOL Mail is a tempting alternative to Gmail, complete with various features and functionalities. My only gripe is the peculiar way it deals with inactivity, where they disable your account after 25 days of inactivity.
This 20-year-old email provider has gone through many changes throughout its course. Starting as Francemail in 1998, the Mailo was exclusive to French residents but was later made available worldwide.
In its mission to achieve total security, it acquired back the rights to NetCourrier and shifted attention towards security, starting with fully encrypting all aspects of its service. Additionally, the fact that the company is based in the European Union means that it has to comply with the strictest data protection laws in the world.
Following the shift from Net-C to Mailo, the service’s user interface saw a massive overhaul, evolving from the basic web-based interface of old to the new modern look we’ve come to expect in today’s age.
Mailo is a complete package, with extensive email functionalities, capable of archiving, encrypting, and organizing your email in custom folders for a less congested interface. It provides a calendar, notes, and reminders, all of which are part of the same ecosystem.
Mailo is available for free with all functionalities included, barring email forwarding, priority support, and exclusive domain names. Though you’ll encounter adverts on the side of your screen while using Mailo. Of course, you’ll have to pay up to enjoy their aforementioned services. And if the data caps are too low for you, they also offer standalone packs for storage and mailbox data.
To sum up, Mailo is a mature emailing service, complete with all the features necessary for any email provider. Their service easily trumps Gmail when it comes to data protection.
Founded by Cliff Baltzley in 1999, HushMail is a premium, subscription-based email provider with a no-compromises-made approach that allows them to provide a secure service to its users. The service sports a sleek and easy-to-use interface, with a plethora of usual features, such as direct messaging, web forms, email archives, and accurate spam detection.
In terms of security, HushMail deploys some of the industry’s finest data protection measures, including, but not limited to end-to-end encryption, PGP encryption, vanity domain service, and HIPAA compliant encryption.
As of the time of writing. HushMail is not available for free. However, with four different plans, catered towards healthcare workers, small businesses, law, and individuals, I’m sure you can find a plan that suits your needs.
There's a lot to love about HushMail, but the controversies and statements that directly contradict their promises, really leave a lot to be desired. That being said though, HushMail enjoyed a multitude of praise from its users, and for good reason.
Founded all the way back in 1997, GMX is one of the first series alternatives to Gmail—a service that has had plenty of time to mature and evolve into a fully-fledged email service provider. It offers a complete package that includes an organizer, online office, and contacts, alongside cloud services with full synchronization with other devices and plenty of security features.
The service deploys an ultra-secure end-to-end encryption system and much like Gmail, it uses TLS/SSL encryption. However, unlike Gmail, it doesn’t pry open your correspondence and scans it for advertising purposes. The service operates with foolproof antivirus software and an industry-standard spam filter.
GMX offers valuable perks for its users, such as a companion app for mobile devices, Firefox homepage integration, cloud services with up to 65 Gb of storage space, and premium customer service. Unlike many of the services on this list, they allow for large attachments straight out of the box. Speaking of what you get out of the box, you get all the features mentioned above free of cost, with up to 10 email accounts.
The only drawback of using GMX is its lackluster and cumbersome interface. It doesn’t quite compare or compete with Gmail’s user interface, which is very user-friendly and easy on the eye.
Overall, GMX is a good choice for a Gmail alternative as it’s featureful and comes at no cost. It’s the ideal choice for people looking to switch from Gmail but doesn’t have the heart to pay extra or part ways with familiar features.
8. Outlook (Formerly Hotmail)
Microsoft made its foray into the email industry in 1996 with the release of Hotmail, starting the trend of independent email services. Hotmail enjoyed plenty of fame but with the lack of competition, the service quickly ceased to improve and update. Google took advantage of that and released Gmail, which quickly soared in popularity, effectively forcing Microsoft to improve its email service.
With the years of development under Outlook’s belt, it’s no surprise that the service boasts a set of advanced features with seamless integration with other Microsoft offerings, such as their productivity and storage apps.
Out of the box, it offers virtually unlimited storage space, full synchronization with all of Microsoft’s suite of tools, access to Office 365, contacts, and calendar. The user-friendly interface makes for a pleasant user experience and a smooth transition from Gmail with little to no learning curve. In addition, Outlook allows for a generous limit on attachments of up to 500Mb.
Microsoft hasn’t taken any shortcuts either in terms of security and user data protection, as it claims to deploy enterprise-level security services with an added bonus of end-to-end encryption with no possible backdoor exploits.
In summary, Microsoft is offering is a compelling choice, with a complete selection of features and perks that rival those of Gmail and little to no compromises in terms of usability or functionalities.
9. Yahoo! Mail
Yahoo was one of the first to follow in Microsoft’s footsteps with its own independent email service. During its early years, it proved no match for Hotmail but was still enjoying plenty of traffic and a relatively lively user base.
Though Yahoo’s ecosystem pales in comparison to Google’s or Microsoft’s, they make up for that with the use of third-party services. Depending on your use, the lack of an extensive ecosystem might not matter to you.
The sleek look of its interface is easy on the eye and effortless to use. If you’d like to tweak it, they offer deep customizability for the interface with community-made themes and element-specific customization. You could genuinely sink hours into customizing the look of your user interface. The customizability doesn’t end there, though. Yahoo also has a built-in gif, Flickr, and, Dropbox integration for extra storage.
The service is available on both desktop and mobile devices, with a companion app, available on Android and IOS. So, you can keep on top of your communications no matter where you are in the world.
However, their history of leaks and data breaches is concerning. In fairness, their business model has changed massively since the 2017 revelations that Yahoo had leaked the details of all 3 billion of its users. How willing you are to turn a blind eye to their murky history?
Based in Germany, Mailbox.org is a privacy-oriented email provider offering free and paid plans to its customers. Let’s dive a bit into its free services as it offers almost the same perks as the paid alternative.
Like other privacy-oriented email services, Mailbox.org operates with end-to-end encryption, mandatory SSL/TLS-encrypted data transmission, and PGP encryption. The user data is also hosted on two separate Germany-based servers, meaning that your data is protected by the strictest data protection laws. And should one of the servers die, the second one kicks in and keeps the system up and running.
The user interface hosts everything you need in an email service; an email archive, custom folders for better organization, a calendar, and cloud storage. On top of that, it supports third-party mail apps, so you can access your email from anywhere and on any device.
There’s a lot to like about Mailbox.org, especially for business-oriented people with classified or financial emails, granting them ease of mind, with the knowledge that their data and private information are safe.
In short, if your concern with Gmail is your privacy, Mailbox.org is the ideal choice. It requests no information beyond what it needs to function and only logs your IP address for security purposes—something that’s deleted within 4 days. Not to mention the fact that it’s completely free to use with no ads or limitations on your account.
Did I miss out on any other Gmail alternatives? Let me know in the comments section.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Rahul Pandey