Email is often at the core of our productivity systems. It’s how many of us receive things we need to do (or tell others to do).
As time as gone on, I’ve been convinced that if a company doesn’t explicitly respect your privacy, they don’t. I hate being so pessimistic but the tale has played out over and over again – company gets your data, does something nefarious (or stupid) with it in the background, nefarious action is leaked to the public.
Since I use email not only for talking with people, but receiving bank statements, receipts, and the like, I decided I didn’t want to possibly leave it open to mass surveillance, prying eyes, or AI model training.
A note on 'I have nothing to hide'
I’m a law-abiding citizen, and by that nature I have nothing to hide. But when companies like Target can profile your life and tell things about you before you even know, the less data I give, the better.
My life is not to be monetized.
So this winter I decided to take a dive into ProtonMail, an email service based out of Switzerland. I’m not going to go into why ProtonMail is more secure than other options because, frankly, there are a million articles and blog posts explaining why that’s the case. I wanted to, in unordered fashion, give my first impressions on using the service.
My Initial Impressions
Setting things up was relatively easy. I paid for the Visionary plan as I have multiple accounts and emails I wanted to add, plus ProtonVPN access is a plus. If you’ve ever setup email on a custom domain, this is relatively straightforward to accomplish.
I’ve also imported my email from two different accounts in. Again, a seamless process. All you do is provide your email, account password, and IMAP server, and ProtonMail does this all in the background for you.
Compared to something like Tutanota, I’m grateful ProtonMail doesn’t force all emails to stay inside their service. This is a compromise, as emails that go to another service can be analyzed, but at least I’m relatively in control of what happens there. No worries from me.
The web client is reasonably well featured, and the ProtonMail 4.0 beta is even better! It’s a bit slow at times, but I think this is due to the decryption happening. I can live with that.
On iOS, you’re limited to using the ProtonMail app. This might be a show stopper for some who use apps like Spark or Airmail and depend on the sharing features those apps provide. I do not. However, the app is good enough for me on mobile, which is basically to check email or send off quick replies.
I have no intentions of using Proton Bridge, their app to allow you to use IMAP clients like Apple Mail or Outlook with ProtonMail. The web app is fine enough for me.
Have you used ProtonMail? If so, what’s your experience been like? I’ve been impressed so far.