30 Reasons to Create a Free ProtonMail Account
ProtonMail is one of the most popular secure email client. The company is based in Switzerland. ProtonMail makes it possible to access basic secure emailing services even without paying for them.
NOTE:// ProtonMail, is now known as “Proton“, with ProtonMail being the mailing service provided by Proton amongst other services like ProtonVPN.
There are several options offered by ProtonMail that fit different users depending on their needs. Among these options is a Basic Free ProtonMail account and the rest are all paid options, but of course offered at a reasonably fair price, given the features. This article will concentrate on the Basic Free option! Who doesn’t like Quality Free Products and Services, right?
There are many many advantages you can make use of in the Basic Free ProtonMail account. This article’s aim is to highlight those that standout! Let’s dive into the analysis already!
1. End-to-End Encryption
ProtonMail offers this as a basic feature for all their offers, including the Free account. End-to-End encryption means that your email is encrypted when you send it, and decrypted only when the recipient receives it. Not even the founders of ProtonMail can decrypt your email in “transit”! This is what ProtonMail Team refers to as Zero Access to User Data!
2. Open Source
Open/Free Source is the way the world’s best software, products and services are going. ProtonMail is in line with this new normal, ’cause their service’s code is open source. Therefore, you could head out to GitHub to review the code, and make sure ProtonMail Team can deliver all the sweet things they claim they can!
Check out the ProtonMail Github repository: https://github.com/ProtonMail/!
3. Open Source Cryptography
ProtonMail employs cryptographic algorithms to encrypt your data. These cryptographic algorithms are not specific to ProtonMail but are rather Open Source and are among the most secure implementations worldwide.
These algorithms include; AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) && OpenPGP (Open Pretty Good Privacy), and they have been rigorously tested by scientists, cryptographers and security experts worldwide before being accepted as state-of-the-art cryptographic algorithms
4. Multiple Email Domains
ProtonMail, even in their Basic Free option, offers any user domains to choose from; @proton.me, @protonmail.com && @protonmail.ch! This option is however only available during signing up. Choosing one domain during signup doesn’t make the other a readily available for your use. If you need both domains at your disposal, you gotta sign up for both!
5. Optional Recovery Email
During signing up, or even after you get into your secure email account, you have the option of creating a Recovery email.
If you are one to forget your passwords for the many online accounts you got, then you might consider this option, to get a password reset email in this recovery email. However, if you are one after true privacy (including not linking any other accounts), you should leave this blank. Note that this will mean that, if you forget the password for your ProtonMail account, then you are simply done.
NOTE:// You could backup your password at a trusted password store (which has its own merits and demerits), if you don’t trust yourself with remembering all the unique passwords you have for all your accounts (it’s quite a task!).
NOTE:// Selecting this option doesn’t mean that you get to part ways with privacy. You can still set a recovery email if the account that you will use for this purpose doesn’t reveal your true identity!
6. Anonymous Email
ProtonMail does not request for any personal information or information that can be used to uniquely identify you. Therefore, you can comfortably enter information you are comfortable with. In addition, ProtonMail does not log your IP (which can be used to link to you), which means that your account stays anonymous!
I have one major issue with ProtonMail on Anonymity with regard to the Free account! At the end of any account setup, ProtonMail requests you to prove that you are human! This proof can really scare anyone after True Privacy and Anonymity away from the service! The reason here is that they provide 3 ways to prove that you are human; Email, SMS or Donation!
Two of these options can really uniquely identify you, no matter who or where you are, that is, SMS (done via a phone number), and Donation (done via a Credit Card or PayPal), but according to ProtonMail, this should be no concern to you since they put user privacy first – your PII (Personally Identitying Information) is not stored by ProtonMail)!
The email must be a non-ProtonMail account. This is the least threat to your privacy among the three options, reason being that you could of course use a fake/temporary/disposable email address.
NOTE:// ProtonMail uses all these ways only to prove that you are human! According to ProtonMail (https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/human-verification/), this information is not stored or used for any other purpose. So after you are done verifying that you are human, you can be sure that your information did and will not get leaked to third parties or used by ProtonMail for whatever! Only a cryptographic hash is stored to compare with other emails/phone numbers used for verification, to prevent reuse of the emails/phone numbers during a different signup.
NOTE:// Personally, I’d advise anyone really keen on anonymity to use the “Email” option to get past this verification phase of the sign up process. This Email-SMS issue applies to Free accounts. You can upgrade to a paid account to avoid this mess!
NOTE:// The Email proof of humanity can fail to appear as one of your options to prove you are human. This is all determined by ProtonMail analysis of your connection to their servers. If you encountered this issue, you are/were most likely using a VPN or a network mask like Tor, or the Tor Browser. There is a way around this! Check thetqweb’s article on how to fix the Email verification missing during ProtonMail signup!
7. 500MBs of Storage
ProtonMail gives you 500 megabytes of secondary storage to use as you see fit! This is quite enough storage for anyone who doesn’t have large loads of emails.
For the free email subscription with ProtonMail, your email load is limited to 150 messages per day!
Your storage usage is directly available in your mail dashboard. This makes it convenient for you to monitor your usage without hassle
8. Immediate Account Activation
Your free account with ProtonMail is activated as soon as the signup process ends successfully! This is an important feature with secure anonymous emails, because Tutanota, a well known and also great choice for secure emails unlike ProtonMail, requires 48 hours, equivalent to exactly 2 days to activate your account, meaning you can access your account but cannot send nor receive any emails before the 2 days elapse!
9. Emails Formatting
ProtonMail provides users with the options of formatting their emails before they are sent. These formatting options include but are not limited to; Bold, Italics && Underline, all of which can be executed using the common keyboard functions; Ctrl + B, Ctrl + I && Ctrl + U respectively!
10. Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
ProtonMail free accounts have the 2FA feature that is deactivated by default. A user can activate 2FA to increase security of their account, by making sure only they have access to their account! 2FA involves generation of a unique code via a mobile application.
11. Alternate Domain Email Address (@pm.me)
ProtonMail has a feature that makes it possible to have two email addresses all pointing towards the same mailbox. In addition to the email address you created, which was either a @proton.me, @protonmail.com or @protonmail.ch domain, ProtonMail goes ahead to provide a feature to activate an additonal domain, @pm.me, which can be used with the same username (the characters before the @ symbol) you created during signing up.
This domain is however limited to only receiving emails for Free ProtonMail accounts. For paid accounts, the @pm.me domain can also be used to send emails.
According to ProtonMail, the “pm.me” is short for “ProtonMail me” or “Private Message me“!
12. Custom Display Name
ProtonMail gives users of their Basic Free accounts a feature to create a custom name to appear in sent mails.
With regard to custom information in your free account, ProtonMail does not allow user to edit the ProtonMail set email Signature. Sure you an create some custom information as part of your emails signature, but the ProtonMail signature will always appear as part of the signature in a basic free account!
13. Custom Filters, Spam Filters && Sieve Filters
ProtonMail Free account has a feature to create user-defined filters to sort all new emails as well as sent emails. This sorting is achieved by creating IF conditions which can be AND-ed or OR-ed.
The AND and OR in this case are the same as in programming. AND requires that all conditions involved be met, while OR requires that at least one condition is met!
ProtonMail allows users to add email addresses to the Spam folder automatically for Blecked emails.
Sieve is a programming language which is used to filter emails. This can be considered as part of the Custom Filters but for advanced users. The coding involved in Sieve is not very raw, ’cause ProtonMail provides a GUI (Graphical User Interface) to aid in the rules creating process!
Though a little complex, this is the most flexible and effective emails filter of all the filter options provided if utilized to the maximum!
14. Self Destroying Messages
ProtonMail has a very unique feature that allows user to specify a duration in weeks, days or hours until a newly created message self-deletes itself!
15. Encryption by Password
ProtonMail has a feature to create a Password for a new message. This is an additonal layer of security to your communication. In this setup, an optional password hint can be created.
The password feature is especially important in a communication that involves a ProtonMail email address and a non-ProtonMail email address, ’cause the recipient of the password-encrypted email does not need additional software. They get the encrypted email in their non-ProtonMail inbox, but they have to click on the secure email link sent from ProtonMail to decrypt the message, by entering the correct password.
16. Read Receipts
ProtonMail provides an option to create a Read Receipt for a sent email. This is very important of you need to know if after your message reached its destination, it was opened/read.
NOTE:// For a Read Receipt to be generated, it has to be selected in a drop-down menu before sending a message.
17. PGP encryption for non-ProtonMail
ProtonMail gives users, including those using free accounts to use the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption while sending emails to non-ProtonMail recipients.
NOTE:// PGP encryption is enabled by default for ProtonMail to ProtonMail emails
For the email recipient to decrypt your message, you have to “Attach Public Key” before sending an email. The process of attaching an public key can be automated using a feature in the ProtonMail settings.
PGP encryption is used to create Digital Signatures, to sign emails!
18. Address Verification with Trusted Keys
ProtonMail allows users to enforce specific keys for encryption of emails to each contact. This prevents the server from changing the Trusted/Pinned Keys. Trusted/Pinned Keys are used to create Digital Signatures, to sign emails!
If a user resets their password, they will have to enforce the new keys for encryption. If a contact resets their password, a user will have to add the new contact’s keys as Trusted!
19. Composer Mode
ProtonMail allows users to switch between “Normal” and “Plain text” in their composer, as they create new messages. Plain text disables any formatting and formatting features!
20. Custom Theme
ProtonMail allows users to modify the look and feel of their mailbox. ProtonMail allows users to make these changes via CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code. A user can add upto 200,000 characters of CSS code!
21. Authentication Logs
ProtonMail gives you a feature to log activities relating to logins. This feature can be Disabled, but its Basic option is activated by default. An Advanced option can be used here to log IPs and thus provide better analysis of authentications!
22. Sessions Duration && Revoking all Sessions
ProtonMail has a really unique feature for sessions duration. Sessions in ProtonMail can remain active for upto 6 months. For a session to not expire, there has to be account activity. If there is no activity for a duration of two weeks after a sesson is opened, the session automatically expires!
ProtonMail also has a feature, even in the Free subscription, to revoke all other sessions. What this does is logging out any other sessions anywhere, remotely. This feature revokes all sessions except the one you are logged in and using to revoke the other sessions!
This feature can be very useful if you fear someone else has gained control of one of your active sessions somewhere. After revoking access, if you fear that the account might have been compromised, you should change your password!
ProtonMail has a Contacts feature that allows users to create contacts and store them in an address book. Contacts can also be imported as well as Exported.
24. ProtonMail Onion Site (https://protonmailrmez3lotccipshtkleegetolb73fuirgj7r4o4vfu7ozyd.onion/ [previously https://protonirockerxow.onion])
ProtonMail has an active Onion site. Onion sites create yet another layer of encryption by using the Tor service to encrypt email.
Onion sites or Tor hidden services, which have a “.onion” TLD (Top-Level Domain), can only be accesed using the Tor Browser!
25. Multiple Languages Support
ProtonMail is available in 26 international languages. The languages, when selected, take effect immediately!
26. ProtonMail Platforms
ProtonMail has been developed for three platforms, two of which are mobile-based. ProtonMail is available in the main Web Version (https://mail.protonmail.com/login ), for Apple iOS (https://itunes.apple.com/app/protonmail-encrypted-email/id979659905) && for Android smartphones (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ch.protonmail.android)!
27. ProtonVPN (protonvpn.com)
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a software that masks your online identity by tunneling your traffic via one or more dedicated servers before it reaches its intended destination in the internet! A VPN is an important tool to help you maintain Internet Privacy by browsing the internet anonymously.
ProtonVPN is an open source VPN. It has several subscription options that are reasonably fair-priced! The best part of it all, for VPN users, is that there is a free subscription to the service. Free && Open source are prolly the best words that you could tell a computer-savvy individual!
The ProtonMail Team provides all ProtonMail users, including those using Basic Free ProtonMail plans, with a Free Pass into the ProtonVPN. The same credentials used to login to ProtonMail apply to ProtonVPN too – ProtonMail Username and Password!
Access to ProtonVPN os however diabled by default, but can be easily activated in a few clicks in ProtonMail settings.
To actually use the ProtonVPN, a ProtonMail user has to download a native ProtonVPN client. Native clients of ProtonVPN are quite platform-inclusive as opposed to ProtonMail! They are available for; Android, iPhone/iPad, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook && Android TV! You can download ProtonVPN client for your device at; https://protonvpn.com/download/!
ProtonVPN free subscription is great, but of course limited as opposed to the paid-for alternatives. The features are however great, and for average user traffic, the VPN is sufficient! You get servers in 3 countries to tunnel your traffic to; Netherlands, USA && Japan!
ProtonVPN follows a No Logs policy to ensure user security, including the free version. The free subscription is also limited to 1 device!
ProtonVPN offers OpenVPN/IKEv2 when connecting ProtonVPN with third party clients, for instance; OpenVPN on GNU/Linux && Tunnelblick on macOS! The login credentials for OpenVPN can be reset at any time by the user in their ProtonMail account!
ProtonVPN also offers a “Kill Switch and Always-on VPN“. The Kill Switch disables internet connection if the VPN disconnects, while the Always-on VPN feature automatically re-establishes a connection to ProtonVPN servers, therefore ensuring data safety even in internet blackouts!
28. Swiss Privacy
ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, and so are their servers. Switzerland has some of the most impressive laws and policies on Privacy, which means that your data is protected by the same laws.
The fact that the company is incorporated in Switzerland also ensures that your data is out of reach by countries like USA and UK, even when the service is offered in these countries!
29. ProtonMail && ProtonVPN Status (https://protonstatus.com/)
ProtonMail Team does a good and unique job of keeping its users informed on events that affect, or are likely to affect their services as a result of scheduled server maintenance, server upgrade and database intervention, or temporary issues with their services.
These events, labelled as Stickied Incidents && Past Incidents, are documented in the ProtonStatus site, https://protonstatus.com/!
The site also has the status of if the native clients for both ProtonMail && ProtonVPN are “Operational“!
30. Bug Reports
ProtonMail provides a Bugs Report feature in all their plans. This, for the users, means that any issue encountered at the user level can be reported to ProtonMail developers for fixing, if the issue has not been solved in the ProtonMail Knowledge Base!
NOTE:// You should not provide any sensitive information in a Bug Report, ’cause the reports are not End-to-End encrypted!
This article covers the Free plans for ProtonMail and ProtonVPN. There are of course many amazing features in the paid versions of both services. For instance, in ProtonMail paid version, you get Multi-User support, larger storage and mails per day, more customization features && you can use your own Domain to receive emails (e.g., email@example.com)!
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30 Reasons to Create a Free ProtonMail Account
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