Proton Mail vs. Tutanota: Who wins the battle for the best secure email?

Abeerah Hashim  - Security Expert
Last updated: November 12, 2023
Read time: 13 minutes

Tutanota and Proton Mail are the leading email services for privacy enthusiasts. In this article, we compare them head to head to see which one is the best.


Proton Mail and Tutanota are today’s popular encrypted email services, offering similar features. However, they have subtle differences, which give Proton Mail an edge over Tutanota, such as better compatibility with conventional email software and responsive customer support. Tutanota is also a useful option for privacy freaks, securing their email communications.

Email is the original Internet killer app, which remains the crucial digital identity token. But the service has changed over the last three decades. Even Hotmail email accounts do not resemble the functionality they offered in their early days, not to mention new services that forever changed the industry, such as Yahoo or Gmail.

But not only providers have changed. Users have also changed, demanding new features in email services and thus pushing the industry forward. For example, the latest feature required by a new group of users is privacy. In this regard, the leaders in the secure email field are Proton Mail and Tutanota. Both vendors enjoy an immaculate reputation earned by committing to user privacy by protecting their emails from third-party snoopers, even when the snooper is the vendor.

So which one is the better email service? In this guide, we’ll have a look at both Tutanota and Proton Mail, show you all the relevant information to make an informed choice, and decide which is the best for you.

Overall winner: Proton Mail

Privacy and security in Proton Mail and Tutanota

Neither Proton Mail nor Tutanota has the size to compete with Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, or any of the other email big boys. They know that. That’s why they sell their services in terms that those industry leaders can’t match — security and privacy. And both vendors provide excellent services in that regard. For example, end-to-end encryption is available in both, which is uncrackable even by the provider unless they have the decryption keys.

The Tutanota environment encrypts more spaces than Proton Mail. But Proton Mail’s features are still better because of its restrictive spam filter, complete anonymity policy, and 256-bit encryption (it’s 128-bit in Tutanota, which is inferior if still uncrackable). Also, Proton Mail is headquartered in Switzerland, whose laws are privacy-friendly, which also counts in favor of user privacy –Tutanota answers to the German law, which means that it’s beneath the rule of the 14 Eyes association.

Other differences include the IP address storage policy: Proton Mail stores none while Tutanota does keep them but hides them. Let’s examine both services in more detail.

Read also: Our comprehensive guide on how to use Tutanota secure email


Proton Mail

User-to-user email encryption is RSA 2048-bit; AES 256-bit for user-to-non-user emails. It uses OpenPGP. That is an industry-standard for email encryption that suffers many shortcomings (it doesn’t encrypt subject lines or have perfect forward security). The encryption in Proton Mail ensures that the provider itself can’t decrypt or read your emails.


Encryption in Tutanota is almost the same as in Proton Mail, except that the RSA 256-bit is 128-bit instead. Tutanota uses an improved OpenPGP protocol that encrypts subject lines and the plain text above the email body. It also improves over the original OpenPGP with perfect forward security –which means that hacking any given session won’t render any future session vulnerable. Your calendar and address book get full encryption with Tutanota as well.

Related: How to encrypt your emails


Tutanota removes IP address information from every email. Thus you can’t trace any email to its originator, at least in terms of their IP address.

Proton Mail has the same feature, so your IP address will be safe from email recipients. That being said, a legal case prompted the Swiss government to request Proton Mail to log the IP address of a user.

So total anonymity in Proton Mail needs you to use a good VPN service as well, which is not a bad idea when it comes to Tutanota, even if its log policy has not been tested in the courts so far.

Also: How to send an anonymous email


I mentioned earlier that Tutanota is German. Germany belongs to the Fourteen Eyes alliance –an association of countries that surveil their citizens and share their intelligence. This fact, however, is balanced by the German Federal Data Protection Act, which protects all the email traffic that goes through Tutanota. This law forbids collecting or using personal data without a mandate or a law that allows for that.

Proton Mail, on the other hand, is in Switzerland, a country whose neutrality is legendary. The company’s servers are inside a full kilometer of granite, so even a nuclear blast wouldn’t touch them. However, Proton Mail’s parent company’s commitment to user privacy has been questioned due to some court cases in the past. Still, the Swiss laws (among the world’s best regarding privacy) make it easier for Proton Mail to do an excellent job as a privacy champion.

Spam filtering

There is an intelligent spam filter in Tutanota. The parameters allow users to identify and filter out spam and unwanted messages. Tutanota is continually investing time and energy in improving the snap filter, so it changes constantly. Most users, however, tend to think that the filter is too restrictive, according to their feedback.

Proton Mail’s smart spam detection bot automatically puts your incoming messages in either your inbox or a spam folder. It’s a sound system, but not perfect, and it can get it wrong sometimes. But if you find the spam criteria too stiff for your taste, the whitelist will let you bypass the filter for a given address.

Proton Mail vs Tutanota — comparing the key features

ProtonMail vs Tutanota

Both services offer different options that will appeal to different types of users. For instance, if you pay the subscription for Proton Mail’s best plan, you will also get the ProtonVPN service. But the feature prize goes to Tutanota because it offers encrypted calendars in every plan –including the free one.

Common features

If you get one of the paid services, both Proton Mail and Tutanota will provide you with an autoresponder and custom domain aliases. Tutanota offers it in every plan in the secure calendar department, while Proton Mail has not a complete product available yet (it’s still in the beta testing stage). So Tutanota wins this battle.

Differential features

Tutanota’s most exciting feature is called SecureConnect. With it, you can implant Tutanota code into your website to create a contact option that all of Tutanota’s features will protect. If your company needs to have secure messages from website visitors, this feature is priceless indeed.

But the thing about Proton Mail is its VPN service. The VPN industry exploded recently, and secure email vendors are expanding to become integral online security platforms that include password managers, file encryption, and, of course, VPNs. The Proton Mail Visionary plan includes the ProtonVPN service. Since a VPN should be a priority for any privacy-aware user, this is a welcome addition to the project.

The Proton Mail Bridge app is also included in many of the paid plans. This app runs in the background providing encryption and decryption for all the traffic in apps that support IMAP or SMTP. This feature is interesting, but it will be helpful only to a limited number of users, just like the CSS customization feature.

Tutanota’s search feature

As a regular email user, you’re probably used to having the ability to search the contents in your inbox. Unfortunately, end-to-end encryption complicates searches badly enough so that your searches in Proton Mail only sweep through subject lines, senders, recipients, and time stamps. It’s the price you pay for privacy. In addition, Proton Mail servers can’t decrypt your messages, so they can’t search within them either.

In contrast, Tutanota does allow you to run searches that include the message body in all of your emails. This is possible because the search is done locally, on your device (in your browser or mobile app).

Last but not least, there is a desktop application for Tutanota. Unfortunately, Proton Mail has none, so you will have to use it through your web browser or a third-party email client.


The value-for-money prize belongs to Proton Mail. Yes, the free plan offers less, and the paid plans are more expensive, but it wins nevertheless.

Tutanota has a customization option for your plan (a la carte). Customization is an excellent thing, to be sure, but you’ll find that you’ll get spoiled for choices in a wrong way –analysis paralysis. As a result, you will find yourself designing a plan that gets too expensive and too complicated too quickly.

So while Proton Mail’s offer is costly, it includes valuable features that justify the price very well.

The Tutanota free plan covers 1 GB of storage. The paid plains include Premium, Teams, and Pro at 1.20, 4.80, and 7.20 EUR monthly. You can get a moderately cheaper deal if you choose the more extended yearly subscriptions. However, there is also the a la carte mode, so you can add and discard any ingredients you want. This adds to the service’s versatility, but it inflates the price rapidly.

Proton Mails’s free storage is 500 MB, and your daily messages are limited to 150. The paid plans are called Plus, Professional. and Visionary at 5, 8, and 30 EUR monthly, respectively. The Professional one is the fee for every individual user in a team of up to 5,000 users. These fees look higher than Tutanota’s, and the menu is more rigid. But the features in every Proton Mail plan are comprehensive and robust. Take the Visionary plan, for example. It includes the ProtonVPN service in the package. Tutanota offers nothing remotely similar to this.

Attachments and storage in Proton Mail and Tutanota

Proton Mail wins this round too. Yes, the free plan offers half as much storage as Tutanota’s. But when you get one of the paid subscriptions, the data usage allowed in Proton Mail is way better than Tutanota’s.

Tutanota’s free plan is good for 1GB of storage. The paid plans give you 10GB. Attachments are limited to 25 MB.

In Proton Mail, the free plan includes 500GB only, but the Professional plan offers 5GB per user, and the Professional plan, 20GB. The attachments are also limited to 25 MB here.

Proton Mail vs Tutanota — Ease of use

Proton Mail and Tutanota are both straightforward to use. But Proton Mail has the edge again because of how helpful its settings are, the ease of the setup options, and its integration with third-party features.


You start the setup process in Tutanota by clicking the “Sign Up” button, which you will find at the right-hand corner of every page. Then the site will offer you a variety of plans so you can choose the one you want. If you go with the “Free” plan, you’ll get a reminder that every user can have only one Tutanota free plan.

In the next step, you’ll create your username (which will serve as your email address) and your password (you need to confirm that one too). Finally, your age will need confirmation through two checkboxes (in Germany, you need to be over 16) and the unavoidable acceptance of the terms of service.

The next page will give you your recovery code. This is a number unique to Tutanota. It’s a 64-digit code that will enable you to change your password and second factor, so you must save it carefully somewhere you won’t lose it. If you do, your site credentials are lost, and you could be locked out for good. Keep that in mind. Then you will find the login page and advance to your new inbox.

And now, let’s have a look at the Proton Mail setup experience. It’s much faster and easier. The “Sign up” button is available on every page, next to the “Sign in” one. Once you click on it, you’ll browser go to the page with the plan selection. “Plus” is the default option, but choosing “Free” or other options is straightforward.

As you choose your plan, the next page is a simple one, where you provide a username and password with confirmation and a secondary email address. Then clicking on the “Create account” button will bring you to the verification page. You can verify via a captcha, SMS, email, or phone call. Captcha is the quickest (if annoying) way. And once you’ve confirmed, you’re ready to go to your inbox and start to customize it.


Tutanota is the friendliest page. It’s very similar to many others in boxes, so it will look familiar to users from many other services. It’s an elegant interface, responsive, and straightforward to use.

Proton Mail is every bit as user-friendly and intuitive, but the home screen insists on prompting us to upgrade our account, which is annoying and a waste of time. Despite that, many more settings are available to ProtonMail users, including a custom CSS import.

Speed and performance

Speed and performance in ProtonMail are excellent, and you won’t notice any delays or hiccups in the service. The upload speed for attachments is perfect, but the preview panel is a bit slow because of encryption time.

Tutanota, on the other hand, is also quick and reliable. It suffered a DDoS attack last year, but it performs well enough daily.

App integration

Proton Mail works fine with the most prevalent third-party email clients, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and Microsoft Outlook.

There’s not so much luck with Tutanota. Its proprietary encryption gets in the way of integration with third-party email clients. However, that limitation will be irrelevant for all the users willing to install and use the Tutanota desktop app. But you’ll be disappointed if you’re in the Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook camp.

Tutanota vs ProtonMail customer support

The winner in customer support is Proton Mail, and things are not even close in this department. Proton Mail’s subreddit is more extensive, and its knowledge base is more helpful; free users have direct email support.

Email support and Knowledgebases

Free Proton Mail users enjoy email customer support via email. However, it’s supposed to be “limited support,” which translates into prolonged waiting times. But at least they get something. Additionally, the Proton Mail Subreddit is larger than Tutanota’s, and the knowledge base is also better and easier to navigate.

Tutanota’s free users get no support at all except for the Subreddit and the knowledge base, and both are inferior to Proton Mail’s.

Final word

Proton Mail is an excellent email service provider, and so is Tutanota. After comparing both vendors head to head, we found Proton Mail to win in almost every aspect. Tutanota is better regarding feature selection, but everything else is better in Proton Mail.

The privacy features in Proton Mail are only slightly better than Tutanota’s. Still, customer support in Proton Mail is far superior because every user can get help from the vendor if they need it or want it. Do we exaggerate the importance of customer support? No. It’s the unsung hero of web services and is more important than people think it is until they need it.

Both services are excellent; the race was close. But Proton Mail is the clear winner.


Each service has a priority, and they serve it well. However, Tutanota’s mind is set on protecting your privacy and anonymity, and it does it at the expense of some functionality. Proton Mail emphasizes the service itself, and it does it well too. Both providers are easy to use and privacy proficient anyway.

Third parties outside the Proton network can’t possibly track Proton Mail messages back to the originator. However, it would be best if you kept in mind Proton Mail’s position when it comes to cooperating with law enforcement. The company is obvious in its terms of service in that they do not intend to serve criminals at all. However, they do not practice this kind of neutrality and are ready to cooperate with law enforcement agencies if needed. And this is not a theoretical posture either, and it’s already happened in the courts of law.

Yes, all its clients are open-sourced and published on GitHub. Its Linux, iOS, Android, and web client software code has been open-source for a long. On the other hand, the code for the Windows and macOS apps went open-source recently.

Tutanota develops its own encryption, while Proton Mail uses OpenPGP. Consequently, Proton Mail works with the most popular email clients, while Tutanota needs its own email client. Proton Mail is thus more compatible with the conventional email software already available for most users. In contrast, Tutanota users need to keep their communications limited to other Tutanota users to have an easy time.

Yes, both providers do need an app for mobile devices.

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About the Author

Abeerah Hashim

Abeerah Hashim

Security Expert
166 Posts

Abeerah is a passionate technology blogger and cybersecurity enthusiast. She yearns to know everything about the latest technology developments. Specifically, she’s crazy about the three C’s; computing, cybersecurity, and communication. When she is not writing, she’s reading about the tech world.

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