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Secure email comparison: StartMail vs. ProtonMail


You’ve no doubt heard Kim say this over the years: “When a service is free, you’re the product.” That’s never been more true, and all the free services you use come at the cost of your privacy.

Take your email account. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook and many others offer accounts you can set up without paying a dime. But what are you giving away when you agree to the terms and conditions? More than you think.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to Big Tech and take back your privacy, start with your inbox. Let’s look at how two of the biggest names out there compare.

What your email provider knows

First, let’s talk about what you can expect from your free email account. Now, you may be picturing someone sitting at a computer, clicking through all your emails. That’s not what happens, but your inbox isn’t exactly private, either. Free email sites scan, analyze and save details of every email you send and receive.

Some of this is to enable handy features like notifications, but this also lets your provider create a very intimate and detailed profile of you. All that data is packaged up and sold to the highest bidder. If you give third-party apps access to your accounts, those apps and services are scooping up even more information.

Here’s a closer look at what your email service might be collecting.

Why you need a privacy-first email account

Kim’s been getting more and more questions about how to say goodbye to all the Big Tech tracking for good. When it comes to your email, we recommend an option that encrypts your messages, deletes them for good when you send them to the trash, and doesn’t analyze your inbox.

Search “encrypted email” and you’ll get lots of options, so how do you know what to choose? Let’s take a closer look at two of the biggest contenders.

StartMail vs. ProtonMail

Before we jump in, a quick note: StartMail is a sponsor of Kim’s national radio show. That didn’t influence this comparison, though. We’ll let the features and numbers speak for themselves.

Here’s what they’ve got in common: Both options are based on Europe. StartMail follows Dutch privacy laws, and ProtonMail follows Swiss privacy laws. With both options, emails are encrypted end to end. Both are also ad-free and don’t analyze your emails.

The big difference comes when we look at prices and storage.

  • ProtonMail accounts start on a free plan by default. This plan includes 500 MB of encrypted storage. The Professional plan unlocks all features and includes 5 GB of storage for about $58 per year.
  • StartMail offers a seven-day trial. An annual plan is $59.95 and includes 10 GB of storage. (Keep reading for a special discount.)

Bottom line

If you’re balking at paying for an email account, think about how much you’re giving away to get it for free. You can try either of these secure options for free, but ultimately, StartMail is the best value. For roughly the same price, you get double the storage space. And keep in mind, many of ProtonMail’s features aren’t accessible with a free account.

If you want to try StartMail, Kim has a special offer just for listeners and readers — you can get your first year for half off. You really can’t beat that for a year of secure, encrypted, privacy-focused email. Create unlimited aliases for when you don’t want to share your real email address, store your sensitive documents in your personal vault and set everything up in minutes. There’s nothing to download or install.

What are you waiting for? Go to for a 7-day free trial and get 50% off your first year.

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