Finally had enough of Yahoo's butterfingered ways with data and chumminess with the NSA? Want to flee the sinking ship before it goes under or becomes subsumed into new parent company Verizon?
There are many free webmail alternatives such as Outlook and Gmail, of course, but who really knows whether they are any better? If you want real privacy and security you need to move outside the Five Eyes spy nests to providers in jurisdictions where privacy legislation is strong, like Switzerland, Germany and Scandinavia.
You need to look for vendors that enable encryption and that don't hold on to logs and can't get into your files even if they want to.
Oh, and you probably need to pay. The standard unit of pricing for email services seems to be the Cup of Starbucks Coffee. Expect to pay one or two Starbucks per month for your privacy.
Encrypted email services come in two main flavours: those in which the encryption is carried out in the browser, and those where the keys are held in the server.
There are pros and cons to each approach which we won't get into here, but both are likely to be a lot more secure than standard webmail. Some services offer full collaboration functions such as document sharing, calendar and task manager while others just offer basic - sometimes very basic - email.
Some do their best to make encryption simple, while others are focused more on form and function. Some are built on pure open source code, often viewed as a key indictor of trustworthiness, while others are partly proprietary.
You pays your Starbucks and you takes your choice.
From the creators of the Ixquick and Startpage search engines comes StartMail, which aims to make the complex process of sending encrypted emails simpler.
It does this by offering two options: Q&A, i.e. the sender encrypts the email with a question to which the receiver will know the answer (your dog's name, for example) and by making the fiddly business of using GPG public key encryption simpler by offering a web interface to create, import, back up and export keys.
The company contends that this is more secure, but others take the opposite view. Like most things security, a lot will depend on how the service is used.
StartMail has a familiar, if old-fashioned, interface that's pretty simple to use. There are few bells and whistles, but the search and the filters seemed to work well enough.
Setting up an encrypted Q&A email was pretty simple too, and StartMail looks after the business of the more secure asymmetric OpenPGP encryption, although a beginner might still struggle.
The system seemed a little ponderous at times, and importing our Yahoo contacts failed with an unhelpful error message. An email to support was answered within a day, but the importing problem remained unresolved.
Generous number of email aliases, and disposable emails are useful. Solid and configurable. Reasonable documentation.
Not so keen
The trial is too limited, disabling attachments and even URLs in emails. No mobile app, although accessible through browsers and IMAP clients. Looks old-fashioned and is a bit slow. No free version.
Access via IMAP/POP clients: Yes
End-to-end encryption: No
Mobile app: No
Free version: Seven-day trial, limited
Open source: Mixed
Cost: €49.95 per year, includes 10GB storage, 10 custom aliases, unlimited disposable aliases
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