Sam's Blog

Problems with Tutanota and Protonmail

by Sam on February 10, 2022

Nowadays my mail setup it quite simple. My domain registrar provides free mail hosting, and I use K9Mail and Claws Mail on my phone and computer to access it. While it’s not the most “private” or “secure” option, it gets the job done and I feel somewhat confident that my registrar isn’t reading my emails. In the past I had attempted to use Protonmail and Tutanota, and while I found them to be adequate email services, there are some very obvious issues that I had which lead me back to traditional email.

Protonmail vs Tutanota

Protonmail and Tutanota are both very similar in their goals and how they operate. While I think Protonmail is a tad bit more polished, Tutanota is quite a bit cheaper. I’ve used them both extensively, and I couldn’t find any major differences between the two. They’ll both provide you with emails/contacts/calendars, and claim that everything is encrypted on their end. Only you can view your own data.

Security issues

While Protonmail and Tutanota are generally both considered secure, there have been some concerns brought up about a potential security issue in regards to their webapp.^1 This issue is mitigated completely by using their desktop or mobile applications which are open-source and transparent.

Search is slow

Because all of your emails are encrypted, whenever you try to search through them it ends up being agonizingly slow. The exception to this is using the Proton bridge application with your mail client of choice. While this is not a deal-breaker, I found that I would often give up on searching and just scroll down til I found what I was looking.

Incompatible protocols

The biggest issue I had with both services is that they are completely incompatible with current email standards. While being incompatible is necessary for their goals of encryption, it really throws a wrench in using email traditionally. Both POP3 and IMAP will not work. While with Tutanota your only real option is to run their mail client, Protonmail does allow you to run a “bridge” which will give you access to your Protonmail account via any mail client, which is definitely better, but still not ideal.

^1 An Analysis of the ProtonMail Cryptographic Architecture, Nadim Kobeissi