Mailfence is currently the leading contender to replace ProtonMail as my secure and encrypted email service. Posteo is also in the running, but Mailfence is taking the place of ProtonMail as my choice for website usernames, online services, etc. Why am I considering leaving ProtonMail, widely regarded as one of the leading secure email providers? Let me explain.
I have been a premium subscriber to ProtonMail for a fair few years. The browser and ProtonBridge software working with third-party email clients such as Mailbird and Postbox is excellent, but of late I have had serious issues with the Android device software.
As emails come in I either delete them or refile them in the appropriate folder after reading. This might go on six or seven times during the course of a day. Dragging down the Android taskbar it could say that I have X Many emails waiting and when I go into the app, there are no unread emails. To stop this misrepresentation of unread emails, I have to clear/delete the cache so no false alerts are present.
At first, this was a minor PITA but over time it has begun to hack me off big time. ProtoonMail support days there is no way I can automatically clear the cache each time I shut down the app and the sub-Reddit response was underwhelming.
So, the search for an alternative began. I narrowed it down to Mailbox.org, Posteo and Mailfence, with the latter two being options and Mailfence as my initial choice to explore. Mailfence is based in Belgium and a Brussels resident with whom I worked in the European Commission, gave a thumbs-up as to reliability and reputation.
The company was started in 1999 and the website provides a clear and crisp explanation of Mailfence’s rationale and operational policy. Posteo’s website, by contrast, was far too busy as they tried too hard to justify their beliefs and working practices. I like minimalism.
Mailfence can be used via a browser of your choice and you have email, calendar, contacts and document storage. The latter’s capacity depends on which plan you opt for. Price plans and options are covered below. Contact and calendar details were imported quickly and accurately. Posteo gagged on the calendar import and the process took a lot longer than Mailfence.
There is no portable device option for Mailfence, but I found setting up the IMAP and SMTP with Aquamail for my Android phone and tablet was simplicity itself. In fact, the whole process gave me such confidence that I have already transferred some of my important accounts away from ProtonMail into Mailfence. Yes, it is that good. The Mailfence blog says there is an Android and IoS version available but I could not find it on the Google play store.
Emails are end to end encrypted, but there are two further options you can choose to boost security. The first is the ubiquitous PGP system and the second is you can password protect emails. More details are available on the service’s website here.
Another key thing I like is the company’s honesty, as displayed by this on their website: “Finally, like any other service, we are not perfect and have limitations. Our threat model provides a detailed account of the threats that Mailfence does and does not protect you from. We cannot claim that our system is 100% secure – no one can offer that level of security – but we work hard to offer you the highest level of protection possible.”
There are four pricing levels, displayed below. Obviously, the free option is very limited, but it does give you a taste of what the service is capable of. As I am now retired and receive a fraction of the number of emails I used to, I have paid for an annual subscription to the entry-level and, so far, there is nothing to disappoint me.
For a lightning video tour of what Mailfence has to offer, click here.
Edited to add: Due to an operator error (me) I screwed up 2FA access to Mailfence and for some reason the access codes failed to work. I contacted Mailfence support and after some tough questions (top-notch security) I was back in within an hour. Excellent service. I have now found my ProtonMail replacement.