Peter Lu / 7.30.2023Home / Email Security

Fastmail vs. Gmail—make an informed choice

Having trouble deciding which email service offers the best deal? This detailed Fastmail vs. Gmail comparison will answer all your questions.
Gmail is the most widely used email provider, and while its basic service is free, an increasing number of users are considering alternatives due to frequent data breaches and suspicious data collecting policies. One of the available options is Fastmail, an ad-free email service provider that claims to value user privacy, albeit for a monthly fee.Considering the importance of email security, especially for businesses, you should choose the safest option without compromising usability. This extensive Fastmail vs. Gmail comparison will help you make the right decision by analyzing the features, prices, and security options of the platforms.You’ll learn answers to questions like:
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Gmail vs. Fastmail—main differences

We’ll explore the primary differences between the two email platforms by comparing their:
  1. User interfaces (UI)
  2. Pricing
  3. Storage options
  4. Security

Fastmail vs. Gmail—user interface

Gmail’s main selling point is its easy-to-use, modern UI. It helps you organize your emails efficiently with categories and labels.All incoming emails are sorted into one of these five categories:
  1. Primary—Personal emails and conversations that don’t belong to any other category
  2. Social—Updates, messages, and other notifications from social media platforms
  3. Promotions—Marketing emails related to offers, sales, and promotional material
  4. Updates—Non-personal content like statements, receipts, bills, and confirmations
  5. Forums—Emails related to discussion boards, mailing lists, and similar online groups
Gmail’s algorithm automatically filters your emails into categories, but you can manually move messages between tabs and set special rules regarding which senders will appear in specific categories.Labels are another way to organize your emails. They’re customizable tags that you can add to any email or nest into other labels creating a folder-like hierarchy. Unlike categories, emails can have more than one label.You can freely edit or remove the labels with one notable exception—the Inbox label. All incoming emails are tagged with the Inbox label, which you can only remove from messages after reading them.Fastmail’s interface is similarly minimalist and easy to use, but it provides fewer organizational options. There are no distinct categories, resulting in a default “Inbox” view containing all incoming emails in one place.
Source: Fastmail screenshot
The platform has a tag system almost identical to Gmail’s label and a folder system similar to categories. Still, you can’t nest tags in Fastmail and must set up folders manually—no algorithm automatically filters incoming messages.Fastmail’s user interface also makes one questionable design choice—it doesn’t let you see tags and folders simultaneously. You have to go into the platform’s settings and toggle which of the two email organizational structures will be visible on the main screen. It is a lengthy process compared to quickly choosing from Gmail’s elegant sidebar with labels and topbar with categories.

Gmail vs. Fastmail—pricing

Unlike Fastmail, you can’t pay for Gmail separately—it’s only available as a part of Google’s G-Suite productivity software package, also known as Google Workspace. Besides Gmail, this package contains:
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Slides
  • Google Forms
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Meet
  • Google Chat
  • Google Keep
  • Google Sites
  • Google Tasks
It’s a decent package, and the integration between every program and Gmail makes Google’s offer particularly attractive. All these programs are also available for free, including Gmail.
Source: Google Workspace screenshot
The paid tiers of Google Workspace offer more storage space, enhanced security, and priority customer support. You can choose between four premium packages, each available as a 2-week free trial. Check out the details in the following table:
Business Starter$6 per user per month
Business Standard$12 per user per month
Business Plus$18 per user per month
EnterprisePrice available upon contact
The first noticeable difference between G-Suite’s price tiers is the amount of storage space you get per user. Each tier also brings more complex video conferencing options than the previous one. Business Plus and Enterprise provide significantly better cybersecurity and data privacy.Fastmail doesn’t have a free tier but is more affordable—primarily due to the absence of additional productivity tools. This email service is available at the following prices:
PlanMonthly priceYearly price
The main benefits of the Standard plan are:
  • Scheduled emails
  • Custom domains
  • Third-party app compatibility (Apple Mail and Outlook)
Besides more storage, Fastmail’s final tier also gives you access to tamper-proof records of your email correspondence. The email retention archive is useful for business users, but whether this is enough to warrant paying the highest price for Fastmail depends on personal priorities.While Fastmail is more affordable than G-Suite, you should consider these two points:
  1. Fastmail is only an email app, while G-Suite is an entire productivity package
  2. Gmail has a basic free version, while Fastmail only has a free trial

Gmail vs. Fastmail—storage options

Both providers offer different amounts of storage per user, depending on your subscription. Here’s a comparison of how much space you get with each platform:
Free account15 GBNo free tier
First tier30 GB2 GB per user
Second tier2 TB30 GB per user
Third tier5 TB50 GB per user
Google easily outdoes Fastmail with its cloud infrastructure. You get more storage space with a free Google account than you would with the most affordable subscription to Fastmail.

Fastmail vs. Gmail—security

So far, our comparison has shown that Gmail provides a better interface, access to practical productivity tools, and more storage than Fastmail. This makes Fastmail seem like nothing more than a more affordable alternative to Gmail, which would be true if it weren’t for privacy and security concerns.Both Fastmail’s and Gmail’s security relies on the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol—the standard email encryption. This basic level of encryption protects your email data while in transit between servers.Still, TLS has been known for vulnerabilities in the past, mainly because it doesn’t protect your emails while resting on incoming or outgoing servers—which is where hackers might attempt a breach.
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You can get stronger S/MIME encryption with Gmail, but only with the highest-paying Enterprise tier, whose price isn’t publicly disclosed.While Fastmail uses TLS, it comes out slightly ahead of Google's approach to email security for two reasons:
  1. Google has used invasive data-mining policies in the past, making Gmail less secure and private
  2. Fastmail has a Masked Email feature providing anonymity in email correspondence
Unfortunately, neither Fastmail nor Google offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default, making these email providers a less-than-ideal solution for users who prioritize security.

Keep your emails safe with Skiff Mail

If you’re looking for an email service that offers top-notch security without compromising on features or ease of use, Skiff Mail is an excellent option. Unlike Fastmail and Gmail, Skiff automatically offers E2EE to provide ultimate protection against various email attacks.Skiff Mail’s encryption is based on a set of two keys:
  • Public encryption key—Shared between the sender and the recipient
  • Private decryption key—Created by the recipient and stored exclusively on their device
When you send a message through Skiff Mail, the only person with access to it is the intended recipient with their unique decryption key. Since the encryption happens on the device level, no unauthorized person can read your message until it reaches the recipient—not even Skiff’s team.Unlike TLS, E2EE protects your emails in transit and at rest. It’s also more secure than S/MIME because encryption and decryption keys are stored on user devices, not the provider’s servers. With Gmail and Fastmail, your encryption is only as secure as their servers.

Maximize your productivity with Skiff

Unlike most security-oriented email providers, Skiff remains competitive regarding features and usability with a productivity suite that rivals Google Workspace. You can get a free account with options like:Your Skiff aliases, folders, and labels are listed on the platform’s left sidebar, where you can easily see and manage all aspects of your correspondence at a glance. There’s no need to go into the platform settings like you’d have to with Fastmail.
Source: Skiff screenshot
What’s even more important is that Fastmail hides these features behind a paywall, while Skiff Mail offers them for free. Skiff also supports integration with crypto wallets, making it the perfect tool for anonymous email communication. You can connect Skiff to:Skiff Mail is fully transparent, so the platform’s tech is open source. You can read about Skiff’s privacy and security practices in this whitepaper. More tech-savvy users can browse Skiff’s entire codebase on GitHub.

Collaborate in a safe digital workspace

Once you sign up for Skiff Mail, the same account will give you access to the entire Skiff productivity suite, including:
  1. Skiff Pages—E2EE-empowered Google Docs alternative that lets you share and create secure documents
  2. Skiff Drive—Up to 1 TB of encrypted cloud storage you can use to keep your files safe
  3. Skiff Calendar—A secure calendar app with numerous video conferencing features
Skiff’s entire E2EE workspace is available on mobile devices. The platform has dedicated Android and iOS apps for smartphones and tablets.

Create an account for free and scale your business safely

Signing up for a free Skiff account is simple:
  1. Go to the signup page
  2. Enter your desired username and password
  3. Start sending secure messages with Skiff Mail
Skiff’s paid plans provide even more useful features—visit the pricing page to learn more and choose the subscription plan that fits your needs.

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