Sunny Li / 5.30.2023Home / Email Security

Fastmail vs. ProtonMail—a battle between the old and the new [objective review]

Get an unbiased Fastmail vs. ProtonMail comparison. We’ll analyze the features, pricing, and security and privacy logistics to determine the better option.
Fastmail, launched in 1999, is one of the oldest commercial email services. While it never got as popular as Gmail, Apple Mail, or Microsoft Outlook—probably because it is not free—it still has a loyal user base. ProtonMail was launched in 2014 and quickly rose as a secure email alternative to all major providers.The Fastmail vs. ProtonMail comparison is based on various factors that can make or break the overall user experience. We have prepared this guide to help you make an objective choice after analyzing the two services across relevant categories, including:
  1. Security and encryption
  2. Anonymity and data protection standards
  3. Features
  4. Ease of use and interface
  5. Pricing and value for money
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ProtonMail vs. Fastmail—security and encryption

Inbox security is one of the primary reasons privacy-conscious users are exploring encrypted email service providers. Services with weak encryption standards put your messages at risk of unauthorized access during transit or after delivery. Both ProtonMail and Fastmail are open source platforms claiming to safeguard your messages from third parties, but their encryption protocols are not equally effective.Fastmail implements Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption standards, which means your data is scrambled during transmission between email servers.
Source: FastmailTLS and SSL standards are used by all major email providers, including Gmail and Outlook. While it safeguards your emails during transit, your data and attachments are still vulnerable when resting on Fastmail’s servers. Fastmail also creates and keeps the decryption keys to your messages, so any hacker that infiltrates its servers can steal them and access your emails.The security protocols at ProtonMail are more advanced as the platform implements end-to-end encryption. The messages are encrypted on the sender’s device and decrypted on the receiver’s end with a key created and stored by the user. This means no unauthorized third party—including the provider—can access them.
Source: ProtonMailWhile ProtonMail implements stronger security than Fastmail, it is not without faults. Proton uses the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption protocol that does not encrypt the subject line of emails and has demonstrated significant vulnerabilities in the past. If email security is your primary concern, you might want to look into some other E2EE services, such as Tutanota and Skiff, that offer more advanced end-to-end encryption.

ProtonMail vs. Fastmail—anonymity and data protection standards

Data integrity is an extension of security but needs to be reviewed separately as Fastmail and ProtonMail aim to attract privacy-focused users. Unlike common freemail providers, neither service capitalizes on user data.Shared privacy-friendly features of these services include:
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)—ProtonMail and Fastmail allow setting up 2FA for secure logins with out-of-band verifications. It ensures your email account will be protected even if someone steals your login credentials
  • Email aliases—Aliases hide your main email address and can be added and deleted at your convenience. Like burner emails, they can be used for signups on sketchy websites and help prevent spam and data mining. You can also use them as alternate business addresses
ProtonMail has the edge over Fastmail due to features like zero-knowledge login and password-protected messaging that enhance privacy and security. The platform also offers tracking protection by removing trackers attached to marketing emails. Furthermore, ProtonMail is Swiss-based and answers to the country’s pro-privacy laws, while Fastmail is rooted in Australia, a five-eyes country with high surveillance demands.

ProtonMail vs. Fastmail—Features

ProtonMail and Fastmail provide all the basic benefits you expect from a reliable provider, including:Besides these core similarities, the services focus on different productivity aspects.The former prioritizes security, with features like self-destructing messages and built-in PhishGuard phishing protection. It also offers a comprehensive product suite to streamline your workflow—by signing up for ProtonMail, you get access to an E2EE ecosystem that includes VPN and Drive for free.Fastmail might appeal to users by offering more diverse features, such as:
  • Rich text search—Fastmail allows users to perform multi-level text searches according to various parameters (similar to Zoho Mail and Gmail). ProtonMail’s search feature requires you to download all emails to your browser’s cache, which can be tedious
  • 600+ aliases—Fastmail’s basic plan allows users to store 600+ aliases, although it may be unnecessarily generous. ProtonMail’s alias limit is under 10 for its cheapest subscription plan
Fastmail has a trainable spam filter that can classify messages as spam or non-spam according to your input. The platform also offers a snooze option for emails—which may interest business professionals and productivity-focused users—but the feature is not available on webmail interfaces or to Basic plan subscribers. Some Fastmail users expressed frustration over being unable to open PDF files on the platform.

ProtonMail vs. Fastmail—user interface

Both providers have simple and clean interfaces that contribute to a satisfactory user experience.Fastmail makes managing your inbox easier with features like threaded conversations and unlimited folder additions. The color customization tools help add a personal touch. Note that some users have complained about issues like delayed delivery and no image-zoom-in feature and felt that the user interface needed to be more optimized.ProtonMail flaunts a modern dashboard with text grouping and theme customization options. You can also switch between column and row layouts depending on what works for you. While the provider has significantly modernized the user interface and provides an overall smooth email experience, a handful of users say they experienced lags (loading or notification) with ProtonMail.
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ProtonMail vs. Fastmail—pricing and value for money

ProtonMail has an obvious advantage over Fastmail because it offers a free tier with up to 1 GB of storage. A free user gets no aliases and can't send more than 150 messages a day.ProtonMail’s paid tiers cost $5–$30 per month, offering unlimited messaging and up to:
  1. 500 GB storage
  2. 15 aliases
  3. 3 custom domains
  4. 20 calendars
  5. 10 VPN connections
Fastmail only welcomes paying users, but you get a 30-day free trial on all plans. Here’s an outline of the comparative cost and features of the provider’s three plans:
Price per month$3$5$9
Mail storage2 GB30 GB100 GB
File storage1 GB10 GB50 GB
Number of messages received*4,0008,00080,000
Total size of messages received*1 GB2 GB4 GB
Number of files, webpages, and images uploaded or downloaded*40,00080,000160,000
*These are daily limits. Fastmail also has hourly and 10-minute limits for each plan.Fastmail appears affordable overall, but users get a free plan and more generous paid plans with ProtonMail.

Still conflicted? Let’s make the choice easier!

Fastmail’s most unique feature is the option to choose over 600 aliases—it’s unlikely any provider can beat that. While it is a solid option, the provider might not be suitable for users who need storage or more advanced security.ProtonMail brings E2EE email and cloud storage along with a decent set of features that enhance your productivity. Unfortunately, the free tier is fairly restrictive, and even the most expensive paid plan caps the storage at 500 GB.The solution is to look into alternative services that check all the boxes in terms of security, ease of use, affordability, and features.Skiff Mail is the perfect choice if you want a privacy-focused, end-to-end encrypted email service with rich features, a generous free plan, and a beautifully designed user interface.
Source: Skiff Mail

E2EE ecosystem + feature-rich experience—get the best of both worlds with Skiff!

Skiff is an open source email service designed specifically for users who value the security and privacy of their online communication. The platform uses E2EE encryption to give you complete ownership over your messages and files.Skiff uses two keys to protect your emails from unauthorized access:
  • The public key, distributed among recipients and used for encryption
  • The private key, stored on the user’s device and used for decryption
Since the decryption keys are created by the user and stored on their device, your content is unreadable to intermediaries, malicious actors, and even Skiff itself. The platform also offers excellent spam control and is built to resist all forms of phishing, impersonation, man-in-the-middle, user abuse, and other attacks—check out Skiff’s whitepaper for more insight into the platform’s security model.Besides an email service, Skiff provides a comprehensive product suite—you can:
  1. Create and edit documents and collaborate with your team in real time with Skiff Pages
  2. Store, download, upload, preview, and share your files, documents, and photos on Skiff Drive
  3. Schedule your personal and professional events in a completely safe environment with Skiff Calendar (natively synced with Skiff Mail)
Create a Skiff account and access the platform's products free of charge.

Why choose Skiff over Fastmail and ProtonMail

Fastmail and ProtonMail are quality industry-leading services, but Skiff packs more innovative and advanced features than the two.Here are a few benefits of switching to Skiff:
  • Zero info login—Skiff does not collect personal data during logins. Users can enable 2FA for out-of-band login verifications
  • Multi-platform availability—The platform is available on browsers and Android, iOS, and macOS devices
  • Modern, easy-to-use interface—Skiff provides a straightforward and intuitive user interface that even new users won't have a problem navigating
  • Strong anonymity tools—Skiff offers free aliases, tracker blockers, and other tools to protect your device, IP address, location, and personal information from prying eyes
  • Massive storage capacity—The platform offers up to 1 TB of storage and integrates with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), the largest decentralized storage space
  • Crypto integration—Skiff integrates with crypto wallets like Brave and Keplr to enable true anonymity on the web. You can sign up for Skiff using your crypto wallet as login credentials

How affordable is Skiff?

Skiff’s generous free plan gives users enough features to fulfill basic personal and professional needs. Some noteworthy free features include:
  • 4 Skiff aliases
  • Unlimited pages
  • Up to 6 doc collaborators
  • 10 GB of storage
  • Inbox + doc text search
  • Schedule or undo messages
  • Custom signatures
  • Auto reply
  • Custom folders and labels
Skiff’s paid plans provide more advanced features and larger storage:
Price per month$3$8$12
Maximum storage15 GB100 GB1 TB
Messages per dayUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Custom domains1215
Sign up for Skiff’s free tier to explore the platform—you can also check out ProtonMail’s free tier and Fastmail’s free trial for an objective comparison.

How to move to Skiff from another provider

Skiff offers one-click migration to users who need to import inboxes, files, and contacts from other providers. All you have to do is create an account and access the option.You can set up an account in less than five minutes—here's how:
  1. Open the signup page
  2. Set a desired username and create a strong password
  3. Start exploring Skiff’s products

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