How to delete a ProtonMail account—process and consequences explained

Does ProtonMail not cut it for you anymore? Learn how to delete a ProtonMail account easily and what convenient alternatives to consider.
ProtonMail has been one of the most significant secure email service providers in the past decade. Launched in 2014, the platform made a name for itself by providing an ad-free and end-to-end encrypted inbox, assorted drive, VPN, and calendar services. While ProtonMail offers more privacy than Gmail or Outlook—it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.In this guide, we’ll explain how to delete a ProtonMail account in a few easy steps and whether the deletion is permanent.If you’re looking for alternatives, you can learn about Skiff—an end-to-end-encrypted, zero-access email service that seamlessly combines security, privacy, and functionality.
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What to know before deleting a ProtonMail account

ProtonMail has a loyal user base because of the privacy-first features and workflow and productivity tools it offers. Still, some users have complained about the downsides of the Swiss-based service, announcing canceling their accounts.ProtonMail came under a lot of flak in 2021 for handing over an activist's IP address and device-related data to Swiss courts. The move raised privacy concerns among users because the company’s primary selling point has been preventing third-party access to your emails, drive, calendar content, attachments, and other sensitive data. Other common issues reported by the clients include:
  • Limited email body text search feature
  • Restrictive free tiers and expensive paid ones
  • Low storage space
  • Personal information required for verification of certain accounts (making the service non-anonymous)
If you’re looking to close your existing ProtonMail account, the service provider offers two options:
Deleting the account permanentlyIf you choose to delete your ProtonMail account, it will be permanently closed. Your existing username will be blacklisted by the service provider, ensuring nobody—be it you or another person—can use the address again
Merging the account with another ProtonMail accountIn case you’re deleting your account because you have moved on to another ProtonMail address, you can merge your email addresses. That way, you don’t have to lose your existing ProtonMail username and can access your emails through a unified inbox

How do you delete your ProtonMail account?

ProtonMail offers a straightforward way to delete your account, as described in the following list:
  1. Log in to your ProtonMail account
  2. Click on the Settings tab—you’ll be taken to a page with various clusters of settings. Some users must click on the Settings icon at the top-left corner of the screen and choose Go to settings
  1. Select Account and password from the options appearing on the left panel
  2. Browse down to find the Delete your account option—click on it
  1. Fill out the online form that appears—you must provide:
    1. The primary reason for deleting your account (e.g., whether you are dissatisfied with the features or have found another service)
    2. Detailed feedback in a separate box
    3. Your email address and password (a security check to verify the ownership of the account)
  2. Provide additional verification with a two-factor authentication (2FA) code (only if you have 2FA enabled in your account)
  3. Check the box that says—Yes, I want to permanently delete this account and all its data
  4. Hit Delete to confirm and complete the process
Once you press the delete option, you will lose access to ProtonMail and its accompanying services, namely Proton Calendar, Proton Drive, and Proton VPN.

Can you delete a ProtonMail account if you don’t have access to it?

If you cannot access your ProtonMail account, it could be because:
  • You forgot your password, or your email was hacked
  • ProtonMail deactivated/disabled your account
In case you lost access to your account due to password or security issues, the only way to close your account is by contacting ProtonMail’s customer service. The process is not uniform and may require you to verify your identity by providing a government-issued ID or other documentation.ProtonMail users often get their accounts automatically deactivated due to inactivity. According to the platform’s inactive account policy, free-base ProtonMail users who do not log in to any Proton service for a year will have their account deactivated. The data associated with the account will be removed, and the username will be blocked to prevent further use.Alternatively, you may also have your account disabled by ProtonMail due to suspected abuse detected by its system, namely:
  • Sending bulk messages and scammy texts
  • Impersonating other services
  • Using the account for criminal activity
Disabled accounts are not deleted immediately, so you have to contact ProtonMail customer support if you want your data erased.

Can you recover a deleted ProtonMail account?

Deleting a ProtonMail account removes your data from the central servers, but the backup servers tend to retain it for another two weeks. Although ProtonMail does not mention this practice directly, some experts say you can contact customer service within the two-week window to request an account recovery.Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that contacting customer support can revive a deleted account because ProtonMail specifies that the deletion or deactivation of an account is permanent, ensuring there is no way to reclaim an already-used email username.If ProtonMail disabled your account due to suspected abuse, you could fill out an online Abuse appeals form to request account recovery.
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How to merge two or more ProtonMail addresses

If you want to keep your email data or username, you can merge the address to your main ProtonMail account. The action will delete your old account after the data gets transferred to your main account. The merge feature is only available on paid Proton tiers.Here’s how to request one or more ProtonMail addresses to be merged:
  1. Ensure your main account is upgraded to a paid tier
  2. Contact ProtonMail support from the old address you'd like to add to your main account
  3. Confirm that you’re okay with the existing data being deleted after the transfer
  4. Upon receiving confirmation, follow the directions provided to add the old addresses to your main account
Because of the complexity of the procedure, merge requests are completed over several days.

What an ideal ProtonMail alternative should look like

An ideal ProtonMail alternative should offer advanced encryption for absolute privacy and intuitive functionalities for personal and business users. While there are many service providers available, such as iCloud Mail, Fastmail, Tutanota, and Zoho Mail, they may not be the perfect replacement for ProtonMail, either in terms of security or the availability of features.If you’re looking for a modern, easy-to-use email service with a comprehensive product suite—sign up for Skiff.Like ProtonMail, Skiff protects your emails, attachments, drive data, and calendar content with end-to-end encryption (E2EE). With E2EE, the messages are:
  • Encrypted on the user’s device using a public key
  • Decrypted on the recipient’s device using a private key that no one else has access to
E2EE ensures that no third party (including the email service provider) can access your messages. Still, the quality of encryption varies from service to service.ProtonMail uses open source Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption, which is relatively outdated and has vulnerabilities. One of the problems with PGP encryption is that it leaves out the subject line of emails, so privacy is not absolute.Skiff offers advanced E2EE protocols that encrypt your entire mailbox and metadata, including the subject line, time created, and last modified date of the messages. The platform is a convenient replacement for your current email service if you’re looking for useful functionalities, a modern interface, and a generous free tier.

Upgrade your email experience with Skiff

If you value security and privacy, Skiff Mail is an excellent choice. The open source E2EE platform offers users full ownership of their data, providing enhanced spam control and protection from third-party attacks. Read Skiff’s whitepaper to understand its encryption and security model.Unlike other privacy-first services, Skiff does not cut down on features or hide them behind a paywall. Sign up for Skiff to access:
  • Unlimited and fast text search—Skiff offers an efficient, non-gated text search, so you don’t have to manually sift through your inbox to find files and messages
  • 10 GB of storage—With  free storage of up to 10 GB, the provider offers one of the biggest drive capacities in the industry
  • 4 aliases—If you want to minimize the exposure of your primary email address, you can create and delete multiple aliases with your Skiff account
  • Schedule and undo send—You can set up messages delivery at a future date and even undo already sent messages
  • Decentralized storage—Skiff allows optional InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) integration for users who prefer decentralized storage distributed across different servers
  • Confidential login—Skiff offers zero-knowledge login, so you don’t need to share personal information to use the service. You can enable 2FA for additional security
  • Crypto integrations—You can enjoy seamless crypto integration with wallets like Brave and Coinbase. Log in to Skiff with your wallet to communicate and collaborate anonymously
Skiff has a clean and intuitive user interface that prioritizes simplicity and accessibility.

Manage your workflow with Skiff’s productivity suite

Creating a Skiff account also gives you access to an end-to-end encrypted productivity suite with features like:
  • Skiff Pages
    • Real-time collaboration
    • Secure link and file sharing
    • Text search
    • Up to 6 workspace collaborators
    • Unlimited pages
  • Skiff Calendar
    • Auto-syncing with Skiff Mail
    • Encrypted events (times, locations, and attendees remain private)
    • Support for scheduling with other calendar apps
    • Secure video calls
  • Skiff Drive
    • Multiple filed supported
    • Cross-device syncing
    • Up to 1 TB of storage
    • Optional decentralized storage
While Skiff’s free tier lets you use the entire suite, you should opt for a paid plan (starting at $3 per month) to access advanced features like custom domains and higher-capacity cloud storage.

Can you migrate your existing ProtonMail data to Skiff?

Skiff offers one-click migration to help users import their cloud files, messages, and contacts from their existing inbox. The process is effortless, and Skiff’s support team can assist if needed.Follow these steps to get started with Skiff:
  1. Head to the signup page
  2. Pick your username and password
  3. Enter your inbox and start exploring Skiff (you can also access the service on Android, Mac, and iOS devices)

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