ProtonMail vs. Gmail—a detailed comparison

Wondering if you should sign up for a mainstream email service or choose a privacy-focused one? This ProtonMail vs. Gmail comparison will help you decide.
Gmail is among the most widely adopted email platforms for personal and business use. While it keeps dominating the market, numerous privacy concerns are making many users look for a more secure solution.The data-safety concerns paved the way for many privacy-first email providers, ProtonMail being at the forefront. The Swiss platform promises outstanding safety and confidentiality, which makes it a compelling option compared to a typical Big Tech player.To help you see if the platform’s reputation is well deserved, this ProtonMail vs. Gmail comparison will show you how it stands against Google’s solution. You will find answers to the most important questions, including:
  • What are the main differences between these email services?
  • How secure are Gmail and ProtonMail?
  • Which alternative is worth considering over both solutions?
Achieve total email securitySkiff provides a robust and user-friendly email service that prioritizes security
Sign up

Gmail vs. ProtonMail—five key differences

When choosing between any two email platforms, you should look at five criteria:
  1. User interface
  2. Features
  3. Storage and attachment limits
  4. Pricing
  5. Security
There are significant differences between Gmail’s and ProtonMail’s approach to these factors, as you’ll see in the below breakdowns of each.

User interface

Gmail’s simplicity is one of its main selling points. Both the web and mobile apps are intuitive and easy to navigate. The familiar design features a left-hand menu with categories and labels, which can be collapsed for a clearer overview of the inbox.ProtonMail’s interface looks similar at first glance. Composing a new email opens a new window obstructing the inbox, which is the main complaint users have had about Gmail as well. There aren’t any significant issues besides this, as all the features are laid out clearly.One notable difference lies in the tab view above the inbox. Gmail offers three main tabs you can use to filter your mail:
  • Primary
  • Promotions
  • Social
Source: Gmail screenshotProtonMail takes a different approach, letting users choose between seeing read, unread, and emails with files.
Source: ProtonMail screenshotOverall, there aren’t any deal-breakers when it comes to the user interface—both options let users manage emails without clutter or complications, so the overall experience is smooth enough.


Gmail and ProtonMail offer various features to help keep your inbox clean, search through your emails, and make emailing efficient.As for email organization, Gmail uses categories with labels and sublabels. You can create custom labels to associate emails with any criteria you want. You can also use multiple labels per email if they don’t fit into a single category.The aforementioned Primary, Social, and Promotions categories rely on various algorithms to recognize which email belongs in which category and sort them appropriately, keeping your inbox neat.ProtonMail uses similar features, except it offers labels and folders. An email can only be in one folder at a time, but it can have any number of labels. The main drawback is that the free plan only includes three folders and labels, which may not be enough if you receive a lot of mail.Email search is another important function that Gmail makes easier. It lets you use advanced filters to find emails based on various criteria, including the following:
  • Labels
  • Subject lines
  • Senders
  • Dates
ProtonMail lets you browse emails through similar categories, but the free version lacks an important feature Gmail has—text search. You can’t search emails’ contents unless you upgrade to a paid plan, which is quite inconvenient.Both providers also have a few time-saving features, though Gmail is more robust. It lets you set custom message alerts, schedule email sending, and snooze incoming mail. Smart Reply uses AI to suggest responses based on what you’re most likely to write back, though there have been some privacy concerns around this feature.

Storage and attachment limits

Gmail offers 15 GB of storage with the free plan. Note that the storage is shared across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos, so it might fill up quite quickly if you use Drive to back up your files.ProtonMail’s free account only includes 1 GB of storage, which is quite low. If you’re an advanced user, you might have to delete emails regularly or subscribe to one of the platform’s paid plans. Even this might not be enough, as the highest tier caps the storage at 500 GB.As for attachment sizes, both services let you upload files of up to 25 MB. Gmail will automatically turn any larger attachments into Google Drive links, so this may be a decent way to circumvent the limitation. ProtonMail does not support such an option, so you might need to zip large files before sending them.


Gmail and ProtonMail are free to use but limited in features unless you subscribe to paid tiers. To upgrade Gmail, you can choose from four Google Workspace tiers:
PlanCost (with an annual commitment)
StarterFrom $6/month
StandardFrom $12/month
PlusFrom $18/month
ProtonMail offers an individual Proton Unlimited plan starting at $7.99/month, as well as three business tiers:
PlanCost (with a 24-month commitment)
Mail Essentials (Businesses)From $6.49/month
BusinessFrom $9.99/month
Gmail’s premium plans are more expensive, but they include up to 5 TB of storage, compared to ProtonMail’s aforementioned 500 GB. All Gmail’s paid plans also provide features like custom domains, video and voice conferencing, and group policy controls.ProtonMail’s tiers also include custom domains, unlimited folders and labels, and access to Proton’s other products:
  • Calendar
  • Drive
  • VPN
Choose a security-first alternativeSkiff offers free end-to-end encryption to all users, always prioritizing security
Sign up


Security is the most important factor when choosing an email service provider. Users often send sensitive information via email, which must remain private. Unfortunately, this may not be the case with Gmail or ProtonMail.Gmail implements the inferior Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol that only protects your emails while they’re traveling across servers. Emails stay unprotected while resting on the server, and the provider owns the decryption key.This means that Gmail can decrypt and access your emails at any time. It also puts your data at risk of leaking because an attacker that manages to penetrate the server can steal the decryption keys and read plaintext email copies.The only type of encryption that provides complete security and privacy is end-to-end encryption (E2EE). It happens at the device level, and the data remains in encrypted form until it reaches the recipient. The decryption key is created and stored on the user’s device, ensuring no one else can read the emails’ contents.Unlike Gmail, ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption. The problem is that it relies on the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) protocol, an outdated standard with numerous vulnerabilities. It doesn’t encrypt subject lines and metadata, which can be an issue if you’re looking for complete confidentiality.This is why advanced privacy-first email services have moved away from PGP and similar subpar options. If you need a provider that gives you full control over your data, Skiff Mail can be an excellent option.

How Skiff Mail protects your correspondence

Skiff Mail combines the best features of the aforementioned providers with superior security measures. It uses strong end-to-end encryption that secures your emails with two separate keys:
  1. Public key—Used for encryption and distributed among the sender and recipients
  2. Private key—Used for decryption and stored on the user’s device
As the decryption key isn’t stored by Skiff, nobody but the recipient holding it can decipher the message—including the provider’s team.Skiff offers additional security measures to minimize the chances of email attacks and keep your account secure. You can use two-factor authentication (2FA) with the Authenticator app to safeguard your mail without leaving a phone number. You don’t need to leave any other personal information to get started, as the platform supports zero-knowledge login.Skiff is open source, so the codebase is available to the public. You can also read the whitepaper for additional information on the platform’s security measures.Skiff Mail features a beautifully designed, user-friendly interface that is easily navigated even if you’re not tech-savvy. All security measures are active by default, so there’s no complicated setup.Besides advanced security, Skiff offers numerous features to streamline your workflow. The rich free plan encompasses the following:

Create a secure environment with Skiff’s product line

When you sign up for Skiff Mail, you’ll get access to three additional end-to-end encrypted products:
  1. Skiff Pages—Create and edit an unlimited number of documents with encrypted contents and metadata. Skiff Pages fosters easy collaboration through invite-based permissions and simple task delegation
  2. Skiff Drive—Store, share, and download all types of files across your devices securely. You can also choose to integrate Skiff Drive with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS)
  3. Skiff Calendar—Organize video meetings, share invites, and keep track of your daily tasks in a private calendar that syncs with Skiff Mail
Skiff’s platforms are available on iOS, macOS, Android, and all popular browsers, so you can keep your correspondence safe on numerous devices.

Sign up and take control of your online privacy

It only takes three quick steps to keep your emails safe and confidential:
  1. Go to the signup page
  2. Choose your username and password
  3. Start using Skiff Mail and other privacy-first products
If you want to unlock up to 1 TB of storage, 15 aliases, custom domains, and unlimited folders and labels, you can upgrade to Skiff’s affordable premium plans:
  • Essential—From $3/month
  • Pro—From $8/month
  • Business—From $12/month

Join the community

Become a part of our 1,000,000+ community and join the future of a private and decentralized internet.

Free plan • No card required