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Comparing Tutanota and Skiff MailSkiff Mail and Tutanota are both popular privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted email. How do they differ in products, services, and features?
In this piece, we will outline the differences between Tutanota and Skiff Mail - two end-to-end encrypted, privacy-first email providers. At the most basic level, both email providers focus on privacy above all, including end-to-end encrypting all email content. However, if you are investigating private email providers, considering leaving your existing email provider, or migrating from a larger email service (Gmail or Outlook) to an email service which provides end-to-end encryption, this piece is critical for you to read.
HistoryTutanota was founded in Hanover, Germany in 2011 with the express goal of fighting against surveillance and for email privacy. Since then, Tutanota has expanded beyond email and delivered a privacy-first email and calendar combination.Skiff Mail was founded in 2020 in New York City. Skiff’s goal is to bring privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted communication and collaboration to world by delivering best in class security with usability and intuitive user experiences.
Email encryptionBoth Skiff Mail and Tutanota rely on end-to-end encryption as their main form of email encryption and security. End-to-end encryption is a method of communication where only the communicating parties can read the messages. This is done by each party encrypting their messages using recipients’ public keys before sending them, and wherein the other party decrypts users’ messages. This means that even if a malicious actor were to intercept the messages in transit, or recover encrypted data from the email provider, the hacker or malicious actor would not be able to read them.For more detail on how Tutanota and Skiff use end-to-end encryption and public key cryptography, check out Skiff’s whitepaper here and Tutanota’s security page. Generally, both products use similar encryption schemes wherein each user has encryption and signing keypairs for sending secure messages to other users, as well as for communicating externally.Skiff Mail and Tutanota share many similarities in terms of this security functionality, but there are also key differences that could make the difference in helping you choose your next email account, particularly depending on your use cases and preferences. Let’s go through some of the key features of each email service.
Legal securityIn recent years, Tutanota has run into legal troubles as German courts have ordered a "backdoor" to be installed for monitoring certain users. This has raised significant privacy concerns for users, as it is now unclear whether the provider yields significant privacy benefits. Skiff has had no such concerns.Both providers store all emails with zero access encryption, meaning that all data is encrypted with user public keys and cannot be accessed.
PricingBoth Skiff Mail and Tutanota offer a free email tier to their users, and both service providers also offer paid plans for their respective secure email services. Tutanota has a Personal private and teams plan as well as a several business email plans. Skiff on the other hand offers three distinct plans: Essential, Pro, and Business. Free tiers are particularly helpful for email services as new users can test different features, from email signatures and auto replies to folders and undo send, before fully migrating. So, you can always experiment by creating accounts on both platforms and seeing which workflows and products best suit your needs.
Open SourceSkiff Mail is dedicated to being as transparent as possible to its users and thus have made the Skiff Mail client code open-source, encryption protocols open source, and most of the company’s user interface and design components open source as well.Tutanota is dedicated to be as open source as possible. There email does not use any closed third party sources and are available on Android using F-Droid.Both Skiff Mail and Tutanota are also Google Free meaning they use no external service belonging to Google, including Google’s Captcha products. This ensures your personal information is never shared with, sold to, or monetized by big tech.
StorageSkiff Mail offers free users 10GB of storage, Essential users 15GB, Pro users 200GB of storage, and Business users 1 TB. This additional storage is a great benefit for users who use their email messages as a way to store their personal data and use email for file sharing and archiving.Tutanota offers its free and premium users 1GB of storage. Team users on Tutanota receive 10GB of storage. As a result, Skiff’s more generous free plan may help you leverage additional products and features, such as drive storage, real-time collaboration, personal notes, or other professional use cases.Both Skiff Mail and Tutanota make use of cloud-based storage; however, Skiff Mail also lets users use the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) to store their emails. IPFS is one of the best alternatives to centralized cloud-based server storage, as it makes use of a decentralized network of nodes and storage providers to store files across the internet.
IMAP/SMTP supportSkiff Mail currently does not support IMAP or SMTP support but offers its own email clients for users across multiple devices (see section below). Tutanota also does not support IMAP or SMTP support, instead opting to use their own mobile apps for security and protection.
DevicesSkiff Mail has mobile apps available on Android and iOS as well as a macOS desktop app. Skiff Mail is also available on all web browsers. Skiff recently released an open-source Windows app as well, enabling access on all Windows machines.Tutanota also has mobile apps on Android and iOS as well as apps for Linux, Windows, and macOS. Tutanota is also available on all browsers.Multiple device support is important for any new email account; in particular, mobile or desktop devices allow users to receive email notifications, which may be especially important for professional email users who are expected to respond in a certain time window.
PGP encryptionUnlike ProtonMail, both Skiff and Tutanota do not use PGP encryption. To read more about Skiff’s encryption check out Skiff’s white-paper here. To read more about Tutanota’s email encryption see their website here.PGP has largely fallen out of mainstream use and adoption; furthermore, it has some larger usability and complexity problems that have pushed most secure emails to employe methods that are simpler and more reliable.
Custom domainsTL;DR: Skiff provides 1 free custom domain, and Tutanota requires payment. A custom email domain is an email address that includes your company or organization's name, rather than a generic provider such as Gmail or Yahoo (such as @yourname.com). This can make you appear more professional and credible to customers and clients. It can also make it easier for people to remember your email address. Adding a custom domain generally involves modifying DNS records; once complete, you will be able to use your custom email domain for all of your email accounts.For business users or professional email accounts, custom domains can be a valuable way to own your own email identity.Skiff's generous free tier makes it a much better fit if you are looking to bring a custom domain to your email.
Security FeaturesSkiff Mail supports email security features such as two factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, priority customer support, client-side search, and spam and phishing detection software. Skiff also proxies remote content, such as all images, which could be used to track users and invade privacy.Tutanota supports two factor authentication as well. Both services offer end-to-end encrypted calendars for managing your schedule.Both services also support hardware keys (like Yubikeys) for 2FA.
Additional email functionalitySkiff Mail supports mail features such as schedule send, undo send, custom signatures, and even auto-reply. Skiff Mail also has mobile and desktop notifications as well as folder, label, and archive support for all users. Skiff also has a robust array of keyboard shortcuts that will be quite familiar to Gmail and Microsoft Outlook users.Tutanota supports custom signatures, auto-reply, mobile and desktop notifications, as well as folder and archive support. As a result, both email products maintain somewhat similar consumer functionality for organizing and managing your inbox, navigating through mail applications, and more.
Email aliasesEmail aliases are email addresses that are associated with a single user's account, but are displayed to recipients as if they were coming from a different email address. This can be useful for a variety of reasons, such as creating a more professional-looking email address, or consolidating multiple email accounts into a single inbox. They can also be critical for preserving privacy or anonymity, as a recipient will not know which root email address was used to send email from an alias. For more on email aliases and privacy benefits, check out our blog on anonymous and secret emails.Skiff Mail currently lets users have 4 addresses per free account as well as access to the Quick Aliases email aliasing service. Tutanota currently lets free users have 1 alias and 5 aliases for every Pro account.If you’re looking for a great free email service that lets you maintain multiple aliases, you may want to try adding multiple to your Skiff account. Otherwise, if you’re set on a particular alias or custom domain, Tutanota’s alias limits should not impede your ability to use the service.
VPNBoth Skiff Mail and Tutanota work with VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), so whether you are using a desktop browser, using your inbox inside an Android app, or composing emails on an iPhone, you will be able to access all your emails with a private network connection. By routing your internet traffic through a VPN server, your IP address and other personal information is hidden from view. This can help to keep your online activity private, and can also help to avoid online censorship.In this blog on securely navigating web services and communicating online, we outline more good practices for using VPNs, particularly when accessing sensitive accounts (bank accounts, medical providers, insurance information, or any corporate work). Regardless of the email provider you choose, we recommend also setting up a VPN to keep your IP address and other personal information private.
ConclusionSkiff offers a much more robust free plan, a powerful email aliasing service, and more cross-platform apps. On Skiff, all emails - including those arriving from other providers - are encrypted with a user's public key immediately upon receipt, ensuring that only a user has access to their emails. Skiff also provides far more value on the free plan, from more email aliases and custom domains to entire products for note-taking and file storage.As a result, we recommend you try out Skiff.
Sign up for SkiffEnd-to-end encrypted email, document, drive, and calendar.
Skiff sign up and paid plansTo sign up for Skiff, you can visit the signup page at this link.Skiff's paid plans, including Essential, Pro, and Business tiers, have many additional features across the Drive, Calendar, and Pages products than Tutanota offers today. Beyond 1 TB of storage and the ability to purchase domains in-app (Skiff Domains), Skiff is well suited to teams and business use, such as sharing a custom domain across multiple users, sharing docs/drive files, and creating public wikis. For the full feature set, check out the table below.
Every Skiff Mail user gets full access to the following products:
|Drive storage||10 GB||100 GB||1 TB|
|Sending messages (limit)||200/day||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Folders and labels||5||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Schedule or undo send|
|Email + doc text search|
|E2EE link sharing|
|Doc version history||24 hours||Unlimited||Unlimited|
- Skiff Drive (with free 10 GB storage)
- Skiff Pages (for all types of documents and real-time collaborations)
- Skiff Calendar (integrates natively with Skiff Mail)
- Skiff Domains (private domains integrated with Skiff Mail)
Other useful featuresSkiff Mail also has accompanying encrypted cloud-based file storage (Skiff Drive) and encrypted document collaboration on its platform (Skiff Pages). This means you can use your Skiff Mail account not only as your email service provider, but also as a full workspace productivity suite. This includes everything from real time document collaboration, to end-to-end encrypted backup storage for all your important personal or professional information.Tutanota offers an encrypted calendar and contacts app which pairs nicely with its main encrypted email application. These capabilities are available cross platform, which provides useful resources and notifications to keep you up to date on your events and schedule. So, when selecting a provider, consider the additional accounts that are integrated into their offerings.
More secure email providersOther Skiff Mail and Tutanota alternatives include ProtonMail (based out of Switzerland), Mailfence (OpenPGP email service based out of Belgium), and Posteo (based out of Germany.) Others also include Apple Mail, Fastmail, Virtru, and Mailbox.org, which are discussed and compared in additional blog posts.Check out the Skiff blog for more information on privacy-first email, the benefits of encrypted email, and tips for setting up a new email account.
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