QUITTING GMAIL - alternatives for email, calendar, contacts

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The Linux Experiment

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Shared March 5, 2019

As I keep exploring alternatives to Google services, I'm now looking into which email services can replace the allmighty Gmail. I won't be looking at other big companies services, such as Outlook.com, since they have the same weird practices as Google. Let's look at our options !

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Why quitting gmail
Gmail is a great service. It's free, it has plenty of storage, uses labels, allows to archive messages, and generally looks pretty good. It's also using all your data and reading all your emails. That's the main problem, for me.

Proton Mail
It's a solution designed to be as private as possible, where everything is encrypted, and no information is shared.
Your email account can be created without giving any personal info, and it is of course open source as well.
Proton Mail has a free tier, limited to 500Mb of storage and 150 emails per day, which is more than enough for my needs. More demanding users can part with about 4 euros a month, upping the storage to 5gb and 1000 emails per day. This tier also allows you to use your own email domain, and create up to 5 email addresses.

Interface-wise, Proton Mail looks alright. It doesn't have the clean, nice look of Gmail or Outlook.com, and the colors are not really to my tastes, but if you feel like it, you can use custom CSS to style it the way you like.

Proton mail can import your contacts, but unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any sync options with third party clients. The whole thing being encrypted makes regular email clients unable to read or access anything. There is an application, called Proton Bridge, that allows you to sync your email on a client, but it only works on Thunderbird, and is still in beta.

Net - Courier
Net C, or Net courrier, is a european mail provider. They not only provide an email service, but also some storage space (500Mo by default), an adress book, calendar, and photo storage service.
Creating an account is free, and lets you pick the domain name between a bunch of different propositions.

The TLDR is that free accounts are subjected to ads through third party cookies, including targeted ads, and premium accounts are not. Net-C won't read your emails, though, to offer ads specifically taileord to what you wrote or received.

Looks-wise, Net-C isn't that great, with a huge header, and boxy design, but it's clear enough, and can be customized, with different colors and sizes.
If you don't like the webmail, though, you can sync email with any IMAP capable client, as well as the calendar with caldav and ICS, and the address book with carddav. Net-C also supports Exchange Active Sync if you're into that sort of thing.

Even the storage space can be accessed remotely through FTP or WebDav ! This is great, since it means that your Net-C email, contacts, and calendar can be synced with any client you'd like to use, thus escaping the ads present in the webmail.

Net-C offers a Premium package, for 12 euros a year. This includes 20 Go of email storage, 5 Go of cloud storage, the removal of ads, as well as the access to the POP3 protocol for mail syncing.

If you want more cloud storage, you can buy a "cloud pack", but prices are pretty high, with 500Go costing 40€ per month, so I'd recommend finding another solution.

Zoho Mail
Zoho is a big company, providing services ranging from email, to a full blown CRM, to online document editing, project management, and many, many more. Zoho Mail is a full featured solution, integrating a mailbox, contacts, a calendar, tasks, and notes. Zoho guarantees privacy, and does not use or collect your data outside of what it needs to actually provide you the email account.
Interface-wise, Zoho looks more modern than the other services I tried before.

The free personal account includes your "@zoho.com" email adress, as well as no ads, two factor authentication, imap and Pop sync for email, and caldav sync for calendar. Zoho is a highly configurable service, with a ton of preferences.

Free tier users get 5GB of mail storage, but you can upgrade, with prices ranging from 3$ a month for 30gb, to 6$ a month for 100Gb. Both these tiers include access to a ton more Zoho services, and the prices are pretty reasonable even for an individual user

Conclusion
There are other email providers out there, but these are the ones that stuck with me. For more privacy-focused users, Proton Mail seems like the obvious choice. It has its limits, such a syncing with other clients, but this is the price to pay for full email encryption.

I now hesitate between Zoho and Net-C. On the one hand, Zoho seems like a full featured replacement for a lot of other google services, such as Drive, Docs, Keep, and many more. On the other hand, Net-C seems like a great independant solution, and is more in keeping with the "one provider per service" approach I'm looking for.

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