Privacy does not come for free

For almost a year now, I use Tutanota for mail. Tutanota is free to use but also has a paid version that offers more. It is a subscription model, in fact the only subscription model application I use. Like a lot of users I do not like the subscription model, I recently even dumped my beloved Twitter client because it switched to it. But I am a satisfied Tutanota-user and will continue to pay for it. Here’s why…

Tutanota mail and calendar

What you’ll get

Tutanota is a secure mail service located in Germany. It comes with clients that provides a safe encrypted mail environment with an almost identical look and feel on web, Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS and Android. It has a clean look without any advertisements and it’s free.
Wait, didn’t you say you were on subscription? Yes, Tutanota will offer you more when you’ll pay, but it is fully functional for most people even when you don’t.

Tutanota has an encrypted address book and calendar as well.

Person sending an encrypted mail on a laptop using Tutanota

Why I use Tutanota

I am always looking for the best email solution. There are a lot of good looking clients out there and some I can actually use on the OS’s I use. I do want a client because a web interface on a (preferably small-sized) mobile is not what I want. The client should be good looking, easy to use and guarantee my privacy. A uniform interface on iOS, Linux and Windows would be a big plus.
But… although some are free (and free software is always tricky – how do they make money – what’s the catch?) most of them are not available on every OS. Email services can be free, but we all know that free comes at a price there: advertisements, reading your mail, selling information and more.

So I start looking for another solution and finally came up with Tutanota because it has a clean, uniform interface on every OS, it is cheap (I’m Dutch 😉 ), and makes it possible to use the mail from my domains directly (subscription only) in the client. And last but not least: it is safe. It’s fully encrypted, the servers are located in Germany, the team is a group of freedom-fighters, it’s open source, you can use it for all your mail and you can even send encrypted mail to recipients that do not use Tutanota. They will get a link to your mail, only to be opened with a password (You should provide that in another way, f.i. with Signal or Threema). No difficult to use PGP or certificates, just click a lock and set a password. Don’t worry, “normal”, unencrypted, mail can be send too.

Why I pay for Tutanota

For quite some reasons actually. But as Tutanota comes for free as well, I’ll try to mention only the advances of paying for it.

  • I like to support the freedom of mail and feel somehow connected to the team and their goals by supporting them.
  • Tutanota is not supported in another way. Their sources comes from paying customers, so they are independent.
  • I can use Tutanota for my domain mail addresses.
  • Inbox rules.
  • Tutanota uses renewable energy only.
  • Aliases

There are more extra features when paying, but since they did not affect my decision to pay, I did not mention them before:

  • Multiple calendars
  • Unlimited search
  • Calendar invites
  • Email support

You can pay more than the basic fee for even more functionality, like white labeling or more aliases.

What does Tutanota cost

The basic fee is EUR 12/year.

To be honest, it will cost you more in terms of functionality that is missing or still not complete. But (only when people will pay for Tutanota) the team will get working on of these functions. On some of them they are already working.

So what is missing or should be better (in my view). The closed nature of the address book is due to the safe environment, but you should be aware of that.

  • Aliases are not working properly (no separate identity/signature)
  • Calendar is not really usable: no other calendars than Tutanota’s can be added, to share calendars with other Tutanota-users you will have to pay more, handling of recurring events is cripple (you can’t move or delete a single occurrence)
  • The address book can’t handle pictures or extra fields.
  • The address book is as closed as the calendar: You can import and export vCards. There is no way to keep the address books you have in sync other than manual.
  • No automatic showing of external content possible for known contacts.
  • The iOS client has a badge for new mail but it does not count the number of unread mails.
  • Searching is troublesome.

Please check their site for more information!

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