I have been a paying subscriber for ProtonMail (PM) since October 2018, where I paid for the Professional tier with some additional domains. I was very satisfied with the service I paid for, even though I knew it was more expensive than the competitors, like Tutanota, Runbox, Gmail, Google Workspace etc.
In the beginning I wasn’t really aware of the disadvantages of PM before earlier this year, because my initial reason to switch from Gmail to PM was because of privacy. I knew I just had to get away from Google’s ecosystem and take back control over my own data. What I wasn’t realizing was that I was slowing starting to depend on another ecosystem again.
PM is well-known for using end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and zero-knowledge for storing you data, even when you use their password recovery feature, you cannot retrieve your emails before the password-reset1. They are also known for having open sourced (most) of their code, which makes them more likable in the privacy community, which is one of the reasons I decided to use them as well.
A huge disadvantage with PM is the limitations of your account, even when you pay. The free account may be more than enough for most people, but for those who want to be extra safe out there, those who want to use a custom domain, that will cost you €48/yr. And then you will only be able to send and receive emails from 5 different addresses on that domain. If you want more, you have to upgrade your account to Visionary which is €288/yr… In my honest opinion, that’s super expensive and it might not be useful for a lot of people, but I’m sure some might want to have more than 5 address for their custom domain. You are also not able to access your emails through the traditional manner like IMAP or POP, unless you have a paid account and a few minutes to setup their ProtonMail Bridge.
PM has also been pushing their new services, to try to create a new ecosystem, with ProtonCalendar and ProtonDrive. Which sounds very appealing, but not being able to chose whatever client to use calendar with is a bit concerning and disappointing. For the storage with ProtonDrive, it really doesn’t appeal to me as I want to self-host my own cloud and not rely on any third-party service.
I first heard about them back in April. I spent two-three days researching and learning more about them. Their pricing model was a whole new world to me, I was so used to being limited by the number of addresses and/or domains I could have. But Migadu had a whole different approach to email. They base their pricing on actual usage instead of limitations. They don’t try to reinvent the email either, they just want to provide you with their service while giving you control of your own data. They also use open source solutions and their back-end system is open source on Sourcehut.
Because I have more than 2-3 domains and I use emails quite frequently I decided I wanted to try them out. They don’t offer E2EE, but email was not supposed to be sent encrypted anyhow and I don’t have any problem encrypting my emails using PGP. Migadu has great guides on how to migrate to using IMAP, but note that it’s lacking a mention of PM and to migrate from PM using IMAP required you to have a paid PM account in order to access email locally using their bridge. Luckily for me the lack of mention of PM the steps were straight forward and worked flawlessly (it took a while though 😅).
PM is too limited to justify the cost, but Migadu’s business/pricing model is much more appealing for someone like me who likes to have control. I have now been using Migadu since the end of April and I couldn’t be more satisfied! Their support is excellent, they usually respond within an hour or so, and are always happy to answer questions. Their setup process is fairly simple and their step-by-step instructions are excellent, it just works! I have been so satisfied that I even had friByte migrate over, instead of relying on self-hosting.
I will have to make a proper review of Migadu by the end of the year, I promise!