Live without Google: alternative to Gmail [UPDATE]

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After searching for an alternative to the search engine, it’s the turn of Gmail. Gmail is the second service with which Google has become almost inevitable. Of course the solutions offered by Microsoft (, Apple, Yahoo, La Poste… will not be studied because they have the same flaws as Gmail.

Living without Google and therefore without Gmail seems to be the impossible. This is the case if we only search for free and secure alternative solutions to Gmail. But for a few euros a month, it is possible to find solutions: objective less than 5 euros! Here we go.


We have to go through this to find a real alternative to Gmail. Google offers a service of emails, calendar, contacts and management of stains. It will be to find the equivalent in a single tool.

Second imperative, the size of the box. We will see that this is often the weakest point. So I’m going on a box 15 Go, current size offered free by Google.

Finally, synchronization: we want to access our emails anywhere and especially on our phone.

Before studying alternative solutions, a particular chapter will be dedicated to “email encryption” which is by no way supported by Gmail.

Understand “email encryption”

Under this will (marketing?) to encrypt emails is a real willingness to protect the information contained in our messages. On this point, secure messaging services are not always very clear. Before you detail the solutions, it is important to identify what is behind email encryption. For this we will make the journey of an email.

When we send an email, we seize it in a dedicated application (on a computer or Smartphone) or in a Web interface (like Gmail for example). This seizure is obviously not Encrypted. It all starts when we click on “send”. The mail begins his journey on the networks.

  1. He’s going to go from our computer/Smartphone to our mail service provider’s server. For This, it will be transiting on different servers, at least that of our provider of Internet access. During this phase, it is important that the connection is encrypted. As an analogy, we can take that of the map Postal. When we put it in a mailbox, the Mailman and all intermediaries can read it. If we add an envelope, the reading is made more complex. It’s the same thing with email. To do this, most messengers ensure a secure connection between our computer and the sending server of our email service. This is for the Web connections of the use of HTTPS, security identical to that during the online shopping, or secure protocol when using application Dedicated.
  2. When our email arrives on the server of our email provider, it is saved in clear or encrypted on the server. The services offered are not the same on this point.
  3. The email will continue its route on the Internet until arriving on the server of the mail provider of the message recipient. During this transit, it is vulnerable to servers that cannot create a secure connection between them. This is the same problem as that detailed in point 1. If the connection between the servers is not secure, the email circulates in clear on the network. This point is complex to evaluate, as it necessarily depends on the server’s ability to of our provider to communicate securely with the server of the our recipient, server that we have not chosen.
  4. The email is on the recipient’s mail provider server. It may, at the same point 2., be stored in clear or encrypted. Always remain the problem that we do not choose the recipient’s provider.
  5. The mail is retrieved by the recipient in a dedicated application or Web service. As described in point 1., this connection is most of the time secure and poses little Problems.

In summary

The connections between the servers of the mail providers and the users are most of the time encrypted (provided you activate the right options…). There is still the problem of storing messages on servers and the transport phase between servers that are not necessarily secure.

Remains the ultimate solution, directly encrypting the message on your computer. It transits and is stored encrypted on the Servers. Only the recipient can decipher it… with its key Decryption. This system has been in existence for many years, it is the PGP system that works with public keys and private keys. excellent confidentiality, it requires, however, that the issuer and the the recipient of the message have previously exchanged the key allow to encrypt and decipher the message. It will be seen that several services offer a system equivalent, but much more integrating. The question remains whether these complications are necessary for daily use.

Email providers


The Swiss service is well known for the quality of the security it offers. You can quickly create an address without endless intrusive form: email address, password and address of optional recovery are sufficient. The service offers what can be expect from a classic email box. The interface is a little austere, but it remains a matter of taste. It offers a dedicated application for Android and iOS smartphones.

He obviously manages the contacts, but no calendar management.

On the security side: double system authentication, secure transmission, encrypted stored mails on their Server, possibility of transmitting encrypted mails between users Protonmail but also to other users (recovery of the messages is made by a contextual password).

One could therefore consider Protonmail as an excellent alternative calendar excluded. It’s expensive. 4 euros per month (annual payment) without email collector facilitating change and for only 5 GB of storage. We GO up to 11.5 euros monthly for the equivalent of 15 GB as an alternative to Gmail.

Note that even a free account allows access to Proton VPN. The number of available servers is very small compared to a paid account but it is a more certain.


German company, it also offers an advanced service email security. The creation is fast and not intrusive. Note that creating a free account requires 48 hours of activation for avoid the account dedicated to spam. The interface is a little nicer than the one of Protonmail without excessive fancy. It manages the contacts, but not the Calendars.

On the security side: double system authentication, secure transmission, encrypted stored mails on their Server.

To go to a storage of 10 GB, the price rises to 6 euros per month. Not a real alternative to Gmail for the data volume so.


We travel to Australia with this service. Created in 1999, the company offers an independent and paying service providing email, calendar and contact management. Please note that if the site is in English, the management interface is available in French.

Here no arguments about security. This is simply to pay a service without it accessing your mails for you sell a pair of shoes or the latest model of barbecue.

It has an Android and iOS app. It includes a mail recovery tool from other vendors (Protocol IMAP). It is able to automatically retrieve messages on other for the transition period.

At the security level, connections are secured (use of the STARTTLS standard possible). No trace of encryption of the mails on the server. The possibility of two-way authentication can be found Steps.

I find FastMail very interesting. This solution is a real alternative to Gmail credible. He does not oversell his system on security arguments that I find excessive on certain points. It offers a full service (mail, contact, calendar) synchronizable between different hardware. The interface is clear although a little austere. It incorporates tools for recovering data from old accounts as well as automatic retrieval of new data ensuring that no information is lost during the transition period between accounts.

Regarding the price, we have all the features with 25 GB of storage for 44 euros/year or slightly more than 3.5 euros per month. A reasonable price.

It remains to be known whether one has confidence in a service the other end of the planet (but where are the Gmail servers located?).


A Norwegian Courier is therefore subject to a right particularly respectful of privacy. Note that the service is based on data centers powered by renewable energy (hydropower).

Let’s say it right away, the interface is a bit rustic. A v7 is in beta without being very convincing at the moment. Here out of English, no hope.

Otherwise, the service guarantees the confidentiality of the mails without storing them encrypted on the server. No exploitation for advertising purposes. A dual authentication system available, but no dedicated app for smartphones.

The service is therefore uninteresting without distinguishing itself outside of the ecological aspect. Especially as the prices are high: count 70 euros per year, almost 6 euros per month, for a storage of 25 GB. Not a real alternative to Gmail for me.


A German company offering a service a relatively complete messaging, calendar and contact. Posteo works at 100% with electricity produced by Greenpeace energy.

The simple and rather friendly interface is in French. On the other hand, there is no dedicated application on Smartphone. The use of Classic email applications remains possible.

The service is very complete and offers the recovery data from former email providers, calendar and contact as well as the account synchronization to manage the transition period between the Addresses.

At the security level, no publicity here. Two-factor authentication is available, as well as encryption When communicating with the server. It offers the ability to encrypt the data on the server. Note that calendar encryption is also available.

First problem, there is no real period free trial. It is simply necessary to register by asking to pay in species. After you have 15 days to terminate this subscription.

Second items to consider, the total cost. 1 euro per month for services with 2 GB of mail box, two email aliases and three calendars. To go up to 15 GB like Gmail, the invoice is increased by 3.25 euros to which you have to add 10 cents for an additional alias or an additional calendar. At least for an alternative to Gmail, count a monthly cost of 4.5 euros.

Self-hosted solutions

The solutions detailed above are interesting because they provide a turnkey service. However, there is another possibility: to self-host its email service. We are certainly beyond the services offered by Google but we will see that for little monthly investment, there may be real alternatives to Gmail.

In this case it is necessary to distinguish two solutions:

  • Full self-hosting: you rent a server or install a server at home, you install all the systems necessary for its operation (IMAP server, POP, SMTP, NTP, DNS, etc.), you redirect your domain name to use this server… In short, it is a very heavy solution and comes out of the scope of this article.
  • Self-hosting “assisted”: this is to rely on a site host that will provide you with the entire turnkey email system with your domain name. The advantage is that there is no need to put your hands in the lines of codes, everything is done automatically. The huge advantage is that it is your server so you completely master the data present on it. That is the solution I have studied.

Prerequisite: a domain name 

There is a prerequisite to this feature: owning a domain name. It can be with any extension (. fr,. com, .NET, etc.). Ideally it will match your last name, but it remains totally at your choice. I have personally registered several names of domain, but the one I use for my emails is in .NET. Often, a email address is available for registration of the domain name. Count between 5 and 10 euros per year for the purchase of a domain name.


So you have a domain name remains to check the boxes in our specifications to replace gmail. This is often where the difficulties begin. Most of the time the services offer the use of open source solutions like RoundCube, Sogo or Zimbra in versions not always complete at the functionality level. In any case, concerning me, I’m not sure at all that these systems are positioning themselves as an alternative to Gmail.

Identifying all the solutions proposed is impossible, each host proposing its solution. I stayed on the analysis of the best-known hosters in France and Switzerland. Have a site that speaks French remains an asset.

Most of the basic solutions that cost cheap (a few euros per month) are therefore based on these open source solutions. Beyond these basic solutions, 1 & 1 and OVH offer more advanced solutions based on robust solutions such as Microsoft Exchange. As much as saying that the price is the image of the service and that it does not fit in a reasonable budget to replace gmail. Gandi offers the use of Sogo for all of its email solutions. I could not test any of these solutions since they need to file a domain name to access it.

Looking for a year ago, an alternative to Gmail with auto hosting, I ended up falling on the solution offered by Infomaniak, Swiss host pretty well side. This one offers an email solution, calendar, spots, contacts and home favorites: workspace. This solution brings together all of the features found in Gmail into a single interface and is positioned as a real alternative to Google’s service. The interface is rather nice, the whole is synchronizable with all existing Smartphones (a dedicated app exists on Android for syncing), a tool automatically imports your emails from your Gmail account.

There is still one element on email encryption during the transfer. None of the hosters tested offers the functionality, like Gmail for that matter.


Prices are often very high. Indeed, you often pay the subscription for an email account with a storage space often limited. If the appeal prices are attractive, at times less than 1 euro per month they go up quickly if you add addresses where space record.

For example, this is what the main hosting providers in mid-May 2019.

offer Number of boxes Size in GB Price/month
Gandi standard 2 3 0.42
Gandi premium 2 50 2.10
OVH email Pro 1 10 1.19
OVH hosted Exchange 1 50 5.99
1 & 1 email basic 25 2 2.40
1 & 1 email Pro 1 50 6
Infomaniak mail hosting 5 unlimited 1.5

We can see it. Infomaniak is also the one that offers the best value for money. In addition, by taking a mail hosting and coupled website, the number of email addresses changes to 25 boxes for a price annual rate of 20 euros or 1.7 euro/month. Unbeatable in my opinion considering that it is backed by a system like workspace rather high performance.


There is no ideal and free answer to find an alternative to Gmail. In addition, many vendors add security-related features that make it more complex to understand the service you buy.

Do you really need an encrypted email address and with encrypted exchanges for your daily mail?

If so, we’re going to have to go to the cashier. The match is plays for me between Protonmail and Tutanota. I’ll put Protonmail first for all the features it offers. If, however, the most important to you is the storage volume, Tutanota is an alternative probably cheaper.

If not, the choice expands. If you want a ready-to-go service, Posteo and FastMail seem to be the ideal solutions and position themselves as real alternatives to Gmail. The prices of the two solutions revolve around 3 to 5 euros per month. The features are at the rendezvous. A small bonus for Postéo, a German company therefore subject to the European RGPD.

You can also get started with the purchase of a custom domain name and have your site hosted. No doubt Infomaniak wins the game. It displays rates for its high-performance email solutions. The use of its workspace tool (which evolves regularly) corresponds perfectly to the use that one makes of Gmail: a real alternative. The prices of domain names are very competitive if we forget the call prices practiced by some just in the first year. Icing on the cake, hosted in Switzerland, it enjoys a very rigorous data protection legislation.

In the end, my choice was a double solution. Infomaniak for my “standard” mails that do not require to be encrypted during the transfer and Protonmail in free account for the moment for more discreet exchanges. In the end, a total bill for all my small family (10 boxes in total) with a domain name in .NET: 5,30/month or 0.53 euros per box and per month. This is the solution I use for a year and I am perfectly satisfied.

Live without Gmail: CHECK!

[UPDATE] The ranking of this article has been changed and updated in a new article dedicated to test a French mail service MAILO. You will find the update here : Living without google: Mailo another alternative to Gmail

This website is hosted by Infomaniak (imprint). The opinions in this article have been freely and without any counterparties on the part of Infomaniak.

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