Expanding with protonmail.com

Over 2 years ago, we started ProtonMail in the CERN cafeteria. Back in those days, the initial prototype was used by just 1,000 students, scientists and researchers in Geneva. Today ProtonMail is used daily in more than 120 countries world-wide and has over half a million people registered for our beta. Today we are announcing the first phase in our expansion plan towards leaving beta, starting with moving our domain from protonmail.ch to protonmail.com!

As we’ve expanded internationally from our humble beginnings in Switzerland, we’ve realized that most users are familiar with the classic .COM top-level domain (TLD). We’ve also realized that many of our users find us through search engine queries. Unfortunately, the search engine marketplace is extremely limited and drastic priority is given towards sites with .COM over sites with .CH. As a result we have grudgingly decided to transition our main site to .COM in order to bring ProtonMail’s easy to use end-to-end encryption to more people.

Despite the change in our main website address, you will still be able to use your @protonmail.ch email address as before, and we have set up an alternate portal to the webmail (https://app.protonmail.ch) on our .CH TLD for those who wish to continue accessing ProtonMail through .CH. The change from .CH to .COM is largely cosmetic, ProtonMail is still hosted and operating on the same servers within our underground datacenter in the Swiss Alps. Furthermore, both protonmail.ch and protonmail.com addresses will continue to operate the same as before. (EDIT Feb 17, 2016: ProtonMail version 3 no longer provides addresses for both TLDs for free accounts, free account users need to select one or another) As we are a Swiss company, all of our internal corporate emails (ex: contact@protonmail.ch) will stay CH addresses.

This is one of many final steps that we’re doing in preparation for launching the non-beta version of ProtonMail that will be open to all. Stay tuned for more updates as we gear up for a version 3.0 release later this year.

About the Author

Jason Stockman

Jason is the Co-Founder of ProtonMail. He works on building ProtonMail's webmail interface and front-end encryption. Jason has 10+ years experience building websites and applications.

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37 comments on “Expanding with protonmail.com

    • Emails can still continue to go to .ch so if you are using .ch exclusively for your email address, nothing has changed for you. All that is done here is changing the location of our homepage. .ch emails are unaffected by this.

      Reply
    • Yes, we are aware of that article, in fact the author is himself a ProtonMail user. As you know, we can’t do all security features immediately due to limited time/resources, but we have it on our roadmap to address most of those issues in the coming months. We have long been aware of all of those, but as they say, rome wasn’t built in a day…

      Reply
  • Many of us are sort of in wait and see mode trying to decide whether or not to use Proton Mail as our primary email account, trying it out for more limited things now to see how that goes before transferring over financial and other things and making the full transition.

    Obviously, when people are using something as their primary email address, that can include very time sensitive personal and business communication. That makes up-time supremely important. Some things need to be sent or read immediately. If someone’s boss is writing them about an early morning meet the next day, they need to be able to see the email and set their alarm clocks to be sure they’re at the meeting- getting the email after the meeting has been held when the person is waking up at home does them very little good.

    There was an extended outage yesterday that lasted nearly 24 hours as best I can tell. What, if anything, is Proton Mail doing to mitigate the chances of that happening again? Are there constantly updated backup servers in another location that Proton Mail could fairly seamlessly fall back to in the event of a problem with the main e-mail servers, until their main email servers get fixed? Does the facility in Switzerland have backup generators in the event of a local power failure and an alternative way of getting online in the event that their usual Internet connection fails?

    I have a feeling that yesterday’s outage had something to do with switching over to the .com TLD, so it may be a one time thing, but it does raise questions of what happens when other one-time events may occur in the future and how we can keep Proton Mail users sending and receiving email when they do.

    I understand that when something is in beta, these things are to be expected, I’m just trying to get a feel for what the long-term plan is to prevent them once the product is out of beta and totally ready for general use?

    Also, when we get out of beta, will we be able to check a “Remember Me” option on sign-in via the web? There’s already an option to do that on the Android app and it works very well. Obviously, those who deem it a security risk for themselves could not check the box on their account and could continue as now, but it would be immensely helpful for people who are using ProtonMail on a home computer and often will check their email address several times an hour waiting on a message or sending new messages. Heavy users with a computer in a location others can’t access may really need that functionality so they don’t get carpal tunnel typing in a username and two passwords 50 times a day. 😉

    Reply
    • Actually the outage was only 1 hour and it was announced over a day in advance to all users. The issue you experienced is likely the ProtonMail client running on your browser had a problem. Whenever you experience extended outages, please close the ProtonMail browser window and re-open it, that will reload the app and will fix issues almost all the time.

      We do have full redundancy in our infrastructure which you can read about here:
      https://protonmail.com/blog/infrastructure-upgrades/

      Our outages are always announced in advance, happen very rarely, and are usually just for a couple minutes long.

      Reply
      • Thanks. I appreciate the additional information. It looks like our data is in good hands and has the necessary redundancies built in. Keep up the good work!

        Sorry about the misunderstanding about how long the outage lasted.

        I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a “Remember Me” option and some other potential features or options, but other than that it’s looking like a really good service.

        Reply
  • The whole story behind .ch is that our email is governed by Swiss law and not US as we know that US mandates everything in .com domain. How does a change like that guarantee our privacy? Does my .ch account stay under swiss jurisdiction?

    Reply
    • All data is under Swiss jurisdiction, regardless of whether it is .com or .ch because both domains are owned by a Swiss company and all our servers are in Switzerland. .com and .ch don’t matter in that regard.

      Reply
  • More eye candy. You’ve got loads and loads of money and yet, you’re probably the slowest expanding email provider I’ve ever seen.

    When are you coming out of beta finally?

    Reply
    • When it is ready. It’s worth mentioning that Gmail, with all of Google’s resources behind it, was in beta for much longer than us. So, I think we’re doing quite well with our present resources. If you would like to help us speed up, feel free to send a donation at protonmail.com/donate

      Reply
    • That is correct, in absolute terms, .ch is still more secure which is why we have kept a .ch version of the site up. We think the risk of .com being hijacked is low however, and it certainly could not be done without us noticing.

      Reply
      • Hi guys, first off let me say thank you for conceiving of and developing ProtonMail. It is a service the world badly needs and whining aside, I think everyone here appreciates your efforts.

        That said I have a concern that some others have voiced here about switching to .com from .ch.

        In the Knowledge Base it states:
        “at ProtonMail, our goal is to provide maximum privacy and security under all possible scenarios so for this reason, we will continue to provide the added security of the .ch domain. We recommend that users concerned about absolute privacy continue to only use protonmail.ch.”
        source: https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/what-is-the-difference-between-protonmail-com-and-protonmail-ch/

        Can you please help clarify for us, does the switch of the webmail client from .ch to .com affect security at all, even in the slightest amount? My uneducated guess is that yes, now our email is being hosted on a site within the control of US TLD administrators, even though emails we receive may have been address to xyz@protonmail.ch.

        Is there not a way to have the best of both worlds, such as having the blog, signup page, knowledge base, etc., etc. available on protonmail.com (for google juice purposes) but then to have the actual login for the web client be on .ch – so that the actual things people are carrying out that they want to be secure is as secure as is theoretically possible?

        Sacrificing security for a whole host of things (convenience, prominence in the search results, ease of use, etc.) seems like a slippery slope. The whole reason most of us are here is because we find having to remember two passwords a reasonable tradeoff for greater security. In the same vein, though I believe that PM will be most useful the more people use it, I am willing to live with slower adoptance if that means the highest standard of security is being maintained. Actually, the best marketing for PM is actually free, and happens each time another less secure service is hacked, like the recent AOL hacking of the CIA director.

        I don’t mean to second guess people who I know are much smarter about how email works than I am (and probably most of the other people asking questions here); I am merely asking for clarification on an issue you guys have undoubtedly thought through already.

        Thank you so much.

        Reply
  • So…let me get this straight. Instead of leaving both URLs usable you forcibly redirect the http://protonmail.ch to http://protonmail.com, and if people want to use the .ch address we all have to update our bookmarks… WITH NO WARNING WHATSOEVER?

    Smart.

    I have an idea! How about instead of doing that you just allow the use of both .com and .ch addresses and allow people to use whatever they want? Just a thought.

    Signed,
    /annoyedprotonmailuser

    Reply
    • Because of the way Google search engine works, it has to be one or another. Note, all of your .ch bookmarks will automatically redirect to .com, there is no need to change them.

      Reply
  • You could have given us a little notice. I’ve been trying for an hour to find out why Lastpass has forgotten my first password. 1st thing you ever did to make me mad.

    Reply
    • wow dude. They explained why they needed to make the switch. If that small update to your lastpast URL field is that hard on you then maybe you should try AOL

      Reply
  • Glad to see you guys are continuously improving and bring end to end encryption to more people. It might get more difficult to fight with large email companies such as Gmail but please keep moving forward because we need these types of end to end encryption even more now than ever before. I’m looking forward to your new version launch and also really really hoping that you’ll have an iPhone app out by this year. I used to use Android but after moving to iOS is really love to use this email on my iPhone without the browser of course.

    Reply
  • I for one appreciate the service, have been testing web and iOS with great results. Minor “bumps” in the road are expected and by most people with common decency understood.

    There will always be those that whine and complain about the little things, they fail to look at the big picture and the fact that the service is free and still being developed. They would complain day 1 or day 2,000 no matter what the service is like or what features have been provided.

    Carry on, keep up the great work and know that for every complainer there are 1,000 silent that appreciate and are patient of what ProtonMail is accomplishing and providing.

    Reply
  • Hi, the system didn’t allow me to use same external email to sign up for two protonmail. My question is that, since I mistakenly signed up my second protonmail address with the external email same as my first protonmail (which has not been invited) , and the system rejected the process, will it affect the time when the invitation of my first proton mail will come? I am very afraid that I would not receive the invitation in the future….btw, how long should I contact you again if i didn’t receive the invitation mail?

    Reply
  • What I really want to know is when we’ll be able to sign up without providing an alternative email address (for invite). Until then, it’s not truly ‘private’.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Will we be able to use our own domain names/aliases when version 3.0 will be available?
    Using both the iOS and Android apps and this would be the definitive step.

    Reply