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Hushmail Review Rapid Rundown
Hushmail is famous for offering secure email to healthcare and business professionals. But how about personal users? They're already HIPAA compliant. That alone is a big deal. Now combine that with other awesome features like e-signatures and web forms. You'll wish you were a healthcare pro. But what if you're not? Will it still work for you? Find out in this Hushmail review.
I love how it allows you to send and receive an encrypted message even to users with no Hushmail account. This means you can carry out encrypted communication with more people. This will reduce risk when sending sensitive data through email.
Sadly, Hushmail lacks robust Calendar and file storage features. It's also more pricy than competitors. Calendar is non-existent. And its storage capacity can be disappointing. Especially since you can find larger storage in other secure email providers. I suggest you check out ProtonMail or Tutanota if these features are important to you.
- OpenPGP encryption: it’s the de facto standard for encrypted emails. You can easily send and receive emails with people who are serious about email security.
- Secure forms: A ridiculously simple way of getting rid of paper forms. Once you've built them, they simplify data collection.
- e-Signatures: Adds a layer of authenticity to your forms. Once you combine them with Hushmail forms, you'll never look back.
The Full Review
Let's get into the full Hushmail review. I've thoroughly tested the platform. I've assessed its functionalities, features, and capabilities. Hushmail excels in its highly targeted plans, e-signatures, and forms. However, it's not devoid of deficiencies.
My aim is to provide you with a balanced perspective. That way you can make an informed decision about whether Hushmail is the right fit for you. So, sit back, relax, and join me as I dive into Hushmail's brand of secure email service.
|Quick Hushmail Review|
|Overall rank||3 out of 7|
|Starting Price||€4.17 per month when billed annually|
|Encrypted email to non-subscribers|
|Storage limit for individuals||10 GB per user|
Pros and Cons
Before we proceed, here’s a quick snapshot of the pros and cons of using Hushmail.
Hushmail has taken a different approach in its pricing offerings. Most service providers offer tiered individual, family, and business plans. Hushmail instead offers plans that target specific industries. For example, you have a plan named Healthcare and a plan named Law. The first is for healthcare workers and organizations. The second is for lawyers and law firms.
Hushmail does have a Personal Plan for individuals though, which appears relatively cheap. We can compare this with individual plans offered by other similar providers. Hushmail's Personal Plan costs $49.98, paid annually. That translates to around $4.17 per month. At the surface, that makes it one of the more affordable options out there. For reference, Proton Mail's paid individual plan translates to $10.89/mo paid annually.
However, once we take a closer look, we see a different picture. It only has 10 GB of storage compared to Proton Mail's 500 GB. It also lacks major features like a built-in calendar, which Proton has. Then there are other secure email services, like Tutanota, that offer more at a lower price. Tutanota's individual plan can only cost around $3.27 per month. For that, you already get 20 GB of storage plus a calendar.
Do bear in mind that, when it comes to the other plans, Hushmail has no equal. For instance, I have yet to see a secure email provider that's as focused on HIPAA compliance. For these types of plans, the benefits certainly justify the costs.
Here's a matrix detailing the different Hushmail plans. You can compare each plan by viewing their prices and features.
|Starter||Recommended||Custom||Small Business||Small Business Plus|
|Monthly cost if billed annually||$4.17||$11.00||$22.92||$44.00||$5.99||$7.99||$9.99|
|60-day money-back guarantee|
|Storage per user||10 GB||10 GB||15 GB||15 GB||10 GB||10 GB||10 GB|
|Unlimited email aliases|
(Up to 5)
(Up to 10)
(Up to 2)
(Up to 2)
(Up to 2)
|HIPAA – compliant encryption service|
|Email forwarding addresses|
Hushmail Security and Privacy
Hushmail knows what it takes to be a secure email provider. First off, they offer HIPAA compliant emails. That alone is a sign of their dedication to data security. HIPAA compliance is a security-focused business practice in the US Healthcare Industry. It involves following an extensive set of rules for protecting patient data. Businesses have to put in place strong security controls to adhere to those rules. So if a business or service is HIPAA compliant, it's got to be secure!
HIPAA-compliant emails can only be had through the Hushmail for Healthcare Plan. But that doesn't mean you can't get top-notch security with the other plans. Buckle up. You're about to get acquainted with some of the key security features of this email service.
Let’s start with the most basic feature of secure email services: Encrypted emails.
Every secure email service worth its salt uses encryption to protect its emails. Hushmail uses it too. In fact, Hushmail supports encrypted emails in all its subscription plans. Hushmail encrypted emails keep your email conversations private. When your email is encrypted, other people can't view them. Not hackers, not your recipient's email provider, not even your ISPs.
Hushmail uses two kinds of encryption: Transport Layer Security (TLS) and OpenPGP. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. TLS encrypts data as it's sent through the Internet. You call this data-in-motion encryption.
OpenPGP also provides data-in-motion encryption. This can happen when a PGP-encrypted file is sent over the network. But in addition, it also provides data-at-rest encryption. This kind of encryption encrypts your data while it's stored. That means, while the data is on Hushmail servers or in your device.
TLS is pretty common. It’s the kind of encryption popular web browsers use when you connect to a secure web site. Some people call it SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer. But SSL is really a predecessor of TLS and already an obsolete technology.
You know you're using TLS when you see the lock icon on your web browser. Hushmail will always try to send your emails through TLS. If your recipient's email server supports TLS, your email will go through encrypted. If it doesn't support TLS, your email will still go through. But it won't be encrypted. This is where OpenPGP comes in.
OpenPGP encryption is even more secure. It can encrypt your email from your sending device all the way to your recipient's device. This diagram illustrates a scenario where both sender and recipient are Hushmail users. In this scenario, your data is protected by both TLS and OpenPGP.
Hushmail allows you to send encrypted email to any recipient. That includes non-Hushmail users. Let me explain why that's a big deal. Most encrypted email services can only provide encryption to their subscribers. That means if you're a subscriber but the recipient of your email isn't, your emails won't be encrypted. Hushmail gets around this limitation through its private message center. Let me explain how it works in the next section.
Encrypted messages to non-subscribers
When I check out secure email services, I always look for one feature. Being able to send an encrypted message to other subscribers of the same service is already a given. I'm no longer surprised to see that. What isn't a given is the ability to send encrypted emails with non-subscribers. Hushmail has this feature.
Hushmail's Message Center lets you send encrypted email messages to non-Hushmail users. Recipients receive a link, which when clicked directs them to a login page. Upon logging in, they can then view the encrypted message. They can likewise reply to that message from there.
Whenever recipients view your message, they'll be forced to connect using TLS. Hushmail's Message Center requires it. That's great because TLS is secure, right? But what if your recipients' email providers don't support TLS? That won't be a problem. Your recipients will be connecting through their web browser. All popular web browsers support TLS. Problem solved.
Email archiving automatically keeps a copy of every email you sent and received. This helps you apply data retention policies, which some laws and regulations require. It also happens to be a key requirement for HIPAA compliance. You'll be happy to know this feature is available in all healthcare plans. You can also find it in the Small Business Plus and Law plans.
Other top secure email service providers don't have this feature yet. Proton Mail only has an archive folder. You have to manually move emails to that. And in Tutanota, automatic archiving is still in the pipeline.
Unfortunately, not all Hushmail accounts have access to this feature. You won't find it in the Personal Plan. Not all Business accounts have it either, as it's not in the Small Business Plan. So if you want to keep archives of your emails or if you're obligated to do so, you'll have to upgrade to a plan that has it.
HIPAA compliant emails
Hushmail for Healthcare is not for everyone, but it's perfect for healthcare professionals. That includes dentists, therapists, optometrists, and so on. It's a HIPAA-compliant subscription plan. HIPAA is a set of standards that promotes data privacy and security.
Hushmail for Healthcare has all the security features of the other plans. But it also comes with a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) and email archiving. I already explained the email archive feature earlier. Let's talk about the BAA now.
A BAA is a legal document between a healthcare provider and Hushmail. It guarantees that Hushmail will handle patient data securely. It also guarantees that Hushmail will adhere to HIPAA rules. How does this help Hushmail subscribers? Well, it legally establishes Hushmail's commitment to data privacy. If a data breach happens, Hushmail can be held accountable. And I mean legally and financially. As a subscriber, this should give you peace of mind.
Electronic signatures is another Hushmail feature that’s not available in all plans. You can only find it in the Healthcare Recommended and Custom Plans. Electronic signatures let users sign Hushmail forms they've filled out. Remember how we used to sign paper forms to validate their authenticity? e-Signatures work the same way. But they're more convenient. You can simply drag-and-drop an e-signature on a form on your device.
Hushmail for Healthcare subscribers have been using this feature in data collection. They just attach the Hush secure forms they want signed to an email. After adding instructions to the email body, they send it to the recipient.
After filling out the form, the recipient can just as easily use their e-signature to sign it. No printing needed. All signed forms are then sent back to the sender's inbox. What's more, the sender can easily track pending and signed forms from Hushmail.
Features and Capabilities
Although security and privacy are a big part of Hushmail, they're not the only reasons it's a great tool. Hushmail also offers other features and capabilities that make it worth exploring. Hushmail forms, for instance, are a great way to collect data and information. They let you easily create forms that can be embedded into your website or shared via email. You can even add an electronic signature to the form so it's legally binding!
Let’s talk about those now.
Secure web forms
One of the biggest advantages of a Hushmail Healthcare Plan is the number of forms it supports. For example, in the Law and Small Business Plans, you can create two secure web forms. But in the Healthcare Recommended Plan, you can build up to 5. And in the Healthcare Custom Plan, you can build up to 10 secure forms! Scroll back up to the table above for reference.
You probably won't need this capability if you're not in healthcare. But if you are, then secure forms can be a game changer, especially when you combine them with e-signatures. This will enable you to collect and manage patient information in a fast and secure manner. You can simply add Hush secure forms to an email and send to your patient.
Upon receiving your email, your patient can click a link to load your form. Your patient can then fill out the form with the same device they used to receive it. If an e-signature is required, they can sign from the same device as well.
You can create a form from scratch or from Hushmail’s built-in templates. Here are some of the forms you can use from the built-in templates:
- Secure contact forms
- COVID-19 screening questionnaires
- Chiropractic intake forms
- Client experience survey forms
- Dental intake forms
- General anxiety disorder forms
- And many others
Unlimited email aliases
Email aliases can be used for various purposes. First, you can use them as temporary or throwaway email addresses. This can help you avoid spam emails from services you actually signed up for. Second, you can assign them to different projects. This will allow you to direct specific emails to specific addresses. Third, you can create alias emails as a way to preserve your privacy. And so on and so forth.
You can create alias emails in any Hushmail plan. In fact, there's no limit to the number of email aliases you're allowed to create. When you delete an email alias, all emails intended for it will stop. That's actually how you can use it to stop spam. You can sign up to a group or service using an email alias. Once the number of emails from that service become unbearable, just delete the alias.
Ease of Use and Setup
The Hushmail user interface isn't exactly the most visually appealing. But I find it intuitive enough. Of course it helps that email is one of the most, if not the most, familiar web apps in the world. Let me walk you through some of the basic operations users perform on Hushmail. If you ask me, they're all quite simple and straightforward. See if you agree.
Hushmail account creation
Creating a secure Hushmail account is quick and easy. I wanted to see most of the features, so I signed up for a Hushmail for Healthcare Plan. Even with that, I managed to complete the process AND send a test email in less than 7 minutes. Here are the general steps for creating an account.
- Go to the Hushmail Plans & Pricing page.
- Select a plan.
- Choose a billing frequency (e.g. Pay monthly or Pay annually). I chose Pay monthly. That’s why the amount you see on the screenshot below is slightly higher than the $22.92 shown on the table above.
- Click the Sign up button.
- Enter your desired email address and create a passphrase. Actually, a complex password will work as well. To be more secure, I suggest you use a password manager to generate and save that passphrase or password.
- Enter payment information and billing address, and then complete your order. You should then get a receipt.
- That’s it! You’ll then be asked to login to your newly created Hushmail email account.
Since I was already inside, I decided to try things out. Remember the feature I said I always check out whenever I give a secure email service a test run? I always see if I can send to non-subscribers of that service. We'll talk about that next.
Sending secure messages
Whenever you're logged-in to your Hushmail email account, sending encrypted messages is easy. The Compose button will be right at the top of your screen, so you won't miss it. Once you click that, you should see a standard email composition user interface.
Fill out the fields as you would a regular email, but with one additional step. Since you want this to be completely encrypted, make sure the Encrypted toggle switch is on. As soon as you click Send, that message will be stored encrypted in Hushmail's servers. Hushmail will then notify your recipient about the encrypted message through email.
You didn't expect sending messages to users of other email providers to be that simple, did you? It really is! If you want to know how the recipient can view the message, check out our FAQ.
Working with secure forms
Creating a Hushmail secure web form is incredibly easy. You don't need any coding or web development experience to do it. You can build a form with just a few mouse clicks. If you're already logged in, you can access the Form Builder on the right corner of the screen.
In the next screen, click the button that says ‘Create my first form’. You'll then be brought to a page where you can build a form from scratch or choose from the templates provided. This is how a blank form originally looks like. To build your form, you would just drag and drop form elements from the panel on the left. Notice the Signature field near the bottom of that panel. You'll want to add that field if you want the recipient to attach an electronic signature.
Once you’ve built a form either from scratch or a template, it will be added to your form collection. You can then add that form to an email. For example, if you want a client to fill out a form, you can create an email and add the appropriate form to it.
Hushmail support still has room for improvement. I like how they offer live chat. However, I think limiting its coverage to 7AM-5PM Pacific Time shortchanges non-US subscribers. Also, there's no coverage on weekends. Many people now communicate even on weekends. If a technical issue arises and no one's there to help you, you're toast.
In addition to live chat, you can also seek assistance through other channels. There's email, phone support, social media, and a knowledgebase. If you want to reach them through social media, they're most active on Twitter.
We’re nearing the end of our Hushmail review. But before we part ways, I'd like to invite you to check out the FAQ section. You might find answers to some of the questions you've been meaning to ask.
What are the best secure email services?
If I didn't know other email providers, I honestly wouldn't mind using Hushmail. It's good enough for me. It's secure, intuitive, and functional enough. In my opinion, it's one of the best. But it's not the only one. ProtonMail is a good email service alternative. So is Tutanota. You won't go wrong if you pick one of those three.
If you want to compare them side by side, check out the table below. Each service has several subscription plans, so it would be difficult to fit them all here. The data you see below are just for the most budget-friendly individual plans.
|Individual plan monthly cost if billed annually||$4.17 / User||$4.31 / User||$3.25 / User|
|Storage per user||10 GB||15 GB||20 GB|
|Attachment size||20 MB||25 MB||25 MB|
|Encrypted email to non-subscribers|
|Unlimited email alias|
Does Hushmail offer a free trial?
Hushmail no longer offers a free trial. They used to offer a 14-day free trial, but that’s no longer available. They do offer a 60-day money-back guarantee on all plans. You can test the email service and its accompanying features for 60 days.
If you don't like it, you can cancel your subscription and ask for a refund. I still wish they had a free trial though. It's much easier than having to request a refund.
How to receive encrypted messages sent through Hushmail?
Whenever a Hushmail user sends you encrypted emails, you won't be able to view them right away. The messages won't be displayed on your email client. Instead, you'll only see a notice about the email. On that same email notification, you should see a button that says “Read your secure message”.
As soon as you click that button, you'll be brought to Hushmail's Message Center. You'll then be asked to sign in using a Google, Apple, or Microsoft account. If you're a Gmail user, that should work. But if you don't have any of those, I'm afraid you'll have to sign up for one of those platforms first. Once you're logged in, you should then see the contents of the encrypted email.
Remember that lock icon we talked about earlier in the article? You should see it on your web browser while logged in. That means you're viewing the message through a secure channel. And if you reply to that message from there, your message will be sent through a secure channel as well. In other words, you can communicate securely even with users of other email providers.
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