Choosing an Email Provider to Use with Delta Chat

As Delta Chat is, at heart, an email client, you need an email address to go with it. It should probably go without saying that security-conscious individuals should use an account that is separate from their main address. More importantly, you should stay away from the ‘free’ providers who will have no problem handing over your encrypted emails, complete with sender and recipient details and associated metadata.

In case you don’t know which providers I’m talking about, here are a few to be wary of: Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL Mail (which surprisingly still exists).

The creators of Delta Chat are currently in the process of evaluating commercial email providers with a view to compiling a list of recommendations. Until their research is completed, I’m not 100% comfortable recommending any one provider. You’ll need to do your own research and use your own judgement.

First, you should assess the ease of integration and compatibility with Delta Chat — it’s compatible with any email that supports open standard IMAP protocols.

When assessing any email provider, look at their physical location and jurisdiction, logging policies, historical collaboration with governments and law enforcement, and encryption levels.

Also consider performance criteria, including speed, maximum attachment sizes, number of permitted recipients, among other important factors. Alternatively, running an email server on a secure, remote VPS is an excellent idea, as it allows you to keep your emails completely private and managed by your own terms of service. If you want to keep your data close to hand, it’s fairly simple to set up a complete solution on a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero in around 30 minutes.

Delta Chat Features & Functionality 

No software is perfect, but as a messaging app built with security and interoperability in mind, Delta Chat comes close.

The interface mirrors that of instant messaging apps, with all the functionality you need – including read receipts, voice notes, attachments, emojis, and group chats. However, it offers more security in terms of putting you in charge of your data and information. There’s no need to provide your phone number, there’s no chat logging, and you can use your own servers for extra privacy.

Delta Chat is also compatible with all major desktop and mobile operating systems, including Android, Apple, Linux, and Windows devices.

The downside is that because Delta Chat doesn’t come attached to any central servers, your message security and storage is your own problem. Here are some recommend privacy-focused email services to use:

Private keys and messages are kept on your device, meaning that if anyone is able to break past your nine-digit pin code, your communications are theirs to see. You can’t remote-wipe your message history or attachments without erasing your entire device.

A more common issue is that you can’t remotely back up or restore your messages from a central server. If you buy a new phone, you will need to export your messages from within the app and then use a file manager to copy your encryption keys to the new device.

It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s not exactly convenient either. I’m hoping that at some point in the future, Delta Chat developers will add the functionality to automate and synchronize backups with secure, personal cloud servers such as Nextcloud.

Delta Chat is open source and free software, meaning that you can share the source code with anyone you like, and even modify it to change or add certain features, and contribute your code back to the project. You’ll need to know a thing or two about coding in order to customize it, but open software means you can add any feature you like, whether that’s larger file support, video chat integration, multiple profiles, or animated emojis.

Your Privacy is in Their Hands

Instant messaging apps allow us to stay connected with one another — whether that’s someone in the room next door, or a family member on the other side of the world.

While these apps enable us to engage in consistent communication with our loved ones, we often hand over more to these companies than we realize, from data about ourselves, to the contents of our private conversations.

Emails offer a more secure and private solution, but lack the functionality and features of instant messaging apps that so many of us love. And even some email providers are guilty of handing over data they hold about you to the government.

With Delta Chat, there is no need to compromise — you can have the best of both worlds.

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