Q: We have been using Earthlink for DSL and email services for the last 18 years or so. We finally switched to Xfinity for internet and of course it is much faster. We currently are looking for a new email provider. I don’t want to use Gmail because I don’t want to support Big Tech any more than I have to. I don’t mind paying for a good service. I’ve seen some reviews online for ProtonMail but it sounds like it’s designed for criminals because it makes such a point about its privacy policies. Any recommendations?

Carolyn Righi

A: Coincidentally, I just moved my wife’s business email account to ProtonMail. And no, she’s not a criminal.

We made the move for reliability. We were encountering mail outages, read/unread tags disappearing and the like. That doesn’t cut the mustard if you’re trying to run a business.

And yes, we don’t like the idea of Google or Microsoft using tools to scan our emails for data.

ProtonMail is the most secure email service provider. Its servers are in Switzerland, which has very strong privacy laws. Yes, that may appeal to criminals but it appeals to me, too.

ProtonMail does offer a free version that you can try, though it limits you to 150 messages per day and 500 megabytes of storage. You can find out more at https://protonmail.com.


Related Tech Q&As

Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>

Q: Meg Kibben’s question from a previous column might have been referring to Telecoil, a capability used for those with hearing loss.

Dick Knudson

A: For readers who missed it, Kibben wrote in asking about cellphones that are compatible with induction coils, the technology employed in wireless charging.

It’s possible that she meant telecoils, but whether she did or not telecoils are worth knowing about.

A telecoil is a small induction pick-up coil that can be built into a hearing aid. It can be connected to compatible cellphones to provide louder performance.

Hearing aids operate in one of two modes: acoustic coupling or telecoil coupling. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assigns ratings of 1 to 4 for both modes to cellphones, with a rating of 4 delivering the best performance. If you have a hearing aid that uses acoustic coupling, check for the cellphone’s M rating. If you have a hearing aid that uses telecoil coupling look for the cellphone’s T rating. 


Q: For years, I’ve kept notes of all kinds in Evernote. Now, something is wrong. I’m locked out and can’t add or retrieve my notes. What to do?

And, if Evernote is no longer available, what’s a comparable functional replacement?

Thanks for your advice.

Jonis Davis

A: Evernote, which was a standalone program for managing notes, is now a subscription service. There is a free version that allows you to upload and manage 60 megabytes of notes per month. You can find out more at https://evernote.com.

A popular alternative is OneNote a standalone program that’s part of the Microsoft 365 office suite.

Q: For the past few days several of my friends on Facebook have posted the question,”Do you directly/personally know anyone that has had the Covid 19 virus,” along with their answer. The question is presented as “Question by somebody on Facebook.” When I’ve asked, my friends say they did not create the question. Is there a way to find out who the “somebody” is who created the question? If I respond does that somebody get any more information about me besides my response?


Tim O’Connor

A: There is an app called AskMeAnonymously for Facebook that allows users to ask questions anonymously. And let’s face it, a lot of people love to answer polls.

The app also appears in the Google Play Store.

My recommendation is to resist the temptation to answer. Some people reportedly use such polls to troll for passwords that you might use.

How many children do you have? What’s your favorite color? For a time, my wife used “threekids” as a password.