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QuantaMail review:

QuantaMail

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The Good Offers a robust, free version; lets you send mail to nonsubscribers.

The Bad Cannot read messages within Outlook; not compatible with other mail encryption services; confusing interface.

The Bottom Line While lacking some finishing touches and features that other encryption software offers, QuantaMail does have a strong encryption service and a free version that gives you all the basics.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

5.0 Overall

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Of the encryption products we reviewed, QuantaMail is the only one that works with most of the popular MIME-compliant e-mail clients, such as Eudora, Outlook, and Notes. That's because much of the encryption process is handled on the QuantaMail servers themselves and not on your desktop. While this service has many good features, it's not the best e-mail-security solution of the bunch because of some incompatibilities and a confusing interface. Of the encryption products we reviewed, QuantaMail is the only one that works with most of the popular MIME-compliant e-mail clients, such as Eudora, Outlook, and Notes. That's because much of the encryption process is handled on the QuantaMail servers themselves and not on your desktop. While this service has many good features, it's not the best e-mail-security solution of the bunch because of some incompatibilities and a confusing interface.

Easy setup and installation
QuantaMail's setup and installation process is straightforward and simple. After downloading the program, QuantaMail guides you through registering your account and choosing your password.

However, once installed, QuantaMail offers too many e-mail choices for the average user. Each time you use QuantaMail, you must choose to launch a Windows application, use an Outlook plug-in, or go to the QuantaMail Web site. Unfortunately, each choice offers different features. You can send mail, for instance, only with the Outlook plug-in or the Windows application--not from the Web site. To receive mail, you have to use Outlook or another mail client, then read the documents in the Windows application. The Web site performs actions, such as destroying messages or setting expiration dates, only on e-mail you've already sent.

Limited e-mail choices
Once you settle into QuantaMail's weird layout, sending messages is fairly easy. If you're using the plug-in, simply type the message in Outlook, choose the Encrypt button on the Outlook toolbar, and off goes your message. Using the Windows application is even easier, since it automatically encrypts all messages.

Decrypting mail is easy too, but only if your recipient also runs the QuantaMail app, which decodes each encrypted QuantaMail attachment. You can't view decrypted messages in any mail client--not even Outlook. Fortunately, to view mail, your non-QuantaMail recipient just downloads the Windows application from the QuantaMail site. However, this easy process creates a potential security hole: if anyone intercepts your encrypted QuantaMail, he or she can download the application to read it. Like PGPfreeware, QuantaMail gives you the option of adding another password to your encrypted mail, which you share with your recipient in advance.

Although QuantaMail's setup, installation, and even basic sending and receiving are straightforward, the service has plenty of room for improvement. For example, the QuantaMail application lacks many basic e-mail client features, such as a spelling checker.

To pay or not to pay?
The free version of QuantaMail, called Silver, should satisfy most users' needs. With Silver, you can send and receive encrypted e-mail, set e-mail to self-destruct on a certain date, and access both the Windows application and the Outlook plug-in. When you download the Silver version, you also get a generous 60-day free trial of the Gold version.

The Gold version costs $3.95 per month and includes the Silver basics as well as telephone and online chat support, which you may need; we didn't receive a single response to our e-mail request for help. You also get enhanced options, including the ability to destroy a message before it has been read or after it has been read a set number of times. Gold also includes several levels of higher security encryption, though none as secure as PGP.

We like QuantaMail's ability to send mail to non-QuantaMail subscribers. However, its baffling array of interfaces will probably confuse you. Until QuantaMail streamlines its operation, go for CertifiedMail instead.

QuantaMail offers a Windows application for sending and reading mail (shown here) as well an Outlook plug-in for sending (but not reading) encrypted mail.

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