ProtonMail will not delete user accounts for inactivity if the user had paid for a subscription at any point

Apr 27, 2022

Earlier this month, ProtonMail announced a new email domain for its services. The announcement mentioned something important, it said that free user accounts that were inactive for 12 months would be deactivated.

ProtonMail will not delete user accounts for inactivity if the user had paid for a subscription
This news caused a bit of commotion amongst users, and even a couple of comments on my previous article raised concerns about the rule.

Note: ProtonMail's original article has been edited, and the warning about the inactive accounts has been silently removed.

Protonmail and

Why is Proton AG doing this?

To users, it may seem like a pointless move. Maybe ProtonMail is picking up more free users than they expected, which in turn costs server storage. I think it is also possible that more people could be signing up for using the free VPN service that the company provides. We mustn't forget Proton AG makes money from its premium services, so this move could theoretically be purely be executed from a business' perspective.

protonmail inactive account grace period

Proton AG originally planned to deactivate accounts that were inactive for three months, but says it extended the grace period to 1 year, after listening to feedback from users. A three-month limit would have drawn a lot of complaints from users, I think they made the right call by sidestepping that land mine.

Does it matter if a dormant account gets deleted?

If a user hasn't accessed their account for over a year, isn't that an irrelevant account? Does it matter if it gets deleted? Yes, it does. Users may not remember it, but it is possible they may have some receipts, tax invoices, photos, or important documents stored in their email account. These can be crucial data that may not be recovered once the account is deactivated.

ProtonMail announces a way to prevent inactive accounts from being deactivated

ProtonMail has published a support page on its website that explains more about the inactive account policy. All you need to do to protect your account, is to log into it from your web browser or the mobile app, once a year. Or, you could use the VPN app too, since activity across services is also counted.

This is the most important information on the support page,

"If you are or have been a paid Proton subscriber at any point in time, your account will permanently be considered active. Anyone that has ever paid for a Proton plan is exempt from this policy."

So, you don't need to have an active Premium subscription, you just need to have paid for a plan at least once. That is intriguing, you could pay for a month's subscription of ProtonMail Plus, which currently costs $5 or 5€, to preserve the account forever. That's a small price to pay to protect your data. I think that is better than not having a way to secure the account.

If you decide to buy a subscription, login to your account and click the Upgrade button in the top right corner. Select the plan that you want, if you're only interested in a month's subscription of Premium Plus, click on it.

protonmail premium subscription

A pop-up window will open, it has a couple of drop-down menus in the top right. Click on the first menu to change the subscription from Annual to a month. The next menu allows you to pick the currency that you'd like to pay in. Proton AG supports three currencies: Euros €, US Dollars $, and Swiss Francs (CHF).  Choose the one that you find convenient, confirm the total amount that you need to pay, before proceeding to checkout. Just to be safe, you may want to set a reminder in your calendar to prevent the service from being renewed automatically.

Can someone else claim my email address after it was deactivated?

No, Proton has confirmed that a deactivated email address is lost permanently. No one, including you, will be able to use the ID if it has been deleted. This is to ensure that no 2 people have the same email address and alias. This means identity theft won't be an issue.

Protonmail account inactivity policy

When does the new account inactivity rule come into effect?

ProtonMail will start enforcing the rule from April 30, 2022.

protonmail inactive user accounts

Tip: If you haven't already done it, you can claim a free email address until April 30th.

Do you use ProtonMail regularly? If not, are you going to buy a one-time subscription to prevent the account from being deleted?

ProtonMail will not delete user accounts for inactivity if the user had subscribed to a premium plan at least once
Article Name
ProtonMail will not delete user accounts for inactivity if the user had subscribed to a premium plan at least once
ProtonMail says that it won't delete an inactive account if the user had paid for a subscription at any point in time.
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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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