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Privacy

How To Remove Google From Your Online Life

If you’re “searching” for something on the internet, there’s a good chance that you’re using Google. Google has created an ecosystem to collect people’s information, and their product line continues to expand. This expansion is just leading to more touch points with their users to collect their data. There are private alternatives to almost every Google service.

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Google Search is by far the “best” search engine on the internet. It’s been around since 1997 so it’s had a major head start on most other search engines. Google is feature rich and feels very “user-friendly” thanks to the personalization of its search engine. All of this comes at a cost: your data. The reason Google’s search results seem so relevant is due to the algorithms you’ve fed for years.

But Google has other motives. It’s main source of revenue is its advertising platform. It’s search engine is just the means for collecting user data for targeted advertising. Private search engines don’t use your data for targeted ads and most don’t track your searches at all. Search Encrypt is a private search engine that uses AES-256 encryption, expiring search history and no targeted ads. Click here to try Search Encrypt.

Read More: The Best Private Search Engines — Alternatives to Google

Alternatives to Gmail, Calendar & Contacts: StartMail, Tutanota

Email is an important part of online communication, but with the popular providers (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!) your emails are vulnerable to hacks or leaks. Private alternatives use encryption and other features like expiring messages to keep your communication confidential. There are many email providers that deliver email in a private format. We have more recommendations in the post below, but are going to recommend these two: StartMail and Tutanota.

StartMail is an email service offered by the same company as StartPage, the private search engine. It uses PGP encryption, in a simple format. It also uses PFS, in the form of TLS 1.1 and 1.2, and “secure vaults” to keep your emails private.

Tutanota is an open-source, end-to-end encrypted email software and freemium hosted secure email service. Its business model excludes earning money through advertisement relying solely on donations and Premium subscriptions. As of March 2017, Tutanota had over 2 million users. Tutanota lets you send encrypted emails to people using any email provider with password protected contents, making it a good choice if you want to communicate securely with Gmail users, for example.

Read More: 11 Private Email Services to Keep Your Emails Confidential

Alternatives to YouTube: Vimeo

While YouTube has an audience nearly four times as large as Vimeo, there are some clear advantages Vimeo has over YouTube. Vimeo isn’t owned by Google so you don’t have to worry about Google using your viewing history against you. With Vimeo you won’t have to sit through pre-roll ads that otherwise delay your access to the content you’re watching.

Alternatives to Google Maps: Open Street Maps, Apple Maps

Collecting and storing location data is a big issue for us. This information can be used against you for advertising purposes and can even be turned over to law enforcement via subpoena. Open Street Maps is an open-source maps tool that doesn’t log data about your location. Google Maps on the other hand keeps information about your location, which you can see in your Google account history. Open Street Maps is actually what powers Search Encrypt’s maps search.

If you’re looking for a more feature rich map tool with better support for your devices (specifically iOS devices) Apple Maps is another more private alternative to Google Maps. It’s also already integrated into iOS if you’re an iPhone user.

Read More: Search Encrypt Adds Map Search

Alternatives to Google Drive: Cryptomator, Tresorit

If you’re using Dropbox or Google Drive to store sensitive files, not only are you giving access to the service you’re using but you’re also leaving your files protected by nothing more than a password.

Cryptomator is a free file encryption software that works to protect your files stored “in the cloud”. It is totally open source and is funded 100 percent by donations. One of Cryptomator’s key features is transparent encryption. This means that if you’re an authenticated user with permission to view the files, you won’t even notice that the files are encrypted.

Tresorit is a file encryption tool for syncing and sharing files across multiple devices. It features zero-knowledge encryption which means that Tresorit knows nothing about the contents of your encrypted files. Even though Tresorit uses top-notch security features, it doesn’t come at the cost of user-experience. The interface is extremely simple and easy to use and makes security barely noticeable.

Alternatives to Android: iOS

Android is Google’s mobile operating system. The problem with using an operating system created by Google is that any of your activity on your device could be sent back to Google. If you’re concerned about Google’s search engine tracking you’re data, but you’re using Android that’s in theory even worse. While Android’s latest beta version “Android Q” has more privacy features in response to increasing interest in data privacy, it’s still owned by the largest data collection company in the world.

To achieve privacy on your mobile device you should use a mobile OS that has the best privacy enabled by default. iOS uses “differential privacy”. This means Apple can still improve its systems with anonymized data about the groups people using its system, without compromising the privacy of any single user.

Alternatives to Google Chrome: Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a great web browser. It’s fast and lightweight, and isn’t owned by Google. Mozilla is an advocate for an open and privacy-friendly internet. Firefox has built-in tracker blocking that goes beyond the typical “Do Not Track” request that other browsers use. Using Chrome has similar issues with using an operating system by Google. It gives Google a chance to collect data beyond its already massive net of Google Analytics and Google Search.

Read More: Best Mozilla Firefox Add-Ons for Safer Internet Browsing

Conclusion: Using Alternatives To Google Is Totally Possible

If Google has effectively trapped you in their data gathering ecosystem, it’s a big task to move away from all of Google’s services. However, it’s important for people to know that there are alternatives. People claiming that Google is a monopoly are unaware of the long list of companies that provide similar tools, but with privacy-focused functionalities. It’s possible to take your privacy back while still benefiting from the convenience the internet provides.

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