With Google tracking scripts found on three out every four websites, users are not only being tracked for what they search for, but also what actions they do while on a website. This data is stored and shared with Google partners and staff, it can also be subpoenaed by lawyers, including for civil cases like divorce. Google answered over 164,000 such data requests in the first half of 2019 alone!
More and more people are also realizing the risk of relying on one company for storing personal data. There are also security concerns and during the last few months of 2019, we helped a number of business and individuals who had lost their data which was hosted by Google. This was usually due to having their Google account hacked and once hacked they were not able to get back into their Google account, which meant they lost all their data. Years of photos, contacts, calendars and email data all gone. Some also lost thousands of dollars as a result of having their Google account hacked.
A new year is a great time to begin a proactive approach to improve your security and take back your privacy.
Here’s to a Google-free 2020!
It is possible to remove or limit your reliance on Google by changing a few habits. This will protect your data and ensure you own it, without it being shared with third parties.
Here are a few recommendations for cutting Google out of life this year….
Google Search Alternative
Google search is great, but Google is not a search company, they are an
advertising company. There is also options other than Bing or Yahoo
called DuckDuckGo that doesn’t
track you. These tracking scripts are silently loaded to your device
each time you search, usually by way of a cookie. If you were to try
opening a private window in your browser and do a Google search, take a
look at how much faster it it.
I recently tested some Google trackers, I used an old phone to search for some hotels and clicked on Google ads. The result was the browser crashed with too many tracking scripts loading. When I tried again in a private or incognito mode window, it worked fine.
The lead me to create a start page that is free from Google trackers, analytics, ads and other scripts. The result was a search that load twice as fast as Google’s:
thexyz.com/start/ (view pingdom result)
google.com (view pingdom result)
Gmail, Contacts and Calendar Alternative
There is some great content on YouTube so it is hard to avoid using it sometime. You can however search for and watch them on DuckDuckGo for better privacy protection via YouTube’s “youtube-nocookie” domain. If you’re creating and hosting video yourself, however, Vimeo is the best-known alternative which focuses on creators.
Google Drive Alternative
There are some great options for a Google Drive alternative. Last year we launched Cloud Drive for Thexyz Webmail which adds 30GB of secure cloud storage to your Webmail account. There is also ownCloud or Nextcloud which is open source software that can be hosted anywhere and you can control your own security settings.
Google Android Alternative
In case you are using an Android phone and fully want to get rid of any ties to Google, we recommend that you install LineageOS as the operating system on your phone. LineageOS is a version of Android which you can use without a Google account. LineageOS is the most popular fork of the discontinued CyanogenMod project.
When you want to get a new smartphone, take a look at the Purism 5. It is a Google-free phone that focuses on privacy and security.
Google Chrome Alternative
A common point of entry for a hacked device is the use of Google Chrome. It is not because Google Chrome is insecure, it is a secure browser if properly configured. The problem is that is not usually configured to be secure and private. There are many developer apps that can obtain over bearing permissions. Both Firefox and Brave have built in tracker blockers.
Google Maps Alternative
OpenStreetMap is a good alternative for Google Maps. iOS also have a built map app that is independent from Google Maps.
Google Analytics Alternative
Piwik is Open Web Analytics are both open source web analytics software that you can use to track and analyze how people use your websites and applications.
As you can see, moving away from Google isn’t difficult, you may also find you prefer the alternatives while also getting better privacy!
I really like pCloud too, and their lifetime pricing is tough to beat. I just wish they’d integrate office apps. OnlyOffice seems pretty straightforward to drop in. I believe that’s what mailbox and cryptpad are using.
Peertube is also a option for videos.