How to degoogle your life
Google tracks you every time you use their services and there are tons of Google services. No doubt you are using several of Google products because they are free. However there is a caveat : Google allows you to freely use their services so they can track you and sell your data to advertisers. They also use them in various other activities. In this blogpost, we will explain why you should consider degooglifying ASAP and we are going to show you how you can “degoogle”.
Table of contents
- Why Degoogle or degooglify?
- More reasons to Degoogle
- Google is not a jack of all trades
- Important information before you search for an alternative
- Degoogle Resources
- Wrap up
Why Degoogle or degooglify?
Google’s business model is about selling ads on their main platforms like Gmail, Youtube, and their search engine. That’s why all of these services are free, to begin with. This way, they can get your data and feed it to advertisers. In turn, advertisers use this data to better understand you and make informed decisions. For example, if a firm wants to get to the 1st position of the search results for the keyword “secure email” in Google search engine, it has to pay 7.06$ per click to Google.
Imagine that 10.000 individuals click on that ad and do the math : it can end up to a hefty amount to pay to Google. If this company accepts to pay, each time you’ll mention the words “secure email” or other related keywords in your communications (emails, searches in Google search engine, etc.), you will get ads promoting this company. 84% of Google’s revenue come from advertisers and that means a lot of money : $128 Billion a year ! Just think about it.
More reasons to Degoogle
You can consult Google’s terms of service digested by the team behind ToSDR. In this project, the contributors analyze the terms of service for various services. They rewrite them to make them readable and get rid of the useless legal jargon.
Did you know that Google has the right to delete all your data with the flick of a switch and without giving you any warning whatsoever?
Here is a real-life case from a business partner of Google who just had 13 years’ worth of data going down the drain. Andrew Spinks is a developer who wanted to publish his game on Google Stadia but his data got removed from Google without any prior notice.
Google is playing God with our data and monetizing our privacy the way they see fit. But you are the consumer and you have more power than you realize. You have the power of choice, there are plenty of alternatives to most Google services and we are going to show them to you.
However, to be completely honest, it will take you time and effort to completely deggogle or degooglify (meaning remove Google from your life). The more Google services you are using, the more time it’s going to take. And that’s because Google is the master when it comes to vendor lock-in techniques. The giant has ensured that you will find it extremely difficult to leave their services.
But with some dedication and willingness, everything is possible.
Google is not a jack of all trades
Google is trying to infiltrate every single market followed by every niche and that alone should concern you as a consumer. If all products and services are owned by Google, that means that there is no competition, which leads to higher prices, stifled innovation, and just leaves you being stuck with Google. Beware of software offered by the Big tech.
There’s no doubt that Google has a lot of talent in their team and they continue to do wonders with their services. However, Google is not a jack of all trades, Google cannot create a product/service for everything out there. Google graveyard will give you an idea of how many services google had to kill. The list feels endless. It’s time for other services to rise and do what Google cannot. Which is to do business honestly with transparency and without predatory practices like profiling you and selling your data to third parties.
Important information before you search for an alternative
If you have been using Google services for years, you probably have tons of data to export. For this reason, your degoogling can be tricky and time-consuming. Before you switch to an alternative there are important steps to take. We therefore advise you to begin degooglifying yourself with the easiest services. Then, you’ll be able to move gradually to the more advanced ones. Enjoy your degoogling journey, because it’s really going to be worth it.
Alternative to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs
Before you migrate to Mailfence or any other email provider, you have to notify your contacts that your Gmail address will no longer be usable. If you have only 10 contacts, that’s okay, but if have 100 or 1000, that complicates things. After that, you’ll have to export all your data (emails, documents, calendar events, etc..). Finally, you’ll have to remove your Google accounts, so they won’t be able to track you anymore.
First things first, you have to quit Gmail which is undoubtedly their most-used service (even my grandparents use it and they are 80+). For a secure and private Gmail alternative that automatically comes with alternatives to Google Drive, Google Calendar and Google Contacts, choose Mailfence. Right off the bat, you have just found 4 Google alternatives.
If you want to use an email client, then Thunderbird will be your best, open-source privacy-respecting email client, with more than 20 million users. What’s cool is that Mailfence recently partnered with Thunderbird and our partnership will grow stronger as time goes by. You can expect automatic synchronization of all the Mailfence tools.
Alternative to Google Search
This is by far the easiest one. Use DuckDuckgo, a privacy respecting search engine providing Google results. All you have to do here is to download the DuckDuckgo Plugin (it works for Firefox too). Every time you’ll search for something with the DuckDuckgo bar, you’ll get accurate and reliable results.
If you prefer to degooglify your search engine with a european alternative, try Metager, Ecosia (Germany), Qwant (France) or SwossCows (Switzerland). All are private and hosted in Europe. Mojeek (hosted in the UK) doesn’t use a metasearch engine (meaning its results don’t come from other search engines). Instead, it has developped its own search engine.
Alternative to Chrome
Don’t hesitate, use Firefox. It is widely supported, has tons of features and it doesn’t require a gazillion amount of ram to run. It is easy to customize and it’s maintained by the Mozilla Foundation (the people behind Mozilla Thunderbird). All of this come with privacy-respecting policies.
Other great browsers include Vivaldi, Brave and Tor. Do not use Opera, as it was recently acquired by a Chinese firm and probably feeds all your data to the Chinese government.
Alternative to Google Drive
There are many options : Sync proposes an encrypted storage. OwnCloud and NextCloud are 2 German open-source platforms ; Tresorit is a Swiss one.
Alternative to Google Meets
Use Jitsi. It’s an open-source alternative with the same, if not more features that Google Meets. Another great alternative is Zoom : it’s stable, reliable and it has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a modern-day video conferencing tool. To utilize its full potential, you’ll need a premium plan. However, the free plan should be just fine for calls of less than an hour.
Alternative to Google Maps
You probably use Google Maps because it is so reliable ; truth be told, there are not many alternatives out there to degoogle from it. If you are an Apple user you can use iMaps, which is a great equivalent which transmit 10 times fewer data to Apple.
Another great alternative is Herewego.
OpenStreetMap is an open-source project, which is a positive thing. Unfortunately, it’s not that reliable. Maybe one day it will become a worthy alternative?
Alternative to Google Store
If you are an Apple user, you can use the Appstore. If you are looking for an open-source alternative, there is Aurora store.
Another great possibility is F-droid, an open-source Android app repository. It allows you to download apps with peace of mind because you know you won’t be tracked and bombarded with a million ads while doing so.
Alternative to Google Fonts
Font Squirrel offers tons of fonts free or really cheap. You can use them for all purposes, even commercial Ones. Dafont is another interesting option.
Alternative to Android OS
An alternative to Android would be LineageOS. It’s basically Android, but with minimal tracking, and it does not require the Google Play store to be installed. That is already a plus, additionally, it does not come with the usual bloatware Android installs. The only downside is that it’s slightly challenging to install and the installation steps are not that straightforward.
Alternative to Google Smart Lock
This application is the embedded password manager you’ll find in Android, Chrome OS and Google Chrome. You can easily replace it by numerous good passwords managers such as Last Pass (paying plan), Freepass or Keepas, for instance. Bitwarden is an excellent open-source option. It’s free and you can set it up on both your desk computer and your mobile phone.
Alternative to Chrome OS (chromebooks)
Chrome OS is the default operating system preinstalled on all Chromebooks. But you can degooglify your Chromebook with a distribution issued from the open-source operating system Linux. There are many of them, but Ubuntu and Linux Mint or Manjaro are some of the more accessible for the people who are less comfortable with technology. The geeks will prefer Tails and Qubes OS, which have been designed with privacy and security in mind.
Alternative to Google Analytics
Tons of businesses around the world use Google Analytics but this app doesn’t respect your business’s privacy, nor your consumers privacy. Matomo is a privacy-respecting alternative that will give you the analytics you need to make decisions without the shenanigans of Google. They are also self-hosted. Clicky is also a good option. Not only it’s certified by Privacy Shield, but in addition, it’s compliant with GDPR.
Alternative to Youtube
Youtube has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, making it one of the most used platforms in the world with more than 2 billion unique monthly users. It is owned by Google, so you know what it means : poor privacy, your account can be removed for no reason and you can be submitted to a bunch of other shenanigans of the same kind.
A solid alternative to Youtube is Vimeo, a platform created by filmmakers. You can create and post videos, so others can comment them and discuss like a mini-community. The best of all? It is ad-free, which means that you won’t get awful ads while watching funny dog videos.
You can also try Dailymotion and Invidio.us. The latter is a software which works through “instances”, which are basically websites. If you want to use one of them to watch any Youtube video, just replace [www.youtube.com] with the link of the instance you want to use in the link of the video you want to watch.
You can also try Privacy Redirect, an extension which helps degooglify from the most popular Google services, but also replaces Instagram, Twitter, among others, with privacy-friendly substitutes. It redirects the Youtube videos you want to watch to privacy-friendly websites (often Invidio.us instances). Beware, sometimes, it requires several attempts to effectively get this redirection.
Alternative to Google Translate
DeepL provides better translations than Google. This application has also some interesting features, such as the possibility to look for synonyms. Mate Translate is another free service which beats Google Translate in terms of accuracy.
Linguee is a tool that translates words and expressions and gives you examples of how to use them.
Alternative to Google Photos
Piwigo is a free, open-source platform with tons of functionnalities and plugins. You can use it to showcase your pictures on your website and host it yourself. Cryptee and Lychee are 2 other good solutions.
Alternative to Google Keep
Standard Notes is an encrypted note taking app easy to use. It’s available for many operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android), meaning you can record your notes on any device. Also, it’s got loads of interesting features, and you can opt for a paying plan to get useful extensions.
Alternative to Google Tasks
To manage your todo lists or collaborate with your team, you can try Wekan, an open-source tool similar to Trello. Taiga is another good service using Kanban boards promoting agility.
There are plenty of other Google services we haven’t covered. You can follow the same approach for these other services as well to degooglify. Here are some more resources to help you Degoogle :
- An extensive degoogle Github project
- Degoogle Reddit thread will allow you to contact some incredible people who will help you with your Degoogling adventure.
- ToSDR will help you to decipher those pesky terms of service.
We hope you enjoyed this Degoogling guide. Remember that you don’t have to accept the constant online spying imposed on you by Google, and that there are many initiatives that can help you in your resistance!
– Mailfence Team