How To Degoogle Your Life
Sure, Google is convenient, with their various services all connected and free! But Google tracks you every time you use their services, and you probably use several of them. Google allows you to freely use their services so they can track you and sell your data to advertisers or for other activities. In this blog post, we will explain why you should degoogle ASAP and what alternatives to Google you have.
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, they use this data to understand you better 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 maths: it can end up to a large 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 the Google search engine, etc.), you will get ads promoting this company. 84% of Google’s revenue come from advertisers, which is $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 analyse 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?
Google is trying to infiltrate every single market followed by every niche, and that alone should concern you as a consumer. If Google owns all products and services, that means that there is no competition nor interoperability, which leads to higher prices, stifled innovation, and just leaves you being stuck with Google. Beware of software offered by the Big tech.
Google is playing God with our data and monetizing our (lack of) privacy. But you are the consumer, and have more power than you realize. You have the power of choice, as there are plenty of alternatives to most Google services.
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
Sure, it will take time and effort to completely degoogle. The more Google services you use, the more time it will 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.
If you have been using Google services for years, you probably have tons of data to export. That’s why we 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. We promise, it’s worth it.
Alternative to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs
First things first, you have to quit Gmail, which is undoubtedly their most-used service (even my grandparents use it and they are 80+).
Gmail (Google) reads all your emails, analyses them, and profiles you through them to sell the corresponding data to advertisers. Worse, you can’t stop it. Actually, Gmail was certainly designed to siphon off your data!
The only way to avoid spying on your online activity is by subscribing to a private email provider specifically designed to provide privacy, security, and transparency. Mailfence is a secure and private Gmail alternative that automatically replaces Google Drive, Google Doc, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts.
Before you migrate to Mailfence or any other privacy-friendly email provider, you should 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.
If you want to use an email client, 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 SwissCows (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 developed its own search engine.
Alternative to Google 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 comes with privacy-respecting policies.
Other great browsers include Vivaldi, Brave and Tor. Do not use Opera, as it was acquired by a Chinese firm and probably feeds all your data to the Chinese government.
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. Google owns it, 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.
If you want to watch any YouTube video, just replace [www.youtube.com] with the link of the alternative you want to use in the link of the video you want to watch. You can use Dailymotion and Invidio.us. The latter is a program that works through “instances”, which are basically websites.
If you want to create and post videos, it’s possible without YouTube. A solid alternative is Vimeo, a platform created by filmmakers. You can create and post videos, so others can comment on them and discuss like a mini-community. The best of all? It is ad-free, so you won’t get awful ads while watching funny dog videos.
You can also try Privacy Redirect, which redirects the YouTube videos you want to watch to privacy-friendly websites (often Invidio.us instances). Beware, sometimes, it requires several attempts to get this redirection effectively. This extension also replaces Instagram, Twitter, among others, with privacy-friendly substitutes.
Alternative to Google Meets
Use Jitsi. It’s an open-source alternative with more features than Google Meets. Another great alternative is Zoom : it’s stable and 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.
Note 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.
Android users have another great alternative, 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 Android OS
You’ll also have to degoogle your phone, and 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 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 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 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 your desk computer and mobile phone.
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, it’s also compliant with GDPR.
Alternative to Google Keep
Standard Notes is an encrypted note-taking app that is 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 exciting features, and you can opt for a paying plan to get useful extensions.
Alternative to Google Tasks
To manage your to-do 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.
Alternative to Google Translate
DeepL provides better translations than Google. This application also has some interesting features, such as the possibility of looking for synonyms. Mate Translate is another free service that beats Google Translate in terms of accuracy.
Linguee is a tool that translates words and expressions and gives examples of how to use them.
Alternative to Google Photos
Piwigo is a free, open-source platform with tons of functionalities and plugins. You can use it to showcase your pictures on your website and host it yourself. Cryptee and Lychee are two other good solutions.
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.
How to degoogle? Other resources
There are other Google services we haven’t covered. You can follow the same approach for other services. 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.
Our best tip to start your degoogling journey
We understand that degooglify your life is not a simple process and that it will take some effort before you can free yourself from Google’s grip.
But we have one last tip: our Mailfence email suite will allow you to get rid of Gmail (with Mailfence email), Google Drive and Google Docs (with Mailfence Documents), Google Calendar (with Mailfence Calendar, which includes polls, contacts, and groups management services) in just one click. All these services are secure and private, and you’ll also have access to a chat service.
So, why not start this degoogling journey by signing up for a free account now?
– Mailfence Team
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Patrick is the co-founder of Mailfence. He’s been a serial entrepreneur and startup investor since 1994 and launched several pioneering internet companies such as Allmansland, IP Netvertising or Express.be. He is a strong believer and advocate of encryption and privacy. You can follow @pdeschutter on Twitter and LinkedIn.