It may seem odd to people who have lives completely integrated with Google’s services, but many do not like how invasive Google is.
There is something creepy about getting a notification on your phone about where you are and recommendations about what to do. Google will argue their goal is to make your life easier, but having your location tracked and your searches logged is truly an invasion of privacy. Google is not unlike Apple and Microsoft with offering an “ecosystem” for you to operate in. However, these ecosystems are onerous and frankly, invasive.
We should not sound completely down on Google – they offer a lot of great services, but the convenience is marred by the omnipresence. Having Google in your life as an ecosystem means you are beholden to their data policies. Google knows what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and in some cases who you are doing it with. That’s too much for many people. There are plenty of alternatives to Google and one positive thing to say about the company, they make it pretty easy to leave their ecosystem. Here’s how to do it.
Unlinking Google and Archiving Data
The first thing you must do is check out which apps you sign in with via Google. Whether it is something like Facebook, Spotify, Instagram, Blogger, or so many others, you have gotten used to the convenience of clicking your Google sign-in to get access. On these apps, change your e-mail address to a non-Google entity, and this will eliminate the signing in issues. If you can’t, then what you need to do is strip the data from the Google Account. That said, it is fairly simple to find a new address if you don’t have one already.
As for your data, it is really simple as well. Google keeps your data in one spot, so you won’t need to go app-by-app removing it. Just go to https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout/download. You will be prompted to create a new archive. Select the data you want and follow the instructions to create your archive, and there it will be waiting for you.
Find Alternatives to Gmail, Drive, and Other Apps
There are actually lots of alternatives to Google and their other apps. You can go a search on a search engine that doesn’t log your information – such as DuckDuckGo to find ideas, but there are some great services that combine Gmail and Drive but keep your privacy at the forefront of what they do. Here are some ideas:
- Kolab Now: This is a doc and e-mail service that is deal for someone used to Google but wishing to have privacy. Since all of the servers are located in Switzerland, this means you have the best privacy in the world because the Swiss privacy protections are notoriously very strict. The only downside is there is a monthly subscription fee, but it is not too onerous.
- Mailfence: This is very similar to Kolab, but its servers are located in Belgium. The good news is that this service while very similar to use as Kolab and Google is also cheaper than Kolab. It has good privacy, but it is not Swiss privacy.
- Zoho Mail: This service has a ton of apps that basically acts similarly to the Google suite of services. You can do two different payment plans, but basically the Zoho Mail suite is something that will do everything from e-mail to all office functions.
This one can be tricky because the things that make YouTube great are the things that also make it invasive. However, there are some ways to get around these issues. The first thing to do is move your data to an RSS reader. This will keep track of videos without Google keeping track of you. One of the other issues, though, is that YouTube has lots of uploading capability. But you don’t want to deal with Google, so uploading is out of the question. Therefore, an idea is Vimeo. It is a paid service, but it will give you what you need. For steaming you can do Periscope as well. This is an easy way to get your content out there. If you are watching shows via YouTube, check out other streaming services.
Fixing your Music and Podcasts
The first thing you must do when getting rid of this part of your Google footprint is downloading your library. This is the way you won’t lose any songs. There are plenty of services for steaming music you can go to such as Pandora or Spotify – just make sure with Spotify you are not signing in with your Google account. As for your podcasts, there are plenty of services out there as well. One idea is getting podcasts directly from the source, such as the ESPN app for your favorite ESPN podcasts, for example.
As you are getting rid of Google all your passwords for the different services may be stored through their password manager. The process of finding a new password is pretty easy. The key is making sure the password manager is keeping things encrypted and that the encryption is at least 128-bit encryption. There are plenty of good services out there which will manage your passwords as easy as Google did. Make sure you keep your password manager updated and you are able to access it – some new services may not be so forgiving if you try logging in with the wrong credentials.
Deleting Your Google Account
At this point, you have reached the very end. All things are settled and now comes the time where you can permanently disengage from Google. Before deleting, make sure all of your data is saved – once you delete everything is gone forever. Go into your Google Account and select the option for deleting your account. You’ll be warned about your data, but if you have backed it up you can hit the delete button. There is also the half-measure of turning off pretty much every tracking service, so Google does not know what you are doing, and this essentially makes your account dormant. Either way, once you have done these two things, Google is out of your life.
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