How To De-Google-ify Your Life: The Complete Guide To Leaving Google
Data collection is a fact. Whether or not you’re spooked by the NSA releases this year, data collection is a thing and it’s here. No matter where you are on the spectrum, you should be aware that you store data on the internet.
You should also know that no company is perfect, so it’s smart to take your data into your own hands when you can, and to know the fail points of the companies whose services you use.
As an entrepreneur, I like to control as much of my business as I can. Call me paranoid, a control freak, or whatever, but whenever you give up data in exchange for free services, you give up a limited amount of control as well. It’s a short-term trade off that has a long-term negative value.
I believe it’s a bad idea for one company to have control over multiple choke points in my business. Especially when their service is offered for free, and I have no path of recourse with them (which is why I’d rather pay to host this blog with InMotion than host it on a free alternative such as Blogger).
In this area, Google is one of the most visible offenders. Google has some of the best free suites of services around. But it also has more information on you than you know and probably more than any other company out there. Don’t believe me? Click here and tell me how accurate that is in the comments. Would love to know if you’re surprised by this.
If you need more reasons to agree with me, ask yourself about the NSA Scandal, the YouTube comments fiasco, Google+, or even Google’s declining search? It all adds up after a while.
Google is still great for lots of people but I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve talked to who are moving away from Google or who are at least diversifying the companies, services, and programs they use.
Whether you’re looking for Google alternatives, you want to diversify the services you use, or you want to completely nuke your data from Google’s servers, here’s everything you need to know about de-Google-ifying your life.
How To De-Google-ify Your Life: The Complete Guide To Leaving Google (and what services you should use instead)
The Best Alternatives To Gmail:
- Hush Mail – Hushmail is free email service with privacy and no ads. I haven’t used this personally but it’s a good option for the privacy-conscious.
- Fastmail.FM – Fastmail.FM is a paid alternative that’s super fast, with a very clean interface. I’m moving all my hosted email here.
Other “Free” Email Options:
There are other free email services but these are also run by companies with the same data biases as Google (they want your data to sell you ads). At least with these options, you’re diversifying the companies you give your data to.
Calendar & Tasks
The Best Alternatives To Google Calendar:
- Any.Do / Cal – This has actually taken over my entire scheduling setup. This combo integrates with iCal, and has finally helped me to get my life organized.
- Momentum – This is a Chrome app which replaces your default “new tab” page. It’s great as a reminder to focus on your top tasks (interesting that it only works with Chrome).
The Best Alternatives To Blogger:
- Self-hosted WordPress (best option) - Read how to do this here.
- Posthaven – This isn’t a great place to build a blog or business, however, if you just want an online place to put your words, this is a solid, clean option.
- Tumblr (if you want to post photos of cats)
The Best Alternatives To Chrome:
- Firefox – Firefox is non-profit, non-evil, and simple.
The Best Alternatives To Google Search:
- Duck Duck Go – Duck Duck Go is a search engine which doesn’t track you. It still needs work but a good amount of queries are actually pretty good.
- Startpage.com – Google without all the tracking. (h/t vezzy-fnord)
- Bing – Bing isn’t that great but not as terrible as everyone would have you believe.
The Best Alternatives To Picasa:
- Flickr – Flickr is Yahoo’s photo sharing service.
- 500px – 500px is an independent and classy photo sharing platform that makes you want to start taking better photos.
The Best Alternatives To GDrive:
- Dropbox - Just about everyone has heard of Dropbox by now.
- Box – Box is a solid business alternative to Dropbox.
- Mega – Mega gives you up to 50GB of free storage. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
- iCloud (built into OSX)
The Best Alternatives To Google Docs:
- Evernote – Evernote is a cross-platform note taking program for your brain.
- TextEdit – This option is stupid simple on the Mac, but it works.
- Microsoft Office / iWork
The Best Alternatives To Google Apps:
- NameCheap.com – I have 100+ domains registered with NameCheap. Man, that’s embarrassing to write down (believe it or not, that number is a lot lower than it used to be).
- IWantMyName – IWantMyName.com has the rest of my domains. Their interface is stellar.
The Best Alternatives To Google Sites:
Self-host your own site with InMotion (50% off). In general, don’t mess around with free sites. If you’re serious enough to want to make your own site, don’t even bother with anything other than a self-hosted solution.
The Best Alternatives To Google Analytics:
- Clicky – Clicky is a simple analytics replacement for Google Analytics.
- MixPanel – MixPanel provides advanced analytics. Unless you’ve got a growing startup, you probably won’t need the power that MixPanel offers.
- CrazyEgg – CrazyEgg is a heatmapping analytics tool that shows you where users are clicking on your site and what they’re looking at.
Not that anyone is using G+ but if you are, here’s what you should be using instead.
The Best Alternatives To G+:
- Twitter – You know what Twitter is. Say hi to me here.
- Instagram – You know what Instagram is. Follow along here.
- Path – Based on the principle that you can only have 150 strong connections, Path is actually a very beautiful, streamlined app for limited social networking.
- Whatsapp – Whatsapp is very popular in international circles, and provides free international texting.
The Best Alternatives To YouTube:
Vimeo – This is a classy alternative to YouTube but it definitely has a specialized artistic angle. It’s not meant for continuous video publishing in the way that YouTube is.
As far as I know, YouTube has no good competitors as far as reach and simplicity are concerned (which is saying a lot because YouTube isn’t all that simple anymore).
Someone out there, please make a decent, clean looking version of YouTube. There are a few billion dollars waiting to be made here. Heck, you could copy the YouTube “feather” beta, and be up and running in no time.
Export Your Google Data
If you decide you want to leave Google, the good news is that Google has actually made it easy to take your data with you (unlike Facebook). Pretty nice. If you want to make this happen, here’s the simple way to export your Google data via their Google Takeout system.
How To Delete Specific Google Accounts
Once you’ve exported your data, you can either leave your account up or shut it down. If you’re looking for step-by-step walkthroughs on cleaning up each individual account, here are the links you need.
Remember to export or “take out” any data you want from these accounts before you actually delete anything.
- How To Delete Your YouTube Account (step-by-step walkthrough)
- How To Delete Your Google+ Account (step-by-step walkthrough)
- How To Delete Your Gmail Account
How To Delete Your Entire Google Account
If you want to take the nuclear option, and just delete everything wholesale, proceed at your own risk below.
Remember, don’t delete anything until you’re sure you don’t want it anymore.
There you have it – the complete guide to leaving google. You should be all set.
What did I miss? Are there any Google services I forgot or alternatives I should add? Let me know.
Photo credit: Robert Scoble