How To De-Google-ify Your Life: The Complete Guide To Leaving Google

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.

Google

How To De-Google-ify Your Life: The Complete Guide To Leaving Google (and what services you should use instead)

Email

Google Default: Gmail

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

Google Default: Google Calendar

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.
  • Tempo
  • Sunrise

Add-ons:

  • 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).

Blogging

Google Default: Blogger

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)

Web Browsing

Google Default: Chrome

The Best Alternatives To Chrome:

  • Firefox – Firefox is non-profit, non-evil, and simple.

Search

Google Default: Google Search

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.

Photo Sharing

Google Default: Picasa

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.

Documents

Google Default: Google Drive

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)

Documents

Google Default: Google Docs

The Best Alternatives To Google Docs:

Domains

Google Default: Google Apps for Domains

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.

Google Sites

Google Default: Google Sites

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.

Analytics

Google Default: Google Analytics

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.

Social Networking

*Google Default: Google+*

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.

Video Publishing

Google Default: YouTube

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.

Click here for Google Takeout.

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 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.

Join The Discussion on Hacker News

Photo credit: Robert Scoble

Comments

  1. says

    I’m with you on most of this, but I have to disagree on Google plus. I have far superior interactions there and get a good portion of my clients from those interactions.

    • Trebuchette says

      > I have far superior interactions there and get a good portion of my clients from those interactions.

      And you know, you hit the nail on the head right there! G+ is like walking into a convention of salespeople! If you go to Twitter or Facebook, it can be like walking into a party with friends.

    • says

      I don’t consider Medium to be a blogging platform. You can’t build up followers, you don’t have any control of your content, and Medium is profiting off of your hard work.

      Sure, it’s nice for exposure–if you’re writing about their target audience. But if you want to do something real with your writing, get your own domain and use a self-hosted platform.

    • says

      I like medium as a place to guest post – but I’d strongly caution against trying to build your personal / business platform on something that you don’t control.

  2. says

    For Documents, you should check out SpiderOak. Dropbox is great, but SpiderOak encrypts everything. If anyone ever tries to force your data, SpiderOak will give it to them, but it’ll all be encrypted–heavily. Usage isn’t as smooth as Drive or Dropbox, but it’s excellent.

  3. Jess says

    For browser alternatives, there are also Chromium-based browsers for those who want Chrome without the browser sending all your info to Google. Two good ones I’ve used are Comodo Dragon and SRWare Iron.

    This is a great list, thanks! I’ve been looking at more Google alternatives myself lately, and the one I’m most struggling with is email. I knew about Hushmail but Fastmail.FM is new to me, so I’ll check them out.

    • says

      I was just getting ready to say that. Google is a HUGE revenue source for Mozilla. Even the upcoming Firefox Australis interface resembles Chrome greatly. And Microsoft is no privacy sweetheart, either. Otherwise, the recommendations are pretty spot-on.

  4. Don says

    Thanks for the list … I’ve been slowly de-googling for awhile now. Not sure why, but I prefer ixquick.com search engine over duckduckgo.

  5. davidd says

    For photo sharing, in addition to 500px, another option to both Google and Flickr/Yahoo is iPernity.com.

    Following changes to the Flickr interface over the past several months, and with rumors of more changes ahead, a number of my Flickr contacts are reducing their Flickr presence and transitioning to 500xp and iPernity. And really, is setting up camp at Yahoo via Flickr or Yahoo Mail any different than posting content through Google? Yahoo! also owns Tumblr, so be aware when you’re posting those kitty pictures!

    Solid list of options. Any chance of follow-ups on how to cut ties with Yahoo! and that most pernicious of leeches, Facebook?

    • davidd says

      Oh, and instead of Google Docs or any other electronic note-taking app, I use a little pocket-sized Moleskine kraft-paper cover notebook. I like the “squared” (meaning graph paper pages) version. Old school, I know. My co-workers laugh at me. But I can find telephone numbers whether or not my phone battery is charged. Sometimes I carry a Field Notes version instead — if Made in USA matters to you. Actually, though, the Moleskine has more pages for the money and a better binding than Field Notes.

  6. Sebastian Bagiński says

    Great article to search for alternatives, although in terms of data collection: in most cases, you’re really just moving data from one cloud to another. You can’t be sure whether it’s more or less safe than on Google’s servers.
    Since every company will collect data anyways, why bother?

    • says

      I’m interested in diversifying it from one company to another. It’s more of me being interested in not letting one company have control of the data / services and me losing leverage in that situation.

      Interesting thought experiment – if Google shut down tomorrow, how screwed would your business be?

  7. Christian says

    Great article. I try to use Google as little as I can as well. My Nexus 5 runs on Cyanogenmod which gives you great privacy options. They just released Wisperpush which encrypts messaging. Runs super stable even in the nightly builds. For syncing contacts, calendars & tasks I highly recommend http://fruux.com. It’s open source based and platform independent.

  8. says

    Great article! But, your missing a few. Owncloud is a perfect addin for:
    Calendar
    Task
    File Sync (Like Dropbox but MUCH BETTER)
    Contacts
    Feedly (Google reader) replacement for News

    Both Calendar and Contacts sync using Dav clients available for most phone platforms.

    For Analytics is Piwik, it’s a dead drop in and in most ways much, much better. We use Piwik on all my companies sites and won’t look back.

    We recently drug our entire company off of apps and opted for self hosted email on a VPS and Owncloud for the other options that Apps offered. We won’t ever look back either.

  9. Darwin says

    Apple Mail is a better alternative than Outlook Mail. They keep practically no data about you and make it easy to opt out of any data collection. Microsoft is a heavy participant in the Prism program.
    Thanks to the NSA revelations and Google foisting Google + down our throats I’ve weaned myself off all Google services except Gmail and I am working at getting off that too.

  10. says

    I just can’t believe Google is any worse or better than most big tech companies when it comes to privacy and/or using your data for their own financial gains. Do we really think Apple and MS are less involved than Google when it comes to NSA issues? Even the little guys are subject to the whims of government intervention – if not, why would some choose to close rather than be bullied? And if anyone thinks any policy statement by the President during today’s presser will make a diff, I only point to the last 80 years of governmental control over our private lives – and the increasing erosion of our civil liberties.

    De-Googlefying be a noble pursuit (so would de-Appling or un-Microsofting) but lets not fool ourselves; the alternatives are not any more safe or privacy-related reliable. We’ve let the tiger out of the cage (i.e. Patriot Act, back doors, foreign heads-of-state spying, et al) and its not going back in

  11. Paul R says

    I used your “Click Here” to learn what Google has on me and it isn’t much. Just the fact that I’m a male between 50 and 54. Which tells me that they pay attention to the privacy settings that are available to all Google users. If you never change them, then yes they know a lot about you.

    • Tom says

      Mine all say N/A because I’ve opted out of everything.

      Still, I do use a lot of Google products and have considered moving more toward companies that don’t make their money by selling personal data, such as Apple.

    • Seib says

      An interesting comment, although I would like to point out that in regards to the Opt-Out feature for Personalized Ads, at least, they never say on that feature that it would opt you out of data mining; it only says that it would opt you out of personalized ads. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they still data-mine us but just don’t forward the data toward ad personalization programmes.

  12. Lena says

    I have a gmail account that I’ve been using intensely since 2009, as well as a google calendar, and use google search almost exclusively. I occasionally post on google plus. Feedback on your “click here and let me know” — https://www.google.com/settings/ads/onweb/ : other than my gender and consumer electronics as an interest, nothing else is correct. Even my age. Granted, I turn off ads everywhere, as well as beacons and tracking cookies.

  13. says

    Great piece. I’m educating our 14- and 16-year-old daughters about that pithy comment from someone besides me (wish I’d said it) that goes, “If you can’t identify the product, you ARE the product.”

    I’m struggling with finding the right mail solution. Used to have it all go through a g mail account for their great spam filtering and then on to my paid host’s server where I get at it with IMAP. Then I realized that the big g reads every word because of the ads I was getting. I
    moved everything to my host but their filtering is atrocious even with Spam Assassain turned up. I’m going to give your recommendations a try.

    Thanks for taking the time to brief on your experiences. I do the same on my site about the world of publishing and selling images online.

  14. Heather says

    Nice guide overall; thanks. I encourage you to add LibreOffice (www.libreoffice.org) under your list of replacements for Google Docs. TextEdit is fine for writing, but sometimes I really need a spreadsheet.

    • John says

      It works like a charm. The only problem is that you can’t use it in browser or have it sync all your documents, but you can easily get around it by using the portable version (on a flash drive) and save your files to Dropbox.

  15. says

    It’s ever so convenient. I’m leaving my gmail account as the first point of contact only to establish more secure channels of communication (think PGP).

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