Google is dominating all parts of people’s digital lives and it’s getting really hard to stay away from one of its services and/or products. Whether it’s Gmail, Chrome browser, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Docs or Google Search (its key service) — we all use some of them. For starters, you need a Gmail account in order to use most Android smartphones.
Alas, in this article, we want to show you how you can live without Google and use competing services that get the job just as well without intruding on your privacy. Which brings us to our first section…
Why would you want to use other than Google’s services?
Google is an omnipresent tech giant across the Internet, with its Analytics code “bracing” millions of websites. Add the popularity of the Chrome browser — pretty much a default option on many platforms — and you get the idea of why the search engine giant is the biggest brother of them all. Sure, the NSA may — or at least was able — to hack into many computers, but Google can find out what it needs without breaking any laws. And that is a scary thought.
So, if you’re serious about privacy, you may want to consider going on a “Google diet” and using alternative products and services that won’t track every step you make — to show you relevant ads and effectively turn you into a product.
That being said, here are some of the alternatives you may want to consider…
Google Search alternatives
You don’t have to “google everything” online as there are other great search engines out there. We suggest trying out the following:
Probably the most popular search engine for privacy-conscious users, DuckDuckGo doesn’t record what you’re doing online and will only serve ads that are relevant to your search query. Unlike Google, it won’t and can’t follow you outside of its website — there isn’t the DuckDuckGo code on other websites. What’s more, the company is constantly beefing up its privacy offering, making it more transparent for users to know who’s tracking them online.
Another alternative search engine, Startpage operates more like a proxy for Google than an actual unique search engine. It allows you to benefit from Google Search results without giving the company any of your personal data; in a way, it’s like giving you a one-way window to use Google safely. Startpage manages to do this by actually paying Google for the service.
A relatively new contender in the market, Brave Search comes from the same people who brought us the Brave Browser — which is known for its privacy-friendly features. Although new, Brave Search managed to deliver solid results when I tested it out a few days ago. So you may want to check it out and see whether it works for you too.
When it comes to webmail clients, there are a few rock-solid options that come with built-in privacy, including:
Our main pick comes from the same folks who brought us ProtonVPN. Everything is encrypted in ProtonMail, but its pro service isn’t free — yet we think it’s worth the money as you’ll get an encrypted calendar as part of the package, as well. ProtonMail is easy to use and will never, ever leak your information. The fact that the company is based in Switzerland is another plus, due to the country’s strong privacy laws.
Tutanota dubs itself the “world’s most secure email service, easy to use and private by design.” They seem legit and if you’re on the lookout for a serious Gmail alternative, you should check out Tutanota and see whether you can use it on a daily basis. It is reportedly seamless to use, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
This is a great option for anyone looking for a business alternative to Gmail. Zoho is all about security and privacy, making it a solid option for business owners who want encrypted email across their entire team. As an added bonus — and just like Google’s offering for businesses — you can connect Zoho Mail to your domain. In turn, your entire team will get email addresses that end with @yourdomain.com and that’s what professional emails look like.
Google Drive alternatives
Long before Google Drive, we had other options for file sharing, some of which are still relevant.
One of the most popular file sharing options that were available years before Google Drive, Box (or Box.net as it was once known), offers online storage and file sharing outside of the Google bubble. Because of its “old age,” Box is compatible with a number of third-party apps and also (like Google Drive) allows multiple users to collaborate in a live shared document (called Box Notes). As a result, remote work is easier for teams.
A more privacy-focused option, Livedrive offers end-to-end encryption at transfer and in storage that is further coupled with distributed data storage to prevent unauthorized access. Brought to you by the team behind IPVanish and VIPRE, Livedrive is made for those looking to improve the security posture of their cloud storage.
Google Calendar alternatives
There is no need to settle for a privacy-invasive Google Calendar when you can get a service that takes your privacy seriously. The best options to consider include:
The service comes included with (also highly recommended) ProtonMail service, allowing you to safely and securely add and manage events, meetings, anniversaries and everything in between. With end-to-end encryption included, it is one of the services privacy advocates recommend to users across the world.
We’ve already mentioned Tutanota’s email service and like that’s the case with ProtonMail, it also has its own calendar. Also, it too is a highly secure option that will keep information about your events and meetings hidden from prying algorithms that are meant to extract as much information as possible so they could serve you more ads afterward.
In addition, you may also want to check EteSync, which is a secure and open source calendar.
Google Hangouts alternatives
Google Hangouts also has its alternatives that are meant to take better care of your privacy. Some of the services you’ll want to check to include:
Signal is one of the most popular encrypted messaging apps known for its strong privacy and security features. Beyond instant messaging, it also offers video conferencing and does it for free! Also, Signal is open-source, meaning that just about anyone can check out its source code to warn developers of bugs and security issues. That’s what makes it even stronger, security-wise.
Another open-source product on the list, Jitsi lets you use it even without creating an account. In other words, you won’t have to submit your email address in order to register for the service, which is pretty cool. And if you want to customize Jitsi’s look and feel, you will be glad to know that is also possible. Highly recommended.
Telegram has been building its credentials for years and is now effectively outlawed in many of high-censorship countries. The reason for this is simple – government agencies there couldn’t break into Telegram’s strong encryption. It is also one of the most popular options among crypto enthusiasts and those folks take their privacy and security seriously.
Use VPN to make all your online activity more secure
A VPN running on your devices will make sure all your online activity is encrypted, making it impossible for your ISP to track you down. Also, it will make it harder for the tech giants like Google and Facebook to keep up with every step you make online, and the same goes for various government agencies.
In addition, it will let you access parts of the Internet that would otherwise be outside of your reach — which is especially important in high-censorship countries, as well as some workplaces, schools and so on.
We believe VPN’s main key selling point is in the privacy “realm” and that everyone should be using it to protect their privacy. After all, if you don’t take good care of your privacy, no one will. So get yourself the Best VPN money could buy and never look back. You can always thank us later. 😉