Depending on one company with all of your data is pretty risky. Even if we ignore the obvious privacy concerns of when some corporation knows everything about you... Just imagine what would happen to you personally, if one day that corporation would just... disappear for whatever reason. Say, Google gets a huge fine from the European Commission for one of their monopolistic practices or shitting on their users’ privacy, and turns out they don’t recover from that. How screwed are you?
One day you lose your emails, photos, passwords, documents, notes, calendar, what else?
So, recently I decided to diversify my technical dependencies. Not to boycott Google completely, but to at least use it less.
✅ Google Search → DuckDuckGo
If you think about it, there’s usually no need for the search engine to know who you are in order to serve you useful search results, right? Even for the purpose of making money on ads: if you’re looking for “barbecue”, they’ll show you adverts of grills, because that’s what you’re looking for right now, and not adverts of Cloud Storage, because they know from somewhere else that you might need it... Yet, Google still collects plenty of data about you when you search...
The switch to the privacy-oriented DuckDuckGo turned out to be surprisingly easy. I just changed the default search engine in Chrome and... and that’s it! DuckDuckGo offers most of the features that I was used to in Google, has similar interface, and most importantly it serves the search results that are just as relevant as those of Google.
✅ Images → DuckDuckGo/Unsplash
Same goes for the image search: DuckDuckGo handles it perfectly, and even has way less annoying user interface than Google.
✅ Chrome → Opera
Let’s not kid ourselves, all the modern browsers are basically the same. They might have this little feature less or this feature more, but I honestly can’t think of any strong reasons to like one over another. Some even share the same engines, just with a different UI. Even Edge is a good browser already. It doesn’t matter that much, which one you choose, and switching between them shouldn’t be a big issue. They can import all your settings from your previous browser.
Or not. That’s what I did: started with a clear browser, no history, no passwords, no saved forms. I wanted to do it anyway, so ungoogling my life was a good occasion to also restart my browser.
✅ Passwords → KeePass
I used to use the same password for everything. Then I got smarter and started using different versions of the same password. But it’s obviously not how you should treat your passwords to stay safe.
So now I’m using a unique, random, strong password for each service. And I don’t store it in Chrome (or any other browser) anymore. Instead, I put them in a password manager, KeePass. Opening it, finding the right password and copy-pasting it to the browser might be a bit less convenient than having the browser just remember it for you, but this way the only party that ever has access to my unhashed /unencrypted passwords is me.
I sync the KeePass file (encrypted) between devices via Google Drive, so that’s still in the queue to ungoogle.
✅ Analytics → Matomo
Getting rid of Google Analytics required a bit more work, because I have 13 websites tracked that would all require new tracking codes, commits, deployments... But when my lovely husband finally published his literary blog, and I had to do all that anyway, we decided to give Matomo a go.
I just had to set it up on my server (it’s totally free, if you self-host it). Aaand I loved it. It’s hard for me to compare their features, since I only use the most basic stuff, but Matomo seems to have all I need (and more), with an interface that I like more than Google’s.
✅ Inbox →
Protonmail → Tutanota
I really like Inbox’s extra features, like grouping emails into trips, snoozing etc. I might have some doubts about leaving it, if it weren’t for the fact that Google is killing the project, so I won’t use it one way or another. I’m using an email in my own domain, while my @gmail.com address is mostly there collecting spam, so having to change my address won’t be a problem either.
I don’t want to set up my own IMAP/SMTP server, because I just don’t know enough about it to risk being classified as spam or not having 99.999% uptime.
What I do now is redirecting all the incoming emails to Gmail on the DNS level, and use Gmail as SMTP. I could do something similar with almost any other mailbox provider, right?
I guess I’ll try ProtonMail because of their efforts for security and privacy. It’s paid (if you need the features I need), but it seems to be worth it. If one day I finally have time and strength to finally start setting it all up, I’ll let you know how it went.
Update: Turns out ProtonMail doesn’t have an option to keep you logged in, it just cleans your session after you close the tab, even on a trusted device. Seriously. That’s just laughable! Users keep requesting it, and ProtonMail keeps ignoring them. Since I’m using a password manager and two-factor authentication, that’s a total deal breaker for me.
I’ve switched to Tutanota. So far it looks just as nice, and it’s even 4x cheaper. The transition was smooth and way easier than I expected (setting up an MX and a TXT record on the DNS). So far, I’m pretty happy with it.
⏳ Keep → <my own project>
I never had a notes app that I was fully happy with. Currently I’m using Google Keep, but it fucks up the synchronization pretty often, leaving me with outdated or missing notes.
Except... I was happy with one notes app, but this one I wrote myself. It was hiding right behind the left border of the screen and would slide out if your mouse went it that area, so it was always just a mouse move away. It was the times when I didn’t have to sync it between devices though.
But actually... Why not? Why not write my own thing?
So... the migration is still in progress.
⏳ Drive → Amazon S3 + <my own project>
I’m not using Google Drive that much, but still... I think that when I figure out the synchronisation for my notes app, I could just as well use it to sync files as well – most probably hosted on Amazon S3. Let’s see how that goes, keep fingers crossed! 🤞🏼
I’m fine with keeping some Google tools. For instance Authenticator – it doesn’t store any personal data, it just uses a standardised algorithm to generate time-dependent access codes. There’s plenty of compatible apps that can replace it – but I’d have to to go all the websites where I use 2FA and regenerate the tokens. Nah, too much work, not worth it.
The ad revenue from my websites is laughable (it didn’t even reach the minimum for payout, and I had to start over to switch currency and country), but I keep them just in case. One time a post of mine got so popular it almost broke my server, but I had no ads in place at the time... #tyleprzegrać
Still, seems like AdSense is the simplest (auto ads 😍), most advanced and most seamless ad platform I could find. And with my level of “revenue” it doesn’t really matter, which one I use. So screw it for now.
👍 Youtube (→ Vimeo?)
Plenty of my favourite content is on Youtube and nowhere else, so there’s no way for me to stop using it. But screw it.
Although, if I were uploading some videos myself (without needing a popular platform, just hosting), I’d definitely go for some other platform, probably Vimeo.
Google Maps are good. Apple Maps seem to be better already, but they’re not available in a browser or on Android, so absolutely not for me. Screw it.
Same. Translate is good, I’m keeping it.
That’s a tricky one. There’s plenty that annoys me in Google Photos, and it’s definitely risky to give them access to all your pictures, but on the other hand... they offer unlimited space. Unlimited! Consider me bought, Google...
👍 Android → iPhone?
Tricky as well. I’ve used iPhones and MacBooks that my companies provided, and I was really satisfied with them. Just not enough to actually pay that much to get one for myself. Though this year I might actually end up switching to an iPhone, who knows.
Anyways... You can check out nomoregoogle.com, it collects alternatives to different Google products. Let’s keep it diverse! 😉