Best Alternatives to Google that Keep Your Privacy
There is no doubt that Google is one of the world's most successful companies, expanding from just a search engine to offering a wide selection of online services.
This expansion has aided Google in its massive and effective data mining activities, through which it collects, sells, and exploits the information of its users.
If you browse the web through Google, you will probably notice targeted ads for websites that you have previously visited. In order to accurately provide the relevant ads, Google needs to track your activity on the internet, including each site you visit.
Even if you minimize your use of Google services such as Gmail and Maps, if you are browsing through Chrome, Google Ads and Google Analytics will be running in the background to track everything you get up to online. Usually, embedded codes like these are viewed as infected web pages, but as Google is a large corporation and not a group of hackers, it is not regarded as spyware.
It doesn't stop there. An investigation by the Associated Press found that Google still tracks the locations of its users even if they disable the 'Location History' feature in their account settings.
Whenever a Google app such as Search, Gmail, or Docs is open, it will record your location. The more Google services you use, the easier it is for Google to track your activity.
In this article, we have compiled a list of alternatives to Google services that are just as easy to use, but don't have the embedded tracking software.
1. Google Search Alternatives
Google Search monitors what you are searching for and logs this against your IP address, so switching to a different search engine is a good way to regain some of your online privacy. Alternatives to Google Search include:
A private German search engine, MetaGer will show results in other languages, including English. Protecting the privacy of its users is of paramount importance and, as such, it does not profile users or collect data for targeted advertising. Furthermore, there is a version of MetaGer that can be accessed directly from Tor.
2. Gmail Alternative
When you log into services with your Gmail account, Google no longer needs to rely on your IP address to trace your online activities, even if you use multiple devices.
Even more worrying is the revelation in 2018 that millions of private emails of users signed up to price comparison services were read by third parties. There are more secure alternatives to Gmail, including:
An encrypted and secure system, ProtonMail offers end-to-end encryption, as long as the recipient is also a ProtonMail (or other compatible encryption email system) user.
If the recipient is not a ProtonMail user, they can be emailed a link to a secure email to read the text. The encryption key is kept secure with a separate layer of encryption so the provider of the mail system can't read user emails.
3. YouTube Alternatives
There are a number of alternatives to Google-owned YouTube, which include:
Unlike YouTube, Vimeo has stuck to its core goal of hosting original content, such as movies and short films uploaded by their creators.
To create an account, the only tracking information you need is a valid email address. Although Vimeo does log your IP address and video views, you could hide this information by accessing the platform using a VPN.
Also, you may find that Vimeo is a refreshing option when it comes to advertising as it does not have 30-second unskippable ads.
Popular with vloggers, BitChute operates a Peer-2-Peer access model, meaning there is no central store of videos and no video index to track your viewing history.
To set up an account, you have to provide some personal information, but if you are not registered, you can use BitChute anonymously.
4. Android Alternative
The Android operating system was developed by Google, primarily for use on touchscreen mobile devices. As an alternative, you can use:
iOS is the most popular alternative for Android, but it’s not free. If you want an open-source free operating system for your mobile device, consider Tizen, a Linux-based operating system. It's compatible with several platforms and many applications can be adapted to run on it.
5. Chrome Alternatives
It may be the world's most widely-used browser, but Google Chrome has more privacy issues than most of the well-known browsers. Good alternatives to Google Chrome include:
With Microsoft Edge, Microsoft addressed the security concerns of Internet Explorer with the 'InPrivate' feature. When browsing in this mode (accessed with Control-Shift-P), all records of your online session, including cookies and cache, will be deleted when the window is closed.
A recent overhaul has made Firefox one of the most secure browsers available. As well as improved loading speeds, a Tracking Protection feature was added.
You also have the option to browse in 'private mode', which will delete the cache, cookies, and history of the session when the browsing window is closed.
6. Google Maps Alternatives
Turning off location services on your device can help to prevent Google from keeping track of your location. However, Google Maps can still learn your location from your IP address.
Plus, if you are disabling location services, you will be sacrificing a number of useful Google Maps features. If you are looking for an alternative to Google Maps, try:
Not only does MapQuest give you driving directions, but it also shows you businesses on your way including hotels, gas, groceries, and pharmacies.
As an open source project, the code for OpenStreetMap is there for anyone to read, meaning you can change parts of the code to create your own version. No account is required to use the service and the GPS function can be disabled to keep your location private.
7. Blogger Alternative
The blog-publishing service, Blogger, was bought by Google back in 2003. The blogs are hosted by Google through the BlogSpot subdomain. As an alternative to Blogger, you can use:
WordPress has a number of plugins and widgets, and many themes that can be customized. As WordPress is open source, you can tweak the code to make changes to your blog.
8. Google Drive Alternatives
Google Drive may be free to use, but it does leave you vulnerable to having your data collected, such as how often you access files, how you use the service, and data transfers. You could always try one of these Google Drive alternatives:
Dropbox offers you 2GB of free storage, and if you need more space then you can pay for it. A Dropbox folder is added to your computer storage and any file copied to that folder will also be backed up to the cloud, which can be accessed online.
The Canadian cloud storage service, Sync, includes strong encryption, in both transmission and storage. The service is free to members of the public and charges for corporate data backup service.
File sharing can be through secure links, making it useful for team collaboration. Any transfer of files is protected by end-to-end encryption.