Tech mistake |We live in a Google world. Open up your email—it’s Gmail. Do a search—it’s Google search. Need directions? You guessed it—Google Maps. There are so many things to love about Google.
If you can remember the dark days of the internet, navigating the web was not only complicated but often filled with useless junk sites and spam. Google helped organize the web we use today.
But all this comes at a cost to privacy. Google’s entire business model revolves around data collection and ads. The more data they collect, the better-personalized ads they can sell to the highest bidder. That’s why Google raked in nearly $120 billion in ad revenue.
You don’t have to sit there and take it. There are plenty of alternatives that are as good as Google, or better. You can use them without sacrificing your privacy.
Check out these top Google alternatives for private browsing, email, and more.
1. Search: DuckDuckGo
Everyone knows Google tracks our searches to sell ads. While it might not bother you when searching for a recipe, the stakes get much higher when you enter something personal.
Forget about personalized search results and tracking and check out DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo is a private search engine that displays the same results for everyone. And, they don’t sell user profiles because they don’t collect any data. If you want to search in real privacy, go with this instead.
2. Web Browsing: Brave
Chrome is consistently ranked as one of the least private web browsers. Since it comes from Google, that makes sense. Chrome tracks almost everything you do. And it also allows third-party cookies to continue following you around the internet long after you’ve left a website.
The Mozilla Foundation, the same people who created Firefox, released the Brave browser a few years ago. It blocks ads and trackers by default, making your web use much more private. And it’s built on the Chromium source code, so it still looks and feels familiar. It even includes support for many Chrome extensions.
But there’s more.
Private browsing also relies on hiding your IP address. Your IP address reveals information about you and leaves a trail connecting your online activities with your devices.
See for yourself how easy it is to discover your IP address—type in what is my IP on DuckDuckGo now. Any random website on the first page of search results reveals your IP address, the name of your ISP, and your location (country and region).
Neither browser nor search engine can save you from this. There are a few browser extensions that can, but your best bet is using a VPN. It’s a software or app you can use to hide your IP address.
3. Email: ProtonMail
Gmail isn’t quite as bad as Google Search and Chrome in terms of privacy violations. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about it. More than anything, you trust Google with heaps of data.
Instead of that, you can use an encrypted email client like ProtonMail. ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption and other tools to ensure your email is private.
ProtonMail is free for 500 MB, but you may want to upgrade to one of its paid plans. These start at $5/month. Consider it an investment in your privacy.
4. Docs: Microsoft 365
It wasn’t too long ago that Microsoft was the bad guy of the tech world. In the last few years, they’ve come a long way in rehabilitating their image.
While they’re not perfect, they are a considerable step up in privacy compared to Google. Microsoft offers a web browser version of MS Office 365. It includes Word, Excel, and other Office apps.
There is a free version, but it is a little stripped down. But if you already own MS Office on your computer, you already have access to premium features.
Microsoft 365 also links up with OneDrive, so you have a cloud storage option here too.
5. Maps: OsmAnd
We should all be uncomfortable about Google and other technology companies having access to our locations at all times. While you have to do a bit more than swap out Google Maps to get a better handle on your location privacy, using an app like OsmAnd is a step in the right direction.
OsmAnd is a free map app based on famous OpenStreetMap data. It works on both Android and iOS and even includes offline navigation so you can use it when you don’t have an internet connection.
6. Videos: Vimeo
There’s something a little creepy about the same site that owns your email service, also owning your video streaming platform. But that’s precisely what’s going on with Gmail and YouTube.
Vimeo is an excellent alternative that focuses on creative people putting out fantastic videos. Its design is intuitive, and there are plenty of professional tools for business users.
All content must be owned by uploaders, meaning it’s more private and secure for creators.
7. Photos: iCloud
You might be a little uncomfortable swapping one tech giant out for another. But the story is much deeper than that. Of all the big tech companies, Apple has one of the best reputations for respecting privacy.
Apple is no white knight. But you can trust the business model. Who makes most of their money from ads, and who doesn’t?
You get up to 5GB of storage for free with Apple Photos. And plans are cheap, too—50GB of storage is $0.99/month with no ads.