How to Live Without Google: Alternatives That Protect Your Privacy

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Remove Google from your life? Yes, it can be done!

Google trackers have been found on 75% of the top million websites. This means they’re not only tracking what you search for, they're also tracking which websites you visit, and using all your data for ads that follow you around the Internet. Your personal data can also be subpoenaed by lawyers, including for civil cases like divorce. Google answered over 285,000 such data requests in 2022 alone!

More and more people are realizing the risk of relying on one company for so many personal services. If you're joining the ranks of people who've decided Google's data collection has become too invasive, here are some suggestions for replacements with minimal switching cost. Most are free, but even the paid apps and services are worth it — the cost of not switching is a cost to your personal privacy. The good news is that we have options!

A small child in a winter coat and hat points at ice cream flavors in a freezer case.

Google Chrome → DuckDuckGo Private Browser (free)

Let's start off with the easy ones. Instead of browsing with Chrome, try the DuckDuckGo Private Browser, which is fast, lightweight, and comes equipped with our full lineup of privacy features like 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection, Smarter Encryption, Email Protection, and more. It’s available for iOS, Android, Mac and  Windows, and switching is easy – you can even import your bookmarks and passwords from other browsers and password managers. (If you’re using another browser, you can still boost your privacy protection with DuckDuckGo extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Edge and  Safari.)

Google Search → DuckDuckGo Search (free)

The DuckDuckGo Private Browser offers the most protection, but even if you’re using another browser, you can still benefit from using DuckDuckGo Search as your default search engine. We’ll keep your searches private while giving you everything you’ve come to expect in your online search experience, plus a few bonus features that make searching the Internet not only more private, but faster and a bit more fun, too. And you’ll know you're not trapped in a filter bubble.

Gmail, Calendar & Contacts → FastMail (paid), ProtonMail (free with paid options), Tutanota (free with paid options)

FastMail is an independent, paid service that also includes calendar and contacts support across all devices. There are also several ways to get encrypted email between trusted parties by integrating PGP encryption tools. Even more private email alternatives are ProtonMail and Tutanota, both of which offer end-to-end encryption by default.No matter which email provider you use, be sure to sign up for DuckDuckGo Email Protection, our free email forwarding service, to help block hidden trackers and hide your email address online.

YouTube → Vimeo (free with paid options)

For videos that are only on YouTube (unfortunately, that's a lot), you can search for and watch them on DuckDuckGo for better privacy protection via YouTube's "youtube-nocookie" domain. (When you use the DuckDuckGo Private Browser on desktop, you can also try Duck Player, our more-private way to watch YouTube videos without invasive personalized ads.) If you're creating and hosting video yourself, however, Vimeo is the best-known alternative which focuses on creators.

Google Maps → Apple Maps (free), OpenStreetMap (free)

For iOS users, Apple gives you an alternative built in via Apple Maps, so no installation is necessary. For wider device support, check out OpenStreetMap (OSM) which is more open, though may not have the same ease-of-use or coverage quality as Apple Maps.

Google Drive → Resilio Sync (free with paid options), Tresorit (paid)

Resilio Sync provides peer-to-peer file synchronization which can be used for private file storage, backup, and file sharing. This also means your files are never stored on a single server in the cloud! The software is available for a wide variety of platforms and devices, including servers. For business use, an alternative cloud storage and backup service with end-to-end encryption is Tresorit.

Android → iOS (paid)

The most popular alternative to Android is of course iOS, which offers easy device encryption and encrypted messaging via iMessage by default. For more privacy on iOS or Android devices, try the DuckDuckGo Private Browser!

Blogger → Ghost (paid), (free with paid options)

Ghost is both a hosted (paid) and self-installable blogging platform, tracker-free by default and run by a non-profit foundation. We like it so much we use it for our own blog! A free alternative is WordPress, powering an estimated 33% of the world's websites. It's also available both for self-installation and as a hosted service with no third-party trackers by default. The community is huge with extensive multilingual documentation and many themes to choose from.

Google Hangouts/Meet → Jami (free), Apple FaceTime (free), Microsoft Teams (free with paid option)

Jami is a cross-platform service that offers end-to-end encryption, and its privacy policy states that the only data it collects is “anonymous and aggregated data for the analysis of Jami website visits statistics.” If everyone involved has access to an Apple device, FaceTime is another alternative that is easy-to-use and supports end-to-end encryption. For enterprise-level support, Microsoft Teams is widely used and they state that they do not use your Teams data to serve ads, or to track participant attention.

Google Chat and Android Messages → Signal (free)

There are several services offering private messaging but, as we've mentioned before, Signal gets our recommendation. It offers free, end-to-end encryption for both messages and private calls. It's also recommended by Edward Snowden and renowned security expert Bruce Schneier, among others.

Google Groups → MeWe (free with a paid version), Discourse (paid, or free if self-hosted)

MeWe is a social network based around groups that can be made private or public. Their privacy policy makes clear that they don't collect or share personal data. Alternatively, there's Discourse, which is an open-source discussion platform, offering public and private conversations with a trust system and spam protection. Paid hosting is offered but the software is also freely available for administrators to host on their own servers.

Google Analytics → Fathom (paid), Simple Analytics (paid), Plausible (paid, or free if self-hosted)

If you run a website that uses Google Analytics, you're letting Google collect data on every visitor, which they can then tie to data collected from millions of other websites. Switching to Fathom, Simple Analytics, or Plausible will still give you visibility into how visitors are using your website, but you'll also be respecting their right to privacy. These services state on their websites (as of the time of this writing) that they are GDPR-compliant by default, do not use cookies and therefore don't require those annoying cookie agreement popups. Plausible also has a free self-hosted option.

CodeFund is currently limited to developers and designers. But if that's your audience, this is a platform for both advertising and hosting ads with a focus on ethics, using contextual advertising (i.e. based on the content of websites) rather than behavioral (i.e. based on your personal web activity). They take steps to avoid tracking users, such as by not saving IP addresses, and the platform code is open source for anyone to verify.

As you can see, moving away from Google doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, you might find you prefer the alternatives – while also getting better privacy!

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Note: This blog post has been slightly edited since initial publication to address the changing landscape.

Dax the duck

Dax the duck

We're the Internet privacy company for everyone who's had enough of hidden online tracking and wants to take back their privacy now.

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How to Live Without Google: Alternatives That Protect Your Privacy
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