It’s been fun Google, but it’s time to say goodbye.
Have you noticed?
Google’s entire business model is based on you surrendering to their corporate surveillance. That’s it. All they do is repackage mass corporate surveillance into convenient, free, trendy applications that suck up all your data. Your private data helps Google dominate the online advertising market.
You are the product.
Of course, they don’t want you to focus on this fact. They’d rather you just keep using their products and feeding them your data.
The other key issue to consider here is that Google is tracking and recording your activity in order to build a user profile, which can be used for various purposes. Google has many ways to track your activity, even if you are not logged into a Google account:
- Tracking through Google Adsense (all those annoying banner ads you see on most websites are also tracking)
- Tracking through YouTube and other Google-owned platforms and products
- Tracking through websites that use Google Analytics (most websites use Google analytics – but not Restore Privacy)
This unique user profile is monetized through targeted ads, sold to third parties, and also provided to government authorities (Google has been cooperating with governments for mass surveillance since 2009).
In other words, Google is essentially tracking your every move online, even if you are trying to avoid it like the plague.
This is why it is crucial to always use a VPN to encrypt and anonymize your online activity. A good VPN will encrypt all your internet traffic, conceal your true IP address from third parties, hide your location, and allow you to access blocked/restricted content.
Google search alternatives
When it comes to privacy, using Google search may not be the best idea. Here are a few good Google search alternatives:
- Searx – A very privacy-friendly and versatile search engine.
- DuckDuckGo – This is a great privacy-friendly Google alternative that doesn’t utilize tracking or targeted ads. They also have a zero-sharing policy with other features.
- StartPage – StartPage is basically Google, but without the tracking.
We’ve covered this before, but Gmail is one of the worst products you can use if you’re concerned about privacy. Every email, attachment, and image becomes legal property of Google. Your private data is used by Google to dominate the online advertising market and hit you with targeted ads. Staying logged in to your Gmail account further enables Google to track your online activities.
Here are a few Gmail alternatives:
- Mailfence – Based in Belgium – 500 MB free; 20 GB Pro
- OpenMailbox – Based in France – 1 GB storage
- Mailbox.org – Based in Germany – 2 GB storage
- Protonmail – Based in Switzerland – 500 MB free; 5 GB Pro
You can try any of the options above to find the best Gmail alternative for your situation.
You can get a free secure email account right now with 500 MB of storage from Mailfence or Protonmail. Use any name you want and no payment information is necessary.
Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it’s recording and tracking everything you do. So check out these alternatives instead:
- Firefox browser – This is a free, open-source internet browser that’s quite popular. You can also use a variety of privacy add-ons that can block ads and tracking (but beware of browser fingerprinting).
- Tor browser – This is simply a hardened, privacy-friendly version of Firefox. You won’t need any add-ons or extensions because it’s already configured for maximum privacy and security. This also does a great job protecting you against browser fingerprinting – see setup instructions here.
The Tor browser is probably overkill for most users.
If you are using standard Firefox, there are some tweaks and changes you can use to make it more privacy-friendly. The team at VPN.ac put together this guide explaining some different tweaks and modifications you can do with Firefox.
Google Drive alternatives
If you’re looking for a secure cloud storage option, you can check out these Google drive alternatives. They are more secure and better for protecting your privacy and data.
- TeamDrive – This is a business-oriented cloud backup and file synchronization option based in Germany.
- Tresorit – This is a user-friendly cloud storage option based in Switzerland. They offer client-side encryption, but also utilize Microsoft Windows servers, which is one drawback.
- Zoho Docs – This is an online management software solution that allows you to edit and share documents with others.
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many popular YouTube alternatives, but here are a few:
Update: A commenter has informed us that Hooktube is another alternative. According to their site:
Share YouTube videos without giving them views. Bypass country blocks and age restrictions. Download YouTube videos and music. View quarantined videos as they appeared before YouTube Heroes got to them. Keep your data private from the G.
HOW: Just replace the domain in any YT link with hooktube.com and you get a light-weight page that loads YouTube’s media files (mp4, webm, etc) directly into your browser’s native media player. https://youtube.com/watch?v=S6bOkFLrsAc becomes https://hooktube.com/watch?v=S6bOkFLrsAc, etc. Supported parameters: start, end, loop (1 for on), speed (range: 0.01 to 4), autoplay (0 for off, default is 1).
And lastly, you can also check out the unblock YouTube guide for different solution.
Google analytics alternative
If you’re running a website, it’s important to see which content people like the most, so you can give your readers what they want. Otherwise publishing articles is like throwing darts blindfolded at a wall. Unfortunately, Google Analytics goes overboard with the tracking. Here are a few alternatives:
- Matomo (formerly Piwik) is a great open-source analytics program that respects the privacy of visitors by anonymizing and truncating visitor IP addresses. It’s the only analytics service that is certified to respect user privacy (and the only analytics used on this site).
- Clicky is another alternative, but does not have the built-in privacy protections of Matomo.
Many websites host Google Analytics because they run Google Adsense campaigns. Without Google Analytics, tracking performance of these campaigns would be difficult.
What about this site?
Restore Privacy has never used Google Analytics. At first, Clicky was used for a few months, before eventually switch to Matomo because it does a better job protecting the privacy of our visitors.
Google apps for work alternative
Need a good business email solution? Forget Google apps, and instead consider:
Google Maps alternative
A map alternative for PCs is OpenStreetMap.
A few Google Maps alternatives for mobile devices include:
- Maps.Me is a good option that is free on both Android and iOS.
- CityMaps is another good alternative that is also free.
- Here WeGo provides a high quality mapping solutions for both PCs and mobile devices with their app.
Google Play Store alternative
Currently the best Google Play Store alternative is to use F-Droid and then go through the Yalp store.
As explained on the official site, F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform.
After you have installed F-Droid, you can then download the Yalp store APK, which allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store directly as APK files.
Google Calendar alternative
The best Google Calendar alternative seems to be Etar, which is open source, simple, and respects your privacy.
Another good option is the aCalendar from TAPIRapps. This appears to be another good option that respects your privacy and it also has some good features. Check it out on the official site here.
Two other Google Calendar alternatives are Kin and Fruxx. However, if you read through the privacy policies, it looks like Etar or aCalendar would be the better options. This is because both Kin and Fruux collect user/calendar data.
Do you care about your privacy?
Most people people looking for Google alternatives have woken up to the fact that Google is awful for privacy – mainly because Google tracks and records everything you do.
But now in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, internet service providers are also recording your online activity. This information can be legally sold to third parties (in the US), or saved in government databases to be potentially used against you (UK, US, and Australia).
And of course, these same Western countries have been working together for years in the collection, sharing, and analysis of mass surveillance data (14 Eyes).
It’s now time to encrypt and anonymize your online activity.
The easiest and most effective way to do this is with a virtual private network (VPN) and other privacy tools. But be careful – there are many VPN scams and dangerous VPNs on the market that will also collect and sell your data – this mainly applies to free VPNs. For a detailed description of the top-performing VPN services, see the Best VPN List.
For an overview of different privacy tools, see the Privacy Tools resource page.