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.
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 also function as 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)
All the data that Google collects about you is usually monetized through targeted advertising (Google is now the largest advertising company in the world). Your data may also be provided to government authorities (Google has been cooperating with governments for mass surveillance since 2009).
In other words, Google is working to track your every move online, even if you are working hard to avoid it.
The solution to this problem basically entails:
- Deleting your Google accounts and data
- Avoiding Google products and using alternatives (this guide)
- Using reputable privacy tools, such as a private browser and a good VPN service, which will help protect your data from third parties
Google search alternatives
When it comes to privacy, using Google search is not a good idea. When you use their search engine, Google is recording your IP address, search terms, user agent, and often a unique identifier, which is stored in cookies.
Here are a few Google search alternatives:
- Searx – A very privacy-friendly and versatile metasearch engine.
- Qwant – A private search engine based in France.
- Metager – A private search engine based in Germany.
- DuckDuckGo – This is a great privacy-friendly Google alternative that doesn’t utilize tracking or targeted ads, but they do record search terms.
- StartPage – StartPage gives you Google search results, but without the tracking.
Check out the private search engine guide for additional information.
Gmail is one of the worst products you can use if you’re concerned about privacy. Everything you do through Gmail is collected by the parent company – every email, attachment, and image… Using Gmail gives Google an intimate view of your private life and personal contacts.
When you remain logged in to your Gmail account, Google can easily track your activities online as you browse different websites, which may be hosting Google Analytics or Google ads (Adsense).
There are many different secure email options; here are a few great choices:
- Tutanota – based in Germany; free accounts up to 1 GB
- Mailfence – based in Belgium; free accounts up to 500 MB
- Posteo – based in Germany; €1/mo with 14 day refund window
- StartMail – based in Netherlands; 7 day free trial
- Runbox – based in Norway; 30 day free trial
For additional information about these and other Gmail alternatives, check out the secure email guide. All of these secure email providers are ad-free, based in privacy-friendly jurisdictions, and do not give third parties access to your emails.
Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it is also very invasive and a bad choice for privacy.
If you are a Chrome user, you may want to consider 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). See the Firefox privacy guide for customization tips.
- Tor browser – This is simply a hardened, privacy-friendly version of Firefox, based on Firefox 60 ESR. By default, the Tor browser routes traffic through the Tor network, which can be quite slow. Additionally, there are extensive ties between the Tor project and US government (see the Tor guide fore details).
- Brave browser – Brave is a good browser with built-in privacy protections and ad blocking. However, it is also based on Chromium and is affected by the WebRTC leak issue.
- Ungoogled Chromium – Available on Github, this makes “modifications to Google Chromium for removing Google integration and enhancing privacy, control, and transparency.”
We also have an in-depth secure browser guide, which includes recommended browser add-ons for privacy and security. You do not have to sacrifice privacy for more security.
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.
- Nextcloud – Nextcloud is an open source, self-hosted file share and communication platform. They are based in Germany.
- Sync.com – Based in Canada, Sync.com offers a secure, encrypted cloud storage solution for businesses and individuals.
Dropbox is also a popular Google drive alternative, but it is not the best in terms of privacy.
Google Calendar alternative
For those wanting a combined solution for both email and calendar functionality, there are some great options from secure email providers. These include:
I have used Mailfence email/calendar and it seems to work well.
Here are some more Google Calendar alternatives that may be worth considering:
- Etar, which is open source and fairly simple
- aCalendar from TAPIRapps. 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.
Google Docs alternative
There are many solid Google Docs alternatives available. The largest offline document editing suite is, of course, Microsoft Office. However, it is not recommended because… Microsoft and privacy. Nonetheless, there are a few other good Google Docs alternatives:
- LibreOffice – You can use LibreOffice on Linux, Mac OS, Windows, Android and iOS. It is also free and open source.
- CryptPad – CryptPad is a privacy-focused alternative with strong encryption and it’s free.
- Zoho Docs – This is another good Google Docs alternative with a clean interface and good functionality. You may be able to create an account through Zoho.eu, which should have better privacy protections due to GDPR laws.
- OnlyOffice – OnlyOffice feels a bit more restricted than some of the other options in terms of features, but it remains a decent alternative.
- Nuclino – Another Google Docs alternative is Nuclino. Nuclino has tiered subscription plans depending on your needs.
Google Photos alternative
Here are a few good Google Photos alternatives:
- Shoebox – Shoebox has both a free and Pro plan. It appears to be a good Google Photos alternative without any ads. The Shoebox app is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
- Piwigo – Piwigo is another great option that you can self-host. It is also free and open source.
Does anyone actually use Google Plus? I honestly don’t know.
But if so, here are three social media alternatives:
Of course, Facebook will not be recommended because it is a data-collection and surveillance service.
Google translate alternative
There are three Google translate alternatives I have come across:
- DeepL – DeepL is a solid Google Translate alternative that seems to give great results. Like Google Translate, DeepL allows you to post up to 5,000 characters at a time (but the pro version is unlimited). The user interface is good and there is also a built-in dictionary feature.
- Lingue – Linguee does not allow you to post large blocks of text like DeepL. However, Linguee will give you very accurate translations for single words or phrases, along with context examples.
- dict.cc – This Google Translate alternative seems to do a decent job on single-world lookups, but it also feels a bit outdated.
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many popular YouTube alternatives, but here are a few alternatives:
And lastly, you can also check out the unblock YouTube guide for additional information.
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).
- Fathom Analytics is an open source alternative to Google Analytics that’s available on Github here.
- Clicky is another alternative, but it 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. Nonetheless, this is still bad for privacy.
Google Maps alternative
A map alternative for PCs is OpenStreetMap.
A few Google Maps alternatives for mobile devices include:
- OsmAnd is a free and open-source mobile maps app for both Android and iOS (based on OpenStreetMap data).
- Maps (F Droid) uses OpenStreetMap data (offline).
- Here WeGo provides good mapping solutions for both PCs and mobile devices with their app.
- MapHub is also based on OpenStreeMap data and it does not collect locations or user IP addresses.
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 catalog 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 Chrome operating system alternative
Want to ditch the Chromebook and Chrome OS? Here are a few alternatives:
- Linux – Of course, Linux is arguably the best alternative, being a free, open-source operating system with lots of different flavors. With some adjustments, Linux Ubuntu can be run on Chromebooks.
- Tails – Tails is a free, privacy-focused operating system based on Linux that routes all traffic through the Tor network.
- QubesOS – Recommended by Snowden, free, and also open source.
Of course, the other two big operating system alternatives are Windows and Apple’s operating system for MacBooks – Mac OS. Windows – particularly Windows 10 – is a very bad option for privacy. While slightly better, Apple also collects user data and has partnered with the NSA for surveillance.
The biggest alternative to Android is iOS from Apple. But we’ll just skip over that for reasons already mentioned. Here are a few Android OS alternatives:
- LineageOS – A free and open-source operating system for phones and tablets based on Android.
- CopperheadOS – The CopperheadOS project seems to have recently imploded, but it was previously a great alternative.
Purism is also working on a privacy-focused mobile phone called the Librem 5. It met the crowdfunding goals but it’s not clear when it will be available.
Other Google alternatives
Based on user feedback and additional research for this guide update, here are a few more Google alternatives to consider:
Google forms alternative – JotForm is a free online form builder.
Google Keep alternative – Here are two different Google Keep alternatives:
- Standard Notes is a great alternative for a note-taking service. It is secure, encrypted, and free with apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android (web-based also available).
- Joplin is another great option that is open source and works on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Google Fonts alternative – Many websites load Google fonts through Google APIs. One alternative to this is to use Font Squirrel, which has a large selection of both Google and non-Google fonts which are free to download and use.
Google Voice alternative – JMP.chat (both free and paid)
Google Firebase alternative – Kuzzle (free and open source)
Do you care about your privacy?
Most people looking for Google alternatives have woken up to the fact that Google is awful for privacy by collecting as much of your private data as possible.
But what about your internet service provider?
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).
Aside from government surveillance agencies, there are many other third parties that are quietly tracking your online activity, such as Facebook.
One of the best tools for keeping your data out of the hands of third parties is to use a VPN (virtual private network). This will encrypt and anonymize your online activity, while also hiding your true IP address and location. In the best VPN guide I examine well-respected VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, which are located in good privacy jurisdictions and have passed all tests.
The privacy tools guide discusses other solutions as well.
Do you have any other tips or suggestions for Google alternatives?
Feel free to drop a comment below. This guide will be regularly updated to reflect the latest information and user feedback.
Last updated on March 21, 2019. (Added more Gmail alternatives and Google Blogger alternatives.)