Google Alternatives: How To Pull Yourself Out Of That G-hole

    March 1, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

Today’s the day, Googlers: that dreaded and disputed Privacy Policy goes into effect as of today. If you’re one of the Google users wary of what the new policy is going to do to you and your privacy, it might be worth considering de-Googling your life; maybe not a wholesale liquidation of Google from your life, but enough to ensure that all of your data eggs aren’t in Google’s basket.

Below are some alternatives I’ve compiled that should help you shake off that feeling that Google completely owns your life. Before continuing, though, let me offer this caveat: the reason so many people almost exclusively use Google Apps for nearly every facet of online activity is because Google makes really good apps. That said, some of these alternatives might not be on par with, say, Gmail or Google+, so make a measured decision on what you need from these types of services and what features you can do without.

>>> Check out WebProNews’ special page covering Google Privacy updated live. Subscribe to the Google Privacy RSS feed too!

Search – Google Search results will likely be the well from which Google collects most of your information under the new Privacy Policy and then uses it for whatever arcane purposes Google uses your information. While you can turn off your Web History as well as use Google’s own encrypted search, you could still always do one better by simply not using Google search directly (especially until the full application of the new Privacy Policy is witnessed and understood).

With Scroogle down for the count, the two viable not-Google contenders to take its place are DuckDuckGo and Gibiru. Both sites are pro-privacy and ensure users’ searches are encrypted by concealing your IP address from your search query. With either of these two search tools, your results will be the same as the basic results you get from Google.

Web-based Email – “The undiscovered country makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.” While Hamlet didn’t have something as trifling as Gmail in mind when he said this, consider the sentiment’s application when considering ditching your email. Your best free online alternative is likely Hotmail, but that service is owned by Microsoft. Fleeing Google for the cold embrace of Microsoft/Windows seems to belie any intent to emancipate and protect yourself from the corporate Eye of Sauron that you’re trying to avoid.The other thing is: Gmail’s really nice.

Another alternative you may consider is ZoHo mail, but with that you’re going to have less storage with a free account (you’ll have to pay in order to get more than 5GB). If you really want to spend some time weighing your alternatives, Wikipedia has a table comparing all of the more sought-after features for webmail services that might hasten your task.

Social Networking – I can’t recommend Diaspora enough as far as privacy goes, but the average Google+ user will have a hard time getting through the door as its still in Alpha and therefore new accounts are invite-only. The obvious and immediate alternative is Facebook but, similar to how I explained the dilemma with free email hosting above, you’d basically be trading one poison for another. Given you’re probably already on Facebook, and how nobody really seems to be adopting to Google+ that enthusiastically, this is one case where, if you must belong to a social network right now, stay with Facebook. Until Diaspora goes public.

Image sharing/hostingFlickr. Flickr, Flickr, Flickr. There’s not really anything that can be said about Flickr that hasn’t been said before. It’s a great service, offers content protection for users, and just recently launched a savvy new look to users’ contacts. It incorporates the social aspect of photo-sharing and has a great user interface. Even if you’re not looking to ditch Google Picasa with all of this privacy hullabaloo, I still recommend giving Flickr a look. You may find that you outright prefer that service to Picasa and the less Google in your life at this point, the better.

BloggingWordPress is likely to be your best alternative to Google’s Blogger. It offers up a comparable assortment of different themes for users to personalize the design of their blogs, you can host your WordPress blog on your own server if you feel so inclined, and there are a host of add-ons you can apply to your blog. Tumblr might be a close second if you prefer a deeper social media aspect to your blogging, or if you lean towards brevity when it comes to composing your blog posts.

BrowserFirefox or Opera are going to be the two non-Google browsers named as the preferred alternatives to Google’s Chrome. Depending on whether you’re a simple check-the-emails-and-maybe-Facebook user or a “power user,” the different resources offered by the two browsers should accomodate most people looking to unmoor themselves from Chrome. Firefox might be more familiar to casual users while Opera will likely make power users wild-eyed with excitement.

RSS ReaderNetVibes could be your best non-Google alternative but, unfortunately, you’re not going to have the complete array of features that Google Reader has. If you’re dependent on tagging articles you like or even being able to search your RSS feeds, that won’t be available to you with the free version. However, if those features aren’t all that necessary to your RSS experience then it might be worth your time to take a look at it.

Cloud storageDropbox is probably a service you’ve already heard of when it comes to cloud storage. Granted, Google’s GDrive was just announced recently so people have likely not begun migrating to Google’s cloud service yet, but Dropbox has worked great thus far. And you know what they say about things that ain’t broke.

If you’re a really dedicated anti-Google centurion, you could probably live an online life free of any of their apps if you don’t mind sacrificing some of the amenities offered from the Google World. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a tee totaler just to keep your information safer. Using Google apps isn’t completely bad – as mentioned above, some of their services really are probably the best you’re going to find for free – but lessening your dependency on the Google brand as a whole might serve you well.

And as always, if any readers out there have alternative suggestions for any of the services listed above or something not covered (Docs alternatives?), feel free to add your piece below in the comments.

  • Dan

    Thanks for the article. I’ll add the following.

    Mail: GMX, lavabit, fastmail, in addition to Zoho are all decent alternatives. There are others, of course. ZoHo has the advantage of offering a wide variety of apps, similar to google, but that are not google, for those who would like that.

    Browsers: Chromium is an excellent option, especially for folks who are hooked on Chrome. Chrome is essentially a Google shell on top of Chromium, and if you want all the goodness with out the googleness, then check out Chromium. If you do, something like Chromatic by Mr. Gecko would be a good way to keep it up to date without any hassle.

    Search: I can’t recommended DuckDuckGo enough. Fantastic search with deceptively powerful, yet simple features. Great UI, and the !bangs are awesome! It can take some digging around to find all the important how-to links, but look for /goodies, /tech, and /bang for a start.

    Thanks again!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/drew-bowling Drew Bowling

      I’m a little shamed that I completely blanked Chromium given that’s my browser of choice when I boot up Linux. Ugh. Thanks for jogging the memory.

  • James Niccholson

    I think Diaspora is already public. It depends on the pod.

  • Cyrus

    I really like the idea of having alternatives to google. google is getting too big and this is a good beginning to start cutting it to the right size.

  • Pete Wilson

    Very helpful – while trying not to get overly paranoid about Google, it’s hard not to when they make such a commercialized based decision.
    If profits are their only mission statement, then parking our personal preferences elsewhere is probably a good idea. – Thanks for offering options. Pete

  • linux

    Zoho Docs is such a great alternative to Google Docs.

  • Botgirl

    I like how Gibiru News shows more alternative results that are less main stream thean Google as well. I am converted to Gibiru

  • LunaChik

    The main pod for Diaspora is invite only, but there are many pods that are open to the public. Check out the list here: http://podupti.me/ and I would highly recommend a pod that is running Pistos’ code on this list: https://github.com/Pistos/diaspora/wiki/List-of-Pods-Running-This-Code.

  • B

    I’ve been slowly cutting ties for a few weeks now, initially starting with saying goodbye to the pointless Google+. I’ve gone to Firefox Browser, Yahoo Calendar, Box.net, iCloud, Bing Search, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, Flickr, iPhone maps, etc. I’ve also experimented with Zoho… It’s very likely that my next computer will be a Mac. I use Gmail for both personal and work, so I guess I’ll stick with that for a while. I was once a total supporter of all things Google, but lately I just think they’re greedy and a little bit creepy.

  • aaron

    With the rise of CISPA, many gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail, etc. users may go searching for alternatives in non-US based companies. Can you recommend any good alternatives outside of this insane fascism spreading through the internet?