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How to leave Google behind: Quick guide to take back your privacy online.

Stop privacy-intrusive services from exploiting your data. Now is the time to leave Google, Facebook & Co. This guide recommends privacy-friendly alternatives for all Google services.

2019-08-14 / First published: 2017-10-20
For many the Internet is Google: Search, free email, videos - Google is the major player in all these fields. But Google uses all data it gathers across its services to post targeted ads, and to massively profit from the data many share so freely with the Internet giant. The time has come to stop this unlimited data mining and to take back our right to privacy! Here's a quick guide how you can use the Internet without sharing all your data with Google and Facebook by switching to secure alternatives.

An increasing number of people understand that everybody wants their data, and that there's only one way to stop mass surveillance: by using privacy-friendly tools, best with built-in encryption. With privacy-friendly tools growing in number and in quality, more and more people are starting to protect their personal data by leaving Gmail and Facebook behind.

Even Google now understands that more people want to protect their private data. Google now promises not to scan your emails, however, this might very well be just a marketing initiative, which would give us even more reason to quit Gmail. Everybody knows that Google is still able to scan your entire Gmail inbox. The no-scan policy might end like Gmail's end-to-end encryption project has ended: in limbo.

Quit Google, Facebook & Co. with these alternatives:

Switch from Gmail to Tutanota

For the most private alternative, switch from Gmail to our encrypted, secure email service. The entire Tutanota mailbox is end-to-end encrypted so that it is fully protected from snooping eyes. Even we as the developers can not read your emails.

You can automatically send end-to-end encrypted emails, too, so that you can be sure that only you and the intended recipient can read your emails. Because of the encryption, Tutanota cannot harvest your data for advertisements, in fact, there are no advertisements at all in Tutanota.

Try it today, and register your own secure mail account. Tutanota has made it very easy to quit Gmail by providing a secure Gmail alternative that does not harvest your data.

On top of the built-in encryption, Tutanota

Replace Google Calendar with the Tutanota Calendar

Update 2019-08-14: The Tutanota email client now comes with an encrypted calendar - available in the web client, in the Android & iOS apps, and in our beta desktop clients.

The Tutanota Calendar is a great achievement as it is a zero-knowledge calendar. It is full encrypted, even the notifications are encrypted so we as the service provider have no way of finding out when, where or with whom you are having an appointment.

While Google can read all your calendar entries and track every step you take, we remain blind to your appointments. Check out what makes Tutanota a great Google calendar alternative.

Quit using Google Search, try Searx.me and Ecosia

Google search is widely used because in the past it was the only one giving reliable results quickly. However, privacy-friendly search engines have caught up over the past few years, and there is no reason at all not to favor those. We recommend trying the open source alternative Searx.me and Ecosia, a search engine that plants trees.

A search engine that comes with a "strict no tracking privacy policy" is Mojeek from the United Kingdom, which is a crawler-based search engine with its own index.

Switch from Chrome to Vivaldi, Firefox, or Tor Browser

Today there are several browsers that give you much more privacy protection than Google Chrome. Vivaldi is a privacy-focused browser. Firefox is a well-established browser known for respecting user's privacy. If you need extra anonymity when browsing online, we recommend the Tor browser.

On Android, we recommend the open source alternatives Privacy Browser or Fennec.

Quit Google Drive, try Tresorit

When using Google Drive, one must know that all files are stored unencrypted on Google servers. Everyone gaining access to these servers can easily copy and read those files. An encrypted alternative is Tresorit. The paid service offers end-to-end encrypted file sharing and sync. You can store your files securely encrypted in the cloud without the threat of anyone else accessing or reading your files without your permission.

Watch Videos on Vimeo, not YouTube

A great alternative to YouTube is Vimeo. If the video you are looking for is not on Vimeo, you can search and watch YouTube videos on DuckDuckGo via YouTube's "youtube-nocookie" domain. While not entirely leaving Google here, this gives you better privacy protection.

If you absolutely want to watch a video on YouTube, we recommend watching it via Invidio or via NewPipe, which is an awesome Android app that is available on F-Droid.

Use OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps

OpenStreetMap is a great alternative to Google Maps when looking up places online. It's an open source project with the aim to create a free editable map of the world. You can get the OsmAnd app on F-Droid.

Quit Google Play, get your apps from F-Droid

In case you are using an Android phone, it is a bit harder to fully get rid of Google. In a first step, you should get all your apps from F-Droid instead of Google Play. F-Droid is a great alternative, especially for open source enthusiasts. By getting your apps from F-Droid you can be sure that they come without any ties to Google.

Some great apps on F-Droid, which we love as well are KeePass DX, the ad blocker Blokada, NetGuard, Open Camera, AnySoftKeyboard, Amaze, file manager, and Blacklist Blocker.

If we've missed any important Android apps, let us know in comments!

Change your Android system to LineageOS

In case you are using an Android phone and fully want to get rid of any ties to Google, we recommend that you install LineageOS as the operating system on your phone. LineageOS is a version of Android which you can use without a Google account. LineageOS is the most popular fork of the discontinued CyanogenMod project.

When you want to get a new smartphone, take a look at the Purism 5. It is a Google-free phone that focuses on privacy and security.

Quit Facebook, use Mastodon

Edit 2018-04-04: Due to the recent Facebook scandal, we felt the need to update this post and add privacy-friendly social media alternatives.

The business model of most social media sites is like Google's based on tracking and posting targeted advertisements. Therefore, we recommend that you quit using Facebook for sharing your private information with your friends. A great alternative is Mastodon, and we invite you to join us there, or Diaspora.

To access Mastodon on Android, you can use the Tusky app from F-Droid, or Fedilab.

Use Tor browser

When using the Internet your Internet Service Provider can see, monitor and log every website you visit. If you want to make sure that your browsing history remains private, we recommend that you protect it by using Tor.

Quit surveillance services today, change the Internet of the future!

We all know that mass surveillance is always present when we are online. Yet, each one of us can help to make online surveillance harder. One major step to achieve this is to start using privacy-friendly services - if possible with built-in encryption!

Make the switch today, and you'll find that taking back your privacy is much easier than expected.


Recommended for further reading: Data Privacy Day: Why privacy matters and why it is time to fight for it.

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