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Parallel Universe: A list of alternatives to all Google products

By Ivan Franco · 36 replies
Jun 12, 2018
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  1. 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.

    Editor’s Note:
    Guest author Sven Taylor is the editor behind Restore Privacy, a blog dedicated to inform about best online privacy practices, secure your electronic devices, unblock restricted content and defeat censorship.

    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 the banners 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)

    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. 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:

    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. They also have a zero-sharing policy with other features, but they do record search terms.
    • StartPage – StartPage is gives you Google search results, but without the tracking.

    Check out the private search engine guide for additional information.

    Gmail alternatives

    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 privacy email options; here are a five great choices:

    • Mailfence – Based in Belgium – 500 MB free; 20 GB Pro
    • Tutanota – Based in Germany – 1 GB free; 10 GB Pro
    • Mailbox.org – Based in Germany – 2 GB storage
    • Protonmail – Based in Switzerland – 500 MB free; 5 GB Pro
    • Runbox – Based on Norway – 30 day free trial; 1 GB – 25 GB (paid plans)

    You can try any of the options above to find the best Gmail alternative for your situation.

    Some providers, such as Mailfence and Tutanota offer completely free accounts up to a certain storage limit.

    Chrome alternatives

    Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it’s recording and tracking everything you do.

    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).
    • 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 privacy and security. That being said, it may be overkill for most users, because it will break many of the websites you visit (thanks to NoScript).
    • 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.

    Check out the Firefox privacy guide, which explains different privacy and security modifications you can make 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.
    • Nextcloud – Nextcloud is an open source, self-hosted file share and communication platform. They are based in Germany.

    YouTube alternatives

    Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many popular YouTube alternatives, but here are a few options:

    • Vimeo
    • Dailymotion
    • Bitchute
    • Hooktube

    Hooktube – Hooktube is basically a YouTube proxy, which allows you to unblock YouTube videos, download videos, and get around YouTube censorship restrictions (unless YouTube deletes the video completely). This also helps to keep your data from Google.

    How to use Hooktube: 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 additional solutions.

    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.
    • Maps.Me is another option that is free on both Android and iOS, but there is a fair amount of data collection with this alternative, as explained in their privacy policy.

    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.

    The Yalp Store is a good alternative to the Google Play Store.

    You can learn more about Yalp and download it from the F-Droid website here. (See also the official GitHub page here for more info.)

    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.

    Some secure email providers also offer calendar options, such as Mailfence Calendar for example.

    Do you care about your privacy?

    Most people looking for Google alternatives have woken up to the fact that Google is awful for privacy because they collect 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 virtual private network. This will encrypt and anonymize your online activity, while also hiding your true IP address and location. The privacy tools guide discusses other solutions as well.

    Do you have any other tips or suggestions for Google alternatives?

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,198   +4,858

    Didn't Google start out as an alternative?
    sauri, poohbear, Clamyboy74 and 4 others like this.
  3. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,839   +193

    Yes it did. Yahoo ASTAVISA, Web spiders. Today Yahoo but not like it use to be. Duck one I won't use. Browsers I use a few of them.

    Pale Moon

    These seem stable enough.

    MS Office can be replaced with WPS
    EverNote can be replace with Simplenote

    I really don't use a lot of stuff anymore
    Wise Disk Cleaner
    Windows Fee Tuner

    Anyway that's my few picks..
  4. Unrivaled

    Unrivaled TS Rookie

    Okay so google tracks all my information? So what? So they can give me targeted ads instead of random ads? Complete searches or go to websites before I even finish typing, sounds very efficient, give me traffic information on my phone based off where I am and my previous trips taken, awesome. I really dont understand why everyone is so paranoid about being tracked. Unless you are looking up how to make bombs or some stupid stuff, why would you care.
  5. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    They use the info in their military projects so you practically support making weapons of mass destruction and war in general. Also if their so close with the military they probably give all the info for US intelligence agencies so they can invade your country better trough businesses and lobbying.
  6. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 347   +168

    Nice to have this information in one place. Thanks.

    Your loss of privacy gives the corporate state a potential weapon that can be used against you. Keep that in mind, but don't forget that surveillance is not the essence of the harm of corporate power, only part of your vulnerability if you should decide to oppose it.
    senketsu likes this.
  7. JordLevy

    JordLevy TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +9

    I tend to agree, I mean hek if someone really wanted to look at my info it'd be like looking for a needle in a field of haystacks. Good luck, I'm not that interesting.
  8. picka

    picka TS Booster Posts: 29   +29

    I'm in the same boat as the person above. Sure they track everything I do, but all they seem to do with that data is to provide me with personalised services which are amazing and personalized ads.

    Google is probably the only company I trust not to get hacked or to sell that data directly to third parties like Facebook has done in the past. So I'm pretty comfortable with the botnet, for now at least.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
    Clamyboy74 likes this.
  9. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,426   +1,587

    You dont think it is creepy these ad companies know almost everything about you? What you like, what you buy, where you go, the layout of your house, what media you watch, ece? Because I want some privacy in my life, I dont want advertisers to know everything about me. Google also shares information wit the government, which doesnt rally matter much in the US (yet) but imagine living in a less free country, where speaking against the government will make you dissapear real quick (say, china). Would you still be OK with everything you do being tracked?

    People are paranoid because we have watched corporations and governments abuse their power since the beginning of time itself. Most people KNOW what happens when those in power know everything about the peasants of their society, and dont want to give them any power they dont absolutely need. Information is very powerful.

    If you really dont care what other people know about you, why dont you post all your account information here so we can root through your facebook/email/ece and learn more about you? You have no problem with google doing it, after all.
    regiq and senketsu like this.
  10. Thanks, great article!
    edit: it occurs to me that this tracking is akin to having a stalker follow you around that you can't see and thanks to computers can store your activities in minute detail for years. IRL if you knew you had a stalker would you not call the police?
    Then it's the behind the scenes selling and aggregation of that data. If they want to sell my data, where is my cut?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2018
    regiq and statikgeek like this.
  11. baskiria

    baskiria TS Enthusiast Posts: 64   +36

    Because at some point in time when you scratch your head why all your job applications are refused altough you are a perfect candidate, it will turn out you searched a little bit too much for this and that health issue and google sold your profile to some HR company that everyone uses. Of course they will deeply sorry, but you will still end up jobless as being considered a liability. Oh no, this is a very unlikely scenario, it will never happen, right?
    regiq and Impudicus like this.
  12. Mawthra

    Mawthra TS Rookie

    No mention of FastMail in the email section? You should really check out their service... been using them for about 6 years now since I wanted an alternative to Gmail
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,198   +4,858

    I'm sure everyone has a favorite that is not mentioned.
  14. Mawthra

    Mawthra TS Rookie

    But FastMail really is worth your time to look at ;)
    statikgeek likes this.
  15. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,315   +1,741

    Thanks for the informative article.

    Finally, someone trying to educate on the reality of gagme for those who have not yet realized what that reality is.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,611   +720

    Google knows more about you than you probably know about yourself...
    baskiria likes this.
  17. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 569   +410

    "Tracking through Google Adsense
    Tracking through YouTube and other Google-owned platforms and products
    Tracking through websites that use Google Analytics"

    So, because Google is trying to give relevant ads in the place of randomized ones... You should look elsewhere? People who are paranoid of automated analytics need to stay off the internet. There is no room full of millions of people viewing everyone's personal information. It's automated. By scripts.
    Clamyboy74 likes this.
  18. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,098   +580

    Good thing they don't have something like an automated tool meant to search fields of haystacks for one single needle in particular...
    senketsu likes this.
  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,198   +4,858

    How the data is collected and stored is irrelevant. Once stored anyone can become a target and victimized by anyone at any time.

    So when slave labor becomes a thing again we should roll over and accept it as the way things will be. Seriously some things should not be allowed. The day we stop fighting for our rights, that will be the day we loose everything. The more people like you talk this way, the closer we become to loosing it all. If you are not going to fight for our freedoms and liberties, I wish you would simply be quiet and not say anything.
    barca1au, senketsu, regiq and 2 others like this.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,315   +1,741

    I typically do not buy anything through advertising. On most anything that I buy, I research it and then make a decision to buy or not based on the results of my research.

    Most advertising is designed to appeal to the base senses - things you need for survival and the sex instinct, or for most automobiles, masculinity. Any advertising that is based on that kind of approach, in my view, is not to be trusted or is trying to elicit a buy action for a product that may be inferior. Take BMW or Mercedes, for instance. If you look up their repair histories in Consumer Reports, both are typically far below other brands - meaning they typically need more repairs.

    Also, when Tivo came out many years ago with its ability to easily skip commercials in any TV program that it recorded, there was a study done to try to determine what effect, if any, being able to skip commercials had on the buying habits of people watching those commercials. That study determined that being able to skip commercials had no noticeable effect on consumer buying habits.

    The study did not determine why it had no effect, but speculated on a couple of different possibilities. The one possibility that I found the most interesting was that advertising simply does not work. To me, that makes the whole idea of advertising a fallacy, and gagme's reliance on it only reinforces that fallacy. In this case, a real "fake news" type of situation.

    To me, gagme lives in an alternate fact reality, and honestly, I just cannot support that type of thing. Personally, when I listen to YouTub, I use uBlock Origin which effectively blocks any ads in YouTub videos, too.
    senketsu and regiq like this.
  21. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 591   +232

    I look to the situation in China as the ultimate outcome. I have less concerns about it today, but plenty concerns about it tomorrow.
    senketsu likes this.
  22. brtech

    brtech TS Rookie

    First of all, thanks for the excellent article.

    What about the android operating system itself? Isn't that a privacy concern on it's own?

    Fastmail was mentioned in the comments; I've never used it myself but I am interested to know how it stacks up against the other gmail alternatives that were included in the main article.
  23. poohbear

    poohbear TS Maniac Posts: 238   +139

    You mention all these things that Google does as negatives, but for my small business all the data they collect and info at my fingertips is a wet dream!!!!!!!!! Is google gonna use my stuff maliciously? I very much doubt it. They're a public company and just want to increase their revenue like all businesses.
  24. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    Haven't you heard about Snowden..?
    And how about Cambridge Analytica?
    Then imagine how much your sensitive info is worth to your insurance company. Who eventually will pay for this "digital convenience" of yours? You yourself.

    Saying that you don't need privacy, becouse you have nothing to hide, is like saying that you don't need freedom of speech, becouse you don't have anything to say.
    senketsu likes this.
  25. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    Pretty decent selection of apps and services.
    I'll just add that while on android you should go with Icecat instead of Firefox.
    Of course after you root it and configure IPtables firewall like AFWall+, becouse there's no way to hide from google on standard android...

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