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What I Use Now Instead Of Google

Kira McLean on January 06, 2021

I made a goal for myself in January 2020 to stop using Google products by the end of the year. That might sound like way too generous a timeline, b...
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ejwaibel profile image
Erik Waibel

I am a slave to my Google overlords and have no plans to leave them anytime soon. Until something else can come along that makes things just as convenient as the Google ecosystem, I'm stuck. I've already signed my life and privacy over to them and I've accepted it. I have yet to find an ecosystem that makes my life, and my family's lives, as easy and convenient as Google does.

Maybe for die-hard geeks it makes sense to convert everything to whatever kind of mismash of technologies, but I'd rather not spend every week trying to figure out why my mail isn't syncing or what password I used for the 100s of sites my wife and I log into everyday.

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R. • Edited on

Former colleague of mine at some point got his Google account locked for reasons unknown to him. No explanation given, except for a short notice (on second request) that this is a permanent decision and there is no way to change that. He lost everything connected to that. Everything: Access to his mail log. Access to his calendar. All photos stored in Google Photos. All documents stored in his Google Drive, including some professional planning and draft stuff. All apps he ever purchased on Google Play. And so on.

This happens rarely but it does, there are some reports out on the 'net on that too by other users who experienced the same. Kiras article mostly was caused by ethical and privacy reasons, some of them which I share and pretty much agree with (but that might be a filter-bubble issue or too much reading - take the time and browse through some pages of, say, Shoshana Zuboffs writings on "surveillance capitalism" - theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/04/... - and you might at least understand thinking down that road). But this is a rather personal opinion and a good starting point for enthusiastic disputes. ;)

From a mere tech perspective, and also from a buyer perspective, I still do use some Google services because, actually, they're pretty good at what they do, but it seems extremely dangerous to keep all of my "digital things" in the hand of one single entity, of completely being at the mercy of this single entity for better or for worse. Over-reliance on one single vendor almost never is a good idea, and in some cases, choosing alternatives is rather easy. At the very least, it would be a good idea to have backups of everything kept at that one particular vendor - backups that are up-to-date, checked reasonably often, updated reasonably often as well. And, maybe, an answer to that question, just for oneself: What happens if that one vendor decides to terminate my access virtually overnight, at that point at which "easy" turns into "nightmare" all of a sudden?

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Waqas Ahmed

This is spot on, I have been using protonmail & DuckDuckGo for over 2 years now because they work just as good as Google'e products without the privacy caveat. I am an addict to Youtube unfortunately but there is no alternative to that.
I don't think its possible for me to completely ditch Google because in the end their products "just work" and there are no alternatives.

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nickmaris

Initially I thought I had no other options and now my problem is that I have so many options. There is no main privacy-friendly competitor because then they wouldn't be privacy-friendly :)

My version is:

GMail → Zoho mail with spark email client
Chrome → Ghostery which is firefox based and Vivaldi for sites that need chrome
Google search → ecosia
Google Drive → Zoho
Google DNS → DNS and VPN are things I will touch once I fix my other habits first...
Maps → HERE
YouTube → not procrastinating in YouTube. Vimeo or Youtube in Ghostery browser to avoid ads
Google Analytics → Custom
Everything else (calendar, reminders, photos, docs, video chat, news feeds) → Zoho so far

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Solly

Kira, I wanted to take the same step for so long! you encouraged me to do the same, I just created a protonmail account (bought for 3 years) and now connecting my domain to it. Will migrate all my important accounts to use the new email (custom domain). The only challenge is my youtube channel.

The only thing I am worried about is maintaining my own cloud storage/photos. Would apple cloud would be an alternative, or is it still, same as google?

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Kira McLean Author

That's so cool! I'm so excited you switched 😄 Honestly I think Apple's a reasonable replacement for Google Photos, but it's up to everyone to decide for themselves. With an iPhone and a mac it's a super pleasant experience. There are a lot of people who say Apple is no better than Google, and they're not wrong, but I'm also a "better done than perfect" kind of person. It's really hard to be an ethical consumer these days, so a lot of the time we're making trade offs and it comes down to which service is the "least evil". Anyway.. I think de-googling is a long and slow process regardless, and there are no perfect solutions!

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Paramo

Isnt Apple just the same as Google but with another name and logo? Honest question, I really don't know 🤔

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Magnus Lassi

Apple doesn't depend on ads to fund their business unlike Google and Facebook. I'm no big fan of big tech but at least Apple is taking steps to improve privacy on their platform.

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paramo profile image
Paramo

Thank you very much!

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kiraemclean profile image
Kira McLean Author • Edited on

yeah a lot of people have pointed out that Apple isn't that much better than Google, and they're not wrong. I do think one notable difference is that Apple primarily earns money by selling actual technology -- they no doubt have many dubious business practices as well, but at the end of the day they do manufacture and sell actual technology. Google primarily makes money off of selling advertisements, which is only so profitable for them because they can target very specific users, which they can only do because they (unethically, imo) collect loads of information on people without their consent.

So I'm definitely not saying Apple is some sort of great alternative to Google, but I do see a fundamental difference between the two companies in their underlying business model and how they make money. If everybody stopped buying ads on the internet tomorrow, Apple would still thrive. Google would be finished.

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paramo profile image
Paramo

Thank you for your response and I do share your point of view, since a couple of week ive been more freaky about my privacy but google is now so deep into people day to day that it take a big step to start emancipating from this environment! Congrats on the post and good luck with your google free journey! :)

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thebrandolorian profile image
TheBrandolorian

Are they really doing this without people's consent? Doesn't seem like it to me... interested to hear if there's more than what is widely known and made clear in their terms.

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Ashley Oliver

Seems odd to start with Google. I trust Google more than my government (or any other state). I mean that. I am not just saying it for a catchy tag line.

I know why Google want my data, the (types of) things they are going to use it for, and that they will keep it safe (only proprietary data has value to them). None of those are true of my (or any other state).

The unethical things that Google have been involved with have generally been at the behest of or in collaboration with nation states - as your example.

I just think you're aiming at the wrong - if easier - target.

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Precious Chicken

I think that is a fair enough view - there isn't a right answer on this. Personally I don't like the thought of having all my eggs in one basket - regardless of the pros and cons of any individual company.

If you like podcasts a really good deep dive into this is Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism.

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Ondrej Pinka

I am not sure how your comment relates to the article. It's not like Kira is moving from private to government services. She is basically moving from private to private.

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Abel Lifaefi Mbula

A long time ago, I stopped using Google or Alphabet services also now I'm still using them. For the search, you can go for startpage.com/ that uses Google search but anonymously, for Map you can use OpenStreet Map. You can find more alternatives here.

Truth be told, Google is doing great for UI and UX. They have great products but don't take care of users as human beings.

Congratulations and good luck.

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AnaSrivastava

Hey Kira,I also feel the same about Google as you do.
I don't think it has been mentioned in the comments but try Brave as a replacement for Google Chrome. It's privacy, speed, interface are off the charts. Plus it was created by the creator of JavaScript and Ex-Mozilla CEO

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Joshix-1

Brave is based of Chromium, which is by Google. So Brave helps Google. The more users use chromium the more extensions will need to support chromium. And the more stuff supports chromium the better it gets. So if you want to go away from Google. Firefox (and maybe Safari) is the only option.

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Amer Mallah

If you goal is to have control over your own privacy, Brave works. Avoiding Chromium at all costs is more of a stick-a-fork-in-their-eye move. It depends on the reason you're moving away from Google.

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Asim Hussain

It's a fair point to switch and be concerned about a number of these issues and there is no easy answer which optimises for all those variables. Unfortunately, some of the choices you have made are to platforms which are worse for the environment than Google. Google (and Microsoft) are carbon neutral and both have aggressive sustainability targets, purchase of renewables etc... Other platforms don't have as strong a sustainability stance. A good website that tries to help you figure out if a service is green or not is this: thegreenwebfoundation.org/ and searching for public sustainability commitments or pages on the various platforms can give you more info also.

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RealToughCandy.io

Congrats! I too have been trying to diversify my web activities (i.e. less Google). It's tough because I have a YouTube channel, but in 2020 I dumped Chrome for Brave, started using DuckDuckGo & also using Apple Maps. No regrets there at all.

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osdevisnot

I'm not affiliated, but I can suggest Brave Browser for privacy focused browsing.

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R.

Using the same here on Linux, also because ungoogled-chromium is not available for my distribution in a current version.

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joshix1 profile image
Joshix-1

Just use Firefox. It is great. And then you don't support Google. Even ungoogled-chromium supports Google. The more users use chromium the more useful chrome gets.

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R.

I've always been using Firefox for ages but am recently getting a bit away from that as it seems Mozilla Corporation also heavily relies upon Google funding through various ad deals (see uk.pcmag.com/suites/128195/mozilla...). Talking about browsers, there seems no way not to support or depend upon Google at the moment (not sure about Apple / Safari), and this is utterly ... disturbing.

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Siddharth Pai

Hi Kira

This tool can help you get all of your google photos without manual intervention

pypi.org/project/gphotos-sync/

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Facundo Corradini

DuckDuckGo is an awesome search engine, specially for images. Far superior to google image search. As for "less results from SO", I see that as a big plus. SO is the most toxic place on Earth, and they only survive because of Google's obsession with showing them first in the search results.

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rusty_sys_dev profile image
Scott

I have had an account on SO for years... and it steadily earns points ( due to previous activity ), but due to the toxicity you mentioned I have moved away from SO in the past 2-3 years and just open issues on the relevant github/gitlab.

Its hard to post on SO when you are afraid of people down voting your questions without giving a reason or refusing to reversing the down vote when you have fixed their issue. That and closing your questions, or moving them to a different SE site. Some of which I can understand..

In any-case I agree!

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facundocorradini profile image
Facundo Corradini

Totally. You know what, I'll just go ahead and write an article about it.

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Tim Visée

You're probably aware of it, but you can forward searches from DDG to Google by pre-/appending !g

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bkis profile image
bkis

Just be aware that that's the same as using google directly. You lose all the privacy provided by DDG. It's a simple redirect of the search request. Anyway, I like the "bangs" (that's how they call them) a lot. Especially for using them in my browser's search bar. !wiki something (Wikipedia), !gt something (Google Translate), ... endless possibilities!

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joshix1 profile image
Joshix-1

But that's like searching with google lol
If you want results from Google you should use Startpage. It shows you result from Google, but it is private.

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Tim Visée

It obviously is. But it is a quick way to access Google when DDG is your default search engine.

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Precious Chicken

Great post, really useful. I too have tried and failed with Cloudflare Analytics - it seems a lot of people have the same problem where everything is appearing as root. Strange this hasn't been fixed - after all seeing what pages are being visited is kind of central to analytics.

I'd also put a mention in for sneakemail - I have been a paid subscriber for years. Very useful that you are able to give individual addresses to firms which you can then just turn off if they start misbehaving. Also makes switching your 'true' email address a lot easier as you can do a mass redirection in a oner.

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James White

Bravo! This is a very good decision. I'm disappointed so many commenters seem to think it's ok to do business with an unethical company as long as that company doesn't personally inconvenience them. Thanks for sharing your process, I sincerely hope it helps other devs cut ties with Google's tendrils.

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BjornHollander

Hi Kira, this post resonated with me instantly, since I've started a similar project for myself for this year! I've already set up my own Nextcloud server and moved all my files from Google Drive and Dropbox to this private server. I still use Google Drive though to backup my files. I've setup Duplicati on my private server which encrypts the most important files and uploads them to Google Drive, so currently my Drive account only contains encrypted files so Google can't snoop anymore.
Currently I'm also looking to switch email to a more private friendly provider (currently still using Gmail for my private account). As an EU citizen I prefer my data to be kept within the EU, so I'm considering considering either ProtonMail (even though this is Swiss-based) or Mailbox.org.
For browsers I'm currently trying out Brave. So far I like how it works. I especially like to option to create different profiles within your browser.
I recently also started using DuckDuckGo, thus far no complaints.
Currently I still use Youtube, because it just has allot of amazing content, but I also use TED and NPO Plus (Dutch Public Broadcasting subscription).
As for location services, I'm still looking around.

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hassan_k_a profile image
.

the main problem with Google's unethical actions is that most people in the world don't know about at all.

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Hugo Baraúna

Maybe plausible.io/ can be a good alternative to GA for you. :)

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edgarngg

Of course google is better, of course it's easier, nobody has to say that "Only when some other service that makes my life easier comes, I'll leave google", of course you will! And probably that day will come soon.

But, as Thanos was asked, " At what cost? ".

This system of, "Being the product yourself and receive free services" from games, maps, media, junk food, etc, not only will affect our privacy, but all of human existence. Maybe I sound a bit dramatic. But, our attention span, decision making, life purpose and meaning, all of these ( although it's every human's own responsibility ), is blurred and affected by our digital life. And my opinion is, it shouldn't be.

Not only because you can afford being a google slave means you should wait until an apocalypse kicks you out of your bubble. We all live in this world and even if you don't see it directly, you benefit from people and resources all around the world that finally depend of this world being habitable and sustainable.

When everything goes to hell, no overlords or governor will be able to keep you or your descendants on this luscious bubble. This is the ultimate responsibility.

And upon all of us developers, that responsibility extends on supporting, developing and promoting this sustainable piece of the future.

Thank you very much Kira for this post and the least we all dev.to visitors can do is implement and share this.

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rusty_sys_dev profile image
Scott

If your ISP allows you to have a public IP you could setup a reverse proxy to a NextCloud instance in your home!

I want to do this.. but I am in-between internet providers at the moment. ( hint for those living in or considering living in Japan, schedule your internet to be connected a month or two before you actually move... crazy right? )

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Xavier Tourenq

This is very interesting, I think we all underestimate the importance of preserving our cyber privacy. At least for the data that matters (private info [email] and more generally our likes/dislikes [browzing behaviour]).
Another important point people have mentioned in comments is having it all in the hands of one company that could block us out fro their services and take our data away from us.
A few thoughts on the list:

Email: I completely agree that using your own domain is the best, but for things that don't matter that much (subscribtions mostly) I use Yahoo Mail and their disposable mail feature. This is such an underrated feature! You can create as many disposable email as you want, they all come to your main address and you can forward that to another (personal) email. The advantage is that you can create emails for each service and know exactly who sold your emails to a mailing list. It used to be much more frequent thant it is, but having the option to simply delete the address and never hear from a service again (versus blocking a sender or unsubscribing) is for me a huge plus.

Google Analytics: I have stoped using GA for real projects, in favor of a privacy-first and open-source option called Ackee : ackee.electerious.com/ (no affiliation)
It's self hosted so you can avoid being blocked by ad-blockers and you have 100% control on the data that you collect. Of course, the data collected by default is a lot less than GA, but that's the point - and there is no cookies! You should check it out as it will certainly cost you less than Fathom.

I am a big fan of self hosting and if not, I like to make sure my data is encrypted end-to-end.
For Drive, Photos, YouTube and Maps, I have not switched (yet?). These are so convenient and alternatives don't seem as good... for example, I would really like to find an alternative for Photos but the one feature that seems hard to get with alternatives is "shared albums" where a group can post their photos to the album in a very fluid way... so much better than sending by email, chat or social media (timestamp changes, photo compressed, etc.) or whatever we did before GPhotos!

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Thomas Bnt • Edited on

Nice presentation of your post !

Comboooo 💪 is ProtonMail + ProtonVPN + ProtonDrive + ProtonAgenda 😄
And Matomo for analytics 🥰

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hackerboi profile image
Farhan Alam

That's cool, but what about smartphones? iPhones are an expensive alternative to Android phones

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tanzerdragon profile image
Tannie

Thanks for writing this out! I too have also wanted to de-Google, and that may have to be put off for a few more years however, since I'm at a pivotal time in my life where money is tight, and my attention is needed in other places. When I think about moving my gmail account alone, it causes me a lot of anxiety... lol... I've had my gmail since my late high school, and has a lot of important email. I also keep both a personal and a business email, so I am unsure how I will split that if I try others. I used to have both a gmail and a hotmail, and found it was really hard to keep up with 2 accounts from separate businesses, but I'm sure there is a solution to that. Just a lot of things to think about. I have, however, been using DuckduckGo and Firefox and haven't found that to be a difficult switch. It's hard to switch from Google Maps however, because they have much better mapping systems. My boyfriend and I actually got lost the other night trying to find this Indian restaurant because he used Apple maps.
But your switch is admirable to me, and I'll be keeping this bookmarked for when the time is right for me to make the switch as well. :)

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val09865

Hello, regarding your difficulty to migrate data from google, they have a form where you can request all the data they have on you.
takeout.google.com/settings/takeout
It allows to generate a very large zip file (takes a few hours, maybe days to make it available for download). Then you can script your photos upload process for example from the archive file.

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Martin Dimmock

Ugh, DuckDuckGo.

I love the idea, but the fact is I have never had the accuracy of results I consistently get with Google Search. Same with Bing; they just don't have the reach, capacity nor the power of Google.

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tekguy profile image
Gordon

Great post! I was thinking about getting off of gsuite and trying Protonmail/Netcloud. My one issue is my existing emails. I have a couple gigs of emails I'd like to keep around. Are there any decent solutions for this out there?

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R.

Personal approach for that: I have several mail accounts (company, GMail, personal domain) and use a desktop mail client (Thunderbird in my case) to copy mails between all these. For my whole "old" messages I also keep a local copy because then and now I need them to be available offline and this fits well into the workflow. Not sure if this works for you though.

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Kira McLean Author

I'm not sure tbh.. I still have my gmail account as an archive, too. Not sure what I'll do with it, but I've been exploring options for archiving it. Would love to hear about any decent solutions you find!

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Omar White

I stopped using google for my cloud storage this year which felt like a win. I use a combination of iCloud and my NAS for my storage needs now. I still need to work on switching my email, using a different search engine and other aspects of my use age of google services. After reading this I’m thinking maybe I should tackle gmail or google photos this year.

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Doaa Mahely

That's quite the impressive feat! Personally, one Google product I can't let go of is Google Maps. Apple Maps coverage is bad and unreliable in my city.

I can recommend ecosia.org as a search engine. It's a private and ethical organization where your searches will fund their project to plant trees.

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Jamie McHale

A good summary - thanks for writing!

I think Google Photos is a tricky one to solve. My understanding is that Google strips location information from downloaded photos, which is very frustrating. I'm not sure there is a way to access the original files.

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Kira McLean Author

Oh that's really sad to learn. Yeah I'm not sure yet what the best solution will be, but several people have recommended some combination of object storage and rclone to me, so I'll probably go down that road a bit.

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Kingg Kongg • Edited on

Having your own domain for email is a bad choice. Imagine you were on a mountain trip for a week, and your domain renewal came up and the credit card on file had expired. You are forever burdened for the rest of your life, 24x7. You cannot be hospitalized.

Overall an exercise in futility. Might want to start with finding a cave, with an uninterruptible supply of clean water, land for growing your food, guns to keep out invaders, etc.

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AnaSrivastava

Hey, I actually use an Android Phone(can't afford iPhone!). Can someone guide me on how to remove the pre-existing Google Apps from my device??

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R.

Which phone do you have? It's generally possible, but greatly depends upon your actual hardware and might be a challenge to do right. :(

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faakhy profile image
Rémy | FakeRunner

Install a custom rom. But, without Gapps you can't use Play Store anymore I think.

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rowild profile image
Robert Wildling

Very interesting article!

What about your mobile phone? Android? iOS?
And why NextCloud over ownCloud? Any reason for that?

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Christopher Moura

Thank you for this great post, Kira!

I'm in the process of transition to a "Googleless" life for (almost) the same reasons.

I've, recently, came across a good reference for this: nomoregoogle.com

Cheers!

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Sven Glöckner

I'm just using Microsoft services instead of Google. :)
Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, Azure DevOps.

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Joshix-1

Why should they be better?

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senorsmile profile image
Shaun Smiley

What do you mean by "sync"? I can think of many things this might mean:
google sync, sync.com, syncthing, rsync, osync, pyfisync, b2 sync, rclone sync...

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Kira McLean Author

I do mean "Sync.com", as in the company called Sync. Sorry that wasn't clear! On most clients "Sync" shows up as a link to sync.com, so I thought that would suffice to explain what I meant. So far I'm really happy with it!

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drgrey profile image
Dr-Grey

Thank you for this article.

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nomikz profile image
nomikz

This is total nonsense to me.
I use google because it is best. And their services are best.
Google's ecosystem is huge. I sign in everywhere using google.
So for me it is kind of nonsense.

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ProMikeCoder2020

Google business model is not unethical. In fact i much prefer to watch ads than have to pay for every service i use for god sake

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Miguel Palacios

I'm looking for alternatives as well but I have one thing clear and that one thing is that Youtube is okay 😅 I can´t leave it right now, but hey it's nice to see more people moving from the empire

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Kira McLean Author

Hah I hear you. I wouldn't have survived 9 months of lockdown without YouTube workout videos. I think it's fine to make compromises.. there are no perfect solutions and that being true doesn't invalidate the usefulness of taking baby steps in other areas!

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Francesco Pigozzi

Go further: replace any GDrive-like service with Cubbit 😎

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Prabu Rangki

I understand Goole has done a lot of bad things. But it also did a lot of useful things for 3rd world countries. Many people survived because of it.

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Joshix-1

Really? Proof?

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tonypelliccio profile image
Tony Pellicccio

I have been on gmail for a long time. no need ti pay yet

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Rob Blake

Really good article, thanks. I think that we are approaching the end of the Google era.

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official_dulin • Edited on

Chrome -> Microsoft Edge

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Christian Melgarejo Bresanovich

Apple maps? No OSM love? ☹️

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Kira McLean Author

I do love OSM! It's not great in my city, but when I used to travel I found it was actually better than Google/Apple maps in a lot of places!

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Bilal Haidar

Nice write up Kira! Thanks for sharing. I wonder if you can use the same domain name with Linode and Proton? Or are they two separate domains?

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Yohan D.

👍 for ProtonMail !

Thank you for this post 🙏

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Himujjal Upadhyaya

You there ma'am deserve a salute. Sharing this!

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Jaden Concord

I do the same things