Can we rely on Google: the alternatives

Feb 1, 2009
Updated • Mar 11, 2013

Apparently, Wikipedia, the BBC, gHacks and the White House are malware. Well, there were for about 30 minutes. Google decided to claim that they 'may harm your computer', no doubt due to some sort of bug with their system.

This may seem quite amusing, but it proved annoying as Google's links to webpages would not work. It also shows the power of Google; what is to stop them falsely branding websites as malware?

It makes you consider Google's power.

Services like Blogger are also popular, yet alternatives are a dime a dozen. The most popular must be WordPress, either self-hosted or TypePad is also quite reliable, although a paid service, and MovableType is the good self-hosted version of it.

Google News and Blog Search are very useful for aggregating news and blog information. The most popular alternatives to Google Blog Search are Technorati and Icerocket. Alternatives to News are Yahoo! News Search and Altavista News (although they index much fewer sources).

Alternatives to YouTube? There's Metacafe, Dailymotion and MegaVideo, to name a few. MegaVideo limits bandwidth per user, though, unless they buy a Megaupload account.

Google Maps and Earth has many competitors too, such as Windows Live Maps, Yahoo Maps, TerraServer and OpenAerialMap. The latter two have much lower coverage and only aerial photos, but OpenAerialMap is interesting in that it relies on people to upload their aerial views to patch them together. It also integrates OpenStreetMap data; I was surprised to see my GPS traces of half my street on it!

Picasa's main competitors are iPhoto for Mac, F-Spot for Linux, Adobe Lightroom, XnView and Photomesa. Photobucket and Flickr are obvious alternatives to their hosting service.

There are many alternatives to Google's online office suite too. The main ones are Thinkfree and Zoho.

Onto more minor services: Google Notebook can be replaced with Diigo or Clipmarks. Google Directory is just a mirror of the Open Directory Project. Google Code is effectively the same idea as Sourceforge. Kelkoo and Pricerunner compete with Google Shopping, and PayPal and Moneybookers with Google Checkout.

As for search, there's Yahoo!, Ask, Altavista, Live Search etc. Scroogle is another interesting option; it uses Google but anonymises it and doesn't keep logs, removing privacy concerns.

Have I missed anything out? Leave a comment!

Update: Scroogle has been taken offline.


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  1. GL said on May 22, 2009 at 1:52 am

    To “Google”

    (1) Stop “CHANGING” the user interface.

    (2) Provide FULL options to turn OFF your annoying “inventions” not just one or two “options.”

    (3) Stop making things “prettier” stop wasting screen real estate and instead FIX your existing web products.

  2. Harsh said on February 1, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Google Adsense?

  3. said on February 1, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Yeah even Google makes mistakes. Yes there may be alternatives to each one of google’s products, but the ability to have them all intertwined is too valuable.

  4. opinionated said on February 1, 2009 at 5:50 pm

  5. MC Escher said on February 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Search: (metasearch that doesn`t record user data)
    Photos: Photology, Photoscape

  6. Flo said on February 1, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Here’s my 2 cents:

    Yesterday’s fallout – for me – was a disaster. I actually had to do some reSEARCH, and i only use google for searching the web. Specially since i’m using the advanced search operators and it usually doesnt take me long to find what im looking for. However while realising what was going on with google, i switched to live and yahoo. After 30 minutes i got up from my office desk and went to an early lunch, partly because i was hungry :P, and mainly praying google would be up and running again by the time i got back. Using live and yahoo for the first time in a while made me see why and how much i love google. I honestly dont see them as a real alternative to google, at least not for real searching.

    As far as all these attacks to google being big brother go:
    1. their services are FREE. so if they want to collect information about what i search and click, wtf do i care? they cant go as far as really identifying me. plus, yahoo and live to it do, its just not that much into the media.
    so if anyone keeps complaining about “oh my privacy and the drama” – stop using google.
    2. their services, as very well stated above – are without a doubt competition-less. but they are still free. i don’t get spam in gmail, i dont get advertising emails from their “marketing partners”, i get the emails im supposed to get.
    3. a while ago i have deployed the enterprise version of desktop search, custom search, and gdocs on a network of 60 people and it’s all free, and running smoother than anything else i have tried.

    so in conclusion, stop bitching so much. if you dont like it, dont use it. go pay for something similar and see if you get something better.

  7. sunshine said on February 1, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Any GoogleDocs alternatives???

  8. Alternatives said on February 1, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Posting some alternative search engines might help, here are some of my favorites:

    Also, turn off those notifications and rely on more sound techniques, like sandboxie, geswall, and whois.

    I’ll decide what’s evil and what’s not, and Google is trying hard to be evil. FYI, Google and Yahoo are both running on ghacks.

  9. iampriteshdesai said on February 1, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Such things will reduce peoples faith in cloud computing.
    GDrive FTW. Another fail after Knol

  10. Dominik Lukes said on February 1, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Google has been doing a lot of things recently to damage its image: 1. closing Google Notebook, 2. Limiting number of free users on Google Apps on the sly and now this.

    The problem. Some of their products are just too good. GSearch – no competitors. Gmail, GCal – superb. GReader – perfect. Google Docs could use some (a lot of) improvement but every time I try an alternative I come sheepishly back. Live Maps has some really nice features but still not enough to make it my regular mapping feature.

    As for self-hosting things like email – true GMail has the occasional outage/hiccough but I’ve had much more trouble with self-hosted email over the years. Now that Google’s hosting it, I’m much happier with what I have (while still keeping local backups). The minor stuff I can take or leave but I certainly don’t trust the alternatives any more. Small ones (see Ma.gnolia) don’t have the infrastructure and big ones (Delicious, Flickr owned by Yahoo) have the same issues as Google.

  11. jank said on February 1, 2009 at 1:56 am

    the best free alternative for google maps is and for example the map of vienna (austria) is even better than google maps.

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