My slow withdrawal from all things Google

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 2, 2014
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google

Sometimes, you have to make hard decisions in life. Decisions that are not always optimal at that time but are influenced by other factors that are important to you.

When Google started out, it was the clear underdog. I loved the service from the minute it went online and openly spread the word about it.

Have you tried Google? The search is way better than whatever you are using right now. Give it a try. Then came Gmail, Google Reader, Google Maps and dozens of other services that improved what had been standard in regards to email, RSS reading or mapping for years.

As a webmaster, I liked that Google was not favoring any site in the results, and that ads were kept to a minimum on the side of the results.

Things changed slowly but steadily. Google started to display ads above the search results moving organic results further down on the page. Things like the Knowledge Graph or other information on top of the results started to appear more frequently, often scraped from websites such as Wikipedia.

Then it introduced the Panda and Penguin algorithmic updates and things changed for the worse for many webmasters.

Today, Google is dominating search in most countries. Some would say that it has a monopoly in many countries. It is also dominating with its Android mobile operating system, and very popular with many of its other services such as Gmail, Google Maps or Google Reader.

It is investing in robotics, home automation, Internet services, and growing a lot.

While its services are still great and often better or at least on the same level as others, I have made the decision to withdraw slowly but steadily from all things Google.

There needs to be a counterweight to Google, or many weights, and I cannot really see any company filling that role right now.

While I can do little to change that, I can at least stop using Google services and let others know about alternatives that are available.

With that said, it is clear that I have to lower my sights in some regards as there may not always be a solid alternative available. What makes this especially problematic is that I still rely on Google when it comes to this website. I need to use Adsense because there is nothing else that I can use that generates the same amount of revenue. And I do not want to start plastering the site with ads to make up for that.

I do need to use Google+ as Google is integrating it tighter and tighter into its ecosystem.

But in regards to other services, I won't be using them anymore. Here is a short list of Google services and alternatives for them:

  1. Google Search - I have been using and for a long time and will continue to use them. Done.
  2. Google Maps - I have started to use Here maps or Bing maps instead. Done.
  3. Google Chrome - I use it as a secondary browser only. Will use Chromium instead. Done.
  4. Google Mail - I'll switch my Gmail account to a self-hosted account instead. If you do not have a domain name that you can switch to, try something like Protonmail.
  5. Google Drive - Will stop using. Have to find an alternative, maybe Zoho. For file syncing, Dropbox.
  6. YouTube - There is nothing like YouTube right now available, at least not when it comes to videos that I like to watch. But, since videos are not essential, I decided to stop using the site. Done.
  7. Android - My next phone will be based on Firefox OS. I will still keep my Android phone as I write about apps on it, but will root it and remove any Google services and features.

Some changes that I need to make are easier than others. Not using Google Chrome is not really that much of an issue, while moving away from my Gmail account that I used for years is as I need to notify others about that first and also change it on Internet services that I used it to sign up for.

As I said, it will be a slow withdrawal. While I have started to move away from some products, Chrome for instance, I will continue using others like my Android phone for a while. The underlying goal however is to remove all Google products from my daily work routine and Internet usage.

My slow withdrawal from all things Google
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My slow withdrawal from all things Google
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  1. Armond said on May 28, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    So, how is this project going?
    I Believe you got a Pixel 3A? Congratulation!
    Not bad at all.
    People stay with Google.

  2. Alice Wonder Miscreations said on September 19, 2015 at 8:29 am


    I too am attempting to avoid Google. It creeps me out how prevalent they are, they are everywhere.

    For search I am using DuckDuckGo and Bing

    For caching DNS I am using a local caching nameserver, with DNSSEC.

    For e-mail I have always ran my own mailserver (Postfix) – I use Thunderbird for the client.

    To avoid google-analytics I have an entry in my /etc/hosts file.

    For many other privacy concerns, I use Privacy Badger.

    I have to have a Google Account for the webmaster tools – but even with the above I recently found data leaked. Signed up for notifications at a blog just yesterday, and up popped a window with my Google Account name for FeedBurner. Clearly now Google knows I have interest in that blog.

    I sent the owner of the blog a letter, they have a privacy policy explicitly stating they don’t share e-mail with third parties and yet that is exactly what they did.

    I wish I could block googleapis but that breaks a good portion of the web, too many webmasters use it.

  3. Kylandra said on March 2, 2015 at 5:51 am

    I moved away from all things Google, too.

    My favourite – and absolutely private – search engine is StartPage ( )

    As for emails, I paid $60 for a 12 month subscription to StartMail, but have found it inconvenient, painfully slow and the ‘maintenance’ days/nights where it shuts down for some hours, is just wrong (particularly for a paid service).

    As a result, I felt I had to return to gmail because nothing compares to it’s speed and customizations (like themes, for instance) although I have to admit to installing the Old Compose because I absolutely deplore the stupid, rinky-dink new compose rubbish – and chose to forego the $60 paid for a private email client.

    I do still use StartPage, though, and refuse to use anything else if I don’t absolutely have to.

    I tossed out my android phone (as in, dumped it in a sink full of water, then the garbage can) and purchased a $40 cheapie with no camera or other nonsense – just enough for making calls and sending text messages.

    Sometimes, you just have to take stock of how much technology you’ve become dependent upon – and throw it all out – or as much as possible, beccause i found that the more technology we crowd our lives with, the more stress and tension we’re putting ourselves under – and it’s just not worth it.

  4. Samar said on October 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Has anyone faced signing in problems with ‘Sign in to Chromium Portable’ on Chromium Portable from SourceForge?

  5. karen said on October 23, 2014 at 8:44 am

    I also stopped using Google – to me, it’s become just another Microsoft, dictating what users will and won’t do and how they do it – and it’s become equally as greedy and just as bloated with it’s own self-importance.

    StartPage has been my go-to for a long time now – even if it’s slightly slower – I know my privacy is protected because it doesn’t come under US jurisdiction – a major plus in my books.

    I’ve got a beta email account with StartMail (which I’m hoping will mean the death of Gmail) and can’t wait for it to be released to the public soon. Will happily pay $60.00 a year not to be pushed around by Gmail dictators forcing changes that I don’t want, didn’t ask for, and don’t need!

    So Google….friends to the end, but this is the end, my friend.

  6. theoldrang said on September 22, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Blue July 5, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    As for the topic of this post: No one is forcing you into anything, you can use as much or as little of Google products as you want. But you make it seem like they are the evil giant that is forcing you down a path you do not want to tread. It’s not like Google is owned by Apple. If that were the case, then you’d be screwed and then I can justify this post. But seriously why knock something that works and it works well. You are free to choose what part of it you wish to use but I personally think, if I am using Google products, and I like Google products, wouldn’t I want to support them?

    You know all of what you said is true, since msnbc would never lie to you…

  7. mc said on September 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Startpage still uses Google, it just anonimizes your searches; if you want to get rid of it entirely, use, their non-google version.

    Youtube has plenty alternatives depending what you’re looking for, and after being basically turned into a corporate/”associates” sewage dumping ground, I’ve yet to miss my account there: dailymotion for generic (uncensored) videos, Vimeo for pro/semi-pro/pro-am original content (with better image quality at 1280×720 than yt at 1920×1080, btw), Liveleak for uncensored news, for “protected” yt vids, etc.

  8. elmore said on September 20, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Do know evil, especially if you can make a few billion$$$ selling out everyone else’s privacy. Speaking of privacy, you didn’t really think you had any did you? haha “Privacy is dead get over it”

    also no need for google chrome or any other spyware masquerading as a browser, i’m still using Opera 12.16

    really the best option is to block all google domains thru the hosts file with a free app like HostsMan and also use PeerBlock (also free + portable edition available) to block all their IP addresses. (but you also have to block their https connections from within the browser)

  9. Me said on September 15, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Judging by the frequency Loren comments i think she may work for Google
    i use startpage but sometimes Google images
    firefox and ie11, one with add ons the other bog standard
    youtube has no serious challenger , the Youtube acquisation by Google should never have been allowed
    G+ is a monster and nobodyshuld ever use it, pity that means you cant vote on videos but so be it
    Google maps is good but HERE is an alternative, no expert in mapping
    Gmail NEVER EVER

    Google can and DO remove your accounts, a gmail account linked to a Youtube account will be removed if the YouTube account is taken down
    Google Cloud NEVER, insanity to trust your data to Google, they can either access it or destroy it and there will ne nothing you can do about it

    Google also hire ex military personnel froma certain foreign country , Both Google and Facebook represent extreme dangers to our way of life

    oh and i far prefer MS to Google even for phones, Cyan is ok

    privacy is a human right and for a transnational that was created with CIA seed money and ( in my view) very extreme political views to manage our thoughts and access our preferences

    do not fool yourself into being blase

    i can also recommend the website leavegooglebehind
    ps I am a victim of Google and have very personal experience of just how wretched this company can be

    Dont be evil indeed

  10. the old rang said on September 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    they have built the ENTIRE campaigne computer system, for free, for obama, built the entire database, and ran it, free, while their former ceo is on cabinet staff of same, (figure $150,000,000 minimum value) diod it in a few weeks, fully loaded with names, locations, and personnal info…

    they own all the data that they collect, and if you don’t know what they know about you, sell data about, you, share with govenments, agencies, companies, about you….

    then, you have nothing to worry about… you just keep watching abc,cbs,nbc, cnn and believe them, like you seemingly do…

    You can not fix stupid….

  11. Padraig said on September 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm


    I am cautious too but where is your evidence/source for
    “The amount of data they collect about you is amazing, if not downright frightening. And what do they do with it all? Apart from using it for their own purposes they also flog it off to interested 3rd parties, whoever those may be. ” ?

  12. Erick said on September 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I moving slow to the same way. Here’s what I use
    Google Search – I use Google and sometimes DuckDuckGo
    Google Maps – I still use, but I thinking to change to Here Maps
    Google Chrome – I use Firefox
    Google Mail – I still use, Don’t found a better alternative (I’m thinking to buy a domain)
    Google Drive – I use DropBox and a few times Google Drive (I keep my work from the University there)
    YouTube – I still Use. i don’t like Vimeo.
    Android – My next phone will be based on Firefox OS also (most probably) or an iPhone or maybe an Ubuntu Touch, but now I use an android 2.2 Phone.

    1. Erick said on September 3, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Note: I don’t “Like” any videos on youtube. I just watch them, and add to favorites the ones I may want to watch more times.

  13. Gaurav said on September 2, 2014 at 4:05 am

    Google is not just dominating its also invading our privacy.

  14. Rocky said on August 16, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I have tried to migrate away from gmail but find it difficult to do so. – I like the interface and this would probably be my chosen mail service but for the fact that when I close it, it defaults to dropping me into MSN ( Ireland) . I find this site to be very trashy and like a “redtop” newspaper
    Yahoo mail – attractive interface but not as responsive as gmail/
    protonmail – Haven’t tried but I am not sure I like the idea of it being outside of EU
    GMX – can’t see that 2FA is available ?

  15. Samar said on August 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    there are some people who care about their privacy… and that is why this article is important to me…

    Google Search – DDG is not user friendly as Google… StartPage is slow on HTTPS…
    Google Maps – sometimes

    Google Chrome – i have used Opera as my only choice for a long time… they messed with lots of things in the new versions… so i had to switch to Chrome for all my needs on the internet… Chrome provides me with working extensions, compatibility with almost all websites, print page or part of it as PDF, basic but effective extension called Print or PDF with CleanPrint for little more control over PDF, working currency converter extension called Chrome Currency Converter to convert currencies on the page automatically, working video downloader like FVD, full compatibility with FDM (even while saving images), working Calculator extensions, workable bookmark manager, compatibility with Yahoo! Mail, faster switching between 2 tabs (though i miss Ctrl+Scroll option on Opera 12.17) and overall faster browsing compared to Opera 12.17 or any other (even the latest) version of Opera… all at the cost of screwing up my privacy with ridiculous permissions to view my data on all websites, etc.

    conclusion – currently Chrome IS the best for important daily needs…

    Google Mail – using Yahoo! Mail… least concerned as i don’t have any really personal stuff on it

    Google Drive – never
    YouTube – sometimes
    Android – using a Nokia 808 Pureview and will continue using it till it dies

  16. the old rang said on August 11, 2014 at 3:39 am

    The one that you have not been able to ridd yourself of, that puzzles me most, is the easiest to never should have used….

    google drive…

    with terrabyt drives so cheap, now (have a look at Tiger Direct, getting on their mailing list, and watch, 2-4 terrabyte drives have come down, making any ownership of YOUR files, by the likes of google or twitter, dumb.

    Plug-in Terrabyte drives, for well under $100 (USB) are all over the place.

    Backing up, off site storing, (safe deposit box, if nothing else) self ownership (RTFM on what you sign away when you store on ANY of those massive data distributors (yes, they sell your data… including anything they feel they want…).

    Your head is in the clouds, most of the time, if you feel safe with any of them…

  17. Ville Hautakangas said on July 25, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    You should really consider the Jolla phone (or just the Sailfish OS running on Samsung or somesuch). Runs Android apps from any store you care to set up, but you also get a rootshell, and some quite useful tools.

  18. daggoth said on July 21, 2014 at 7:05 am

    You could check to ensure that your PC is not using a google DNS server. Elsewise, Google will know everywhere that you go…

  19. RazielCuts said on July 16, 2014 at 12:57 am

    I did the same thing, I withdraw from Google also (Email, Search etc).

    Now my main email provider is Yandex, my main search engine is also Yandex. Main browser is Chromium (NOTE: Chromium is open-source browser and it’s not based on Chrome).

    Finally I’m happy user without Google around.

    PS: All my YouTube subscriptions are in my Bookmarks Toolbar as bookmarks. I won’t login in to YouTube.

  20. marius t said on July 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve kind of leaved Google a year ago,(I say kind of because I’m an avid youtube user),as a browser I’ve always used Firefox,as search Duck Duck Go does the job better then Google,as mail I love Outlook and if I would really care about privacy I would use Thunderbird with Enigmail,Bing maps works really well,I don’t really use my Android tablet that much and if I use it,it’s striped from all google services,except Youtube,cloud services I have a 120 gb promotion from OneDrive for one year after that I’m renewing it,and a 100 gb free for life promotion from Cloud,so no Gdrive or DropBox,G+ never cared I’ve always used Facebook,so besides Youtube that has no alternative site in the world,it’s doable living without Google!

    1. Loren said on July 14, 2014 at 6:16 am

      You have a Cloud Mail in Russia, and a Facebook account and worry about Google — OMG! DuckDuckGo is interesting and I have used it a few times — not as good as Google & Bing. may be something of interest to you. Many services, such as Calendar and Docs for free — at least in USA. Firefox is a good browser, but so is Google’s Chrome.

  21. Mark said on July 7, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I applaud your stance,
    I also, left Google behind long time ago, Google+ was the tipping point. what a joke that was. Their motto ” Don’t Be Evil” could not be further from the truth. I went to :

    Search: Bing
    Browser : Firefox & IE11 awesome browsers. Why the hate, I have no idea.
    Phone Wp8.1 Nokia Lumia 1020 …Never had a better phone / Camera and UI. Kicks my old iPhone to the curb. Yes, it has all my apps I need and more. Talk about evil, google wont release any native apps for wp while MS is more cross-platform than anyone.
    Maps: Bing & Here Maps , arguably better than Google maps.
    Mail: Outlook I went from gmail to Outlook . Wow, I love w/free office, soon w/ 15 gb free storage clean look. gmail was ads everywhere, and them scanning every email I wrote, Done with them.

    Anyways, yes, for me , there is a world outside of Google. Right now I am back with MS, they have their programs / apps on every platform.

    Google’s Motto should be “Epitome of Evil” .

  22. Maelish said on July 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I’m onboard with leaving google for any things personal too. The requirements for Google+ are pervasive and remind me of a virus.

  23. John said on July 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    My 2 cents about Google is that at first I thought they would be something better then a poor man’s Apple. Believing that the more open you make things, the better everything works. But then I bought a locked to Google Chromebook and my perception about Google has changed from open to rather stubbornly closed. What bothers me most about this, is that Google has taken perfectly good open source projects and made them rather closed off. Chrome OS is just one example of a EU nightmare. You thought Windows was locked down to one browser. Now take a look at what Google has done. Made a OS out of Chrome browser. Android is obviously a mobile OS leader and while Apple started the smartphone revolution. Its rather stale and slow progression of IOS have certainly caused many to jump ship to Android. I myself do not see nothing wrong with web apps or living in a Google, Microsoft or Apple world, I think that has always been the case. I also would much rather run a Linux version like Mint and Ubuntu and run Chromium browser or Firefox then be forced to run Chrome exclusively. In my opinion Chrome OS is nothing more then a shell to run hardware and the Chrome browser. Its sad, that Google has designed such a OS without any regard towards openness. You cannot tell me, that Google’s development of Chrome OS was not always about advancing Google’s ecosystem and locking people into its core apps. I can only imagine the uproar if Microsoft had did this with IE or Apple with Safari. To have a OS that you had to use IE or Safari and then also get apps directly from Google? Yes, I agree that I must also begin distancing myself from Google products. I don’t like their direction, and I won’t get trapped into Google’s ecosystem.

    1. DutchPete said on July 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      Not to mention what they do and/or will do with all the info they gather about you.

  24. Blue said on July 5, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    As for the topic of this post: No one is forcing you into anything, you can use as much or as little of Google products as you want. But you make it seem like they are the evil giant that is forcing you down a path you do not want to tread. It’s not like Google is owned by Apple. If that were the case, then you’d be screwed and then I can justify this post. But seriously why knock something that works and it works well. You are free to choose what part of it you wish to use but I personally think, if I am using Google products, and I like Google products, wouldn’t I want to support them?

    Sure not everything about them is great, but at least they are ever evolving and adding or deleting programs as they learn or progress. You can scream about privacy and other issues and concerns along those lines but by saying so, does that mean you hate the companies or stores which accept your credit/debit card? You’re giving your information to them each time you swipe the card. Any points program or incentive buying deal. Same thing each swipe gives them more and more info about you.

    Don’t like Google fine with me… go live like a Mennonite, off the grid, no power, no internet, no credit cards, no banks for that matter. And if you really want to step it up a notch, I suggest privacy screens on all your windows if you have privacy issues. You want to look out but don’t want anyone to look in. But in that same superiority complex Google is much the same. They are the window you look through. They give you what you want to see and more, what is wrong with that?

    1. Anon E. Mouse said on September 7, 2014 at 3:50 am

      “As for the topic of this post: No one is forcing you into anything..”
      Oh, a virtual-monopoly is not anything like forcing.

      “…and I like Google products, wouldn’t I want to support them?”
      You’re supporting pure arrogance.

      “…but at least they are ever evolving and adding or deleting programs as they learn or progress. ”
      That’s the problem. Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it Change it. No one can get used to an interface because, BAMM! it changes again eight months later (for no reason).

      “Don’t like Google fine with me… go live like a Mennonite, off the grid, no power, no internet, no credit cards…”
      Google fanboys often rely on exaggeration.

      “They give you what you want to see and more, what is wrong with that?”
      Google fanboys see nothing wrong, do nothing wrong, hear nothing wrong.

      I’m surprised he didn’t toss in the it’s “free” BS statement we always get from fanboys. If free means annoying, unreliable, unpredictable, then let google place a large bold banner on all products stating “This product is free and is therefore unreliable and annoying. It will violate your online privacy wherever possible. It will be completely changed, or will be forced to be obsolete, before you can become familiar with it.”

      Google has always been EXTERNALLY stopped, controlled, or limited (i.e. the Justice Dept., UK legal proceedings etc.) and due to an extreme bent attitude of throwing tradition out the window and ultra-arrogance, google never self-limits (google buzz privacy fiasco, google plus ‘real names’, mining wi-fi data, antitrust, etc.). Every single bit/byte/character/attachment of your gmail content is fully scanned before it even reaches your inbox.

      ‘Schmidt reaffirmed [all] this during a 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal: “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions, they want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”‘

  25. Robert said on July 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Slimjet Web Browser is also a good replacement for Chrome.

  26. InterestedBystander said on July 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Personal opinion… I use Google maps exclusively. Gmap’s terrain view labels elevation contours; the other’s terrain views don’t. From GMaps I can see I’ll be camping at about 7700 feet this weekend. Google’s street view is more comprehensive than Bing’s, and Here Maps apparently lacks any street view altogether. From GMaps I can see that the turn from Hwy 99 to Stewart Springs is in a stretch of ranchland, and it looks well-marked. Bing doesn’t have street-view there. And for several years I’ve contributed photos to the Panoramio archive for inclusion on GMaps; I very much like being able to view a database of map-linked photos. A couple of photos show that my planned camp area is among scattered pine trees and dry meadows. Another important thing is that Google crowd-sourced the imagery for the maps, and in the process created an international community of photogs — albeit a perennially grouchy and dissatisfied community. GMaps was, and remains, a groundbreaking, innovative effort.

    In a wider sense, I try not to engage in “brand loyalty”, nor in “brand hatred”. I don’t like Google’s pervasive tracking; I do like their innovation. I don’t like Microsoft’s attempts to bully users; I do like the what Microsoft has done in opening the .Net coding platform. I’ll go with independent services, freeware, Linux, and open-source whenever possible. But choosing Bing over GMaps, or Outlook over GMail, seems much like choosing Gog over Magog: pointless.

    1. mc said on September 22, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      the new stereo photogrammetry everyone is now starting to use will render streetview next to pointless, and hopefully will even end up having it banned for good and killed.

  27. Tom Hawack said on July 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Even without using any Google service, the company tracks you unless you have configured system & browser ultimately. Unfortunately ultimately is not totally, because totally would mean a tremendous ratio of sites just not unfolding as they should.

    Take for instance 1E100.NET, which is a Google address regularly appearing in one’s TCP history.Ty to block access to 1E100.NET, mainly with filters through and through, and start crying at sites which just won’t display correctly.

    Google APIs, fonts, themes are also called by many websites when administrators choose that facility. I say it as I believe it : Google has expanded in such a way that not only the company stands the world for its oyster, but that it is, its oyster.

    I closed my Google account at the time Google decided to “enhance” its privacy protocols. I use DuckDuckGo and Startpage for Web search, but stick with Google for maps and images. For video, DailyMotion is interesting but not yet at Youtube’s level (if it ever gets to be).

    I love surfing, but I’ve abandoned the idea of privacy a long time ago. I try to do my best to limit the damages.

  28. Ken Saunders said on July 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Bold and commendable Martin.
    As for search.
    I actually remember when Google search was awesome and showed me what was on the Internet and globally (not just in my area), and not what -they- wanted me to see. They were supposed to -just look- for “Search”, and then show me what was found, what was available on the Internet (and they did), not choose for me by just assuming what I wanted to see by going on some bits of data about -me- and putting the highest bidder’s option in my face and not the right or good one.
    I use search because I don’t have time to look for trillions of things on billions of sites. I don’t use it because I can’t read a snippet and decide on my own. I’ve never been a click on the 1st link kind of guy and usually change my settings to 50-100 results, not 10.

    I started to TRY and wean off of as many services that I could a long time ago.
    I too recently, finally, dumped Google for my last site’s email hosting (to self-hosted) that was using it and it felt good!

    At this time, it is nearly impossible to completely ditch Google and it isn’t simply because Google may offer better choices and services than others. It’s because the majority of the World is using them so for example, if your friends, business associates, and employers use them, -you have to-. You do it under protest, but you have to and you have to log in with a Google account.
    Google Docs, Groups and others are great examples of these.

    A lot to most companies become so big and popular by offering something different than what is currently available and that is great, simple, free, that people like and then they begin to lose their core values, quality goes down, they act on their own will with seemingly impunity and they stop listening to their customers (because new ones will replace unhappy ones), and neglect and in a sense abuse them.

    Google, Facebook, Microsoft and on and on. They’ve all done this.
    As we all know, good competition forces more and better choices, and change and innovation in existing companies (or they’ll die), and this always benefits the consumer.
    Google did it to Yahoo. Facebook did it to MySpace. Mozilla through Firefox did it to Microsoft’s IE, Google also hit MS.
    Of the 3 up there, Mozilla is in the only one who’s core values haven’t changed (I’m not talking about Firefox their product) and now they’re taking on the big 3 with Firefox OS.

    They way I see it, the only way to get things changed for the better with companies is;
    1) Speak out
    Like you and so many other are. Someone will see the need for a better choice/alternative and get something going.
    2) Support the competition
    Even if you don’t like a new thing, we should at least try it and support it. Companies watching their consumers migrating away and spreading the news about the new things will make them take notice and force change (refer back to the Firefox / IE example).
    3) Commit

    If all else fails.
    Leave the grid, go dark, and join a monastery. :)

    Good stuff man.
    I love reading your writings.
    Keep it up.

  29. Dario said on July 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I rather not use any Cloud (Collect Lots Of User Data) service from computers that I do not have direct physical access to. An excellent alternative is to host your own cloud service with Bittorrent Sync. It’s free and there is no space limit except for the free space on your harddisk.

  30. Ray said on July 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I am trying to weane away from Google too. However, I am still stuck with Android on phone, Gmail (main email), and Youtube (Vimeo and Daily motion are good but not enough content). At least, I am using Firefox instead of Chrome.

  31. HYB99 said on July 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    How about Russian (like Yandex) and Chinese stuff as alternatives? (But be careful!)

    No one mentions WhiteHat Aviator (the default search provider is DuckDuckGo) and…

    @DutchPete Superbird Browser is not made in Russia, judging from the official site’s domain registration.

    1. DutchPete said on July 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      I don’t know what you mean. They have a .com domain but don’t provide any info about it:
      “This website does not supply ownership information” it says when you click on the favicon in the address bar.

      1. DutchPete said on July 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm

        If not in Russia, where is it made?

  32. Andrew Griffiths said on July 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Suggesting Dropbox with no mention of the (far superior) OneDrive is negligent… I use both, but am phasing out DropBox now as OneDrive gives far more space, better pricing, and more integration (now)

  33. HeiWoMa said on July 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I use:
    Search: Startpage
    Browser: Iron

  34. Robert Headley said on July 3, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I really dislike duckduckgo. I can’t get into it. Blekko used to be an interesting browser, but it has since dropped all the features that made it unique.

    1. DutchPete said on July 3, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Try StartPage. You get all the Google Search results without Google knowing it’s you because SP sends your search requests to Google anonymously. It works well.

      1. Robert Headley said on July 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

        I don’t mind Google knowing that I am me. *shrug*

  35. Andy said on July 3, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Since prism I’ve been doing the same. This site has a comprehensive list of alternatives, not only to google but to MS and others as well:

  36. theMike said on July 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    i was a total “hate everything google” numbnut for a long time. i recently started using their services after buying an android and chromebook. i could have wasted my hate for something better. so far no one from google has contacted me about all my information they’ve collected. i’m still walking free and do as i please.
    also, none of these alternatives are better than anything google puts out. some are even worst. just use what works for you. google will not hurt you. I also use adblock, thanks for all the free content. nothing better than using what works ad free

    1. DutchPete said on July 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      The fact that Google does not not hurt you visibly does not mean they don’t hurt you, particularly indirectly. The amount of data they collect about you is amazing, if not downright frightening. And what do they do with it all? Apart from using it for their own purposes they also flog it off to interested 3rd parties, whoever those may be. And what do those 3rd parties do with it? The fact that you are still walking around free does not mean that will remain like that.
      The clever thing about Google is that they offer free services that, on the whole, are very good & make people want to use them. That’s how the get you in & then ensnare you for good. FYI: there is no such thing as a free lunch & Google are far from altruistic. They have already gone a long way towards becoming Big Brother, they will continue that quest & succeed if we let them.

      1. Loren said on July 14, 2014 at 6:08 am
        Reply You can opt out of things. I have no idea what ads are matched to me as I use AdBlocker — so indeed, no visible harm. What are you implying that Google is going to do with info. they believe to be correct, in ways to harm you? The data, I could only assume is not usable for credit reference. They have no idea just who may be using my computer — I sign in, and a ten year old actually uses it, or an 80 year old lady is actually using it. For that matter, Amazon would think I am a lady if I ordered a dress, which in fact was ordered for a wife. I just can not imagine how the data is worth anymore than just a very good guess, and then what? And why would the sell my data — if they hold it, only they could match the ads. Sell once – gone forever.

        Do you really know if someone else in not tracking you? I use Google and Apple. Doesn’t Apple phone home on some things — who knows what? Yes, I am sure Apple actually making money on the devices, is more likely to snoop less than any other of the companies.

    2. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:36 am

      They just hate success. Next year it could be Apple, followed by Microsoft, which has been in the same position as Google is in these days. No one loves you at the top. People can go to Google Dashboard to see what they share or wish not to share. As for ads, when you use a discount card for soap, guess what, you get offers for soap at a discount. Afraid to search with Google — use DuckDuckGo. I have tried it — it’s OK, but for everyday use, Google, then Bing is what I use.


  37. Robert said on July 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks for the alternatives, these 3 haven’t been mentioned yet:
    Google Search –
    Google Sites –
    Chrome – Superbird

    1. DutchPete said on July 3, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Looks like it is a Russian app. If so, how do you know what happens to you browsing data, sent to the FSB instead of the NSA?

    2. exlnc said on July 3, 2014 at 2:00 am

      Superbird looks too good to be true.
      Does it support all 100% plugins Chrome does? if so,I might switch my work Browser from Chrome to this.

      1. Robert said on July 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

        They only released portable version for v29, v31 and v33 so I think they’ll release v35 straightaway soon.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 3, 2014 at 8:29 am

        They don’t seem to keep up with Google’s stable release schedule. The download page lists the last version s version 33 from January, while Chrome Stable is on 35 from June. Not sure if they use stable though for that or something else.

      3. Robert said on July 3, 2014 at 3:59 am

        Yes. I use the portable version and it’s great.

  38. exlnc said on July 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    How do I set up a personal domain for email? I have been struggling to find more info, but I can’t.

    There’s a local Web host retailer offering dirt cheap plans (5 user 1 Gb each) for domains for email hosting. is this the same? If I buy a domain from someone like, do they have access to my mail? my website content? etc?

    I am looking into Fastmail, because it offers the shortest domain ( for email. thought?

    And any email provider out there with gmail like alias features? (I.e ,

    Please advice.

    1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm
      Reply has alias ability. I like ( alias Hotmail ) and it has IMAP now and all that good stuff.

      1. Andrew said on July 3, 2014 at 10:02 pm

        I wish I could use for my domain email… but 30 minutes is too long for it to grab via pop and rejects too much forwarded email to be dependable.

    2. Andrew said on July 2, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Ordering a domain is really easy and cheap (about $15 a year including whois privacy guard), but usually you can only forward emails to another email address. Email hosting is another issue. Some might offer hosting (maybe godaddy?), but there’s always zoho which offers free email hosting for your domain. Fastmail is $40/year to use your own domain, google is about $5/month, and microsoft is $48/year for email/exchange hosting. Namecheap has email hosting for $10/year.

      If you want to host with your “dirt cheap” plan, then you just have to point your domain to the hosting, and set up your email address on the hosting. It takes a little bit of time to learn, google search, and trial & error, and tech support will probably help guide you through the process.

      1. Jojo said on July 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

        1and1 offers free email hosting with their web hosting packages.

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Most domain hosters offer email packages so that you can run email using them. Some offer this for free, others for a price.

      I would contact the local web hoster and ask for confirmation before you sign up. Ask if you can use Pop3 or IMAP, as it is important if you want to access your mails in desktop software or mobile apps.

      Aliases again, some do offer the feature, others don’t. Some providers may give you enough free email addresses so that you never run into problems creating aliases even if they do not really support the same feature. But since you can create enough inboxes, it should not be a problem.

  39. Joe said on July 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Another reason I am migrating away from Google: I am not their customer. And it shows. Their customers are advertisers. I am a product to them. My privacy is a joke to them.

    My 00.02.

  40. Anonymous Coward said on July 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I’m relieved to hear someone else speaking up about this. I’m also worried about my dependence on Google services. In addition to Gmail, Search and Android, I’ve also had a Google Voice number since that service launched.

    Gmail and Search, while a hassle, are the easiest to replace. I’m sure a better custom rom for my Nexus 7 will be available soon. I haven’t found a suitable replacement for Google Voice (free at least). I’d be happy sticking my GV number on a forwarding service. I don’t make many calls anyway – long as I can get them on my mobile.

  41. Jojo said on July 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Here’s a good Google related article I came across today:
    Google Is About To Take Over Your Whole Life, And You Won’t Even Notice

    Google’s new design ethos, living on and beyond every screen, could make Google an amorphous problem solver of unimaginable scale.


    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks, I’m monitoring the situation closely and it is indeed frightening.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 3, 2014 at 8:22 am

        At the moment, there is no real choice when it comes to search or Adsense. Bing may be okay in the US, but it is really bad everywhere else.Sure, you can use Startpage, but they rely on Google data.

        And there is no alternative to Google’s Adsense out there.

      2. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:29 am

        And the problem is what? Google is not taking over your life — you can use it within your life. The same goes for Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo. You could use their services. Sure, Google asks more of you and IF you give them more data, they will follow up with Google Now — it is choice.


  42. jasray said on July 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    All good and fine, but Google’s ability to gain market share via whatever mode (tracking, etc.) only shows a deep understanding of the esoteric nature of evolution. Sooner or later, DuckDuck is going to QuackQuack and use your surfing habits to empower and expand on the cyberterrain. If not, it will soon die the second death.

    Insider word on the street is the merger of Amazon and Google; although the two will remain separate identities, they will share information. Add a third partener, and we return to the Roman Triumvirate:

    “The Second Triumvirate (43 BC), consisting of Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian (later Augustus)—formally tresviri rei publicae constituendae (“triumvirate for organizing the state”)—held absolute dictatorial power.”

    Think again: ” . . . Held absolute dictatorial power.”

    That means no free will, no choice, and all those writing about “change” and “choice” and “eliminating” honestly think they are making a choice, changing the world, and eliminating the Dragon.

    Box 1 = Google; Box 2 = Not Google. Such fanciful thinking.

  43. Andrew said on July 2, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Great post Martin, I did the same a while ago when Google shut down reader and all the NSA stuff was coming about

    I personally believe the main issue is when someone gets tied to one ecosystem. Everything works perfectly because there’s a synergy between products, but if changes occur, then you’re stuck with them regardless how much you hate it. Breaking away from an ecosystem complicates things as I have noticed.

    Regardless, it’s nice not to be as tied to one company as before. There isn’t much competition for youtube, and hopefully that will change in the future. I know Vimeo is growing pretty well, but it’s not nearly as big as youtube.

    The only thing I really use google for now is my android, google drive, and google voice. I have been slowly weening off myself from google voice since development has been so stagnate (who knows when they will merge hangouts and gv) and google drive only for one spreadsheet because it can automatically pull in stock quotes. I love my android (nexus 4), but the Microsoft phones do appeal to me, I might shift if better apps come out.

    Besides that, I avoid google+ like the plague since no one else I know really uses it, and I haven’t used gmail in years. Love palemoon, and haven’t missed Chrome one bit.

    Right now I am looking for solid hosting for my email (best part about having your own domain). Originally using google apps, I have tried self-hosting (roundcube), live domains/ (when it was available), zoho, and office 365 exchange, and now i’m going to give fastmail a shot.

    The future will be interesting with google, apple, and microsoft.

    1. Andrew said on July 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Update: Apparently Google Voice and Hangouts integrations is coming soon

  44. Oxa said on July 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    1. for 90% of all searches. Limited results sometimes requires using Google.
    2. MapQuest, Nokia, or Bing maps
    3. Pale Moon
    4. Never had a Gmail account. Have always used ISP’s free account.
    5. OneDrive, but not keen on the idea of relying on Microsoft.
    6. YouTube without an account; Vimeo
    7. Android tablet; other options not palatable or affordable
    8. Google+ – What’s that?

  45. Alex said on July 2, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    1 – Google Search – I use too : )
    2 – Google Maps – I use and for routes (and I try to complete the places I know) : )
    3 – Google Chrome – I use Firefox : )
    4 – Google Mail – Still there : (
    5 – Google Drive – I use for storage : )
    6 – YouTube – I use Minitube to watch them, but still youtube : (
    7 – Android – My next phone will be based on Firefox OS too : )

    Since you probably will have a Firefox OS mobile, maybe you are interested in the Mozilla Location Service ( If you want to help to bring a better geolocation you can install mozstumbler in your smartphone to analyse your zone ;)

  46. streger said on July 2, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Hello everyone!!

    I get that you are frustrated with recent developments in Google, but…

    I just don’t understand the idea of being in one closed ecosystem altogether, that being said I also don’t understand people who deliberately exclude them selves from ONE thing (albeit there are some things in life that are just not useful). In this time in business oriented world I think that there is no need for publicly commenting about stuff that you don’t like intrinsically, like for example completely exiting from ‘Google World’.
    Last time I checked LastPass I have some ~250 websites sign in details, mostly services that I use for things that I need to operate on a level that I’m for now satisfied, and ton of software from all spectrum of possibilities in computer world.
    For me, I think that I will always use tools that suits my needs and performances that I except from them.
    When I need to use IE I’m using it, when I need to use OSM, bing, or other services I will use them. When I’m on a search hunt I will use all search services that I know, private, open or closed and capitalized. I don’t mind about security because that is something that we don’t have for a long time now whatever we are using as a wanted platform (facebook, nsa, heartbleed…). But I know what it is and what it means to someone, that why

    Better article would be something like public outcry to Google and their need to short us of the possibilities that their apps&services do. Like for example, recent ‘extension only in webstore’ idea (although there is a workaround, you just have to drag&drop favorite extension every time you completely close Chrome), and maybe completely combining Google+ and YouTube. I think that we can show Google that they don’t need to be assholes like Apple(and similar) and completely and unknowingly(for some) close us in their ecosystem (whatever it is in any moment) and show them that the now and future power of people depends on options – giving people possibility to hack stable products in any way people want.

    Thank you for your great articles Martin!

  47. Jim said on July 2, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    So Martin, are you going to change the name of your site? I mean, doesn’t ghacks stand for Google Hacks? As I recall, that was your focus when you first started out. Tips and tricks for Google searches. (I’m just joking BTW. I love the irony though.)

    As for me, I’ve always tried to keep Google at arm’s length. I understood from the beginning that “I” was Google’s product. Like most folks, I’ve got Google accounts, but I avoid using them. I would hardly ever interact with anything Google if it wasn’t for my Nexus tablets. Although I don’t use the Google apps directly, I know they are always running and tracking my every move. Because of that I rarely use them for Internet surfing. They’re pretty much just casual gaming platforms. If I need to surf, I break out the laptop. I did wipe one of them and install Cyanogenmod. That’s supposed to cut out much of the Google-ware, but I’ve never given it a good analysis. Might be a good project for me.

  48. Jay said on July 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    For getting Android without Google, easiest way is to install a Custom ROM like Cyanogenmod. Since installing Google Apps is a separate step in Custom ROMs, you can just skip it. Then just install a Third-party market like Amazon Appstore,or if you don’t trust them either, you can use SlideMe( or F-Droid(

  49. Karl Gephart said on July 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Like I said on G+, I absolutely agree with your post! Basically, it all comes down to two things for any business: SEO (being found in what SERPS via organic/paid – in your case, Adsense, and I get that) and integration/fragmentation of your productivity software. I’ve always believed in diversification — as the consumer. I hate to be hypocritical (but I’m going to be honest), but as the business, I believe in bundling one’s products/services. It just depends on what side of the fence you’re speaking from. Let’s face it, we all have to run our own cost/benefit analyses. :)

  50. Declan said on July 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I am with Brian …
    Anyone know of a similar service to ZENMATE usable on other browsers? That is the only reason I use Chrome.

  51. Chak Espino said on July 2, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Martin,

    I agree with you about Google. Have one question: How do you root an Android phone?
    I have a Samsung S5 and I would like to get rid of some of the programs installed from the manufacturer.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Rooting always comes down to the phone you are using. Something like this could help you out:

      I don’t have a S5 so I don’t know if this actually works or not.

      Note that you will void the warranty when rooting, and that the process can brick phones if you run into errors. I suggest you read up on backups and recovery before you try anything.

  52. Bobby Phoenix said on July 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    There are choices out there like you said, but I’m so involved with Google, and I’m so used to how things work, I can’t see me leaving. I’m 100% in the Google ecosystem. Google is like the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. But, if somehow you can get out if you want to, and have as much success as if you stayed, then more power to you. :-)

    1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Yea, all in Google
      All in Microsoft
      All in Apple
      There are many choices. I use Yahoo for some stuff. Many email system — you can get Exchange.

      As for me, I am in a lot of things with Google, but then again also use a load of other free services. Many to use, many are free, and most work fine.

      Once again, I see no problem. It is not like Google is breaking down your door, or anything….. excuse me, I hear someone knocking – will be back in a minute. :o

  53. GiddyUpGo said on July 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    If you quit Gmail, why not destroy Google’s Account and block it on your computer. I did this and have never looked back. I do not use anything Google, if I can help it. I use Firefox with Ixquick and DuckDuckGo search engines.
    1.) Open GMail
    2.) Gmail settings
    3.) Accounts
    4.) Google Account Settings
    5.) My Products
    6.) Follow page and Fully Remove Gmail Account.

    Always find something I use on your site. Keep up the good work!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      I need Google for Adsense right now for this site.

  54. Maou said on July 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    DuckDuckGo and startpage as main search provider.
    Palemoon and Firefox as main browser.
    Startmail and as main mail provider, startmail is still beta so I can´t shutdown yet.
    Android device using cyanogenmod + Fdroid, without Gapps. When I need a app that is only on Gplay I just download the .apk directly.
    I rarely use Youtube.
    I use offline maps.
    No Facebook.

    I still visit Ghacks on a daily basis :D

  55. Tim said on July 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I tried doing the same a while back in boycott of some of the decisions Google were making, however the two I was unable to get rid of were Google Search and YouTube.

    Google search seems to be the only search engine that allows you to filter search results by specific date ranges. Although the date ranges are not always accurate, it’s better than nothing because without it, for certain terms, it’s almost impossible to get the results you’re looking for without being swamped by masses of irrelevant results. However, Google image results are way too crippled now due to not having the ability to disable adult filtering.

    With YouTube, it’s the only place some people upload their videos.

    1. DutchPete said on July 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      you search on StartPage just like you search on Google. The lay-out is the same.

      1. DutchPete said on July 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        Is there such an option on Google Search? I can’t see where you put them. But anyway, try putting it in StartPage’s search bar. If you can’t input exactly the same parameters, too bad, nothing is perfect in life. One thing is for sure: StartPage channels your requests through Google Search, so you can still make use of the most extensive search engine in the world. DuckDuckGo channels requests through Bing.

      2. Tim said on July 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm

        No it really isn’t. There is no option for specific date ranges.

    2. DutchPete said on July 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      StartPage sends your search request to Google without revealing your identity. So StartPage results are in fact Google Search results in disguise.

      1. Tim said on July 2, 2014 at 4:30 pm

        I’m not sure what you mean? Can you tell me how for example how you would use StartPage to search for ‘malaysia airlines crash’ between 1 Jan 1995 and 31 Dec 2002?

  56. A41202813GMAIL said on July 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    People Are Always Angry Leaving One Company And Joining Another In Something Like Revenge Sex.

    When The Second Company Screws Them Too, They Often Reverse Their Steps.

    Happens All The Time.

    Companies Know That And Do Not Care, Because For Every Guy Who Deserts There Is Another Who Joins.

    You Know What They Say:

    Do Not Let The Closing Door Hit You On You Know Where.


  57. Patrick said on July 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Someone commented that:
    “I have no problem using Google because its products are excellent. I also use Evernote and many other services. The Google services he quit using are top quality so he is only hurting himself going to lower quality services” –

    Of course, their are other issues aside from the quality of the product…

    May I also suggest as alternatives:

    2. Maps: It’s the wikipedia of maps. Users build and change the maps themselves. It’s pretty good in most cases, and very good for trails. Lots of mobile apps too.

    5. Cloud: This is a self-hosted solution. I’ve got this installed on my own computer and access it via All my data is under MY control.

    7. Mobile OS: An excellent Android Rom that you can use without a Google Account with

    1. Patrick said on July 2, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      oops: *there are…

  58. Rahul Saigal said on July 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    1. Google Search – I have been using DuckDuckGo for long time, but still use Google Search as an alternative
    2. Google Maps – No use for me
    3. Google Chrome – Well i was using it besides firefox until last 2 months, then i uninstalled Chrome from Windows. I use it on my Mac only for developer tools. Firefox is my main browser
    4. Google Mail – Ok this one is really hard to give up. Martin you have suggested Protonmail and What is your preference. Have you looked at Fastmail. Do let me know your choice and opinion on this.
    5. Google Drive – I don’t use it. Dropbox for keeping text notes and Onedrive for important documents and keepass database (but encrypted in a folder)
    6. Youtube – This one is hard to displace because i watch youtube more than TV. But i never log in browser. My firefox stays in private mode and cookies are blocked
    7. Android – I use only Gmail and Youtube, but i have some essential paid apps. Haven’t thought how to deal with those. My Galaxy note is rooted but will install cyanogen when they will update it for Note 1

    1. Christoph said on July 4, 2014 at 2:09 am

      Just a comment on fastmail: I’ve been a customer for close to a year now. Extremely happy. It’s faster than gmail and their support is stellar. Recently they added CalDav with a webinterface and CardDav for contact sync is in the pipeline :)

      Feature wise sometimes fastmail wins (well, they certainly have way more features, question is if you need them) and sometimes gmail (one of these days I’m going to write a userscript to give me googles “Send & Archive” function… Very annoying having to click two buttons)

      1. Askew said on July 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

        yeah, I just wish fastmail told you that you have to send an email via their webmail before you can use their smtp… haha it was driving me crazy

  59. DutchPete said on July 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I agree that one dominant force in any market is unhealthy & needs to be sent a strong message by consumers that they are not happy. We saw the dominance of Microsoft with its Windows OS & its Office suite in the 80s & 90s. Particularly Office never really got a challenger that made a difference, even Google’s docs did not manage it in a significant way.
    What Google has done with all its other services is to penetrate people’s lives in that they have got to know a lot about people’s habits, joys, weaknesses & all the rest of it. They have been hugely successful & made Microsoft’s penetration with its Office suite look like a little boy.
    After the NSA affair last year I reduced my use of Gmail to close to zero, though kept my account because some people still have it & you need it for certain services. I dumped Google Serach for StartPage because that is located outside the US.
    I stopped using Google Drive altogether & store all my important files elsewhere.
    My Galaxy S3 has Android of course & is till too young to be ditched. My next phone in a couple of years will have a non-Google OS.

    1. DutchPete said on July 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      On the other hand, I recently signed up for G+ because I wanted/needed to interact with people on the Evernote Life community on G+.

  60. Brian said on July 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Anybody got an alternate to ZENMATE.
    Thanks Brian.

  61. ad said on July 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Same here: still having trouble configuring my phone and tablet after test-month of Google apps (including device control). Quite a surprise to me how difficult it is to remove the ties on machine-level. Definitely not the “human” or conscious approach which Googles tries to communicate. So yes, disappointed in Google philosophy – if there exists such a thing. This experience has substantially strengthened my sympathy for and support of genuine open-source initiatives.

  62. albresc said on July 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Well done, Martin, I think almost like you.
    For email I switched to, having had a Hotmail account since almost the first days, before Microsoft acquired the company. Still have a Gmail account but trying not to use it. No problems with Outlook – does what is supposed: sends and receives emails… enough for me.
    For phone I have an Android but ROOTed and stripped of all things Google AND Samsung… pity it doesn’t support CyanogenMod roms etc…
    Some comments: IE at least 11 is not so bad, guys read reviews from security companies not from Google & friends… although I use Firefox mainly, but that’s because of some add-ons etc.
    You CAN block Youtube, I have it blocked at work and at home… just had to play with my firewall and security appliance, but well, I’m an IT guy.
    Just finishing:
    I don’t know why but never liked the growth of Google from two or three unknown guys to a company that wants to be bigger than Microsoft and others, and since I know how they did (do) it… like them even less…
    And please don’t tell me you couldn’t live without Google… I lived, the Internet was not the same but is it better now?
    I don’t know why Google reminds me of dogs… not that I do not like dogs, but I like them in the kennel.

  63. Kenny said on July 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Martin, I have to agree we need an alternative to Google. I agree with most of your alternatives but I wanted to add one suggestion. Yahoo is supposed to be launching a YouTube competitor sometime this year I think it may be a fantastic alternative to YouTube. I also wonder if you had to would you switch your mobile operating system? Would you go to Windows Phone or iOS or maybe even just a new ROM such as Cyanogenmod?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      I’d prefer a mobile operating system such as FirefoxOS instead of one of the “big three”. Also, rooting and installing a mod on Android could also be a solution.

      1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:19 am

        Try a Nexus 5. Really, can you no longer feel the love ;) Seriously, I do own a Nexus 4 and wish I had the 5 for greater speed. The Android apps, mostly run well, with the occasional hiccup along the way. But I like them a lot. I have an iPad now and use iOS apps — still see nothing bad about the Android apps, they are saying are inferior. On the FirefoxOS, what apps will you run — Not Google Play Store, I take it?


  64. xtremezz said on July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Never been a big Google user myself, except for the search (obviously) & Gmail. The former I’ve long replaced with DuckDuckGo, which really covers nearly all my searches. I’m currently almost through dropping my Gmail accounts, having registered 2 Yandex accounts. Those should also satisfy my (currently basic) cloud storage needs. Transferring mail from one provider to the next is no easy task, been at it a while now to make sure I don’t miss out on anything.

    Using Firefox as main browser, with 2 additional Pale Moon profiles (one is a ‘lenient’ profile, sometimes blocking etc. really is a deal breaker, unfortunately).

    Don’t do social time-wastia, so Google+ isn’t an issue, though I can imagine people wanting to comment on Youtube videos may find themselves left with little choice.

    As for maps, is usually enough, with Google Maps admittedly sometimes a welcome backup.

  65. GL1zdA said on July 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

    1. Google Search – I have been using DuckDuck for several months. It’s OK and I can always use Google as my second choice with “!g” in DuckDuck.
    2. Google Maps – I use it once in a while, never really considered alternatives. Will have to check them.
    3. Google Chrome – I’ve used Netscape, then Mozilla, now Firefox. The release of Chrome was when I started to think, that Google is becoming the second MS.
    4. Google Mail – I will probably keep on using it. I don’t feel the need to stop using all Google services and this one works well. I don’t care about adds since I use an e-mail client.
    5. Google Drive – Never used it. It was slower than Dropbox and I’m using LibreOffice and OpenOffice for my documents. I’ve never liked on-line office suites.
    6. YouTube – Passively using it. If I wan’t to upload something there’s always Vimeo.
    7. Android – Haven’t used Android since the Era G1 (HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1). I hope there will be more phones with CyanogenMod as factory firmware. OnePlus One is a good example.

    8. Google Profile – recently deleted it. Facebook works ok for social networking.

    1. Kenny said on July 2, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Android isn’t necessarily the problem it is GAPPs or Google Apps. If you run a custom ROM and do not install GAPPs then there is no Google on your Android. Look at Amazon products for examples.

      1. Blue said on July 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        Are you serious? “Look at Amazon products…”. Look at Amazon: they are more proprietary about their products and anything on their site they deem their own. Even more so than Google. Read their fine print, it is shocking and practically illegal. Sadly there is currently NO law, rule or regulation regulating the activity of USA based or run online activity. Each company can practically say what they want and they can exclude anyone and anything based on whatever powers of godhood they deem they have.

        Fine print with Amazon. Any and ALL reviews left on their site is THEIR property and can not be used on another site. Media sold by Amazon practically are owned by them unless you have a prior copy-right before putting it on Amazon to sell, and even then it doesn’t stop them from giving your book away at your expense (cost) just to promote their asses. They are in many lawsuits currently over authors suing Amazon from claiming they own their stuff so have the right to do with it as they please. Gimme a F* break. “Look at Amazon products…”… have you seriously looked at Amazon or are you truly blinded into compliance.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Try !sp instead for 1)

  66. toto_student said on July 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Hi there,
    My two cents as well for the alternatives:
    1: Duck duck go or trying sometimes to switch regularly between search engines
    2:GMaps… hard hard: still trying. Maybe Bing Maps
    3. Chrome: well, never actually used it. I still love Firefox
    4:Gmail: Recently start to move. FYI there is a number of provider that are proposing Exchange accounts for a low price. 3€/month for a fully operational service (inc. mail, calendars, tasks, contacts) compatible with nearly all OS and all platform; Worth the price.
    5:Drive: For file syncing I move to OVH cloud solution namely hubic. The move was initiated because they offered 1To (yes 1 tera) with my ISP subscription. Apps are working as I expect.
    6: Youtube: Well, I do not publish that much. Issue arise for content that are only accessible on youtube. Well a proxy connection is good enough for anonymity, and i don’t log anymore.
    7: Android: Switched to CyanogenMod as main ROM. More easy to remove all connection to Google servers.

  67. Martin said on July 2, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I really commend you for taking these steps and I hope you succeed fully. I tried the same thing 12 months ago without success; my life was just too integrated into Google services and their sync-ness across everything. Basically I needed them to keep me on track.

    I was motivated to cut the ties by Google’s dominance and concluded that that can’t be a good thing. I was worried about being tracked and analysed. But the more I thought it though during the difficult weaning-off period the more I realized that I don’t really have anything to hide from them or any other entity tracking my life. I realise that that’s not your primary concern, for example you mentioned advertising on Google Search.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if Google know all my contacts and can somehow figure out who knows me and vice-versa, and even if they know where I am and what I’m doing through Gcal, and even if I now have a Nexus 5 which could even be randomly recording my voice and/or taking my photo and uploading it to some Google-god-server, I still say I’ve got nothing to hide. Quite frankly, if they want to waste resources tracking my ass and everything that’s connected to it then have at it. One day there’ll be definitive proof that I really am as boring as I claim to be.

    (By the way, I’m not the Brinkmann ‘Martin’)

    1. Mark said on July 2, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Apathy to privacy is the reason that many of ‘web2.0’ companies have developed to trample over everyone else’s privacy. You can’t lament your loss in hindsight when it has been stripped from you.

      1. Loren said on July 14, 2014 at 5:54 am

        This on Google and the other pages give you some choices.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      For me, it is less about tracking but more about dominance. If no one puts a stop to Google being that dominant, and be it only in form of a small contribution like moving away from Google services, then we will eventually end up in a Google dominated world. Yes, the company already dominates several fields, but that is just the beginning.

      (By the way, I’m the real Martin Brinkmann) :)

      1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:11 am

        Could it be that the dominance of Google is due to having successful, useful, and free services people actually prefer? And if so, is what you are saying that every company actually making the best products and rising to the top should be taken down a notch or two for their efforts. This is akin to what happens in the USA to every pop star — once on top of the world, they find some reason to fault their success and set-out to knock them down. I don’t get it.

        Yes, the pushy Google+ effort is somewhat of a negative, and the placement of ad clients on top of results may be an inconvenience, but I fully understand that a free service is not totally free — something pay for it. I just look a few lines down for the info.

        I do like mail and use it, but also have Google Mail and a Chromebook. Microsoft old way of using email boxes for files, I do prefer over Gmail, but on the other hand, Gmail has great up-time and Spam filtering and you can change between email addresses in seconds and not have to sign-out like with Calendar is super in Google — Microsoft Calendar is OK.

        Take out the dominance of Google, and are you not back to Microsoft? I mean, although Yahoo does financial and photos ( flickr ) OK, most of the rest, like email is not so smooth. Would you really want Yahoo everything? Really, even with a Chromebook, you can pick and choose which online services, such as Evernote, you wish to use. Just pick the best between them all.

        I have two Apple products, but have yet to be corralled within their garden. I use an Android phone. Anyway, there are many options, as you could go all Windows. Ah the amazing and bizarre world of Windows 8 – does work however, and you can be anti-Google and anti-Apple — whoopee. Then there is Ubuntu — I have that as well, but don’t run it too often on an older laptop. Ubuntu – now that is independence … well sort of. It’s all good! -Loren

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 3, 2014 at 12:30 am

        No one denies that Google services for the most part are great. Heck, most are free and they can afford to push into any niche they want using money they earn from ads.

        I like Google products but I will not use — most — anymore because of the company’s dominance.

  68. Ross said on July 2, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I don’t like market dominance either:
    Email: Still using gmail, but have signed up to in case I decide to change.
    Browser: Opera Next
    Cloud storage: &
    Vimeo for videos I take/make.

    1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Dominance = best products. So you avoid that of which is the best? So the maps are best, the email cut out Spam better than all the rest, and the Calendar is remarkably easy to use and syncs with other Calendars, and they become the dominant player in their field. This is the logical extension of what should happen. You make a phone for half the price of an iPhone and people like it – they buy it. Where is the problem in all this?

      Microsoft has had more years to work on dominance by way of awesome production — yet they failed. Windows 8 is a disaster. I am typing this using Chrome OS — fast, simple, effective and very inexpensive. Chrome OS devices just work, and without all the hassles of say a Microsoft PC. I also use OS X. MANY choices out there. Google is but one choice.

      1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 9:24 pm

        OK, then, I can restate this. When dominance is equal to the best products, as in the best free overall services, or when you choose or prefer such products, how then is this a negative? If people disliked all things Google, they would change. You have choices. Apple ecosystem is pretty rich, in more ways than cost ;) and Microsoft, as strange as its new OS is, is a pretty good choice.

      2. JAckalo said on July 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

        Dominance does NOT equal Best Products.

        Best marketing and perception most of the time,

  69. Finnen said on July 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Good, I’ve started doing the same recently, though there are some things I cannot let go (like YouTube for example, I spend so much time there and I basically don’t watch TV anymore, since I’m not interested in local politics and stuff). What I really wanted to comment about it is getting rid of Google Apps / Services from Android device. I recently installed CyanogenMod 11 on my Xperia SP. I didn’t flash any Google Apps and man, the device was blazingly fast! However, after few days I had to install Google Play because I’m also testing a lot of apps and writing some reviews. Aaaand it was the worse thing that I could do. I can already feel that Android is working slower! The Google services, constant update checking and stuff is really slowing the device down. I’m gonna reflash CyanogenMod again and stay away from Google Apps. This is not a single situation – I noticed same thing when I was testing different roms without Gapps on my old Huawei G300.

  70. iMedia Designs said on July 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I think HERE maps are better than Google maps.

  71. Joe said on July 2, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Me too. Here are my replacements.

    EMAIL – Testing Startmail (Netherlands) but will probably go with (German) company. (Iceland) is also interesting. Systems like ProtonMail are web-based and don’t offer much beyond simplicity.
    SEARCH – ixQuick, StartPage
    BROWSER – Firefox, Chromium, Maxthon, Dolphin (I hate Safari and Opera) – I won’t use Chrome/Chromium apps
    CLOUD STORAGE – SpiderOak
    MESSAGING – Wickr
    NOTES – SimpleNote
    THE REST (calendar, contacts, reminders) – Fruux (Germany)

    Some things are just best left to the particular ecosystem. I tried F-DROID and other software distribution systems on Android, but in the end gave up and created a Gmail account I ONLY use for Google Play. On the iPhone the same thing: I use iCloud only for software downloads and Find my Phone. Otherwise, this setup is fairly vendor agnostic.

    1. 4sStylZ said on July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Google Search – Replaced by DDG, !bang is just amazing.
      Google Maps – Replaced by … I don’t know, anyway the new version of maps sucks hard. Replace it is not a problem.
      Google Chrome – Don’t use Chromium! Use Iron ! Same objectif but, more radical!
      Google Mail – A personal domain is better. And you can choose the client.
      Google Drive – I need to test uTorrent – Sync and alternative.
      YouTube – Use youtube but, on iron, without account, in private mode.
      Android – I am on CyanogenMod, without google service, but I am waiting for Ubuntu Touch Os, and FYI there are a Android mod without Google service. I forget the name, sorry.

      1. iron200 said on July 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm
  72. Jojo said on July 2, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I think Bing maps are better than Google maps. They display faster and often have one more level of zoom than GMaps.

    I refuse to use G+. As a consequence, Google won’t allow me to post any Android app reviews on Google Play. So be it.

    I don’t use Chrome any longer since Google will not allow me to run extensions that do not come from their own store. I discovered this a few weeks back when I wanted to install an extension to download Youtube videos. I couldn’t find any and discovered they were banned from the Chrome store. So I located something from an external resource. I installed it but then found that Google actively disabled the extension! That was not cool. I would have to run the Chrome nightly or beta releases to run the extension. Which I did not want to do. So then I discovered that I could use Comodo’s Dragon browser which is based on Chrome but does not have these silly restrictions. So far, it is working really nicely. And as an added bonus, I no longer have to deal with Google drying to force me to use a single GMail account.

    I have a Nexus 5 phone, so will be sticking with Android for a while. I will need to see how the Firefox phone settles in before considering it seriously.

    But I’m starting to think that Google is becoming too much of a pain in the arse and maybe should also be looking to switch my GMail accounts to something else.

    1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Actually, what others do to their Android does make a difference. Choice is great, but what happens is that viruses spread and make the news, then the blame goes to Google and not that individual. They must protect the Android ;)

      1. Loren said on July 4, 2014 at 1:45 am

        So they load viruses and malware and blame Google. Sorry, but it appears that Google is damned if they help, then damned should they allow outside loading. How would they possibly win? I like the way Ubuntu has their store, and yes, load one or two other trusted programs outside the store. On my iPad, all those apps come through the store. I did try one loaded to iTunes, but it wasn’t that great.

        Anyway, many choices — it’s all good. Firefox is good too – great extensions. They finally allow a simple sign-in to sync apps and bookmarks / passwords — this is good. The / OneDrive apps are pretty good. I use it some on my Chromebook.

      2. Jojo said on July 3, 2014 at 10:27 pm

        Yes and the same with Linux, Windows, Mac OS’s, etc. Yet no one else is telling people what they can or can’t install on their own equipment.

        Or why not extend your metaphor to society in general? How about we require IQ tests before people can procreate? Dumb people are a drag on society in general and are more likely to be involved in crimes.

        I could go on but I won’t. Google is on a slippery slope when they try to act as mommy and daddy to their users. Many Chrome users are moving away from pure Chrome and onto other Chrome variations or back to Firefox, which doesn’t police their extension store.

    2. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 2:58 am

      Google is trying to keep malware off Android, and thus you pick up your apps at the walled store. If malware begins to effect many users of Android, they would blame Google. Seem no matter what they do someone is no longer pleased.

      1. Jojo said on July 3, 2014 at 9:54 am

        I understand that. But I don’t need someone else protecting me from the decisions I choose to make (which includes the software I want to run).

        If you want to live in a lowest common denominator world, then I suggest you read the famous short story ‘Harrison Bergeron’, Kurt Vonnegut’s critique on a world of absolute equality. The story is easily found via a web search.

  73. Dave said on July 2, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I thought you used Firefox.

    Other than Streetview, the superiority of Google Maps is a myth these days. That the guy above talking about Google Earth, Bing Maps had higher res aerial photos doesn’t it?

    …You wouldn’t see that on Windows Phone 8 though, as we are forced to use Nokia’s worthless aerial views.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Firefox is my main browser.

      1. Loren said on July 3, 2014 at 12:38 am

        Tabs Mix Plus and some other great add-ons are a plus for Firefox. Anything but I.E.

  74. my said on July 2, 2014 at 8:19 am

    1. Doable, duckduck is quite good and fast
    2. Not doable, no other maps can beat Google’s right now, especially Google Earth
    3. Doable, IE pls
    4. Really not doable, really hard to change your online identity, especially if you have quite lot number of contacts and archived messages, tags, etc. That’s why people are still using mails like!
    5. Doable, never really use file sync service
    6. Not doable, websites still embed youtube video, you cannot escape youtube!
    7. Doable, Nokia X pls

    1. Narender said on July 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Rather unfortunate that you do not know of HERE maps :P It’s a worthy replacement :)

    2. Rose said on July 5, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Hi Martin! I have been reading your posts for quite a while. I was curious about security and recent hacks of Gmail, Yahoo and GMX and was surprised to get responses to my requests for government requests for information. What I discovered was that Gmail does not need a warrant to obtain emails over 30 days old nor anything on their servers including Google Drive, Google Voice. Dropbox support never responded to my request for information so I’m closing my DropBox account. European electronic mail does not have the same “protections” and are monitored/intercepted routinely. I would like for you put in a request for these companies to provide you with their protocol for releasing customer account information so everyone can share it and make their own choices to disengage from these companies.

    3. GL1zdA said on July 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

      4. Did it several times. With Thunderbird I just copy e-mails between IMAP accounts. I gave my new e-mail address to friends, setup forwarding on the old account.

    4. ilev said on July 2, 2014 at 8:40 am

      1.duckduck displays 10% of Google’s search results and doesn’t support right-to-left and many other languages.
      2. Nothing beats Google maps, other map services don’t cover the majority of the world and local languages.
      3. what is IE ? (~5% market share on all devices, dead browser).
      4.Hard but doable.
      6.Maybe you can’t escape youtube, but you don’t need to watch. I use click-to-play.
      7. Microsoft Mobile (there is no Nokia mobile any more), Jumping Tiles on Android with 0 applications ? Failed.

      1. Swapnil said on July 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm


        IE having 5% market share? Keep dreaming. On desktops, IE has close to 50%, so whichever way you want to calculate, IE’s market share is above 20% at least, taking all devices into account.

        And agreed, nothing beats Google Maps, because Google actually focused on other markets, while Microsoft is seem to be stuck at America and some parts of Europe.

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