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Google powers internet search for just under two-thirds of U.S. adults. Google produces routers, installs fiber connections, and is working on driverless vehicles. Google’s Android is now the mobile operating system of choice for 86 percent of all smartphone users, and well over 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market.

There aren’t many areas where Google isn’t involved. But search and data remains the primary income source, and long shall it remain. Google has unfettered power over our internet search. Privacy advocates believe Google simply has too much power and too much responsibility for a single corporation to handle.

Are those privacy concerns unfounded? Moreover, should we give in to Google for the best user experience? Let’s find out.

What Does Google Do With My Data?

Before we begin, let’s establish exactly what Google does with your data. There is uncertainty about how the search giant processes, anonymizes, and reuses your data. In fact, Google is pretty clear about what it does. Furthermore, they’re cooperative if you want to clear your data How To Clear Your Data From Google & Attempt To Regain Some Of Your Privacy How To Clear Your Data From Google & Attempt To Regain Some Of Your Privacy Wiping all trace of you from the web is not easy, but after reading Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin you might just want to try. It's time to stop willingly throwing away your privacy. Read More or assert more control over your privacy settings (more on this, later).

The TL;DR is this: Google encrypts and anonymizes your data, and uses it for a few of their core products. For instance, it helps streamline contextual search responses and autocompletes, or blends with other data sold to advertisers buying bulk data.

“Much of our business is based on showing ads, both on Google services and on websites and mobile apps that partner with us. Ads help keep our services free for everyone. We use data to show you these ads, but we do not sell personal information like your name, email address and payment information.”

Google is primarily an advertising company, and that is how your data is used.

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Give In to Google

Without waxing completely lyrical, here are five reasons you should use — and only use — Google.

1. Unprecedented Search

When was the last time you said “Hey, Steve, just quickly Bing that for me?” That’s right. Never. Unless you were looking for a specific type of video, you’ve never said that. The same goes for other types of search, too.

You might use Wolfram Alpha if you have an interesting or scientific question. You might use Social Searcher to find specific trending links.

But you’ll keep coming back to Google for your day-to-day search, especially if you use Chrome as your primary browser.

2. Unrivaled Ecosystem

Your Google account is somewhat akin to an internet passport. You flash it on entry to a website and you’re in (though this comes with certain caveats How Facebook & Google Website Logins Can Lead To Data Theft How Facebook & Google Website Logins Can Lead To Data Theft Login with Facebook. Login with Google. Websites leverage our desire to sign in with ease, but at what cost? Vulnerabilities with popular website login systems by Google and Facebook have raised security concerns. Read More ). Similarly, if you use Chrome, when you sign into a freshly installed browser, your bookmarks, personal settings, and username/password combinations are instantly transported to your fingertips. (Though you should be wary of saving all your passwords in browser Why You Should Use Browsers for Browsing, Not Saving Information Why You Should Use Browsers for Browsing, Not Saving Information Read More !)

The seamless experience continues throughout almost all Google products, from your desktop into your smartphone and/or tablet. There is only one company that can compete with the Google ecosystem. Its direct rival: Apple.

3. You Can Rely on Google

This ties into the Unrivalled Ecosystem section a little, but deserves its own section. Google is reliable. Their servers never go down (partly due to massive server redundancy).

In 2014, the Turkish government censored Twitter and other social media outlets. In response, Turks spray-painted Google Public DNS addresses How to Bypass Web Filtering and Censorship in the UK and Turkey How to Bypass Web Filtering and Censorship in the UK and Turkey Read More (8.8.8.8, and 8.8.4.4) throughout cities as a way of circumventing the block 5 DNS Servers Guaranteed to Improve Your Online Safety 5 DNS Servers Guaranteed to Improve Your Online Safety Changing your DNS provider can dramatically improve your computer's defenses against online threats -- but which should you choose? We show you five DNS providers you can switch to today. Read More . In short, their service is always online, always running, and always helpful.

4. Replace Microsoft Office

A core Google ideal is offering alternative services that can compete with established players. You’ve likely used Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides at some point. When combined with Google Drive, you have a full-featured document editing and sharing service that you can use, for free.

Many consider Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides a worthy, free replacement for Microsoft Office 4 Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office 365 4 Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office 365 Microsoft Office 365 offers the perfect integration of a desktop office suite with its web-based counterpart. Can any of its free alternatives compete? We look at four office suites with both offline and online features. Read More — but I’m not so sure.

5. Android Powers the World

Apple was once a smartphone pioneer. No doubt about it. But Android brought smartphone technology to the globe. The iOS vs. Android fanboy battles can (and will) continue Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget You love your Android phone and want to buy a tablet. Everyone tells you the iPad is the best tablet, and it really is the best; but you should still buy an Android tablet. Read More . But there is no doubt that Android powers the world, just as Google powers search.

Google Keeps Your Data Safe

Those are just a few reasons. But there are more. Google parent company, Alphabet, has a vested interest in securing your data. And that means constant protection across the myriad Google services you use across the web.

There are an almost unfathomable number of trackers on the internet now. Most sites feature a hidden Facebook pixel, among others. Advertising and audience insight giants Quantcast process 30 petabytes daily. Your anonymized data passes under the eyes of thousands of advertisers everyday — anonymously.

Of course, this data is accessible to anyone with the money to purchase it. And while advertisers are simply pushing a product, the data can be misappropriated (e.g. Cambridge Analytica using data for political targeting, or the Conservatives in the U.K. blurring the lines of targeting Facebook campaign advertising).

Furthermore, Google is transparent. Or rather, they’re the most transparent of the numerous multinational corporations that hoover up data. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and their competitors do not come close to as much data transparency compared to Google.

Remember the Windows 10 release, back in 2015? The internet erupted in disgust at the integrated Microsoft telemetry. Yet two years later, we’re still not 100 percent sure on what kind of data Microsoft receives from Windows 10, despite their efforts at transparency Privacy and Windows 10: Your Guide to Windows Telemetry Privacy and Windows 10: Your Guide to Windows Telemetry With the advent of the Windows 10 Creator's Update, Microsoft seems to have decided to be more transparent about their data gathering activities. Find out how much is gathered, and what you can do. Read More . (Worried? Learn how to control your Windows 10 telemetry and other settings Control Your Windows 10 Settings for Subtle Changes Control Your Windows 10 Settings for Subtle Changes Did you catch everything the Windows 10 Anniversary Update changed? Privacy settings may have been reset, several Group Policies were revoked, new bugs were introduced, and that's not all. Read More .)

Google Is Great

The amount of data Google has control over is astounding. But time and time again, they’ve illustrated their commitment to openness, as well as detailing exactly how our data improves their services for everyone.

Privacy advocates have serious concerns about Google. There are reasons you might want to stop using Google search and other services. But the truth of the matter is that Google makes life a little bit easier and gives us back what we need most: time. I’m sure that is worth handing over our anonymized data for.

And if you’re truly worried, you can always use a VPN to protect your data 7 Completely Free VPN Services to Protect Your Privacy 7 Completely Free VPN Services to Protect Your Privacy If you're looking for a free VPN, the choices are currently limited, with many services switching to a paid model. These free virtual private networks can be used to avoid region blocking and more. Read More along with a Google search alternative 7 Google Search Alternatives and Their Trademark Features 7 Google Search Alternatives and Their Trademark Features Are you a die-hard Google user? Give these alternative search engines a try. From privacy to helping out charitable causes, these search engines could give you some reasons to change the way you browse. Read More .

Should we just give in to Google? Do Google services make your life that bit easier? Would you be loath to let it all go? Or should we be protecting our data in case Google turns rogue?

Image Credits: 4Max/Shutterstock

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  1. Sean Broderick
    June 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Hi Gavin,

    Good article and I appreciate the sentiment but it omits too many of Google's failings. Allowing widespread display ad fraud, allowing music to be put on YouTube ensuring that content creators like musicians don't get paid royalties, endless anti-trust violations that the EU are chasing them for, the list goes on. I just finished Jonathan Taplin's book 'Move Fast and Break Things'. I'd highly recommend reading it. Excellent takedown of the monopoly and monopsony power of Google, Facebook and Amazon.

    Sean

  2. ReadandShare
    June 21, 2017 at 4:08 am

    Google is awesome. My phone and tablet both run on Android. My desktop, I use Chrome, Gmail and Voice.

    But, IMHO, the best way to kill off continued innovation / risk taking is to allow any one company to monopolize the market. So yes, use Google products by all means (good article by the way, Gavin!), but I suggest we encourage innovation by ensuring competition. There are other good browsers (Firefox), good search engines (StartPage), good Office (Kingsoft WPS or Libre), good maps (Here), good cloud storage (Mega or OneDrive).....

  3. Pierre
    June 20, 2017 at 9:00 am

    NOPE - - No Way
    that Google is too big an Juggernaut, to be ever Trusted.

    • Gavin
      June 20, 2017 at 9:20 am

      It is massive. But do you worry about your social media accounts? At least your data is being useful when you use Google.