Privacy Matters! 5 Apps That Keep Your Data Safe and Private
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If you are serious about protecting your privacy, you need to use the right apps to do it. You can’t rely on the Microsofts and Apples of the world. Switch to one of these apps guaranteed to keep your data safe from spies.

A lot of apps are snooping on what you are doing. Google is known to read your mails How Much Does Google Really Know About You? How Much Does Google Really Know About You? Read More , and some cloud storage providers even delete files that they think might be illegal. As for your instant messages, who knows how many government agencies are spying on Facebook and WhatsApp?

1. Standard Notes (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS): A Private Notepad

A notepad is one of the most important apps on any computer or smartphone. It only makes sense then that your notepad should sync across devices. We usually suggest Simplenote Simplify Note-Taking & Sync Notes Everywhere With Simplenote Apps Simplify Note-Taking & Sync Notes Everywhere With Simplenote Apps Simplenote and its ecosystem of apps for every platform toss all the superfluous features found in competing note-taking programs and focus on the ones that matter. All Simplenote apps sync effortlessly, with minimal interfaces that... Read More for this, but if privacy is a concern, check out Standard Notes.

It’s similar to Simplenote and Apple’s Notes app. The left sidebar has a list of all your different notes, while the right shows the contents of each note. It’s text only, you can’t save images or videos here. And all your notes are encrypted by default to protect your privacy.

privacy apps keep data safe secure standard notes

The free version automatically syncs notes across devices, and works offline too. But if you want to backup your notes, it will cost you $4.99 per month. This premium account also supports extensions for Standard Notes.

If features matter more than privacy, and you can’t pony up the five bucks, there are alternatives. Simplenote is probably the best notetaking app out there, but you should also look at these other auto-saving notepad apps 5 Best Auto-Saving Notepad Apps for Every Platform 5 Best Auto-Saving Notepad Apps for Every Platform Sometimes all you need is a simple notepad. But one that is fast and auto-saves whatever you type. These are the best note-taking apps for various platforms. Read More .

Download: Standard Notes for Windows (Free), macOS (Free), or Linux (Free)
Download: Standard Notes for Android (Free), iOS (Free)

2. OnionShare (Windows, Mac, Linux): Share Files of Any Size, Privately

Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are the three big players in the file-sharing market today. But none of them are private. It’s a growing concern for whistleblowers. If Snowden needed to share files today, what should he use? Enter OnionShare.

privacy apps keep data safe secure onionshare

OnionShare is an open-source tool that uses the Onion network of proxies What Is Onion Routing, Exactly? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Onion Routing, Exactly? [MakeUseOf Explains] Internet privacy. Anonymity was one of the greatest features of the Internet in its youth (or one of its worst features, depending on who you ask). Leaving aside the sorts of problems that spring forth... Read More . This masks your IP address and routes your file across several servers. The end result is that no spy can figure out where the file is originally sent from. OnionShare also encrypts the file, to be doubly sure.

Both you and the recipient will need to install OnionShare to use it. It’s a peer-to-peer file sharing service, so both users will need to be online at the same time.

Download: OnionShare for Windows (Free), macOS (Free), Linux (Free, read instructions)

3. 0Bin (Web): Private Clipboard to Paste Text or Images

When you want to share some sensitive text or images, you want to ensure it goes to the right person. 0Bin is a private clipboard to paste text or images, much like PasteBin or Imgur.

privacy apps keep data safe secure 0bin

Go to the site and it’s ready to use, no signup necessary 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds Collaborating online can save you and your team both time and money. Collaborating quickly can save a bit more. These tools are ready to go when you are. No registration required. Read More . In the text box, paste whatever you want. Or use the Upload File button to choose an image from your hard drive. 0Bin has a built-in burner that will destroy the message after a certain time, so choose the expiration period. Finally, click Submit and share the link with whoever you want.

Everything you put in 0Bin is encrypted by default. You can read more about the encryption details in the FAQ page. And in case your last paste shows up again, don’t worry, that’s just coming from your browser’s local storage.

4. EtherCalc and EtherPad (Web, Desktop): Private Google Docs and Google Sheets

Google and Microsoft both offer office suites online for free. Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 both let you share files with others, and collaborate on them in real time. But can you really trust Google and Microsoft? If your answer is no, use the private word processor EtherPad, and the private spreadsheet app EtherCalc.

privacy apps keep data safe secure othercalc

Neither app is as full-featured as what you’ll get from Google or MS. But these private apps do the basics right, and protect your data from snoops. All the information is encrypted, so the only person who can read your file is someone you gave the link and password to.

EtherPad is easy to install and works as you might expect. EtherCalc is a bit more difficult, and you’ll need to use Node.JS to run it What is Node.JS and Why Should I Care? [Web Development] What is Node.JS and Why Should I Care? [Web Development] JavaScript is a just a client-side programming language that runs in the browser, right? Not any more. Node.js is a way of running JavaScript on the server; but it's so much more as well. If... Read More offline. You’re probably better off using the web app alone to create a private spreadsheet in your browser.

5. Wire (Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS): Best Private Messenger?

It’s awesome that WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption Why WhatsApp's End-to-End Encryption Is a Big Deal Why WhatsApp's End-to-End Encryption Is a Big Deal WhatsApp recently announced that they would be enabling end-to-end encryption in their service. But what does this mean for you? Here's what you need to know about WhatsApp encryption. Read More now, but there are still other privacy issues to tackle. Skype co-founder Janus Friis believes his new app Wire is the most secure and private instant messenger today. And several experts agree.

privacy apps keep data safe secure wire

Wire is free and works on all the major platforms. It encrypts text, audio, and video chats. The company lays a particular emphasis on the quality of the audio and video chats, even with continuous encryption.

Wire has been quite open in how they protect their users. Several security experts have reviewed their approach and praised it. In fact, quite a few said that Wire is better than Signal or other private messengers 4 Slick WhatsApp Alternatives that Guard Your Privacy 4 Slick WhatsApp Alternatives that Guard Your Privacy Facebook bought WhatsApp. Now that we're over the shock of that news, are you worried about your data privacy? Read More .

Download: Wire for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS (Free)

Privacy vs. Convenience: What Matters More?

At this point, you should know that online privacy matters Why Online Privacy Matters and 5 Ways to Reclaim It Why Online Privacy Matters and 5 Ways to Reclaim It Privacy threats are all around us. Today, the impact and dangers of online privacy breaches are major. These few resources explain the pitfalls clearly and concisely. Read More and you should protect it. The “I have nothing to hide” argument no longer holds water. But privacy and convenience are often at war.

When you choose an app, does convenience trump privacy for you? If you know that a messaging company reads your data, would you stick with it because most of your friends use it and you don’t want to be left out?

Would you use a free app with dubitable privacy or a paid app with full privacy control?

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  1. jake
    November 16, 2017 at 2:37 am

    This is a great topic to cover and a great list of applications.

    I wanted to do Standard Notes but no 32bit support on Linux and the app wouldn't run on on my phone... Settled for Simple Notes (which is awesome) but it doesn't encrypt at rest (so nothing too sensitive). I do have it setup with multiple mobile devices and various OSes - it's been remarkable in this regard.

    OnionShare, 0Bin and EtherCalc/EtherPad are new to me. Will be looking into them.

    Big fan of Wire Messenger. I'm glad to see them listed.

    I might also suggest Cryptomator. Basically encrypts folders online and locally. I've only run it locally. If you do any online storage, Cryptomator will put your mind at ease re: encrption at 'rest'. Even encrypts filenames/directory names.

  2. Hildy J
    November 14, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    KeePass is the gold standard for storing text completely privately and free and using AES-256 encryption and accessible from any device.

    It is free and open source software that started life as a password manager but now allows freeform text fields. It encrypts/decrypts files locally and if you forget your password KeePass can't decrypt the file. It can sync via encrypted files stored on the cloud in Dropbox.

    It started on Windows PCs and has been ported to many other PC and smartphone operating systems (I use KeePass2Android on my phone).

    Other apps may be prettier but for security and cross device compatibility (not to mention cost) KeePass is the way to go.

  3. Klosters
    November 14, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    As an alternative to Wire, I would recommend Threema (https://threema.ch/en) as top privacy messenger, since you do not have to give your phone number and you can use it completely anonymous. However, I'm generally happy that people consider safe messengers at all.

  4. Marc C
    November 14, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Paid. That being said, due to Governmental requirements, few if any tech companies, truly keep your data private.