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Google has been under a lot of fire in the past year or two for their questionable policies regarding privacy. Personal privacy has always been a huge issue for people and the fight takes on a whole new appearance when dealing with the Internet’s openness. To some people, companies like Google have gone too far, leading them to shun the company altogether.
So what can you do when Google encompasses a ton of products and services all around the world and you want to escape their control? When complaints and protests don’t work, the best way to speak your mind is to quit using Google – quit using their products and services. But with a company as pervasive as Google, this can be extremely difficult.
I personally like many of Google’s offerings, but if you’re one who wants to quit, I’ll show you the main steps that you need to take to release yourself from their grip. Beware, though, that some people who have tried to quit Google have ended up loving the company all the more.
Log Out of All Google Services
The first step to not use any of Google’s services is to not use any of their services. The easiest way to do this is to log out of all of your Google accounts and never log back in again. Recently, Google has been consolidating a lot of their services under one account (Google Plus, Gmail, YouTube, etc.) so logging out of one tends to log you out of them all.
If you find yourself tempted to log back into these accounts, then you’ll want to take a more drastic measure: delete your Google accounts. Deletion is always a scary action because it’s so final, but if you’ve certainly made up your mind 100% that you want to quit using Google, account deletion may be necessary to keep you on track.
How do you delete your Google account?
- Log into your Google account.
- Navigate to the Account Settings page.
- Click on the “Close account and delete all services…” link.
My recommendation is that you do not delete your Google accounts if you feel any sort of hesitation at all. Google is pretty all-encompassing and you might feel a lot of regret if you ever decide to return to Google one day.
New Search Engine: DuckDuckGo
Now that you’ve freed yourself from Google’s grasp, you’re going to have to find alternate services to use. Since Google’s main service is Google Search, what can you use instead? Well, considering that most people will quit using Google due to the privacy concerns, you’ll want to use a search engine that doesn’t impede on privacy.
When talking about privacy, the search engine that often comes to mind is DuckDuckGo. It’s not a very good name (certainly not as easy to say as Google) but it has some great policies in place: your searches are never tracked, your data is never stored, and DuckDuckGo never shares any information with any other party ever.
If DuckDuckGo isn’t enough for you, then you may want to try either WolframAlpha for (sheer search power) or Bing (for familiarity). WolframAlpha has a bit of a learning curve, though, so it’ll take some getting used to. Bing on the other hand… well, it’s Bing.
New Email Service: Hotmail or GMX
Gmail is arguably the second most popular Google service in the world. It was the first to pioneer free email storage limits in the gigabytes and it has made impressive strides in the world of web-based mail. However, it’s an unsettling thought knowing that the world’s most powerful information company has access to all of your email exchanges.
A lot of you will instantly reject the Hotmail recommendation with a disgusted gag, but you really ought to check it out – especially if you haven’t used Hotmail in the last year or so. They’ve overhauled the design, making it extremely user-friendly, pleasant to the eye, and just a flat-out enjoyable experience.
As for GMX, it’s the “free email service you’ve been waiting for.” The web-based interface is rather good, they offer unlimited email storage, attachments can go up to 50 MB, and your privacy is guaranteed with encryption. If you’re still wary about it, just know that over 13 million people already use GMX so obviously they’re doing something right.
New Video Sharing Site: Vimeo
Though YouTube wasn’t originally a Google creation, they did buy the site back in 2006 and have made it into what it is today: the central hub for user-generated videos. Ask any of your friends if they know what YouTube is; I bet you’ll have an impossible time finding even one who doesn’t know!
So if you want to completely quit Google, you’re going to have to quit YouTube, too. Now that’s a daunting idea. Google Search and Gmail are personal services, but YouTube is a worldwide phenomenon. Quitting that is going to be extremely hard.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many video-sharing sites that are as good or popular as YouTube. The closest one, in my opinion, is Vimeo. Other contenders include Blip.TV (mostly focused on webisodes, web shows, and web series) and Veoh (which doesn’t have many restrictions at all).
New Maps and Directions: Bing or MapQuest
With the recent debacle involving Apple and their Maps app, a lot of people have reevaluated the usefulness of Google Maps. As it turns out, Google Maps is one of the best, if not the best, map services in existence today. If you want to quit Google, you’re going to have to give this up, too.
For as much slack that Bing receives, their map service is actually pretty good. The satellite images are arguably better than the images in Google Maps: more crisp and at a clearer angle. Their maps are prettier, too. The downside is that Bing’s “Search Nearby” is nowhere near as good as Google’s, but that’s no surprise.
MapQuest used to be really popular before the advent of mobile GPS apps and Google Maps. In recent years, though, they’ve completely revamped their interface into something more modern and fresher. It’s not as feature-rich as Google Maps, but it’s pleasant to use and holds a lot of promise.
New Web Browser: Firefox or Opera
How can we talk about leaving Google without abandoning their web browser? Chrome has become such a household name in the last five years and a lot of users will immediately install it after a fresh format of their computers. However, if you want to be consistent, then yes: you do need to replace Chrome if you want to forever quit using Google.
My recommendation is Firefox, which you’ve probably heard of already. Even though I personally prefer Chrome over Firefox, it is a strong alternative. After all, you don’t become an internationally-recognized name without doing something right along the way. If you detest Firefox, then my next recommendation is beautiful and sleek Opera.
One additional note here: If you really want to quit using Google, you also need to stop Google from tracking you through their Analytics program. Fortunately, Google provides browser extensions that prevent Analytics data from being collected (it’s called the Opt-out Browser Add-on). However, if you don’t trust Google to block themselves like that, you could always use something like Ghostery.
If you want to quit using Google, then these are the main steps that you need to take. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? In the process of writing this article, I had to take a deep breath and process just how much of my daily life revolves around Google’s services. It was quite a shock, I’ll tell you that much.
I couldn’t imagine a world without Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, or Google Maps, but if this is the road that you’ve chosen, I wish you good luck. If you’re already on this road, then please share your experiences with us in the comments.