Reducing my Google dependency
March 2, 2019
As a fan of their search engine, I quickly jumped to try lots of Google’s services. Even before having an smartphone I was already using GMail or Google Calendar. With time, I started using many other services from them as they keep providing and ever more integrated experience:
- Search and maps
- Email, video-conference and calendar
- Blog hosting, analytics and advertising
- Web browser and smartphone OS
- Music and video streaming
- Photos, document and file sharing
Trying to find some alternatives
However with time I was getting more concerned about the amount of information they were gathering about me. I guess awakening point was when I bought a phone with Google Assistant and by default it was aware of my location. It became a bit scary for instance when it offered traffic advice after realizing it was my time to go home after work. That, combined with the fact that, after going public, they even stopped trying not to be evil, made me think about other alternatives.
This is what I achieved so far:
- For searching the web I started using DuckDuckGo, a privacy-friendly alternative. During working hours, I’m still using Google Search, which for technical related topics seems to be more accurate. However for my personal devices (phone, table and personal computer), is a good enough replacement and my new default search engine.
- I gave a new opportunity to Firefox instead of Chrome. They have improved a lot in the last years, and since they introduced quantum, performance is much better. I didn’t notice speed degradation.
- I replaced Google Analytics with Open Web Analytics and for my this blog, I recently stopped ussing Blogger in favour of GitHub.
- I installed an Nextcloud instance on my Raspberry Pi plugged 24/7 at home, and its working as an self-hosted alternative to Google Calendar, Drive and Photos.
To be honest, they provide great solutions. Is not just the point that they are so nicely integrated, if you want to switch you normally have to give up to some functionalities. Since I’m pragmatic what I’ve done so far is to replace the services that I’ve found good-enough alternatives or, in some cases, I use two services for the same thing. However I think it’s a good exercise to realize how much we depend on one single company.