Alternatives to Google Services

The ubiquitous Google!

If you are concerned about your personal privacy in the internet age, one of the most important items on any website is their privacy policy.  Recently Google has come under scrutiny for its privacy policy and the modifications Google has made to what they do and how they share the data they collect on you.  So the $64,000 question is: Does Google's privacy policy make you concerned? 

If you don't know, or if the answer to that question is yes, I strongly urge you to read Google's privacy policy.

On March 1, 2013, Google commenced with its new privacy policy.  Among other things, Google can make users' browsing history available to all other Google products.  While Google has provided some tools to help you secure your information, Google still collects "anonymous" data statistics.  Through matching IP addresses and other ways, it is still possible to trace a visitor's information.  

If you want to stop using Google's services, it can be a challenge.  But there is recourse! 

Step one: Stop using Google's services

Start with logging out of Google's services.  This moves your actions from being user identifiable to anonymous data collection.  But as I stated above, there are ways around this!  Understanding the full array of services that Google offers will help keep you from accessing Google's services. 

Searching for information

There are a number of excellent search engines that do not get the notice they deserve.  Finding the right one for you will depend on what you are looking for:

  • Bing / Yahoo search -  For familiarity, Bing's search engine, developed by Microsoft and licensed to Yahoo, is an excellent resource. 
  • Ask.com - Ask.com grew out of the original website www.askjeeves.com.  It was a foray in to natural language searches so that visitors could ask questions in complete sentences and the site would return the most likely matches to what the visitor wanted.
  • duckduckgo.com - This is a smaller search engine that has an excellent privacy policy. 

There are many other search engines that you can use.  Be aware though that many search engines utilize Google Search in some way.  For instance, searchers on aol.com have their search results "enhanced by Google". 

email service

For email, there are several routes you can take.  Personally, I prefer to have self-hosted email that is attached to my hosting account.  I do this for both my personal email and for my professional email.  If you are looking for web-based email,  many hosting providers (mine included) offer a web-mail interface to access your email.  

If you are looking for hosted email, and you aren't concerned about the domain, there are many email service providers, including:

There are many other email services that you can look at.  Each offers a slightly different set of capabilities, premium service and free service.  About.com has a great article on 15 free email services  (yes,  one of them is gmail).

video sharing

While none of the alternative video sharing sites have the ubiquitous presence of YouTube, one of the best alternatives to YouTube is Vimeo.  For a quick rundown of other Free Video sharing sites, check out the blog post from Freemake Blog - Top 7 Free Video Sharing Sites

Maps and Directions

Once upon a time, the go to site for mapping and directions was MapQuest.  They are still around and still provide top notch directions.  Others have entered into the market, including Bing.  After Google Maps, these two are probably the best.

Social Media

While Google Plus does not have the same weight as Facebook or Twitter, it is still widely used and will have an effect on your search engine rankings.  But, are you concerned about your personal information ranking highly in Google Search?   Probably not if you are considering leaving Google because of privacy concerns.  This one is somewhat of a no-brainer!  There are many social networks out there that focus on specific demographics or on special niches.  Find and utilize focused interest social media sites instead!

Conclusion

Quitting Google can be challenging.  The most important piece is to identify the Google services you currently use and find suitable alternatives.  While you are at it, don't forget about your browser!  Do you use Google Chrome?  Then DON'T!  There are a number of other browsers available on the market today that you can use instead, including Firefox, Opera, Safari and yes, even Internet Explorer.

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