Google makes some of the best software and services, and make them available for either free or at pretty competitive prices, but it all comes at the cost of your privacy, after all just like Facebook, it has a business model that’s built on surveillance.
In 2019, Google made over $162 billion in revenue. Just about 83% of that revenue, about $134.8 billion, came from the advertising platforms made possible by data collected from people, just like you and me.
Google trackers can be found on 75% of the top million websites which means they are not only tracking when you are using their services like Search, Mail, etc, they’re also tracking when you visit random websites you visit, and using all of that data to serve you personalized ads that follow you around the Internet.
Your personal data can also be subpoenaed by lawyers, Google answered over 150,000 such data requests in 2019 alone! But the word is getting out, More and more people are realizing the risk of relying on one company for so many personal services. There are lots of alternatives to Google products that respect your privacy and data.
Most of the alternatives I have mentioned are free, though even those that are paid are worth it.
A Note on Google Alternatives
There are many companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Zoho that also offer pretty much all the same apps and services offered by Google like Search, Mail, Cloud Storage etc. But, they aren’t that much great when it comes to your privacy, I will only be listing Google alternatives that have good privacy practices, open source code, with freemium versions
Google Search Alternatives
Google search is the largest search engine on the planet, providing you with arguably the most accurate search results, but it comes with the cost of your privacy. Google tracks your internet searches to serve you with personalized ads on millions of websites and services that use Google Ads services.
Here are the best alternatives to Google search:
- SearX — open source, privacy respecting search engine that can be self-hosted.
- DuckDuckGo — private search engine based in US that doesn’t track you.
- Qwant — privacy respecting search engine based in France.
- Metager — open source privacy respecting search engine based in Germany, run by a Non-Profit.
- Mojeek — independent, unbiased and privacy respecting search engine based in UK, that has its own crawler and index.
- Startpage — privacy respecting search engine based in the Netherlands, owned partly by System1, an ad-tech company.
- YaCy — decentralized, open source, and peer-to-peer search engine.
- Ecosia — privacy respecting search engine that plant trees, based in Berlin.
- Swisscows — privacy respecting, family friendly search engine based in Switzerland.
- WolframAlpha — computational knowledge engine that gets answers by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms and methods.
Most of the search engines are metasearch engines that use Google, Bing, and other sources to deliver search results to you, with Mojeek, YaCy, and WolframAlpha being the exception to a certain extent.
Check out updated private search engine guide for more information.
Gmail is arguably the most popular email service, that is free, easy to use, and comes with lots of great features. But, just like Google search, Gmail collects your email data to track your purchase history, and make a profile on you to serve personalized ads.
Here are the best alternatives to Gmail:
- Tutanota — secure, open source, and privacy respecting email service based in Germany, with free accounts of 1 GB storage.
- ProtonMail — open source, secure and private email service based in Switzerland, with free accounts of 500 MB storage.
- Soverin — secure, and privacy respecting email service based in Amsterdam, from €3.25 / month.
- Mailbox.org — secure, private email service based in Germany, powered by green energy, from €1 / month.
- FastMail — secure, and private email with lots of features, from $3 / month.
- Posteo — secure, and privacy-friendly email service based in Germany, powered by green energy, with free accounts of 2 GB storage.
- StartMail — private, secure email service based in the Netherlands, from $59.95 / year.
- Distroot — private, secure, decentralized email service based in Amsterdam, with free accounts of 1 GB storage.
- Mailfence — secure, private email based in Belgium, with free accounts of 500 MB storage.
- Runbox — secure, and private email service, powered by green energy, based in Norway with 1 GB of storage starting from at $1.66 / month.
You should switch to an encrypted instant messenger like Signal, instead of emails as even when using end-to-end technologies like OpenPGP, there will be some metadata that is not encrypted in the header of the email, and it doesn’t support Forward secrecy.
Chrome is by far the most popular web browser on the planet, which is pretty secure and open source. But, it is a data hogger that has been dubbed as spy software, which collects lots of your personal data like browsing & search history to profile you and serve personalized ads.
Here are the best alternatives to Google Chrome:
- Mozilla Firefox — extremely customizable open source browser by Non-profit, Mozilla, with lots of privacy and security features and add-ons.
- Brave Browser — chromium based open source browser, built for privacy and security, with lots of great features.
- Tor Browser — hardened version of Firefox designed for privacy, security, anonymity configured to run on Tor network.
- Ungoogled Chromium — “Ungoogled” version of chromium, without any of Google stuff, modified for privacy.
- Iridium Browser — another alternative fork of chromium, designed with privacy and security in mind.
- GNU IceCat Browser — open source rebranded Firefox by GNU free software project.
- PaleMoon Browser — another Firefox fork with the focus on customizability.
- Vivaldi Browser — another chromium-based partially open source browser, with lots of great features.
- DuckDuckGo Browser — open-source browser for Android, and iOS with built-in ads and tracking protection.
- Onion Browser — free and open source version of Tor Browser for iOS, developed by Mike Tigas.
I would recommend going with Mozilla Firefox (blink) or Brave (chromium) for most people, you can check out this updated web browser guide for more recommendations and information.
Google Drive Alternatives
Google Drive is a pretty nifty free cloud storage service by Google, but you should switch to a privacy-respecting cloud storage solution that is end-to-end encrypted.
Here are the best alternatives to Google Drive:
- ownCloud — encrypted, open source, and self-hosted cloud platform, with support for calendar, contacts, mail, etc.
- Nextcloud — another secure, open source, and self-hosted cloud platform with lots of features like calendar, contacts, mail, gallery, document viewer, etc.
- Sync — encrypted and privacy respecting cloud storage service for individuals and businesses, based in Canada.
- Sia — completely decentralized cloud storage platform with no sign ups, no servers, no trusted third parties that uses blockchain to create robust and affordable data storage.
- Syncthing — free, open-source, and peer-to-peer file syncing application that works between your devices, requiring no cloud, no other devices.
- Cryptpad — free, open source, and end-to-end encrypted real time collaboration sharing folders, media, and documents.
- Tresorit — encrypted cloud storage service, based in Switzerland and Hungary.
- Seafile — open-source and self-hosted file syncing and sharing solution.
- Jottacloud — secure and private cloud storage provider based in Norway.
- Cozycloud — secure and private cloud with lots of features like password manager, expense tracker, etc, based in France.
Most of the alternatives of Google Drive are basically centralized cloud storage providers like ownCloud, NextCloud, Tresorit, Cozycloud that may also give you the option to self-host i.e. have your own server, while Sia and Syncthing are the decentralized ones.
YouTube is by far the most popular Google service after Google search, making it the 2nd largest search engine on the planet, it is extremely popular which is why there aren’t that many great alternatives as they struggle to gain popularity.
Here are the best alternatives to YouTube:
- Peertube — free, open-source, and decentralized video platform powered by ActivityPub and WebTorrent.
- DTube — decentralized video platform, built on Steemit and IPFS.
- Vimeo — video sharing and services platform based in NYC, works on an ad-free, subscription based model.
- Bitchute — another peer to peer alternative to YouTube, based in UK.
- Invidious — open source front-end alternative to YouTube with lots of features like video downloads including .vtt subtitles, watch restricted videos without logging in, etc.
- Bit.tube — another crypto-powered decentralized video sharing service.
- Dailymotion — another popular alternative to YouTube like Vimeo.
- Hooktube — a hook of YouTube allowing you to watch YouTube videos without adding views, tracking, country restrictions etc, while also providing video downloads.
- LBRY — decentralized platform for distributing and supporting creator’s work with the aim of being open, community driven “digital marketplace”.
- NewPipe — free and open source YouTube Client for Android that is ads free and lets you download YouTube videos.
Peertube is a promising alternative to YouTube, you can also use Invidious. Hooktube or NewPipe to get a better YouTube experience with more features and privacy.
Google Calendar Alternatives
Here are some privacy respecting alternatives to Google Calendar:
- Lightning Calendar — free and open source calendar add-on for Thunderbird or Seamonkey by Mozilla.
- Etar — free, open source, and simple calendar app for Android.
- fruux – free and open source service for contacts, calendars & tasks sharing, synching and collaboration on all of your devices.
- EteSync — secure, end-to-end encrypted, and open-source sync for your contacts, calendars and tasks.
- Nextcloud Calendar — free, open source and self-hosted calendar, mail, storage and much more on NextCloud.
- Email Providers — most of the alternative email providers like Tutanota, ProtonMail, Mailfence and others already have a built-in calendar.
Google Docs Alternatives
There are lots of great alternatives to Google Docs, Microsoft offers Office Online for free. Here are some great alternatives to Google Docs:
- CryptPad — free, open source and private-by-design alternative to popular office tools and cloud services where all content is end-to-end encrypted.
- Etherpad — free, open source, and self-hosted collaborative online editor.
- NextCloud — free, open source and self-hosted calendar, mail, storage and much more on NextCloud.
- LibreOffice — free, open source, and fully featured office suite that works offline, based on Apache OpenOffice.
- OpenOffice — free, open source, and fully featured office suite that works offline by Apache.
Go with Cryptpad if you need a full featured office suite online, or switch to LibreOffice that offers all kinds of document management software for offline use.
Google Photos Alternatives
Google Photos is just awesome — free, unlimited storage for photos up to 16 megapixels and videos up to 1080p resolution, but it isn’t your best bet when it comes to privacy.
Here are the best alternatives to Google Photos:
- Piwigo — free, open source, and self-hosted photo gallery software for the web, designed for organizations, teams and individuals with lots of features.
- Lychee — free, open source, and self-hosted photo management software, built for photographers.
- Photoview — another free, open source, simple and user-friendly photo gallery that can easily be installed on personal servers.
- Cryptee — open source, privacy-focused platform for photo and document storage and editing, based in Estonia.
- digiKam — free and open source professional photo management software to organize, tag, compare and process photo collections.
There isn’t a cloud service provider that will store your photos for free while respecting your privacy, choose Piwigo or Lychee to host your own server, or you can just use Cryptee.
Google Hangouts / Google Meet Alternatives
Here are the best alternatives to Google Hangouts:
- Signal — a free and open source instant messaging app that checks out pretty much all the boxes when it comes to your privacy and security.
- Jitsi Meet — an opens source, encrypted video conferencing app that you can use for free without any account sign ups. You can use it by downloading the app or directly in a browser.
- Nextcloud Talk — a premium, open source, encrypted, peer-to-peer video conferencing solution that lets you easily share your screen for group chats, webinars & public web meetings.
- Tox — a free and open source peer-to-peer instant-messaging and video-calling protocol that offers end-to-end encryption that also lets you screen sharing, file sharing securely.
- Wire — a secure collaboration platform with messenger, voice, video, conference calls, file-sharing, and external collaboration –all protected by the most secure end-to-end-encryption.
- Jami — a free and open source peer-to-peer messaging app that is end-to-end encrypted. It connects directly to each other without requiring any Servers in between, and is available on all devices.
- Riot — a federated instant messenger based on Matrix protocol, an open source standard for decentralized and secure real-time communication with E2E encryption.
- Telegram — another fairly popular messaging app with lots of features but it isn’t completely open source and uses its own proprietary encryption scheme called MTProto.
Stick with signal for personal usage and video chats, you can use Jitsi or Nextcloud Talk for more professional features of video conferencing.
Google Translate Alternative
Google Translate is a pretty nifty tool, here are some privacy-respecting alternatives to Google Translate:
- Apertium — a free/open-source rule-based machine translation platform, available for macOS, Windows, and Linux with support for a whole host of languages.
- DeepL Translator — a great alternative to Google Translate that has apps for both macOS and Windows, there is a multilingual dictionary called Linguee.
- Tatoeba — free and open source database of sentences and translations, with its content ever-growing and results from the voluntary contributions of thousands of members.
- Wikitionary — not really a translation service like others, but you can get translations, meanings, pronunciations, usage, etc of words in more than 158 languages, by Wikimedia Foundation.
- Ludwig.guru — a linguistic sentence search engine with contextualized translator.
DeepL and Aperitum are the best ones if you are looking to translate blocks of text, you can also use Ludwig or Wiktionary to get more information about a particular word.
Google Maps Alternatives
Here are the best alternatives to Google Maps:
- OpenStreetMap — free and open source map of the world, created by people just like you.
- MAPS.ME — free, fast, detailed and completely offline maps for all your mobile devices.
- OsmAnd — free and open-source mobile maps app for both Android and iOS, based on OpenStreetMap data.
- Qwant Maps — free and privacy respecting mapping service by Qwant search engine.
- MapHub — built on OpenStreetMap and aims to make sharing maps as simple, while offering great collaboration for teams.
There aren’t a lot of alternative privacy respecting maps provider other than OpenStreetMap, you can use different apps OsmAnd to access it on your mobile devices.
Google Play Store Alternatives
There are lots of Google Play Store Alternatives offering free and open source apps, here are the best alternatives to Google Play Store:
- F-Droid — free and open source installable catalog of free and open source software (FOSS) apps for Android.
- Aptoide — free and independent alternative app store to discover apps and games.
- Aurora Store — free and open source client to Google’s Play Store, with an elegant design, that lets you update existing apps, search for apps, get details about app tracker & adware and much more.
- Fossdroid — another free app store takes its data from F-Droid and organizes the apps in an attractive Google Play-like arrangement, with the ability to view apps by what’s new / trending / most popular.
- YalpStore — lets you download apps from Google Play Store as apk files, and can search for updates of installed apps and lets you search for other apps.
F-Droid is your best bet if you are looking for a complete alternative to Google Play Store, you can also use YalpStore or Aurora Store to get apps from Google Play privately.
Even though, Android is open source but the one that ships with pretty much any android phone comes with lots of googles’ tracking stuff on top of the crap ware installed by phone manufactures.
Here are the best alternatives to Android:
- Lineage OS — free and open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers, based on the Android.
- Graphene OS — free and open source privacy and security focused mobile OS, formerly known as CopperheadOS.
- Replicant — free and open source mobile operating system putting the emphasis on freedom and privacy and security
- Ubuntu Touch — Ubuntu operating system for mobile phones originally being developed by the UBports community.
- Sailfish OS — another free and open source OS based on Linux, and a user experience built with the renowned Qt platform
- /e/ — a fork of LineageOS that aims to be completely free of everything Google.
- Plasma Mobile — an open source OS that turns your phone into a fully open hacking device, just like a PC.
- PureOS — a user-friendly, secure and freedom respecting OS for your daily usage, ships with Librem 5 phones by Purism.
- Paranoid Android — another open source operating system aiming to enhancing and extending capabilities of Android.
- OmniROM — free and open source custom ROM, feature-packed with stability as #1 priority in mind.
Lineage and Graphene are the most popular ones, and are available for most of the devices. Librem 5 is a privacy focussed phone that comes with PureOS.
MicroG is a super cool project that aims to reimplement the proprietary Google Play Services in the Android operating system with a FOSS replacement. The microG project also maintains a fork of LineageOS with microG and F-Droid preinstalled at Lineage for microG
Google Chrome OS Alternatives
There are lots of great privacy-respecting operating system alternatives to Chrome OS, here are some of the best ones:
- Qubes OS — free and open source OS that leverages xen-based virtualization which isolates different Desktop Environments.
- Tails OS — free and open source live operating system that can start on any computer from a DVD, or a USB Stick, and uses Tor Network for all kinds of Internet connections.
- Parrot OS — free and open source alternative to Kali Linux for developers and security professionals with robust features like AnonSurf.
Google Analytics Alternatives
Google Analytics is a very popular tool for web admins to analyze and track data for all kinds of website traffic in one place. There are much great privacy respecting alternatives to Google Analytics that are faster and more user-friendly.
Here are the best alternatives to Google Analytics:
- Matomo — Matomo, previously Piwik and before that PHPMyVisites, is a downloadable, open-source web analytics software. It provides detailed reports on your website visitors like search engines and keywords used, the language they speak, your popular pages, and so much more. Matomo also protects your visitor privacy with advanced Privacy features.
- Open Web Analytics — Open Web Analytics (OWA) is open source web analytics software licensed under GPL. OWA was created by Peter Adams and has been deployed by thousands of websites and developers.
- GoAccess — an open source real-time web log analyzer and interactive viewer that runs in a terminal in *nix systems or through your browser, it provides fast HTTP statistics for system administrators that require a visual server report on the fly.
- AWStats — a free and open source powerful tool that generates advanced web, streaming, ftp or mail server statistics, graphically. This log analyzer works as a command line and shows you all possible information your log contains, in few graphical web pages.
- Fathom Analytics — Fathom Analytics is an open source alternative that provides simple, privacy-focused website analytics.
- GoatCounter — an open source web analytics platform available as a hosted service or self-hosted app that aims to offer easy to use and meaningful privacy-friendly web analytics alternative to Google Analytics.
- Clicky — another alternative to Google Analytics that is lightweight, user-friendly, that truncates and anonymizes visitor IP addresses by default.
- Heap Analytics — another advanced yet user-friendly web and app analytics tool that lets you define custom events, track conversions and analyze funnels.
- GoSquared — an all-in-one platform for understanding converting more web visitors to leads, real time analytics, live chat, marketing automation and our unique customer data hub, integrated seamlessly.
Most of the websites use Google Analytics as they run Google AdSense campaigns. Without Google Analytics, tracking performance of these campaigns would be difficult. Nonetheless, these are still better options when it comes to user privacy and ease of use.
Other Google Alternatives
Here more alternatives for various other Google products and services:
- Google Domains Alternatives — Namecheap and Njalla
- Google Fonts Alternatives — Font Library and Font Squirrel
- Google Blogger Alternatives — WordPress and Ghost
- GSuite Alternatives — Nextcloud Hub and WikiSuite
- Google Keep Alternatives — Joplin and Standard Notes
Google Privacy Settings
If you can’t switch out of Google right now, there are a few settings you can change to make your Google experience just a bit more private, here are all of those privacy settings.
Delete Google Tracking Activity
Google tracks your every activity on the internet, you can check all and delete all of that activity by following these steps:
- Go to myactivity.google.com/myactivity
- From the left sidebar, click on “Delete activity by”
- Now, you can choose “All time” to delete all your Google Activity.
After that, go to Other Google Activity from the left sidebar to find more data that Google has on you to delete them.
Turn Off Google Tracking
Alright, now that you have deleted all your Google activity, lets stop Google from tacking you anymore.
- Go to myactivity.google.com/activitycontrols
- Here you can find options to turn off Web & App Activity, Location History, YouTube History, and Ad personalization.
- Turn all of them off by flipping the switch next to them.
After that, go to Payments & subscriptions page to find more personal data like Payment methods, Purchases. Subscriptions, and Reservations and delete them.
- PrivacyTools — an awesome community project aiming to deliver the best recommendations for privacy and security.
- AlternativeTo — a crowdsourced software recommendations website that will help you find free and open source alternatives to popular apps.
Moving from Google products like Search, Gmail can be hard but it is well worth your privacy. I hope you enjoyed reading about these privacy respecting alternatives to Google products.
That’s all Folks!
I will be updating this page frequently with more privacy and security tools and information. You can check out all the privacy and security tools i recommend here.
Do let me know of any feedback, tips, or suggestions based on privacy and security tools you are using, feel free to drop a comment below!