When it comes to privacy, using Google search is not a good idea. When you use their search engine, Google is recording your IP address, search terms, user agent, and often a unique identifier, which is stored in cookies.
Here are ten alternatives to Google search:
- StartPage – StartPage gives you Google search results, but without the tracking (based in the Netherlands).
- Searx – A privacy-friendly and versatile metasearch engine that’s also open source.
- MetaGer – An open source metasearch engine with good features, based in Germany.
- SwissCows – A zero-tracking private search engine based in Switzerland, hosted on secure Swiss infrastructure.
- Qwant – A private search engine based in France.
- DuckDuckGo – A private search engine based in the US.
- Mojeek – The only true search engine (rather than metasearch engine) that has its own crawler and index (based in the UK).
- YaCy – A decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer search engine.
- Givero – Based in Denmark, Givero offers more privacy than Google and combines search with charitable donations.
- Ecosia – Ecosia is based in Germany and donates a part of revenues to planting trees.
Note: With the exception of Mojeek, all of the private search engines above are technically metasearch engines, since they source their results from other search engines, such as Bing and Google.
Gmail may be convenient and popular, but there are three major problems:
- Your inbox is used as a data collection tool. (Did you know Google is tracking your purchasing history from the receipts in your inbox?)
- Rather than seeing just emails, your email inbox is also used for ads and marketing.
- The contents of your inbox are being shared with Google and other random third parties.
When you remain logged in to your Gmail account, Google can easily track your activities online as you browse different websites, which may be hosting Google Analytics or Google ads (Adsense).
Here are ten alternatives to Gmail that do well in terms of privacy:
- Tutanota – based in Germany; very secure and private; free accounts up to 1 GB
- Mailfence – based in Belgium; lots of features; free accounts up to 500 MB
- Posteo – based in Germany; €1/mo with 14 day refund window
- StartMail – based in Netherlands; $5.00/mo with 7 day free trial
- Runbox – based in Norway; lots of storage and features; $1.66/mo with 30 day free trial
- Mailbox.org – based in Germany; €1/mo with 30 day free trial
- CounterMail – based in Sweden; $4.00/mo with 7 day free trial
- Kolab Now – based in Switzerland; €4.41/mo with 30 day money-back guarantee
- ProtonMail – based in Switzerland; free accounts up to 500 MB
- Thexyz – based in Canada; $1.95/mo with 30 day refund window
More information on these providers is available in the secure and private email servicesguide.
Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it’s also a data collection tool – and many people are taking notice. Just a few days ago, the Washington Post asserted that “Google’s web browser has become spy software,” with 11,000 tracker cookies observed in a single week. Here are seven alternatives for more privacy:
- Firefox browser – Firefox is a very customizable, open-source browser that is popular in privacy circles. There are also many different Firefox modifications and tweaks that will give you more privacy and security. (Also check out Firefox Focus, a privacy-focused version for mobile users.)
- Iridium – Based on open source Chromium, Iridium offers numerous privacy and security enhancements over Chrome, source code here.
- GNU IceCat – A fork of Firefox from the Free Software Foundation.
- Tor browser – A hardened and secured version of Firefox that runs on the Tor network by default. (It also does a good job against browser fingerprinting.)
- Ungoogled Chromium – Just as the name says, this is an open source version of Chromium that has been “ungoogled” and modified for more privacy.
- Brave – Brave is another Chromium-based browser that is rather popular. It blocks trackers and ads by default (except for “approved” ads that are part of the “Brave Ads” network).
- Waterfox – This is a fork of Firefox that is configured for more privacy by default, with Mozilla telemetry stripped out of the code.
Of course, there are other alternatives to Chrome, such as Safari (from Apple), Microsoft Internet Explorer/Edge, Opera, and Vivaldi – but these also come with some privacy drawbacks.
Google Drive alternatives
If you’re looking for a secure cloud storage option, you can check out these Google Drive alternatives:
- Tresorit – A user-friendly cloud storage option based in Switzerland.
- ownCloud – An open source and self-hosted cloud platform developed in Germany.
- Nextcloud – Nextcloud is also an open source, self-hosted file sharing and collaboration platform, based in Germany.
- Sync – Based in Canada, Sync offers a secure, encrypted cloud storage solution for businesses and individuals.
- Syncthing – Here we have a decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer cloud storage platform.
Of course, Dropbox is another popular Google drive alternative, but it’s not the best in terms of privacy.
Google Calendar alternative
Here are some Google Calendar alternatives:
- Lightening Calendar is an open source calendar option developed by Mozilla, and it’s compatible with Thunderbird and Seamonkey.
- Etar, an open source, basic calendar option.
- Fruux, an open source calendar with good features and support for many operating systems.
For those wanting a combined solution for both email and calendar functionality, these providers offer that:
Google Docs / Sheets / Slides alternative
There are many solid Google Docs alternatives available. The largest offline document editing suite is, of course, Microsoft Office. As most people know, however, Microsoft is not the best company for privacy. Nonetheless, there are a few other good Google Docs alternatives:
- CryptPad – CryptPad is a privacy-focused alternative with strong encryption, and it’s free.
- Etherpad – A self-hosted collaborative online editor that’s also open source.
- Zoho Docs – This is another good Google Docs alternative with a clean interface and good functionality, although it may not be the best for privacy.
- OnlyOffice – OnlyOffice feels a bit more restricted than some of the other options in terms of features.
- Cryptee – This is a privacy-focused platform for photo and document storage and editing. It’s open source and based in Estonia.
- LibreOffice (offline) – You can use LibreOffice which is free and open source.
- Apache OpenOffice (offline) – Another good open source office suite.