With growing concerns about online privacy and the security of personal data, more people than ever are considering alternatives to Google products. After all, Google’s business model is fundamentally centered on data collection and advertising, both of which compromise user privacy. More data allows for better (more targeted) ads, which in turn, translates to more revenue for Google. The company pulled in over 0 billion in ad revenue in 2022, a figure that continues to rise each year.
Guest author Sven Taylor is the editor behind Restore Privacy, a blog dedicated to inform about best online privacy practices, secure your electronic devices, unblock restricted content and defeat censorship.
But the word is getting out. A growing number of people are searching for alternatives to Google products that prioritize their privacy and data integrity. If you’re reading this, we believe you are one of them.
When beginning the journey of restoring digital privacy, some people get overwhelmed with all the work involved, and perhaps give up. Don’t let that be you. Understand that you don’t need to do everything right away. Instead, start small and go step by step at your own pace. With each step, you get more security and control over your personal data, which is a small victory.
So don’t be overwhelmed, and remember, there’s no “one size fits all” approach to this process. Even minor changes, like adopting a private search engine or using a privacy-centric browser, constitute meaningful strides. Persist in your pursuit of enhanced privacy, and celebrate every milestone along the way.
Note: The lists below are not ranked in any specific order. Select products and services that align with your individual requirements.
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 eight Google search alternatives to consider:
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.
See the new and updated best private search engines guide for additional information. Here we also explain that some “private search engines” are actually owned by advertising companies. Three examples of this are Startpage, Search Encrypt, and Ghostpeek.
Gmail may be convenient and popular, but there are three major problems:
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.
Here are twelve alternatives to Gmail that do well in terms of privacy:
More information on these providers is available in the secure and private email services guide.
Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it’s also a data collection tool. Even major media outlets are starting to take notice, with the Washington Post stating that “Google’s web browser has become spy software” with 11,000 tracker cookies observed in a single week.
Google (and the online ad business as a whole) is expected to ditch cookies in favor of a new tracking and data collection system. And as you would expect from the world’s largest advertising company, this new systems also comes with privacy problems.
Here are seven alternatives that offer more privacy while still being secure against hackers and other miscreants:
Of course, there are other alternatives to Chrome. These include Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Vivaldi among others. But each of these comes with privacy drawbacks. More discussion on this topic can be found in the guide on secure and private browsers.
Google Authenticator makes it easy to use 2FA (two factor authentication) on sites and services that support it. But it only works on your smartphone, and doesn’t save backups of your authentication keys. If your mobile device is lost or stolen, regaining access to all your sites and services can be a real headache. There are a number of alternatives out there, including:
There’s only one drawback to Authy for us privacy types – it is not open source.
Other alternatives to Google Authenticator include the authenticator built into some password managers (NordPass, for example) and hardware security keys like the Yubikey line of products.
If you’re looking for a private, secure cloud storage option, you can check out these Google Drive alternatives:
There are many other well-known Google Drive alternatives like Dropbox, but they don’t score high marks in the privacy category.
If you are looking for a solution that includes both email and calendar functionality, these providers offer that:
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:
Here are a few good Google Photos alternatives:
Unfortunately, YouTube alternatives can really be hit or miss, with most struggling to gain popularity.
Note: Invidio.us was one of our favorite YouTube alternatives. It worked as a proxy, allowing you to watch any YouTube video without logging in, even if the video is somehow restricted. Unfortunately, Invidious.us shut down on September 1, 2020. There are some alternative sites out there, but we can’t vouch for their security, privacy, or anything else. If you want to give one or more of them a try, you’ll find a list of alternate Invidious instances here.
Here are a few Google translate alternatives I have come across:
If you want to translate blocks of text, check out DeepL. If you want in-depth translations for single words or phrases, then Linguee is a good choice.
For website owners, there are many reasons to use an alternative to Google Analytics. Aside from privacy concerns, there are also faster and more user-friendly alternatives that will respect your visitors’ privacy. Also, let’s not forget legacy (good) Analytics is now gone and Analytics 4 is a truly horrible product.
Many websites use Google Analytics because they run AdSense campaigns. Without Analytics, tracking the performance of these campaigns would be difficult. Nonetheless, there are definitely better options for privacy.
A map alternative for PCs is OpenStreetMap. Waze was a popular alternative to Google Maps until it was acquired by Google.
A few Google Maps alternatives for mobile devices include:
The best Google Play Store alternative is to use F-Droid, an installable catalog of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. See the F-Droid website or the official GitHub page for more info.
Other alternatives to the Google Play Store include:
TechSpot APK mirrors – Our downloads section includes a selection of popular Android apps downloadable in APK form. While not a full Play Store alternative, we do host a subset of recommended apps that go through our standard scanning and certification procedure.
Want to ditch the Chromebook and Chrome OS? Here are a few alternatives:
The two predominant desktop OS are Windows and macOS. Techies have voiced privacy concerns about Windows for many years. For various reasons, Windows has earned a bad reputation for protecting your privacy. While slightly better than Windows, Apple uses macOS to collect user data and has partnered with government agencies for surveillance.
The biggest alternative to Android is Apple iOS, but that’s no big winner when it comes to privacy either. Here are a few Android OS alternatives that can boost your mobile privacy:
Here are some Google Hangouts alternatives:
To learn about these and other Google Hangouts alternatives that protect your privacy, check out our guide to the best secure messenger apps available.
Google Domains is a domain registration service (which Google recently sold to a third party). Here are a few alternatives:
Here more alternatives for various Google products:
Google forms alternative – JotForm is a free online form builder.
Google Keep alternative – Below are a few different Google Keep alternatives:
Google Voice alternatives – JMP.chat (both free and paid), Line2 (paid)
G Suite alternative – Zoho is probably the best option
Google Firebase alternative – Kuzzle (free and open source)
Google Blogger alternatives – WordPress, Medium, and Ghost are all good options.
Do you care about your privacy? Most people looking for Google alternatives have woken up to the fact that they are paying for free products with their private data. In the United States, UK, and Australia, internet service providers are also recording your online activity. This information can be legally sold to third parties (in the US), or saved in government databases (UK, US, and Australia).
Aside from government surveillance agencies, there are many private companies tracking your data (in addition to Google, Facebook, and the other usual suspects). To retain a basic level of privacy and security online, you need three tools:
1. Private and secure browser
We covered 7 Chrome alternatives above, but the secure and private browser guide dives into this issue more intensely. Your browser can reveal lots of private and sensitive data to third parties; be sure to choose carefully.
2. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN will encrypt and anonymize your online activity from third parties, while also hiding your true IP address and location. Simply install the VPN app on your device, connect to a VPN server, then go about your business as normal. This effectively solves the ISP spying problem.
A VPN will effectively block your internet provider and third parties from snooping your activity and tracking you by your real IP address. In the best VPN services list, I examine some of the top VPN providers while also looking at a few direct comparisons. Here are my favorites:
3. Ad blocker
Many ads also function as tracking for large advertising networks. A good ad blocker is an important privacy tool that will also improve page load speeds and de-clutter your browser. For a good understanding of the issues along with recommended products, check out this ad-blocker guide. The privacy tools guide discusses other solutions as well, including password managers, secure messenger services and more.
Do you have any other tips or suggestions for Google alternatives? Feel free to drop a comment below. This guide will be regularly updated to reflect the latest information and user feedback.