More De-Googling

Way back in 2014 I wrote a post about no longer being a Google fanboy. Over the last 9 years I’ve waffled on this a bit. I briefly dipped my toe into the Microsoft ecosystem, but found it lacking (and it’s still lacking to this day). So I gradually drifted back into the Google ecosystem for most of my needs.

Then last month, I learned that Google was doing away with yet another service that I really enjoyed, Google Domains. It’s where I had all my domains registered. It had very affordable prices and some good features like email forwarding that I used quite a bit. But Google did what they do best and they decided to get rid of it. At least this time they aren’t shutting it down completely, but are selling it to Squarespace. Since I have no interest in becoming a Squarespace customer right now, I decided to move my domains to another provider. After a brief and ironic Google search, I found what I was looking for in Porkbun.

This also got me to thinking about what else I can do to “de-Google” my life. Here are things I’ve started looking into that I’ve found some decent alternatives for:

  • Search: Google has been my main search engine since I abandoned Alta Vista (not kidding) over 20 years ago. I have briefly flirted with Bing and other search engines, but always manage to wind up back on Google. Recently I’ve made the switch to DuckDuckGo and have no real complaints. I also use Chat-GPT for coding questions when I get stuck in that realm.
  • Web browsing: Google Chrome has been my browser of choice since it’s release with a few steps back into the Firefox world throughout the years. Firefox is okay, but today I started giving Brave a try. It’s Chromium based, so it gives me a lot of what I like in Google Chrome, without the Google part.
  • Password management: This one has been a HUGE blocker for me in migrating away from Google. I really enjoy how seamless the Google password manager works across Chrome and Android and it has kept me locked into the ecosystem for a while. However, I started looking into other password managers and came across Bitwarden. It has a nice free tier that I’m trying out right now. It’s not as seemless as the Google password manager, but it seems to work well enough and there are others I can try if I’m not satisfied.
  • DNS: I use the Cloudflare DNS servers now instead of the Google public DNS servers. I’ve noticed no significant difference.

Here are the things that I still need alternatives for if I wanted to completely de-Google.

  • Phone: There aren’t very many good alternatives here, it’s either Apple or Google when it comes to phones and most other things aren’t worth the trouble. That being said, I have considered looking into getting an iPhone as my next phone. I already have an iPad and generally enjoy using that and appreciate how it handles permissions. iOS also tends to get apps sooner than Android and they tend to be of better quality. So this is a maybe for the future.
  • Document and file storage: I store a lot of files in Google Drive, mainly using it as archival, off-site storage. The only document I use regularly within Google Drive is my budget spreadsheet, and I’m currently writing an app to replace that. I should have no issues finding affordable off-site storage to replace Drive, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  • Photos: Google Photos holds all my photos right now. This probably falls in the same category as file storage, but I do enjoy that when I take photos, they are automagically synced to Photos without me having to do anything. I’ll have to look into alternatives that can give me that same functionality.
  • Messaging: iMessage is platform dependent, needing a macOS or iOS device. Google’s messaging is platform independent. That being said, I rarely use this, so I could definitely do without it.
  • Voice: I have a Google Voice number that I occassionally use for spam avoidance. Honestly, with this one I could probably just do away with it completely since no one of importance contacts me with the Voice number anymore.
  • Maps: There are alternatives, but nothing quite as good that isn’t already owned by Google. Maybe Apple Maps if I switch to iPhone?
  • Email: This one is the biggie that I just don’t see myself moving away from. There are many good alternatives out there and if Google suddenly did away with Gmail, there would probably be government investigations since it’s so widely used not only for email, but authentication as well. I’ll probably stick with this one until the bitter end.

I’m sure I’m leaving some things out here, but the real point I’m trying to make is that Google’s abandonment of yet one more project really has me thinking about jumping ship on other things. And in thinking about it, I’ve discovered there are some pretty great alternatives and have started pulling the trigger on moving things over. And the more I move away, the less data Google can sell. Is that what they really want?