I wrote a bit about my reasoning to De-Google here. Now I want to write a bit about my progress, the struggles and what I ended up with.
Or Google as many think of it. This one I have toyed with off and on with over the years. But a while back probably around a year ago.. I was listening to a podcast. I think either Ask Noah Show or one of the Jupiter Broadcast Linux podcasts and was inspired to challenge my self to switch and see how it went.
I switched to:
It was one that I had tried direct comparison searches with before.. Every time I would feel it wasn’t as good. But I went ahead and switched it as my default on my phone.
At first I noticed what felt like results not showing. Felt like I was digging a lot. The same sort of thing I see everyone else complain about and turn away. But I decided to stick it out.
Before long I stopped noticing. I also almost always find the result on the first page. No different than Google.
What I’ve come to realize is I’m no longer depending on what Google knows about me to help me find what I want and instead I have become better at searching.
Google knows you, it knows the typed of things you would look for. It farms data on lots of people just like you. So of course its able to fill in the gap.
I’ll take training my brain my privacy any day!
I almost forgot to add. I actually feel kind of bad.. I help move a lot of people to Chrome from other browsers. 😔
I have to give Google major props for Chrome. The web was getting a bit stagnant. With Chrome it feels like they gave the web the kick in the pants we needed to evolve.
But it’s still Google and my browsing habits is my data. So I switched to:
Firefox has gotten a lot better! Like night and day difference. Its fast, lighter on memory, looks a bit better and perhaps most importantly…
Its maintaining some diversity. Most browsers now use chromium or at least blink under the hood. Competition is good. Firefox’s phenoix like rise from the the ashes is proof enough of this.
I keep chromium and brave around as a backup for times when Firefox doesn’t cut it.
I drug my feet for the longest time on this. I had a grandfathered in Google apps free account for my domains email. So I’m already in better shape then most.
I started off in a similar way to search. I first started using a non-gmail account on my phone. Desktop I used Thunderbird or Mail.app on osx. This started to train my self to not really care about the gmail features.
Then after really dragging my feet some more… I eyed protonmail.. But didn’t really feel like the encryption they provided and plan options ever really was that great of a deal.
I switched to:
Self-hosted with mail-in-a-box
This made it so simple! Simple enough for me to spend half an hour to set it up a $5 droplet on DigitalOcean and have it receiving email for several domains and a couple of new ones 🙂
Took another few hours to fail miserably with the terrible Google Takeout export of my email. Then force Thunderbird to fully download all of my mail and then push it all back up. Moral of story just use IMAP and you can move your mail anywhere.
I’m not 100% satisfied with this. I think in the future I will use some sort of docker based solution or roll my own. So I can self host a few more things a bit easier. But I got through the hardest part… I got my data back.
One of my biggest tie-ins to Google has actually been mobile. I’ve had a nexus or pixel for as long as I can remember. I tried Samsung and absolutely hated the skin they threw on it.
I tried ROMs like Cyanogenmod but it was always so buggy.. My phone is the one device I need to just work.
I tried just switching apps but I’d find my self right back into Google Assistant, Google Now etc…
So I switched to what only an insane person would:
I probably just lost 99% of you 🙈
But doing this in one fell swoop I cut off a lot of temptation and random little Google apps.
This also let me see how the other side is. To be honest not that different.. I haven’t really missed anything.
But I think this really helped cut my reliance on Google and I feel a lot less reliant on any particular phone OS.
I’m keeping my eye on pinephone. Very exciting work being done. I’ll be buying one to play with before too long.
All photos used to backup automatically in full resolution to Google Photos. By having original pixel I got this for free.
Yeah… I’m still looking for a good place to store this. But at least I’m paying for this service and am not the product.
I’m open to suggestions on self hosted. I’ve already pulled down my 2-300GB Google Photos archive.
Another byproduct of using Android my Google account was default.
I’m thinking about using nextcloud.
I never really used Google Drive or any of the gsuite.
I like writing markdown. Downside… typing on mobile doesn’t work very well. Especially copy and pasting or moving cursor.
Nextcloud might fill this gap. But I don’t feel a void to fill right now.
I think I’ve used every incarnation of messenger Google has had and killed off. I had all of my family on Google Hangouts in group conversations.
Yeah I know.. One evil for another. I was traveling and one of the services I could use for free and worked best in Brazil was WhatsApp. Moving my family, in-laws, etc off is battle for another day.
I would like to get them all using a self hosted Rocket.Chat workspace. One day!
Edit to clarify: This was replacing my need for extended family communication groups. My wife’s family my family and extended family thats pretty much it. For other communications I use Rocket.Chat for team collab, signal, keybase chat or sms(which if they do happen to have iMessage does convert). I definitely do not trust facebook any more than Google.
Used Google Music a lot and actually really liked its recommendations. But even before my De-Googling exercise I noticed that they started pushing YouTube Music. Rumor is it will be replace with YouTube Music. My guess is to leverage all of the music brought on by artists with vevo.
Its one of the few services I don’t mind paying for. It does an okay job at playing music I might be interested in.
Looking through my phone at the Google Apps installed.
Youtube is the only app/service I visit any more for personal use. I’ve tried using invidious.. But I don’t know how much this really helps. Also if I self host then the data is then tied to me… so kinda defeats the purposes.
When ever I do find my self having to access Google I do so in a separate Firefox Container.
Overall I feel like I’ve done a great job removing my reliance on Google! I have a feeling I will be self hosting a lot more in the future. Maybe more on that another time. 😉