The Google alternative

It’s so good – so why bother?

Google products are used in schools throughout the world. Google offers training for teachers, accreditation for schools and Chrome is a browser of choice for many, if not the majority. Google is convenient and low cost. However, Google is not available everywhere and Bill Hess thinks there are other good reason for schools to consider alternatives.

Market leader

Google is arguably the most famous tech company in the world. Over the years, they’ve developed a wide range of highly advanced applications and services. For some, the internet wouldn’t be the same without Google products.

Why?

Google’s applications are free and cross-functional on pretty much any device. Now, you might be wondering why all these advanced products are free of any charge, but in fact, there is a cost, and you are the product.

Core business strategy

Google’s core business strategy is focused on the willingness of users to share every piece of data generated by their online activities. Google monitors how you use their products, where you use them and so on. You can see your own activities via Google My Activity.

The information is used to create a personal profile and you can find your own profile on the Google ad settings page. Your profile is used in targeted advertisements.

Even people who aren’t browsing the web while being logged into their Google account are being tracked via Google AdSense (ad banners) and Google Analytics (website analysis tool).

For these reasons alone, people should think carefully about the advantages and disadvantages of using Google products.

Regional restrictions

Then there are users who need to find alternatives to Google products, which, are banned, for example, in China. Even though Google is formulating new products for the Chinese market, the current trade standoff between China and the U.S. isn’t make things easier.

Finding  alternatives might be a wise strategy, as I don’t expect any sudden changes in the foreseeable future.

So what are the alternatives if you need – or would like to – find something that is not Google? Here are my favourites:

1. Search engines

Here are my three favorite alternatives to the Google Search Engine:

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo does not track you, it’s also not targeting you with ads and it doesn’t collect or share any of your personal information. Most of the data in their search engine is collected through their own crawler

StartPage

According to their own website, StartPage is the most privacy-minded browser available. And to top it all off, they claim to return the exact same search results as Google.

searX

searX returns the search results of other search engines without storing any user data. It’s an open source project meaning you can examine the code yourself as well.

2. Webmail

According to Litmus, Gmail is with 26% the 2nd most popular email app after iPhone’s email client. Yet, their app tracks every message, attachment and scans your inbox to target you with personalized ads. Also, third-party app developers have access to this data.

These email providers are incredibly secure:

StartMail

StartMail was developed by the same people as the StartPage search engine. It’s a fully encrypted email provider which seamlessly integrates with Outlook, Apple Mail and others.

Tutanota

Tutanota is one of the most famous secure email providers out there. It’s fully encrypted and can be used on any computer, iOS and Android.

3. Browsers

Other popular browsers such as Safari and Firefox are not in this list because they’re not any different from Chrome privacy-wise and Google will still be able to monitor your every move when using them. These are my favourite alternatives:

Tor Browser

The Tor browser enables complete anonymity due to the fact that it’s running all your searches and other activities through a network of relays. By doing so, your IP address is always hidden and tracking your activities and location is impossible.

The Tor browser is also a ideal when browsing in China because it has the ability to access any blocked content. A major downside, however, is that Tor is slow.

Brave

In my opinion, Brave is the best solution for teachers. Simple fact is, Brave is designed to block all ads and trackers, as well as other dangerous malware threats.

In addition, the developers claim that Brave significantly improves your browsing experience by decreasing the page load time immensely.

4. Shared documents

Google docs and sheets are both incredibly popular apps because they are super easy to work with multiple people in one folder or one document in real-time. You can even work in Google docs while being offline and it’ll save the changes once you’re connected.

Obviously, you can always make the decision to abandon Google Docs and Sheets and replace them with Word and Excel (which are better in my opinion anyway).

Unfortunately, these programs are quite expensive and I’ve therefore listed an alternative to Google Docs and Sheets.

Zoho Writer

Like Google Docs, Zoho Writer also offers the ability to work together with anyone in one document, in real-time. All you need is access to an internet connection.

The best thing is: it’s completely private & free.

You’ll be required to create an account and you’re ready to go.

Zoho Sheet

Zoho Sheet has the exact same features as Zoho Writer – it’s private & free and you can collaborate together in one file with multiple people, in real-time.It’s also fully compatible with other Microsoft Excel files such as .ods, .csv and .tsv.

 

Bill Hess

Bill writes regularly on the topic of online safety and privacy. For more about his work and his top tips for private, secure use of the internet , see PixelPrivacy.com.

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