After watching the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, I started to feel more aware of (and uncomfortable with) the trade offs of using a free service like Google (Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive) in exchange for my data being used to serve up ads.
I’ve had a Gmail account since 2005 and I have a ton of messages, attachments, files, photos, and calendar data.
But I didn’t realize how much data I actually had with Google.
When exporting all my data from Google with their Takeout service, I learned I had over 39 GB of data in Google services!
That was pretty shocking to me considering on the surface, free Google accounts only have 15 GB of storage for Gmail, Drive, Photos, etc. so I’m not entirely sure where the rest of the data came from. It’s probably best I don’t know. 🙈
Instead of using Google, I decided I wanted to use a paid service for email, contacts, and calendars and use my own domain name.
Here’s what I did…
I bought a new domain from my favorite registrar, Hover.
When searching for mail providers, I chose Fastmail because of their reputation surrounding privacy and security and because their entire business is focused around only offering email accounts, calendaring, contacts, and even file/notes storage.
Plus, they let you use your own domain name.
I found their pricing on plans to be very reasonable with different tiers based on what features are important to you.
For file storage, I decided to use iCloud Drive instead, since I’m already paying for 2 TB of storage from Apple as a part of their Family Sharing plan.
Arguably, the biggest part of Google’s service offering is search. To stop using Google’s web search, I’m using DuckDuckGo instead, which is actually a terrific search engine. The results have been accurate and relevant and it’s easy to set it as the default on mobile and desktop browsing.
DuckDuckGo also has a clever way to use shortcuts in your search query to get you to the results you want faster. They calls this bangs — what a great name.
For example, a web search for !fastmail features takes you right to the Fastmail site with the query ‘features’ in their search box.
I’ve been on Fastmail for over 3 weeks now and I gotta say, I’ve been very happy with the service and don’t miss Google’s services.
I think it’s healthy to research and explore options every now and then to make sure you’re comfortable with the technology and services you’re using.
If you’ve read this far, you may also be interested in No More Google - Privacy-friendly alternatives to Google that don’t track you.
Delete your Google Account
Happy computing! 🤓