Going without Google

This article on Zen Habits caught my eye today. Basically it’s about going without Google. Having done basically the same thing about a week ago, I thought I’d share how I went through the process.

The reason I decided to close my Google account was for the same reason as Leo (from Zen Habits). I don’t like the idea of a single corporation having access to all our personal data, no matter how “Don’t Be Evil” they are.

Gmail: I hadn’t been using Gmail for a few months anyway. I use the mail server on my web host, and download it via POP to Outlook on my desktop. I don’t care much about IMAP; if I’m on the move I don’t care about my email.

Calendar/Reader: For these I also use Outlook. For calendar, Outlook is second to none (basically, it was designed for corporate scheduling). For RSS, it’s less than ideal, but it’s decent. It’s nice to have it all in one program. If you don’t have Outlook, Thunderbird will do the same thing for free (and has better support for GPG to boot).

Search: Unfortunately I’m still a sucker for Google search. Along with all the sites Leo tried, I also used Dogpile. None of them even come close. Without an account however, Google only really can store my IP. Since I have a dynamic IP address and I’m behind a NAT router, that isn’t very useful.

Maps: Another hard one. There isn’t really an alternative (Microsoft’s solution within Bing is awful). I just use it without an account. Same functionality, less data stored by Google.

Other Google services: I never used them. I use Firefox, not Chrome. I use Word and Excel, not Google Docs. I use Facebook to share my photos.

You’ll notice in that last sentence there I mentioned Facebook. You may have read my essay Why I no longer use Facebook…, and in which case are wondering why I went back. The answer is simple. Within my circle of contacts, no Facebook equals no social life. Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen with Google.