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Degoogle: Cutting Google out of your life (jmoore.dev)
1257 points by ra7 28 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 616 comments

I dropped all google services and it wasn’t that hard.

The most tedious part is moving accounts from your gmail to your new email (I switched to using my own domain backed by fastmail).

Even with a password manager and a list of all my accounts this took me an entire day. You also learn how terrible most non-software company account management is.

On a lot of sites changing email is impossible. On some it lets you do it, but doesn’t actually delete the old one on the backend so you get emails to both (and it becomes impossible to turn off notifications on the old one).

One site couldn’t handle custom email domains, one site told me to create a new account and ignore the old one. One site changed my email, but still makes me login with my old email as the user, etc.

I ended up using an alias for the less trustworthy sites and filing as many CCPA requests as I could to the companies to delete accounts (naturally the sites bad about accounts are bad about this too).

The only google service that is really relevant and hard to replace is YouTube. I plan to delete my old google account and have a fresh one with everything turned off that I only use for YouTube.

Other than that though, it’s been a lot simpler than I thought it would be. Google is starting to feel like Yahoo to me, a company without clear vision or purpose.

They better hope their ad revenue doesn’t decay.

Same here: Migrated all my gmail accounts to Fastmail. Took me two days. Migrated Google Docs to Dropbox. And replaced Google Sheets and Doc with a Microsoft subscription (MS Word and MS Excel).

Then there‘s the search engine. I tried hard to replace Google Search with DDG, but I have to admit that Google gives me better search results. Still I would love to leave this also behind.

Finally there is youtube for me. Ain‘t no alternative I know about.

It‘s hard to leave google completely behind.

Edit: Replaced Chrome first with Safari, then with Firefox and never looked back.

Edit 2: Moved all my photos from Google‘s cloud solution to iCloud when I migrated from Android to iDevices.

Edit 3: Fastmail (although a rather smallish company) do a phantastic job with their mail service. Their contact management and calendar are also superb. Fastmail + MailMate on MacOS are a dream-team.

> Then there‘s the search engine. I tried hard to replace Google Search with DDG, but I have to admit that Google gives me better search results. Still I would love to leave this also behind.

Try Searx[1]. It's a search engine aggregator that works with DDG, Google, and dozens of other search engines. You can self-host it or use one of the public instances.

[1] https://github.com/asciimoo/searx

I use searx and it's great. There are a lot of instances as well, this site has a list: https://searx.space/

There even are some which are accessible over Tor.

I've been using https://www.runnaroo.com/ and it's very good, better than DuckDuckGo in almost everything.

Sometimes I still fall back to Google but if that was becoming the norm on DDG, not anymore.

Another thing that helps is configuring custom search engines on Firefox. For example, for me typing `gh something` in the address bar does a GitHub search directly and so on.

I'm the creator of Runnaroo. Thank you so much for the kind words! It made my day. I was having the same experience where I kept having to fall back to Google, so this was a very much a "scratch your own itch" project.

Any idea why Runnaroo gives you better results than DDG? It doesn't seem to have better data sources.

>Any idea why Runnaroo gives you better results than DDG? It doesn't seem to have better data sources.

Not necessarily better data sources, but different data sources and a slightly different approach.

For organic results, the biggest different is that Runnaroo uses Google as the base for web results (similar to Startpage) where DDG uses Bing.

Outside of the organic results, Runnaroo's strategy is to integrate results from different vertical specific search engines who specialize in a niche topic. I call these 'Deep Searches' because they are essentially pulled from the database of the vertical source. It's the difference between getting an link to a website's home page vs. landing on the page and using their own search function to see the results.

For many queries, I believe this can provide higher quality SERP. For example, see the below results for "parkinson research" [0] or "react.js" [1]. The results are a lot more informationally dense than other search engines. Again, not necessarily better, but different.

DDG is still better for many queries(currency conversions, weather, etc), and definitely more polished, but I only launched Runnaroo a few months ago and new features and Deep Search sources are being added almost daily.

So TL;DR, Google results (with privacy) plus additional search results from relevant niche and authoritative sources.

[0] https://www.runnaroo.com/search?term=parkinson+research

[1] https://www.runnaroo.com/search?term=react.js

Is it ok to get Google results like that?

>Is it ok to get Google results like that?

It is. We integrate the Google results through their web search API, and comply with their usage terms of service (as we do with all the data partners we integrate).

I went basically the same route; got rid of my Google account (GMail, Android, etc.) and switched to an iPhone. The only things left where I indirectly use Google (see below) are precisely Google search and YouTube like you.

> Then there‘s the search engine. I tried hard to replace Google Search with DDG, but I have to admit that Google gives me better search results. Still I would love to leave this also behind.

I have the same experience; I’ve tried switching multiple times, but at least for scientific topics, I find DDG far inferior to Google Search. My current workaround is to use StartPage.com, which is just a website that searches Google for you, but without letting Google track you.

> Finally there is youtube for me. Ain‘t no alternative I know about.

If you don’t need to actively publish or comment on videos, you don’t need a Google account to get most of the convenience of YouTube. Personally, I just use a good old RSS client to track my YouTube feeds in the same place I track other content (e.g. HackerNews posts). If you say that you use iDevices, I can recommend “News Explorer”, which syncs your feeds via iCloud (in contrast to all the RSS solutions that require a separate sync account).

> I tried hard to replace Google Search with DDG, but I have to admit that Google gives me better search results.

In those cases where DuckDuckGo is not enough, just append !sp to your search, this will tell DDG to redirect your search to StartPage which is essentially a proxied Google search (the results come from Google but you as a user don't get in direct contact with Google itself).

I think Google's invasion of privacy can be regarded as a kind of "symbiotic parasitism" - they are able to leverage the information they harvest from you to improve search quality. A proxy won't give as good results as letting Google spy on you.

They show you results more like those they think you'll want. Woe betide you if you search political things; you'll be trapped in a partisan political filter bubble.

It is true that what Google judges to be best search quality is not the best for the world.

Yeah from my experience you get the kind of results that you would get from searching in an incognito window i.e. non-personalised (mmm although now that I think of it, they probably have fingerprinting techniques so that they can still track you while incognito)

or just !s

Is Microsoft Office really so much better than Google Docs in terms of privacy? Or is mostly just the "I hate Google, others are probably better" idea?

I received many documents in that format in the past. Actually that isn’t the case anymore. I just have thousands of legacy documents in doc/x and xlsx format on my computer. Other than that I don‘t use MS Word to create documents anymore. I prefer Emacs/Org + pandoc.

Yes. Microsoft Office is dramatically better than Google Docs in terms of privacy.

I hate using Office 365 with a passion. The usability is horrible. Google Docs is much more pleasant.

But in any environment where privacy or security matters, I'd pick it over Google Docs in a heartbeat. In my day job, I work with data with compliance issues. We use Microsoft technologies and zero Google. As obnoxious as Office 365 is, that's the right choice.

What's so usable about Google docs? I mainly use Excel and the Google docs version is unbearable in terms of ui speed and more limited in functions.

Office has more functionality, without a doubt. File compatibility, privacy/compliance/security, and functionality are key reasons to use it.

Google Docs, on the other hand, the things it does, it does well:

1) Works reliably and without bugs. Last Word document I worked with began crashing Word at some point.

2) Works collaboratively. Google Docs keeps docs in sync in realtime. Office 365 has enough lag to suck at collaboration.

3) Keeps better versioning and version history. Word has a half-dozen different ways to do this, none of which are as good. Again, this is important for collaboration

4) Works better with people outside your organization.

The things it doesn't do, well.... it doesn't.

I've never had issue with Google Docs around UI speed. I have with Word. I think part of the reason is the simpler document structure and format.

In addition, Google Docs has working search tools (so you can find documents), albeit not great organization tools.

For most of my work, I'm not doing fancy formatting or other crap. I'm writing plain text, often on a team. For that, Google Docs would kick Microsoft's butt, if I trusted Google to allow me to comply with legal requirements (Google makes clear I shouldn't), and if I trusted Google not to disconnect my account tomorrow, based on some ML algorithm which decides I look like a scammer, or randomly discontinue something I'm using mid-document.

Excel is not word, but ok. If you need to edit plain text, sure. That's not a particularly interesting use case.

I don't collaboratively edit documents with people - I'd rather send them a version, take comments/revision, go through the comments and decide, instead of having them change the document text without my knowledge.

As for my use case I use spreadsheets.

I make spreadsheets that query databases and perform analyses and then spit out reports. Anyone with excel, db permissions, and the right db connector can use them. Google's version doesn't even have half the features I'd need to get it to work when I checked a little earlier this year.

The UI on google sheets is brutally slow and painful to use compared to something running not in the browser. Maybe I'm an odd case because most of my files have tens or hundreds of thousands of rows.

also, on point 4, I think this is some kind of computer tech bubble. once you go away from computer tech, google sheets is not great with people outside my organization because they're all expecting excel.

I would argue collaboratively editing documents is by far the most common and interesting use case, followed by presentations.

You seem to have an odd, complex workflow which is representative of 0.001% of the population. I'm glad Excel works for you. Microsoft does well with a number of complex oddball legacy workflows, full of VBA macros and what-not.

Your style of working collaboratively isn't very collaborative. Google Docs does allow that (you can share with suggesting changes), but for the most part, there's a gap between getting feedback on a document, and working together on one. I find version control to be super-helpful too; it's not like I don't see the changes after someone makes them.

The mere fact that Microsoft actually has real customer support and implements features alone makes it better.

I was trying to rotate non-image / non-word-art text in a Google Docs table cell the other day and it’s literally impossible. I ended up having to create it as word art and position it as an image so it appears to be in the table but actually is on top of it

When I searched for Google support threads on how to rotate text in Docs, I only found forum posts by Google support agents stating that you can’t do it, which read to me approximately as “fuck you go away.”

Out of curiosity, what's the benefit of replacing Google Docs with Dropbox? I seem to remember HN's readership is occasionally hostile to Dropbox. Myself, I use it but the same drive that would have me ditch Google would also make me ditch Dropbox... (I haven't reached that point, though)

> Out of curiosity, what's the benefit of replacing Google Docs with Dropbox? [...] the same drive that would have me ditch Google would also make me ditch Dropbox

They're both for-profit US companies saving your data overseas, so yes, for your last point it doesn't matter much. However, there are two advantages:

1) You're giving your data to a company aiming to sell you storage space vs a company which tries to make money of selling your (meta-)data, where selling storage space is only a minor accounting item. This also gives clear priorities: Dropbox loosing or being caught selling your data is a big reputation hit to them [0], while for Google it would neither change their reputation nor their total revenue by much.

2) You're not putting your eggs in one basket. If you're all in on Google, loosing your account does kill your calendar, contacts, mail, storage (possibly with the backups you need right now) ... . Also, that one company has basically full access to your life. If you're using diversified services you're far less likely to suddenly loose access to multiple services [1] and those services only own a part of your data vs your whole life [2].

Concluding this, selfhosting surely is the superior solution. But if you must use external storage providers (i.e. as worst-case backup or due to lack of money/space for own servers), choosing Dropbox over Google has its advantages.

[0] Yes, I'm aware it has happened.

[1] Assuming 2FA and a reasonably secure mail service, of course.

[2] One could argue that Google is going to guard your data with world-class engineers while the other services are probably less well equipped and therefore you have an increased risk of (at least!) parts of your data being leaked. That's personal risk management, though, and the consensus seems to be diversification.

> selfhosting surely is the superior solution.

You go on to partly refute this, but not strongly enough. Self-hosting is clearly inferior in major objective measures: availability, durability, and security. Unless you spend all of your time managing your personal storage solution, self-hosting will be far inferior in these respects, and probably also in cost if a true accounting of time is included.

> Self-hosting is clearly inferior in major objective measures: availability, durability, and security.

I'd not go as far. You can have your setup behind a VPN on a high port, go for distributed storage (for example at your home and at your parents) and be rather secure with a stable, auto-updated distribution. Cold backups could be an encrypted blob in a cloud or a tape somewhere.

Now, of course this needs quite some upfront investment in time and money; without a solid setup, I fully agree that the cloud is superior (unless your prefer your data lost over read by the NSA).

Other than that, it mostly boils down to risk management: A third-party hacker might have an easier time with your network than Google or Dropbox, but being script-kiddie save is not that hard [0], so it needs to be someone with time and skill. TLAs can't simply subpoena your data, so it might be harder for them - unless your home network is setup badly [1] or they're willing to possibly burn a zero-day. Your day-to-day ad agency is not going to lay hands on your data. It really boils down to what aspect you optimize for; given the grandparent, I assumed it to be privacy and therefore selfhosting to be probably better. But I should've been clearer on that :)

[0] Yes, mistakes happen, but big corporations have also been hacked with trivial exploits, so let's call it even.

[1] This also poses a danger to your login data, though, so the Cloud security team does not help either.

Not so.

Availability: Raspberry Pi plus USB battery pack is more available than the Internet, since when my home power's down my Internet connection goes.

Durability: Have you ever heard of a Raspberry Pi dying?


  sudo apt install unattended-upgrades
  echo "0 4 * * * reboot" | sudo tee -a /etc/crontab
And all the functionality's available through Nextcloud. It's easier to set up than a Facebook account, and easier to maintain than a Google account.

This is assuming you don’t leave home. If you travel a lot, self-hosting on your residential internet connection is not going to be a very good experience.

When your house burns down?

Your house is less likely to burn down than Google is to cancel a service you use.

For my use case, I choose to be mostly serverless -- I use Resilio Sync. It's not a perfect solution as they still host the tracker and if one device cannot find another then it routes via their servers, but otherwise all my documents are stored on my devices.

Another feature lacking is sharing with a non-resilio user is not possible with Resilio Sync.

You can also try SyncThing, which works in a similar manner, but it's FOSS and you can host your own tracker.

While I like Syncthing and used it for a couple of years, my experience is that Resilio is way faster for syncing large numbers of files (e.g. Git repos or large photo collections). Resilio also appears to be more easily reachable behind routers and corporate firewalls that for some reason block Syncthing. For those with an iPhone, that platform is also supported by Resilio but not Syncthing.

This is my experience as well.

Conceptually, using what the SEO community feels google does every time google does an algorithm change that muddles SEM / organic after a revenue drop (source: mozcom 2019), you would have to assume they would keep marginally pushing incremental borders to ameliorate any drop or “lower than wall street expected growth” in ad revenue. So the OPs approach to fully migrate is consistent with that world view.

Texasbigdata -> texasbigsentence? ;) I think I even agree w you, but whoa cowboy, is that some stream-of-consciousness you've laid down there!

Haha...dammit. You win! :)

I loathe Google Docs for the horrible UX. Dropbox was great (modulo security/privacy) but they are increasingly moving away from what made it great (a simple file system abstraction). My absolute favorite today is Keybase (it includes cloud file storage too) which is the only of my options that I actually trust to be private.

Keybase recently sold itself to Zoom in what looks like an acqui-hire:


The blog post only talks about integrating Keybase's team - no mention of their product.

That was what I was referring to. They sent an update and wrote a blog post when it happened: https://keybase.io/blog/keybase-joins-zoom

"Ultimately Keybase's future is in Zoom's hands, and we'll see where that takes us. Of course, if anything changes about Keybase’s availability, our users will get plenty of notice."

No update since. Keybase still works (and I use it constantly), but will it be around in two years?

My first impulse was to move away from everything google. I don‘t know much about any wrong-doings of Dropbox. Maybe I need to do some research.

There appears to be a Wikipedia page dedicated to this topic:


This did it for me: https://www.drop-dropbox.com/

But if it hadn't, then probably this: https://help.dropbox.com/installs-integrations/sync-uploads/...

Dropbox was such a great and conceptually simple tool, having a kernel extension for smarter syncing feels like a step into Enterprise lala land.

Interesting, thanks for the link!

Of particular interest, if you're someone who's ditching Google services out of concern about privacy issues, is that Condoleezza Rice voiced support for warrantless wiretaps during Bush Jr's administration, and was also involved (to what degree is debatable) with the authorization to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" (aka torture). Whatever you personally think about these issues, if you're concerned about privacy, that she is in Dropbox's board of directors should be a big red flag.

Agreed, 100%.

I also wondered why she dropped out of public for a while, for current events.

Their board list probably has some good hints.

Nextcloud is indicated here.

I've run a nextcloud instance as a dropbox (+contacts/calendar sync) alternative for years. But recently I was looking through their collection of apps, and there's actually so much more you can do with it. It has a webmail interface, video conferencing, collaborative document editing, a Google maps replacement, feed reader, etc etc.. I haven't used most of these yet so I can't say how well they all work. And a decent number of them are basically just iframes to embed other services (eg, etherpad or BigBlueButton). But, as a whole, it pulls together a ton of the things you might think of as "internet utilities". It's a shame about the brand, because the idea of it being your Own [personal] Cloud fits really well. I could totally see running an instance for less tech-literate family members or friends. Particularly my grandma, whose collection of bookmarks in her toolbar basically comprise "her internet".

I ditched both for similar reasons.

I didn’t have a really strong need for either though and I do use iCloud to sync among my apple devices.

I also use iCloud for all my iDevices. It‘s not fast or as flexible as Dropbox but privacy wise I prefer them over any other cloud sync solution.

iCloud is the only one with servers in China, so it is objectively the worst privacy-wise.

You misunderstand the situation. Chinese users, in China, connect to iCloud servers in China.

They are not used for anyone outside China.

You misunderstand. Chinese users in China connect to Dropbox and Google Drive servers outside of China, where nothing is available to the Chinese government. Non-Chinese users in China connect to Chinese iCloud proxies in China, which handle data that has already been decrypted using the storage key, which remains outside of China, so anything the user accesses is available to the Chinese government. Chinese users in China have their iCloud data stored in China, where it is all accessible to the Chinese government at any time. Aside from that, there is no meaningful difference in privacy among the services.

DDG works well enough for me on anything but programming. The moment I need to search for anything programming related, Google works much better for me.

I'd recommend StartPage; essentially a proxy for Google.

Unfortunately they started blocking lots of tor exit nodes after they were bought by the advertising company.

Love Startpage, and get decent signals from them, but their ownership should be observed closely.

If it's about privacy, you can still use google search through various proxy search engines as others have mentioned.

That‘s a good perspective. Never thought about it that way.

I'm not sure if this will work. Google results are absolutely horrible for me, but not for my brother. It may be because they don't have a profile on me, but they have years of data on him. Using a proxy search engine may result in degraded results for someone who is currently getting good results from Google search.

>It may be because they don't have a profile on me, but they have years of data on him..."

That might be true, but I'm not sure. Outside of local searching I am skeptical of the benefits of filter bubbling.

I think it is just as likely that you and your brother have different opinions of relevance (even if you were both returned the same exact results unrelated to past activity), and the relevance decisions Google makes more align with your brothers perspective.

I am the creator of one of the search engines [0] named in the post. It will return the same exact organic results no matter who you are or what your prior searches were. Feel free to give it a go with your brother and see how it compares for both of you. For organic results, it works like DuckDuckGo does with Bing, but the difference is the main source of our organic results are actually from Google.

[0] https://www.runnaroo.com/

You can use a pejorative if you want, but context is quality. Context-free searching is dumb and the results are bad. An example: if I search for "2020 Honda Insight EX" on Google, I see some mixed bag of stuff about my car. If I then search for "tires" -- no other terms, just tires -- Google shows me shopping results for 195 50/16 car tires, the right size for my car. There are important inputs to my search result that I didn't have to type.

Now go to DDG and search for "tires". Useless results only. All advertisements and commercial results, but nothing relevant to me. "Getting out of my filter bubble" did not help me in this use case.

>Google shows me shopping results for 195 50/16 car tires, the right size for my car

That's actually a really interesting example. The tire sizes for a 2020 Honda Insight EX are either 215/55/16 or 215/50/17 [0].

So taken at face value, the filter bubbling was either incorrect or Google was just returning results for a very common tire size in this case.

I agree that context is important, but Google doesn't return results blindly when they are not able to do personalization. They already know the results that millions (billions?) of other people who have searched for tires have clicked and found relevant.

[0] https://tiresize.com/tires/Honda/Insight/2020/

However, when you change car, or happen to have many, or switch interest from buying a car for your family to learn about tires manufacturing process, then madness is ensured.

I bought a large refurb iPad Pro and pencil this spring. Presumably a high value segment, since YouTube, amazon and google keep on pushing me iPad related ads and content for months now, for things I have already bought, out of my own research.

I guess I’ll have to fake some baby related purchases to have their focus changed.

I have yet to find a case where "profiling" benefits me, as a user.

Wow! I just realized that for "business" accounts Fastmail is $5/mo and GSuite is $7/mo which is what I'm currently paying.

Drop-in replacement for same/less cost & better privacy while supporting a slightly better cause? I'm switching tomorrow.

GSuite is not just gmail - it also includes docs, sheets, slides, meet etc.

Those things are free, the drive space is the real bonus

Thanks! We're very proud of our work. Glad to hear that you're having a good experience :)

Ah, the CEO of Fastmail is responding ;) Let me tell you this: It‘s a beautiful product with a very intuitive UI: Every setting is there where I expect it. Also the support is very responsive and very helpful. Thank you!

Keep up the good work.

Yep, I'm a hacker news tragic too :p

Thanks for the kind words!

It‘s good to have you here and a good thing when CEOs keep in touch with their customers, listen to them, and eat their own dog food. - Imagine Tim Cook would have used a MacBook Pro (with the miserable key) and/or listened to the complaints. And a thousand more examples I can think of.

Thanks - your stuff is really great, I’m a happy user.

Fastmail also wants a phone number. I no longer know what mail service to use apart from setting it all up myself.

Unfortunately we still need some kind of signal that you're a unique person at signup to avoid infinite fraud (as it is we still get waves of thousands of accounts at a time who have worked out a way to get their hands on a pile of numbers and are finessing an attack on someone else via us).

You can delete the number once you've signed up, though of course that means that if you forget your password is reduces the channels by which we can validate that you're the same person! (this is also quite common: many HN users would be surprised how often people forget passwords)

Those people can also stop paying you and just wait until you recycle their email address. No password recovery needed when it's up for anyone to grab.

Apart from that we're no longer recycling email addresses as fast as we used to (except for trials that never paid, they only get prescribed for a short time) that doesn't work so well for getting access to your existing email!

I work for inbox.eu It is based in European Union and has 20 years experience as e-mail provider We do not require phone number for premium users. If You are using free trial version You still need to verify phone number to test e-mail sending (receiving works). It is needed to avoid spammers who signup for free to send spam.

I like protonmail myself, take a look at that.

Tutanota seems like the safest and most secure option I’ve been able to find.

mailbox.org does not require a phone number. It also includes its own calendar sync and online office suite(although I've never really tried the office functionality myself).

I've been using it for a few years now and I can't complain.

Hm your move from google to iCloud begs the question: You don't see any issues moving from one big-vendor-"free"-lock-in solution to another?

Not an alternative, bit insidious is aborter frontend to YouTube... and om Android there is newpipe.

However, for me, the problems are: Maps. Google Maps are great. Calendar: my calender provider online has ICS calendar sharing, not e.g. itip.and imip.

I decided to start becoming an active contributor to OpenStreetMap. If a business isn't on the map, I just ask whoever works there a series of questions and upload the new POI. Some of the maps, like those in Bangkok actually mapped out a lot of footpaths that say go through a mall that save a ton of time walking vs Google Maps.

I am also a contributor to OSM, but it does not replace the need for Waze, for example. They are partially redundant, but not completely interchangeable.

Oh, I sold my car a couple years ago so these features aren't as useful to me now

I’m paranoid about my photos. I have them backed up to:

- iCloud

- iCloud syncs to my Windows PC

- Backblaze backs up my Windows PC

- Google Drive

- One Drive

Similar thing with my photos. All other files can be replaced, what I can't do is re-travel to various locations and re-take the photos I have!

Probably iCloud Photos is the Apple service that most ties me to a Mac hardware.

How's the iCloud syncing to a Windows PC?

Another Fastmail user here. What's missing for me are Android widgets for mail, calendar and note-taking. Also, their note-taking app needs some work.

Hasn't firefox been defunded and likely to no have a future?


"Mozilla signs fresh Google search deal worth mega-millions"

Moz will likely pocket $400m to $450m a year between now and 2023 from the arrangement, citing internal discussions held earlier this year.



Yes. That doesn't mean that money will go to Firefox.

As far as I can tell they canned most of the Firefox teams driving new features, so that’s how I read the situation.

It’s interesting how those teams have finally been able to pull Firefox out of freefall, only to be sacked.

They dropped some side teams, but the deal with Google that we thought wasn't happening actually happened a bit later. They're still good. They had future regardless, it's not the end of the world for them to run a bit more lean.

If that was the case I‘d fall back to Safari. Even though my browsing experience wouldn’t be the same anymore (using a dozen addons in Firefox).

I believe the upcoming version of Safari will have WebExtension support, so at least there's that.


absolutely great to see you do this

I moved off Google after they started doing some strange things with our adwords accounts


Agree with you on this -> The only google service that is really relevant and hard to replace is YouTube.

Google's earnings from ads went down last quarter. First quarter that has ever happened

They are definitely at risk of becoming Yahoo 2.0. The only thing is the immense amount of spying on the world and American citizens they provide to Intelligence agencies. They will stay relevant/be too big to fail because of that

Search -> Use Bing, then DuckDuck Go, and if still not good results, then Google

Admittedly Google Search is still ahead of everyone

Browser - never touched Chrome. Use Epic and Edge. Mobile use UC Browser (possibly even worse for privacy than Google, owned by Tencent), and on iOS use Safari

Never used gmail so avoided that entirely. Use outlook, however, it is pretty bad. USe internal email server for work. Rainloop. Don't recommend that either

avoid all google services as mucha s possible

Trying to find an alternative to Android. Have an Apple iPhone, however, also wants a non Apple alternative to play Android Games

Why use epic and edge when you can haves Firefox? My experience with Mozilla has always been great. It might be marginally slower than chrome, but I don't notice and they have great features and it's open source

I have used firefox for a long time. Their continued insistence on forced automatic updates is quickly becoming a deal a breaker. Even putting aside my philosophical objections to this practice (let me update my software when I want on my own damn machine), it is exceptionally frustrating when those updates with forced restarts perpetually occur in the middle of the workday.

On Linux Firefox gets updated the same way as any other package, which almost always gives you more manual control than this.

I suppose I'm saying this is a complaint about macOS and/or Windows, rather than about Firefox as such ;)

You can disable app updates and avoid the update notification by using enterprice policies (sounds complicated but is just a policies.json file).

Even more so when you know that Edge uses Chromium under the hood, which would defeat the purpose of this exercise.

I don't think Microsoft left any Google tracking, and Chromium is an open source project

The problem I have is not the tracking, but Google’s dominance of the browser market. They can (and do) push through efforts that mostly benefit Google, and their ability to keep everyone inside the Google ecosystem.

In other words, tracking is not the only evil thing they’re doing.

I suggest using brave instead others because it doesn’t advertise and blocks a lot of trackers and ads !

because the impending layoffs that mozilla is incurring in light of covid means it's very bad for development and bug tracking. i've been using firefox for several years and that part is kinda worrying.

There is also another alternative for search... Use search agregator (https://asciimoo.github.io/searx/) and do the search on all those sites (and more) at once. I am self hosting it and it works great.

One more search engine to try is qwant.com.

For phone just use microg lineage (https://lineage.microg.org/) and use aurora store instead of play store (https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.aurora.store/) for apps.

LineageOS tends to disable a lot of security baked into android, so itmight not be a good recommendation. According to Daniel Micay: "It significantly weakens the SELinux policies, rolls back mitigations for device porting / compatibility, disables verified boot, lacks proper update security including rollback protection, adds substantial attack surface like FFmpeg alongside libstagefright, etc. They merge in huge amounts of questionable, alpha quality code from the Code Aurora Forum repositories too. Many devices (including Nexus and Pixel phones) also don't get their full firmware updates shipped by LineageOS. It's unrealistically expected that users will flash the firmware and vendor partitions on their own each month and of course that's another incompatibility with verified boot and a locked bootloader." [0]

[0]: https://www.reddit.com/r/CopperheadOS/comments/917yab/can_an...

Security is always weighting between danger and benefits. It means something different for everyone of us, i consider my phone with microg, netguard and xprivacylua and without google or any 3d party application beeing able to connect to the internet unless faking the data as secure (or, if you want - private), while I am not only flashing but also building my roms until I get full linux support for my second phone when I will depart from android world.

For now, lineage is as good as it gets, sure, I would love to have patched OS, withoug google etc., but for now there is really not much of alternatives available for various models of phones, and quite frankly - probably more than half of android phones are vulnerable, unpatched etc. let me just mention latest DSP vulnerabilities. At least attack surface isnt that big :D

Its on the eyes of beholder.

--- update ---

Looks like I am moving away from android today.


Half of those "security" features are at best useless and at worst more DRM features anyways. And yes, the firmware update mechanisms in android are abysmal in general, but that this is slightly better in google phones doesn't mean that it is good anywhere. For the most part, lineageOS is on par with any random android vendor there. No better and no worse. For software updates, it is generally far better.

Agreed on self-hosted search. I wrote a post in Feb. 2020 describing localhost installation of searX, which I've using since then as my interface to web searches. At times I revert to Google, e.g. for image searches, but I do that logged out of my Google accounts.

Non-Docker Local Installation of searX on Linux: https://persagen.com/2020/02/02/searx.html

Sure degoogle, but that point about Google earnings from ads having dropped doesn’t seem relevant to Google abusing its power, or being incompetent at its core business. I would be surprised if it wasn’t because of COVID-19 shock and that the larger economy wasn’t also moving similarly.

Browser - use Firefox.

Browser - I use Firefox and Vivaldi

Search - I use Startpage, DDG, Mojeek

Startpage has changed ownership recently. I would look into the new owners...

financed mostly by Google

Mozilla, at least, has shown they're not married to Google - they had Yahoo als the default search engine for a couple of years because Yahoo was the highest bidder.

At least they have a good manifesto. If they reach independence, it would be of course best. Donations could help in theory...

Did you find one that isn’t paid mostly by google?

Edge used to be an alternative on Windows at least, but now it's also based on Chromium. :-( I'd always prefer Firefox, but if you want to avoid Google money, you're basically up to Microsoft or Apple. The latter tying you to a hardware monopoly.

> Agree with you on this -> The only google service that is really relevant and hard to replace is YouTube.

Agree. It would become a little easier if all major broadcasters would at least mirror their youtube content on other networks like Peertube. That would not solve the recommendation problem to discover new videos, but at least the hosting itself would be taken care off this way.

YouTube recommendations are really annoying. I don’t want to see 50 million variations of the same video. Impossible to discover new concepts etc

In the 3-dot menu for each recommended video there's an option called Not interested. Select that to train YouTube's algorithm on what you're not interested on. The menu is not available on every interface, usually it's found on the desktop one. It has worked really well for me so far.

I'm not a fan either.

Creators rely on them to drive traffic though and that's part of what makes YouTube sticky for producers.

The creators remain incentivized to use YouTube as a platform because they can leverage the recommendation algorithms to drive traffic to their content.

While this remains true YouTube is here to stay.

People will go to where the content is. The content will go to the platform that makes it easiest for them to build an audience.

> Search -> Use Bing, then DuckDuck Go, and if still not good results, then Google

Why not use DDG first? I switched to it in the beginning of 2020, have almost never had to fallback to Google.

Yes, may as well go straight to DDG, which is pretty much Bing anyway, as shown here: searchenginemap.com

thank you for the se map reference, was looking for something like this

> Trying to find an alternative to Android.

Why not use LineageOS with microG? Aurora Store and f-droid for installing apps. It works pretty well for me.

It worked well for me even without MicroG. The only proprietaty app that I need and use is Whatsapp, and it doesn't require Google Play Services.

> Trying to find an alternative to Android.

For privacy and security oriented folks, there’s Puri.sm Librem 5 phone that looks interesting. I wouldn’t mind buying one if the reviews are good.

I am particularly excited about the removable battery! Anyone has any hands on experience with the phone? Links/resources would be highly appreciated!


I can agree with Bing but DDG is plain horrible for searches. It's basically just Google page 2+ results on Page 1.

Outlook decided it would be a nice idea to change my "Thank you" signature to an emoji in a business casual email.

For mobile, I use an Android for all the apps I can't avoid not having, but otherwise I resort to Blackberry like the old coot I am. My Q10 is still reliable af.

I made the switch to DDG as my first search engine of choice a couple of years ago and when I am dissatisfied with my DDG searches, I usually compare them to !g and !b searches and find they are only infrequently much better.

I think it takes time to learn how best to query DDG. I originally started to use DDG when Google buried Google Scholar queries and I found using the !gsc query more convenient than working with bookmarks or navigating Google. Getting familiar with bang queries I think makes you have a much less siloed view of search.

I just wish DDG would make the bang options available as a button, so I wouldn't have to type them on mobile. Adding "!g" to an existing query requires 7 taps, versus just 1 for a button (!)

I guess I'm stuck with Google search.

The current Firefox Beta for mobile allows you to store BBG bang queries as buttons, using the "Search engines" option.

Just define a search engine with the search string "duckduckgo.com/!g%20%s".

> I can agree with Bing but DDG is plain horrible for searches. It's basically just Google page 2+ results on Page 1.

Maybe a couple years ago. I can't remember getting better results with Google over DDG more than once or twice in the past two years.

> Trying to find an alternative to Android.

You have the Pinephone nowadays. You will lose a lot moving from Android to a Linux based phone, especially if you rely on native applications.


If you are worried about American intelligence don't use anything based in the US.

You can say the same thing for anything based outside of the US. You think China-based services don't have the CCP spy on their users, like TikTok?

You can't really compare the US, an active empire with documented testimonies of spying on individuals and, e.g. Ireland, Switzerland or most other european countries.

At some point, if China is the comparison point you always cite when someone talks about the US, it starts to seem like they are actually comparable.

The US has done a better job at convincing me they won't hurt me. I have no idea why I believe them, though.

Better than whom ? Do you seriously think that Switzerland is after you ?

Yeah but if you're an American you probably have more to worry about if American intelligence agencies and law enforcement are spying on you than if it's the Chinese and vice versa

I’d argue the opposite. I’m China they can just kidnap you. In America, at least there are rules.

But that's not what your parent post is about. It's about that in America, you need to worry more about U.S. surveillance than about Chinese surveillance. And when in China, you need to worry more about Chinese surveillance than American surveillance.

What you state has nothing to do with that. If I understand you right, you are saying that you should be more worried in China than in the U.S. overall. That might be true, I can't judge. I can imagine there are rules in China too, maybe they are just not so pleasent? And I suspect some folks in Portland have some mixed feelings about the "just kidnap" part too.

Extraordinary rendition wasn't all that different from just kidnapping people.

You think China's reach does not extend outside of its frontiers?

I know it is easy to hate on big companies but how do you leave them when credible alternatives are not even close in productivity/performance.

I tried leaving Macbook, but whenever I have tried the alternatives(even Thinkpad with Ubuntu), Macbook still seems to be at the sweet spot of life time ownership cost/performance. I do care about repairability, good keyboards etc. but I do have to look at things in balance.

On just principles, I tried switching to DDG, Gmail alternatives like Hey etc, Maps alternatives but they are not even close to making your life easy. At the end of the day, I really don't want to take time categorising every email, handle spam on my own, worrying about data security. Services like Gmail seem far superior to alternatives to me.

Edit: Lastly, I would add one can pay for Gsuite and then Gmail etc. are ad free. I doubt they would be mining paid Gsuite user's data since companies use that.

I have a MacBook and it’s great, I also have an iPhone. It’s the business model that matters to me more. It’s not a “hate on big companies” thing.

In fact the big software companies usually have better security (google included) because they have some of the world’s best security people.

I try to avoid companies that have an incentive to collect user information for ad targeting. Apple doesn’t have that (and they’ve also made privacy a brand thing now so they’re even better than average).

Gmail was great when it came out, but today it’s a pretty mediocre product. Fastmail is actually better and I don’t say that as someone making excuses for non-google services. Their docs and custom domain support are really great. Their support for aliases is also great. They have good fancy workflow options I just don’t need so I don’t use.

DDG was worse for a long time, but for the last year or so it’s become good enough for me to make default. I occasionally g! to run a google query, but that’s probably only 10% of the time (and of those only half are probably actually good).

Well, if business model is what you are worried about. If people are fine with paying for email services, you can even pay for Gsuite and then no ads on even Gmail and even custom domain support. I am not sure on this but I doubt they would be mining any paid Gsuite user's data. Also, even in free you can turn off personalized ads and they would no longer be related to your data.

The thing is as you mentioned, with something as personal as email, docs or drive, I would trust a big company to keep it safe. Specially one that has historically has had a very good track record of it. Google hires some of the best offensive security guys, some of them you can see in Project Zero.

My experience with DDG hasn't been good at all with anything other than simple term search or website search.

I think that’s a reasonable position to take and you won’t find any disagreement from me.

I like supporting software companies where the product is their main focus (I think the ad driven business model is a corrupting influence on design).

It can also be tedious to go through all the settings and make sure things remain the way a user would want them. I like working with a company that has incentives aligned with the user.

On DDG, I would have said the same thing not that long ago. Everyone will have their own threshold for what’s good enough for them.

> I doubt they would be mining any paid Gsuite user's data

I use G Suite at work, and I wondered about this. From Google's modus operandi, I assumed they are mining data, for example, of all work emails to and from the accounts - and probably connected to my personal email addresses somehow, as part of a profile to target ads.

Is there a confirmation that this is not (or is) being done? I suppose, from a security/privacy perspective, it's safer to assume that it is, because it's technically possible.

This is entirely anecdotal.

I have two chromium profiles, one for work using a G Suite account and one using my personal gmail account. I've noticed the browsing history and search from my work profile impacting my personal search results.

I don't believe they use G Suite email/docs to mine data, but the rest is likely fair game.

> Gmail was great when it came out, but today it’s a pretty mediocre product.

Gmail has actually gotten super slow to me, I'm not sure what the problem is. Their site loads slowly, navigating around it is slow, the whole UX is slow. It didn't used to be that way. I've considered migrating for that reason alone, let alone any opinion I have of the company.

Yeah, Gmail hasn't become that fast with loading etc. considering how much internet has improved. That is one place where I think they can improve a lot.

It also might be related to all the smart auto compose/grammar features they have been adding, which do really improve your workflow but might add just more resources to load/parse on page load.

This is how superhuman mail came about. Silly paid solution to a UX problem, but would recommend as a practical workaround if gmail is a major bottleneck to your day job productivity

Apple's privacy protecting actions only apply in countries where they can go through with it. Here's one example where they can't protect your privacy. [1]

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-apple-icloud-insigh...

Yeah I'm with you there, I find western companies making exceptions for China pretty unethical and upsetting: https://zalberico.com/essay/2020/06/13/zoom-in-china.html

I think it's wrong and something they shouldn't do.

That would require actual patriotism from these companies. They have repeatedly demonstrate by playing (legal) games with taxes and by having Chinese slave kids create their products that it is simply not of interest to them. QED

It seems to me gmail has not changed much in the last few years. Search is much the same but worse. The only change seems to be snippets that, for me, usually host some badly scraped content from another site with wrong answers but more effort on SEO. It seems a bit of a waste of 20% of the page. I wonder what those tens of thousands of people are mainly doing? Maybe working on stuff that we never see, like applying bandaids and string to hold together the ever growing infrastructure that provides the mediocre apps to more and more of the world?

I wonder what they're doing, and then I look at the educational space and I realize just what's happening. And I'm kind of alarmed by it, to be honest. Call me paranoid, but we have a growing generation of kids in school that only know Google services. The only web browser is Google Chrome. The only email is Gmail. All word/spreadsheet/etc is Google Docs. School is Google Classroom. Chat is Google Messenger or whatever it it. Google Photos. Google Search. Google Cloud. Google Drive. Google Video or Youtube. ALL they see all day in and out at school are Google properties.

I can't be the only one that has noticed this over the years.

Google sounds like Microsoft 20 years ago, but perhaps without falling into Microsoft's specific mistake of shoddy software.

Pretty much the same as it was with MSFT for a while.

I really enjoyed google inbox. Gmail moved a few things over from it, but what I really appreciated was archiving everything older than a month, because usually it was promotional crap anyway.

I also really enjoyed Inbox

In my circle, everyone who used Inbox loved it. One of the most bizarre decisions Google ever made was cutting it.

I've found Gmail's automatic categorization and importance filtering to be a killer feature. Is anybody else doing that reasonably well? I don't want to have to set up a bunch of features manually.

I had actually thought of building such things as a startup idea before Gmail was doing it. Perhaps I should have; perhaps Google would have just eaten my lunch.

I concur with the other comments that Fastmail is actually better than Gmail these days: the web UI is much faster and nicer, the Android app is not perfect but pretty decent, filtering and customization options are better.

My only potential concerns are: spam (I still get most email to my gmail address and imported by fastmail, which filter out spam on the gmail side, so I don't have a good sense of their own spam filter), and overall security (their own production security as well as resistance to account takeovers, etc.)

> I know it is easy to hate on big companies but how do you leave them when credible alternatives are not even close in productivity/performance.

There are times when that is true, and there are times when it is simply a matter of adapting to the differences. For example, you mentioned trying a ThinkPad with Ubuntu after using a MacBook. You claimed that the MacBook seems to be at the sweet spot. It reflects your experiences so that's a fair assessment. Yet my experience in moving from a MacBook to a Linux PC was quite the opposite. A significant factor was my extensive prior experience with Linux, as well as a desire to reap the benefits of Linux (rather than to escape the drawbacks of the MacBook).

> Lastly, I would add one can pay for Gsuite and then Gmail etc. are ad free. I doubt they would be mining paid Gsuite user's data since companies use that.

Don't confuse "pay for" and "ad free" with "no data mining". At least with consumer goods, companies were mining data from paid products well before the Internet was a thing. I also wouldn't be surprised if Google mines some data from business accounts, even if the scope of that data collection is severely limited.

What data do you expect them to mine from gsuite customers?

What do you think they do with the data?

Their privacy policy mentions they don't scan gsuite customers data and they were auditted by a 3rd party: https://support.google.com/googlecloud/answer/6056650?hl=en

> I tried leaving Macbook, but whenever I have tried the alternatives(even Thinkpad with Ubuntu)

Perhaps the change was made more difficult by the fact that you changed two variables at once: the OS (macOS -> Ubuntu) and the hardware (Macbook -> ThinkPad). Something to consider.

You don't unless you have a practical reason to.

Now some aspects of how businesses conduct business is somewhat of a "practical reason."

For example, even if Apple products actually provided decent cost/performance ratio, I would never switch over to them because of how hostile they are to leaving their ecosystem. I don't have a huge problem, as a user, with more nebulous complaints about hostile business practices and the like. The issue is simply that it would be a pain in the ass for me personally, and require making a lot of annoying compromises, or swapping to more, and less effective apple hardware.

Like if we roll back the clock to 2015 when MBP's are probably hands down the best business laptops, from a hardware standpoint I'd love one compared to alternative laptops, and at least for a work-only computer when I have zero other devices and interactions to worry about, it could be a decent option.

Don't like some of the ways they do business? Who cares, I'm not going to shoot myself in the foot on general principle.

The difference with google services is a lot more stark though, there's nothing I would even remotely consider competition to gmail now, and the things were only worse when gmail first came out. These days migrating would be an absolute nightmare. I'd still do it if someone offered me a way better option, but people in this thread are talking about downgrading to some shite service on general principle, causing themselves significant pain in the ass in order to give some other company that definitely does not give a shit about acting in some morally upstanding way money, for a lower quality product.

There's no replacement for youtube, and frankly video services are are starting to look like a natural monopoly to dwarf all prior uses of the term, as youtube could never survive outside of google's business model, and can't be split up without just destroying it completely.

So anyway, I don't think people are being all that honest about their "switch from google" being ever so easy and worthwhile. Personally I lose a lot by swapping purely because the alternatives are shit, so I won't be doing it.

People switching from android to iPhone because "goOgLe bAd" are the height of irony though.

Newpipe has completely replaced my Youtube usage since I mostly use it on mobile, and it lets you save your subscriptions locally. Its actually really nice and imo superior to the dumbed down Youtube app used nowadays anyway. Freetube is the same idea but for desktop, but I've found it to be much buggier in using it, so I occasionally just use youtube in a private tab and directly search for a video on desktop, usually after seeing in my Newpipe feed. Both of these are listed in the original list, but they deserve special shoutouts since YouTube is the site with the most universality within Google's ecosystem. Also many of your favorite video creators may already use services like LBRY and Bitchute.

It’s less about the product to me and more about the content.

YouTube has the content I want to watch, creators that use YouTube rely on it for their revenue and recommendation algorithm.

Until that problem is fixed the alternatives won’t work.

Newpipe and Freetube are YouTube frontends, so all the content is there just without having to sign in. If you only really use a subscriptions list and directly related videos as your way to find youtube content, it's a drop in replacement. If you want to use google's recommendation algorithm though,I don't think anyone is going to be able to recreate that experience any time soon.

Thanks, that’s good to know - I’ll check those out.

> Also many of your favorite video creators may already use services like LBRY and Bitchute.

Or moving to Nebula. Somehow https://watchnebula.com/ gained a lot of attention recently with maybe half of my yt subscriptions also publishing there. (Or maybe it's just my bubble)

An entire day! I wish it were that easy. My password manager says I have 331 accounts using my gmail address. I figure it'll take me a year to move everything if I spend a couple hours a week. I categorized them into tiers based on importance and still ended up with 63 in the top "important or regularly use" tier and 59 in the next "will probably use again" tier. The lower tiers, I'll probably not even bother with.

I have 163 accounts for clarity, so it’d probably take you two days.

I do mean an entire day, I basically did it for 12 hours.

Have to find some ways to entertain myself during the pandemic lockdown :).

Same here, but I simply forwarded ALL incomming e-mail from my old Gmail to my new email address. That way, i did not have to change all website accounts at once.

So I slowly updated a lot of less important accounts/websites to my new email address over the period of 1+ year.

The incremental approach is always the better solution imo. For email, for password managers, for any big migration. People always put off saying it'd be a lot of work, but if you start at any given time, within 1-2 year you'll be fully migrated.

This is what I did for password manager, I migrated each website on a per-use basis. Every time I used a website with a manual password, I replaced it with a generated password. This automatically prioritizes more important websites, which you tend to use more often.

For email, similarly, you migrate to the new email, and you give people the new one gradually too. Eventually anything that's left over will be spam, and that'll actually be your "less-important" secondary address you can give to websites you don't care about.

What is Google's policy on accounts set up to forward all mail re: scanning contents of forwarded messages?

I don't think it really matters; Google has a track record of abusing privacy (regardless of what the policy is.)


Published "privacy policies" seem to be a way of preserving opacity. It is nigh impossible, absent litigation discovery, to decipher what the company is actually doing.

There is an automatic email change option in few password managers but yeah, that's one of the reasons why I have been redirecting lot of things using my own domain name. If in future, some service go down - I can reroute that. If google deprecate gmail, no worries.

Changing it in the password manager is the easy part. The tricky one is changing the account details on the different site and switching from @gmail.com to @myfancydomain.whatever

I did the same several years ago. Dropped a GMail account I had for ~10+ years and switched to Fastmail. I hard deleted the account. In hindsight I wish I hadn’t _deleted_ it but I’ve really only run into that on a very small number of occasions.

I too switched to Fastmail and have been happy. I have a new Google account I use with YouTube and very occasionally Google Docs/Sheets, but I run it in a container tab in Firefox.

If you have a password manager and have been using it for awhile it makes things a lot easier since you can identify what you have tied to the account. I had over 100 sites tied to my GMail account and was able to mostly clean it up in a Saturday.

I also moved all my e-mail off Gmail and onto Migadu using my own domains. This ensures that even if Migadu goes under, I could swifty move to another service and keep my same e-mail addresses (for the record, Migadu is awesome).

Like you mentioned in another comment, it did take me some time to move all my accounts over (about 2 days worth), but I'm so happy I did.

Migadu just announced today they're getting rid of the free plan. The next plan up that supports multiple domains is $19/yr and unlimited domains would be $29/mo.

I had been keeping on there my side-project domains, which didn't really need a full gSuite backing them, since only a handful of emails would go in or out per month.

If Migadu's were a more reasonable price, I would have shrugged and upgraded. But going from $0/mo to $29/mo is a stretch.

Hey, also wanted to let you know that the e-mail they sent out had errors in it. According to the new pricing page (here: https://www.migadu.com/pricing/) The $9/mo plan offers unlimited domains. Definitely pricier than the previous $5/mo, but much more reasonable than $29/mo for unlimited domains. Hope this helps.

The 5-domain limit on the Micro plan is also a "soft" limit, and support has implied to me that you could negotiate something that works for you if need be.

Agreed. Ironic that this happened so soon after my recommendation.

Fortunately for me, the new Micro plan works fine, but at this point, I think services like Mailbox.org might provide greater value compared to the upper tiers.

How well does Migadu handle spam filtering? I recently switched from Google to AWS Workmail and get spam and junk I never saw before.

Quite well in my experience... sometimes too well. When you sign up with Migadu, you are essentially your own postmaster and can set how aggressive you want to filter spam on the domain level as well as per mailbox.

Lots of text on Migadu's site but no pictures of what the inbox looks like

I think they appeal to powerusers that probably already use a client like Thunderbird. :) However, their webmail client is just RainLoop, which you can find a demo of here: https://www.rainloop.net/try-now/

Also, they are currently collaborating with sourcehut to develop a new webmail client to replace RainLoop. For the record, I like RainLoop quite a bit and find it to be very speedy.

Sure, but as a poweruser with a surname domain I have to be considerate of all none-poweruser relatives that are going to be using it.

So even though I'll barely use it at all I signed up for Migadu only so that I could have a look at the webmail UI. But I couldn't even get a look at it, likely because I have yet to configured my domain. But I will not disrupt my domain just to get a peak at the UI...


No problem. Not sure if you noticed, but I mentioned they use Rainloop for their webmail, which I provided a link to a demo of if you're just interested in checking out the webmail UI.

A few months ago I started an Etsy shop, but I couldn’t create an account using a fastmail address. I got an “unknown error.” And the help desk suggested I use a more mainstream email service. That solution worked, and then I switched it to fastmail.

But this goes to show how basic the opsec is for some companies. Similarly with Twitter, each time I create a dev account for a bot, if I use fastmail my account will get locked 3-4 times in the first 20 minutes after creating the account (and not so with gmail). I’m not sure why they think that bad actors can’t also sign up for a Gmail account, and are more likely to use fastmail.

> I’m not sure why they think that bad actors can’t also sign up for a Gmail account

Because it requires a phone number? Or does fastmail do too?

Not sure if fastmail does. And I didnt know gmail does.

But, so does a twitter dev account. And they still lock me out like crazy if I use a non-gmail account.

Is fastmail the best email service provider these days? I switched my own domain to them a while ago, but then abandoned it when I heard about the new laws in Australia.

I treat email as an insecure mostly public form of communication.

This is particularly true when most of the people you’re emailing have gmail anyway.

Things like proton mail make no sense to me in that context.

Fastmail works well and has design incentives aligned with the user, I thought they were the best of the options available when I switched.

Agree with your first point, but Protonmail is at least a marginal improvement.

What new laws in Australia are you referring to? I did a quick search and I saw a lot about anti-spam laws (which is great), but how does that affect switching your own domain to fastmail?

The grandparent comment is likely referring to the TOLA Act, which allows Australian police and intelligence agencies to issue for example technical assistance requests to decrypt or otherwise get access to whatever data they want.

As I understand it the oversight is relatively minimal and any company operating on Australian soil can be subject to such a request. Here's their government web page on it: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about-us/our-portfolios/natio...

It passed around the end of 2018 and a lot of Australian companies (e.g. Atlassian) were not fans of it.

I use a combination of Mailo, Mailbox.org, and Runbox with my domains. They have their varying quirks but I am happy with my choice esp. wrt. their host countries.

> The only google service that is really relevant and hard to replace is YouTube.

I would include Maps to this list. Outside of the US (and presumably China although I do not have experience here), Google Maps has no real competitors.

For motoring, commercial POIs, and address-level searches. For walking/cycling and non-commercial POIs, OpenStreetMap is consistently better in Europe.

> The most tedious part is moving accounts from your gmail

Every time google has done something to piss me off over the last few years, I have channeled that into migrating a few accounts away from google. It's a good way to unwind and has the bonus of being an action that speaks louder than words.

Two years ago i created a gmail account without providing mobile number and was using it on youtube for commenting on political videos. In the past few months i noticed my comments were getting upvoted frequently and then last week gmail is forcing me to provide mobile number for verification to login to my account. If google wants to have mobile number for creating accounts that fine but why force after 2 years. That feels cheating. The whole point is i don't want retaliation from political parties for commenting on the internet and don't want to be tied to my real identity with my mobile number. Sadly there is no competitor for youtube.

Stupid question but why not just forward if all your other activity is off of google? Do you believe the gmail data capture is high enough that your otherwise complete migration would be compromised?

Totally reasonable question.

I haven’t deleted the old account yet and do have it importing right now (that’s a good strategy for catching any straggling accounts or friends you haven’t given your new email too).

I don’t have a good answer beyond some weird sense of aesthetic tidiness. I have a dash of wanting to compulsively organize things, so having the old account bothers me irrationally.

Props. I did a very similar thing.

For me, google docs was the hook that made me create another account. Every volunteer project I go near uses them.

I tried creating aliases for the projects so that each product team could reference me by an email address that reflected the project. But after a year or two I had loads of these aliases and would accidentally open a doc for one project whilst logged in to gdocs as the identity for another project.

I now just have one identity for google. And I feel dirty.

The thought of arbitrary shutdown and their 'legendary' customer service got me moving off Google services. I started with Runbox using my own domains, which works well though some emails just never got delivered. I'm now on a combination of Runbox, Mailo, and Mailbox.org with long-term prepaid plans and I'm satisfied - I'll probably prune at some point but the prices are so reasonable that the urgency to do so is not there. Support by Mailo and Runbox has been excellent.

I have seen fastmail mentioned many times on this thread. They seem to be incorporated in Austrailia. Given that you clearly care about the use of your personal data; wouldn't moving something so sacred to a company incorporated in a country that actively tries to backdoor encryption/push easier wire tapping make you concerned?

Have you considered this in your threat model?

Not OP (but another Fastmail customer) - but there's a difference between caring about the use of your personal data from a eaves-dropping/tapping/threat perspective vs having your personal data used to make you the product. Fastmail is a paid service that provides an excellent service/product where the email you send/receive isn't monetised or incorporated into a revenue/ad machine.

I give an answer for this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24246733

In addition to that, I think Fastmail also has servers based in the US (though I’m not sure that matters for the law).

You’re right though that the new laws coming out of Australia are pretty bad. The way I treat email takes that into account.

Apologies for only getting back to you now.

Yeah this is all fine once you have accepted the trade offs and designed your threat model around it. People get extremely zealous around this sort of shit.

One decision for another person does not need to be taken by everyone else just because it makes sense for you.

I, like you am concerned about the use of data but I take a different approach. I don't mind if my data is used for product insight/generation once it is aggregated anonymized data, with the caveat that the website and or service is GDPR compliant.

I give bonus points to any website that lets you nuke your account from the profile page without having to jump through e-mail hoops. I had a recent experience of requesting an account erasure under GDPR via e-mail. I expected the usual "are you sure?", "do you know the implications?", "who are you?" but no they just deleted the account straight away. I only found out it had been done by trying to login to the service again.


> On a lot of sites changing email is impossible.

I have this problem on Steam of all places. Way back when, I guess you had to sign up with your email as your username. I've long long since left that email behind, but it's still my username for logging onto Steam.

Same here. I got steam when a friend bought HL2 waaay back, finished it, then gave me the game by giving me his account. All these years later, I've changed the email and built up the library, but the username is still my friends real name.

> The only google service that is really relevant and hard to replace is YouTube.

For following channels, I personally use Feedly and can only recommend it - it's not exactly the same but for me it comes close enough.

google is well on its way to being dead. their customer service doesn't exist. gcp is a joke -companies either go with smaller cheaper providers or azure/aws. their flagship os is famous only heavily modified on other vendors' phones. for the simple, they get an iphone.

the reason people use their search is that it's default -if it was bing no one will notice. ads? super customized ads are not worth the money to companies, lighter cheaper personalization is available from many vendors.

google literally is yahoo.

to tech people -the ones who made google what they are, google is actively their enemy, and for the regular user, they want an iphone, and they want customer service with a smile -google has none.

me, i never googled-up. zoho for $1 a month, create new aliases for spam and filter them into folders. no gmail needed. maps? apple for iphone is ok, but i just use heremaps. you click a country, click download, and a couole of gig later you have full search offline.

now youtube, that's an interesting product that's only popular because it's popular. and it was popular before google bought it. there are many unpopular competitors. all it takes to take down youtube is an app for another service included by default on samsung and iphone home screens, and youtube is gone.

the same goes for facebook and twitter. myspace, yahoo, aol -all had their 15min of fame, all thought it would last forever. who cares. google is old news.

I live in a country which is very sparsely populated and there are really no good alternatives to google maps and google translate which work most of the time unfortunately. Most other maps services like open street maps and Apple maps are so outdated and sometimes so wrong it is even dangerous to use them for navigation. As per translation everything really sucks. But google is better of them all.

I needed way longer than a day to get all of the accounts I created over the years with my gmail. I found I had to check my gmail for over a year until I was confident that I wasn’t missing any accounts.

Still use YouTube and Google search. They have no (decent) competition still.

> On a lot of sites changing email is impossible.

Interesting, how do they such sites deal with people who lose their email account (phishing or others?)

They tell you to just make a new account with a new email.

Do you use complicated Gmail filters? What did you use instead of them after migrating? Also, any Google Apps Scripts?

No google apps scripts for me so I didn’t have to deal with that.

My email style is inbox everything and route emails to folders or delete on read.

If there’s something I’m always routing without reading then I unsubscribe.

Workflow may not be for everyone, but it keeps my email under control and organized.

Ah thanks. Sounds like you had it quite easy to be honest, and you must not get a lot of emails at all. Not every email is an action item for me—many are just for record-keeping purposes and later searchability, though I have certain filters for those to mark the occasional ones that require action. I would go absolutely insane if I had to look for even 0.1 seconds at every email.

The fastmail filters are supposedly pretty good, but I can’t personally vouch for them.

I also have a lot of email for record keeping (amazon orders etc.) I just route those to folders myself.

You’re right though that I probably have it easier than most generally.

How do you deal with work situations that want you to use Google Hangouts, Docs, or Calendar?

I’m lucky that I don’t have any of that at work.

If I did I would need a google account just for that purpose.

What was your replacement for YouTube?


I hereby provide notice they can feel free to go away.




"Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken. If you're worried about abuse, email hn@ycombinator.com and we'll look at the data. "

Seriously? Have you not read any of the snowden leaks?

The leaks suggested the NSA was accessing information via taps between unencrypted data center connections, not via direct support or collaboration from the companies.

After the leaks google encrypted those connections.

The other parts are within FISA and other parts of the law. There may be disagreements with the transparency or way this stuff works, but your first comment was overly broad and mostly inaccurate.

If only Google were my 10th biggest problem. Try to get Exxon, Shell, et al out of your life who aren't violating abstract principles but are literally killing the planet. Then let me get unethically farmed or raised foods out of my life (which, thanks to the US preoccupation with corn and the nitrogen it requires, are frequently overlapping with petroleum). Then let me get Oracle and Microsoft out of my life. Then let me get the Murdoch empire out of my life. Then let me get Facebook out of my life. Then let me buy a consumer good that isn't designed for obsolescence. Then let me get intermediate middlemen in the healthcare system in the US out of my life. Then I'll take an eye at Google.

All good, valid points. There are so many things that needs political attention. And exactly for that reason, I think ranking these companies according to how evil they are hardly helps. We need significant regulatory changes around climate, privacy, farming, etc. One political issue may have priority over others, but the whole thing is more political than personal (getting a company out of my life).

Why Microsoft over Facebook and Google? Recently I've been thinking that MS is the FAMGAN/whatever that I'd be most willing to work for, so I'm interested to hear your case.

Because I saw how they behaved in the 90s, see how much passive telemetry they collect with their share of the OS market, how much they push Windows logins with antipatterns, and because they own Github (when now controls npm).

edit: Let me say some nice things about them. I put them towards the end for a reason, and they probably don't belong with Oracle. I don't think they are a big problem in the world, if at all. They aren't the company they were in the 90s. Gates has become one of the worlds most staggeringly successful humanitarians because of his direct effort and indirectly from the giving pledge, and it has redeemed him many times over again. Nadella seems like a decent person and truly great executive, and they have improved enormously as a company under him. I would probably work for them. But I don't have any problem with Google, either. What Microsoft does have is a vastly greater potential for abuse.

For Exxon, Shell, … do it correctly. Don’t replace them. Less oil, car driving, plastic, …

Buying a Tesla or something similar shouldn't be enough to very Exxon/Shell out of your life? Or you mean more abstractly? (E.g. the people transporting your food, mail, et al)

I think they mean plastics

I genuinly wonder - what does go through the heads of those 100,000 very smart people that work at Google, many of them reading this forum, when they read a thread like this? Do they think 'oh it is HN again', do they discard this as irrelevant noise, do they know something that all the people posting here don't, do they still strongly believe in their mission, or do they get a gut-wrenching feeling that one day it may be all over? If you work at Google, please throw in your 2c.

I’ll be honest, mostly I just think that this is a very idealistic and naive reaction.

The world is extremely complicated and full of unfortunate realities that humanity just doesn’t have any solutions for.

There are people who can recognize that, and who try to do the best they can.

Then there are people who can’t recognize that, adopt an overly simplistic model of the problem and its environment, become convinced that there’s a simple and obvious solution, and then start attributing malice and blame to anyone who refuses to go along with their terrible idea.

I also think: “If they worked here they would know better.” The people here are by and large very good and thoughtful people genuinely trying to make the world a better place, and whatever negative feelings you have about how Google uses its power, if Google were gone it would create a power vacuum in the market that would be filled by companies that were 100x worse.

That’s how I feel about the mission and the morality of it all.

I also feel genuinely concerned for the future of anyone who would deprive themselves like this, as a vague form of protest that nobody ever notices, in the hopes that it might aggregate to something meaningful someday. That seems like a very ineffective and sad approach to living your life.

My own personal views, not Google’s.

Don't know what you meant when you divided "people" into those two categories, but it's either truism or irrelevant. Google is just a name, the point is it has a lot of power and even if a lot of people are "good" that doesn't mean they won't change, fuck up or be replaced at some point with a team that is less ethical. It's like it is with nukes. No one should have a weapon capable of such destruction.

I used to work there a couple years ago and honestly this seems a bit silly. People are at Google are pretty product focused.

Sure you can go and use the items on this list. But I don't think they will be better. Google has spent a lot of time and money to make a set of best in industry tools and people use them as a result.

“People at google are pretty product focused”

Oh so they just don’t think about it at all. To be product focused is just to do what your boss tells you to do. Sometimes the easiest way to go about things is just to fully embody one’s role as a cog with no agency.

no. everyone is trying to do the right thing for the users and do what it takes to make the best experiences.

Are tracking and ad targeting based on it (i.e. manipulation) also considered “the right thing for users”?

It's how they fund the products, and their users choose to use them knowing that they are being tracked to be shown ads. So yes.

Usually irrelevant noise, I'm a realist - the company I work for is big, there will be people who oppose what it does, how it operates, even it's very existance. Granted there are genuine reasons why you'd want to cut bigtech out your life, it isn't an ambition I share.

To answer another part of your question - I strongly believe in my mission, I consider what I do at Google helps people, that said I'm not deluded, I'm partly helping to sell ads, but that doesn't detract from my primary objectives or the beneficial impact of my work.

At a minimum, I'm sure the the big paycheck and prestige would be enough to keep people's heads down and working, so they can focus on family and other things in life after work.

Not working at Google, but I guess many Google employees share my perspective:

1. I find most criticism of Google on HN either wrong or overblown. To clarify this point, I suggest you name the 5 worst things that come to mind about Google; I'll be happy to explain how I feel about them.

There is one significant moral issue I see with Google: they like to collect and hoard massive amounts of user data, and they have a lot of users so the resulting centralization of data creates a big risk. Note that the issue I see is "only" a risk. I'm not even sure what the concrete bad scenarios are that would make Google specially bad when the risk is realized, but I'm sure they exist.

2. I think they do a lot of good, which far outweighs the issue mentioned in point 1. Here are the 5 best things that come to mind right now:

- They do amazing good for open source. I have seen Google criticized for "paying lip service to open source" or worst, which I find laughable. They have published 3 open source operating systems (Chromium OS, AOSP, Fuchsia). They have created a huge number of very useful open source libraries I have been using for personal and professional project, from big ones like Flutter and gRPC to small ones like libyuv.

- Related: they do a lot of good for open standards. Case in point: their work on open, royalty-free video codecs, which has been a boon for open source. I have seen Google called evil on HN for this, which again harms the credibility of their detractors in my eyes. Even for Google Chat / Hangout / whatever, for which they got criticized a lot, I think it's fair to say they tried harder than all the other big players to make it work with an open standard before giving up.

- They have been a driving force for a more secure Internet: early use of https for webmail, 2-factor authentication, lately ubiquitous https...

- They have been leaders in giving users access to all their data, with the Data Liberation Front / Takeout.

- They are the most transparent when it comes to the privacy policies and collected data (for example I get prompts to check the policy whenever I do something in Incognito mode). And relaed to the previous point: the My Activity page is awesome! It helps realize what they collect on me, and it makes the collected data actually useful to the user. For example I used it to find a place I knew I had visited on a given day, though I had forgotten the name and location.

I'm just stashing cash until I reach FIRE. Don't care about the mission.


does it ever bother you to be building the next skynet? no hate, but I wonder if people @ google really think about what kind of world and future they are building with their actions...

Nothing really goes thru their heads. They are rational, not emotional and strongly believing in missions is an emotional response. They are estimating probabilities of how this is going affect the market, Google and them personally, and plan their moves accordingly. I doubt they have any emotional attachment to the company, and given how much they are in demand, they would barely notice if the company folds one day. Same story for investors: those are even more detached as they make rational investments often in competing companies. So nobody really cares, as you see.

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