December 24, 2014

Taking A Step Back From Google

I have been on this here internet for a good while. For the vast majority of that time, I have used a mixture of Google products, and historically, there have been few good reasons not to. Search was of course the big draw to get people using Google, but email, calendaring, and other services came along later as well. For a long time, Google’s search has arguably provided the highest quality results in general, and their style of email is usually either highly praised or adamantly disdained, with little room in between. Even more than the quality of their services, the real big draw for many is the price: free. Free, at least in terms of dollar value. It costs you nothing to do a search, send an email, or create a calendar event. Google’s goal is to create products that give the user value in exchange for you being the recipient of ads and ad tracking.

Up to this point I saw no reason to venture outside the Google walls. But, in my typical fashion, I thought it would be interesting to see what else was out there in the various arenas that Google was a part of. In years past, there really weren’t any alternatives that were on par with Google’s offerings; but that was then, and times are a bit different now.

As of yesterday, I was using a Google Apps account to host email, calendar, and contact data for my wife and I. Neither one of us were particularly in love with the overall solution, but it worked ok in a general sense. The event that triggered this Google cancellation was actually a switch in search providers. As I said earlier, Google had been my go-to in the area of search for a while, but that changed a couple weeks ago when I started using DuckDuckGo. This search provider is not new, and I have, in fact, used it in the past. Problem was, it was not available as a default provider within browsers in OS X or iOS, so using it was cumbersome. However, with Safari’s latest updates in both OS X and iOS, DuckDuckGo is now fully integrated, which meant I could finally give it a fair tryout. Somewhat long story short, I have now been using DuckDuckGo for a few weeks and am very happy with the service; it has completely replaced Google search for me. The removal of ads and tracking have been a welcome change, to say the least. I would, however, like to see some way for me to compensate DuckDuckGo to help ensure its resilience in this brutal marketplace.

Changing my search provider was the pebble that started the snowball that has become the diversification of my online life. After this small win, it was time to tackle the personal service trifecta”: email, calendar, and contacts. Because I use OS X and iOS exclusively, Apple’s iCloud was a good place to start looking. I do, however, want to use a custom domain for my email, so I was only really looking at iCloud for calendars and contacts. The service works really well for those items, and I have not yet had any issues. Email tends to be the difficult one (if you want to use a custom domain). After trialing several solutions, I actually ended up with something I already had access to, but forgot about. I register new domains with Hover, and have moved all of my previous domains to them as well. Hover also has email services, and being that the domain is registered with them, adding email service to the domain was very easy.

In a nut shell, that’s it. I now use the below configuration of services and devices, and don’t rely on Google for anything. I am also now not being tracked or subjected to a barrage of ads through Google search. I have to be clear, I am not faulting Google, or accusing them of wrong doing. I simply do not find their business model to be in line with my best interests.

Service OverviewMail: Hover IMAPCalendar: iCloudContacts: iCloudSearch: DuckDuckGo

DevicesiMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook AirMail: Apple MailCalendar: Apple Calendar, FantasticalContacts: Apple ContactsBrowser/Search: Safari & DuckDuckGo

iPhone 6Mail: Apple MailCalendar: FantasticalContacts: Apple ContactsBrowser/Search: Safari & DuckDuckGo

iPad MiniMail: Apple MailCalendar: FantasticalContacts: Apple ContactsBrowser/Search: Safari & DuckDuckGo

blog Calendar Contacts DuckDuckGo Google Mail Open For Discussion Privacy reviews Thoughts

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