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A Google-Free Internet Experience
After a month of celebrating Google’s Sweet 16th birthday in September and anniversary of its founding, in the form of many articles all about Google and how it can help you and your business, you may be convinced that Google is a great company, offering great free and paid products, and is out to change the world for the better, including the possible advantage of using the Google Corporation to boost your own company initiatives. While it is all a matter of opinion as to whether Google has the best search results or not, there are other search engines that will pull up very close, similar, or better results than what you may find in a Google search result. The beauty of the Internet is that you do have choices in the products you use, from freeware and open-source software products to paid- and subscription-based products by many different trustworthy corporations.
There are, however, plenty of people and companies who do not trust Google, dislike Google, and go out of their way to avoid all things Google, switching to Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, and other resources that are non-Google. While Google certainly has a right to exist and boost its own products and mission, just as any other company does, people and companies do have the right to boycott and refuse to use any Google products. Google, like any other company does have the right to preserve personal information about you and maintain it indefinitely.
As Google is a company based in the United States, they, like any other company in the United States, are subject to the laws of the state they are registered in and the country. This means that if the government wishes to issue a subpoena or demand information about search results, an IP address, or even a person, Google may have to willingly hand over that information to the government in order to avoid further investigation and penalization from the government. Therefore, Google publicly makes it known that they do record your information, which may or may not be an issue to most people.
You can find the “Google Search History” on your account and for however long ago you created the account and you can go back to when Google first began recording your personal information and search history and view it yourself.
This is good for you: You can see what you searched for during the past 5+ years ago.
This is bad for you: the government and Google know what you are searching for. If you are looking up information on “donating to a terrorist organization” or “how to make bombs”, or anything else that is detrimental or dangerous to society, this can certainly be misconstrued as you being a threat to the government and society, though you may have just been a curious individual.
It is not likely that a search of these will immediately bring the federal government to your door, but if you are continuously doing it, or if you are ever convicted of a crime that warrants a computer search, then any information found on your computer can and will be held against you in the Court of Law, even if you were curious and made a search about it 5+ years ago and never did it again.
There are plenty of search engines and companies promising never to keep information about you, making them more appealing and more attractive than Google, causing people and companies to opt for alternatives.
If you are tired of Google, don’t trust Google, think Google has too much power, or just prefer to use a Google alternative, there are plenty of other companies that are willing to step up and provide those services – some paid and some for free – that you can use and that you can definitely get by without touching much of what Google seems to have control over, including email, web browser, storage, analytics, video hosting, social media, and more.
These are just some alternatives to using Google:
|Firefox||Firefox has been the free alternative choice to Internet Explorer for many years and has become the dominant first alternative choice for a reason. It is open-source and any bugs or issues are always fixed within weeks of new releases, with updates always on the way. With Firefox, you know you are browsing safely. There are also plenty of addons that can make your Firefox and browsing experience the way you want it to be. A plugin like GoogleSharing will protect your data from being tracked by Google.|
|Opera||Opera is a severely underrated browser that has been around for many years, was always free, and is very fast and optimal for web browsing, along with a ton of built-in features.|
|Safari||Safari is a web browser from Apple that has, in recent years, become a very fast browsing experience, especially for Mac OS X users, but there is a Windows version as well.|
|Maxthon||Maxthon was once known as MyIE but has since evolved to a very efficient web browser while remaining light-weight and stable. Maxthon offers Cloud technology, which is similar to Google Chrome’s ability, whereas you can create an account, and log in from anywhere after downloading the web browser, and are able to see your bookmarks and data.|
|Disconnect Me Search Engine||Disconnect was founded on a basic principle: that people should have the freedom to move about the Internet – and their lives – without anyone else looking over their shoulder.|
|Bing||A major competitor of Google, Microsoft’s search engine has definitely made improvements to its algorithms and probably does a better job at pulling up more unique photos and different search results than Google. Bing also has an incentives reward program to earn free stuff just from searching.|
|Yahoo!||Yahoo! is one of the original search engines, and while they have teamed up with Bing, there are still many who are loyal to Yahoo since it was founded in 1994. It may be well liked particularly because of its customization and personal news feeds, while keeping ads to a minimum.|
|AOL||AOL is another search engine that delivers with a home page filled with updated news and has retained its large loyal fan base.|
|StartPage||StartPage claims to be the first search engine, which is a search engine enhanced by Google, that does not record your IP address or set cookies, making your browsing safe and secure.|
|Topsy||Hundreds of thousands of hashtags, links, and resources are posted on Twitter each day. There is so much information on Twitter that no one can possibly keep up with every single tweet in their Twitter feed. Using Twitter itself or Topsy will return tons of results for whatever it is you are searching for. Whether you want to search for a keyword, phrase, hashtag, or an account, Topsy will find everything posted on Twitter.|
|Quantcast Measure||Quantcast Measure provides free, accurate and dependable audience insights for over 100 million web and mobile destinations. Get the best understanding of your audience through demographic and geographic data, along with detailed information around interests that includes similar websites your audiences frequent. Just add the tracking code and traffic data will start being gathered!|
|Clicky||Clicky is a fairly easy-to-use system and also works on mobile. Setup is easy and features include real-time analytics, individual vistor logging, customized tracking, goal tracking, heat maps, website monitoring, and more. Cost is free for one website up to 3,000 page views and the most basic plan starts at $9.99 per month.|
|CrazyEgg||CrazyEgg states that while Google Analytics tells you where your visitors are coming from and the pages they are visiting, CrazyEgg focuses on where your visitors are actually clicking on your website, including mobile heatmaps included in more advanced plans. Free trial for 30 days. Plans start at $9 for basic plan.|
|Piwik||Piwik is an analytics software system that can track visitors in real-time, visits over time, keywords used to discover your website, referrers, goals, and display a detailed log of individual visitors, and much more. Plans per month are about $64, charged as 49€. However, the software is completely free to use on your own server. Perfect for those who want to control their own Analytics completely.|
|KISSmetrics||KISSmetrics states: Google Analytics tells you what’s happening, but KISSmetrics tells you how to optimize it. KISSmetrics contains many features of Google Analytics including unlimited A/B split tests, unlimited reports, and even 1-on-1 consultation if you have the professional plan. A starter plan will cost $179.|
|Woopra||Woopra has a very detailed analytics interface with many features such as various advanced reports, real-time stats, CRM features, and more. Free up to 30,000 actions or $80/month up to 400,000 actions.|
|Skype||Skype has been around for a long time and is one of the best chat / video chat / phone message systems that can be used for team meetings or one-on-one chats.|
|ICQ||If you are one of the originals, you will probably still remember your number, as I still remember mine. ICQ has been around since 1996 and was the very first messaging system, where users did not know you by name, but knew you by your 6 to 8+ digit number. This messenger is still great to use for basic chat.|
|AIM||If you were an AOL user, chances are you have used AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) or have an AIM account. This chat was probably one of the most popular tools in the late 90s / early 2000s and was widely used before Facebook even had a chat system.|
|Yahoo! Instant Messenger||Yahoo! has always had its loyal fans and despite much of the spam that seems to be on Yahoo, this is still a great chat system to use. Since its update, the Yahoo Messenger system is no longer a standalone application, but can be used inside of Yahoo! Mail.|
|Meebo||Meebo is a web application that supports chat, video, and voice chat, and can be used no matter where you are or no matter what operating system you are using. Simply have an Internet connection and access to a web browser, and you can have a chat.|
|Digsby||Everything all in one place: email, instant message, and social media.|
|Adium||Adium offers more advanced functionality than Mac OS X’s iChat, with plugins and customization, Adium a very powerful chat tool that connects across many IM platforms.|
|Pidgin||For Windows and Linux operating systems, Pidgin is very useful and offers full functionality with the ability to add plugins and customization.|
|Windows Hotmail Live||Email from Microsoft offers 5 GB of storage.|
|Yahoo! Mail||Yahoo! offers 1 TB of storage.|
|AOL Mail||AOL offers 5 GB of storage space.|
|Amazon Cloud||Amazon Cloud comes with 5 GB of free storage and a promotion offers you to upload music for free.|
|Box||Box is another great online storage website that offers 5 GB for free and allows you to share your files with anyone.|
|Dropbox||Dropbox is a popular storage website that offers 2 GB to 5 GB of storage space, with the ability to continuously earn more free data storage after completing a series of tasks.|
|SkyDrive / One Drive||SkyDrive, now known as OneDrive, by Microsoft offers 7 GB of storage space for free.|
|FireDrive||FireDrive is offers 20 GB of free storage space.|
|OwnCloud Server||Self-host your own storage area on your own server. Similar to Google Drive, but completely under your own control on your own domain or Linux server. Set up individual user accounts and share files with a team! Set up different groups or specialized groups that can see or share specific files!|
|Vimeo||Vimeo has many creative videos and often bypasses the restrictions placed on YouTube videos, often resulting in banned user accounts or videos that no longer exist. Vimeo delivers high-quality embeddable videos and serves as a top alternative to YouTube.|
|Veoh||TV shows, movies, anime, and more.|
|DailyMotion||A video website-alternative that has existed for a long time, offering some great videos, but restricting users to only 150 MB video-uploads.|
|Hulu||Missed your favorite television show? You can probably find it on Hulu.|
|Netflix||Netflix is not free, but worth the $8 a month for unlimited access to as many television shows and movies as you want.|
|Amazon Prime||Amazon Prime has multiple benefits, including free shipping on specific items, instant music, and also instant streaming video with movies and tv series.|
|Vine||Vine offers 6-seconds of video clips uploaded by people from all over the world.|
|Facebook is a social media network used by over a half a billion users worldwide.|
|Twitter is a social media network that allows for only 140-characters and is used by many businesses and celebrities for advertising and marketing.|
|LinkedIn is used by professionals to display their resumes and make business network connections.|
|Pinterest allows for users to upload photos, called pins, on a pinboard.|
|Tumblr||Tumblr allows for users to create their own personal customized blog.|
|Reddit is a community of users that talk about anything and share everything.|
|CHROMEBOOK – OPERATING SYSTEMS – CHROME OS|
|ChrUbuntu||A fully functioning Linux operating system that can be installed on a Chromebook, completely replacing or being used as an alternative to Chrome OS.|
|Crouton||A fully functioning Linux operating system that can be installed on a Chromebook and being used alongside Chrome OS, allowing for a toggle back and forth between operating systems.|
Updated: April 2015
Matthew Gates is a freelance web developer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.