Thoughts on using Google in 2019?

I’m listening to the Bookworms podcast episode on Digital Minimalism. @Mikeschmitz mentions his prohibition against using Google. I am probably one of the people who has always looked at Google (especially Gmail) as a service in which I am willing to trade a little privacy in exchange for an otherwise excellent service. Moreover, we use Google Suite at work and we are invested in Google Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc.

What is the current thinking when it comes to Google in 2019? Is it time to look at finding another service? What about Google Suite in a work environment…how do you feel about using Google Suite?

If you have transitioned away from Google/Gmail, what are you using today? What about Office 365 and for email?

Thanks for your feedback.

Chris Eller

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Welcome @celler!

There is some discussion here:

Thanks for the link to that discussion. That is helpful.

Some conclusions:

  • Google Suite is private. No worries. Correct?
  • Free apps like Spark Mail bring their own privacy concerns.
  • One can immediately improve their online security by eliminating all use of Google and Facebook. Does this include the Chrome browser?

Here is where I struggle: I think it is a safe assumption that unless you want to become Amish, you cannot maintain privacy in the modern world. If you are connected in any way, you are probably being tracked in some way.

If that is true, then is privacy worth the fight or is it a losing battle?

According to @bowline, that is correct. But apparently there is still tracking when using gsuite. (I’ve never used it, so can’t say.)

As the old saying goes, when an app is free, you are the product.

This is true.

Most definitely. An alternative is the Brave browser, which uses the Chromium engine, but doesn’t have the security concerns of Chrome.

This is true. There are tradeoffs for just about anything. I choose to limit my exposure, but also to not be a Luddite.

Some of the things I do to help preserve my privacy:

  • Brave browser, since the Chrome engine displays some of my scientific data, and Safari chokes on it.
  • Apple Maps for navigation, rather than Waze, which is owned by Google.
  • Duckduckgo for internet searches
  • Occasionally, I use Proton VPN. For instance, if I want to research car tires and not get tire ads for months.
  • Deleted my Facebook account over a year ago.
  • I don’t use gmail, google drive, etc.

Things that I do that compromise my privacy

  • I do use Twitter, and derive some benefit from following scientists, since I’m in grad school. Whatever tradeoff this amounts to is acceptable to me.
  • I use a credit card
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This is what Google promises:

I have taken very similar steps, however, we do use G-Suite but I use Brave, DDG, and deactivated my FB account. I no longer use Twitter or LinkedIn as I find little value in them compared to the time required and the privacy related issues. I also use VPN when in public.

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Again, this is helpful. Thanks.

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Another thing to do is use cloudflare for your dns server rather than your ISPs or googles. and

Your dns server can track and record your dns lookups.

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Why change?
A specially the paid version of G-Mail (G-suite) is a great service. If you are really concerned about privacy I highly recommend Protonmail.

You have to route your email trough a good VPN service since your ISP keeps taps on all your dns traffic no matter who you use.

I don’t see how this helps… All of my outgoing email goes to my mail providers SMTP server and incoming mail comes from its IMAP server. There isn’t much to be learned from those interactions. Am I missing something here?

Almost all email servers have a web interface weather you use it or not.

Full disclosure, I use Gmail (both paid and free). But I try not to use the Google search engine. I use DuckDuckGo whenever I can and really don’t lose much sleep about the rest.

BTW, DuckDuckGo has gotten surprisingly good over the years. Brett Terpstra put together a great guide on using it here:


This is true but my statement still holds, I think

I started using Gmail around 2005, and before my retirement last year moved my company’s email from an in-house server to GSuite. Google, IMO, is probably as secure as any email/cloud storage provider. They (and Dropbox) have the fastest, most reliable, syncing cloud storage I have used. But, AFAIK, Google has never had a massive breach like Dropbox.

We evaluated Office 365, and they offer an excellent product. But we decided GSuite was a better solution for our company. isn’t the same as Microsoft’s commercial O365 product. I’ve had a free account there since the Hotmail days and consider it a spam magnet.

Google has been hosting email for 2 of my private domains for over 10 years and the service has been rock solid. Any concerns I have with using Google are the same ones I would have using any cloud based service.

Doesn’t really work that way. If you’re connecting to, it’s true that your ISP will know that, but that is all. Traffic to your browser or mail client is still encrypted, your ISP isn’t decrypting your traffic to inspect web email. Also, if using a VPN, you’re really just trading service providers. The VPN provider could do exactly what your ISP is, maybe even worse. Furthermore, do we really even know who these VPN providers are? Wired just did an in depth look and some of what they reported was pretty surprising. Proceed with caution…

Always best to roll your own VPN if you can…

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The Brave browser also supports Tor windows.
You can read more about the technology on their website.
You could think of it like a double-blind study, if you’re familiar.

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I take the attitude what is the companies business model.

Apple wants to sell you hardware and services, I trust them. Facebook and Google want to sell adverts

All of Google’s products are there to help gather data on you so they can sell ads. They are not just trying to help you by giving a free service.

I made the decision some years ago to try to ditch google and facebook


Things I do that compromise MY privacy

I use computers, go places, and buy things. :wink:

My mobile carrier sells my location. The United States Postal Service sells my physical address. Someone sold my birthdate, because AARP definitely knew when I turned 50.

The value of my house is public. Almost every vendor I deal with sells what I buy, how much I buy, and when I bought it. So does my credit card company. And all that data goes to the credit bureaus who sell it to companies like Facebook, who uses it to build a profile on me.

I’ve never had a FB account, but I was screwed the first time a FB user uploaded my picture and name. After that “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” only if I’m not in the background of some strangers photo that gets uploaded to the web.

Everything I do on the internet is known to someone. If it is of commercial value, it is for sale. If it isn’t it is stored in case it might become valuable some day.

I do my best to protect my SSN, medical, and financial records. And then hope that a credit bureau, or some local, state, or federal agency doesn’t dump everything about my life on the web - too often.


Love the end of your comment, it made me laugh! :joy:

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