Alternatives to Google Products: Use These Instead of Google
Google knows more about you than you realize. Its apps can see your emails, documents, schedule, location, and more. Its algorithms even learn your likes and dislikes. This violates your privacy, monetizing your data to make more money for Google’s advertising business.
I don’t like Google knowing everything about me, especially after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that it has a data-sharing relationship with the NSA. That’s why I researched alternatives to Google products to find the best privacy-friendly options with similar features.
Just to be safe, you should still use a top VPN like ExpressVPN to hide your online data from Google and other third parties that violate your privacy. You can also buy ExpressVPN with confidence as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk.
The Google Privacy Backlash
Google makes money by sending you targeted ads. It does this by recording your search history and activities using any of its “free” services. For instance, it knows your location if you use Google Maps and can use algorithms to scan the contents of your Google Docs documents and Gmail inbox.
In response, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to counter such privacy concerns. Competitor browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Edge are already suspending the use of trackers and cookies for personalized ads. More people are switching away from Google to more privacy-friendly platforms that can do the same things.
Quick Guide: Best Google Alternatives in 2023
- Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides — Zoho Docs lets you collaborate on documents online and offline with end-to-end encryption and 2-factor authentication.
- Gmail — Proton Mail keeps your emails private with end-to-end encryption and a no-logs policy with a beginner-friendly interface.
- Google Chrome — Firefox uses anti-fingerprinting technology, crypto-miner blockers, and tracker prevention to maximize your online privacy.
- Google Drive — Dropbox encrypts your storage data and protects it in transit with SSL/TLS. It also lets you restore previous versions of your files.
- Google Authenticator — Authy uses biometric verification, time-based OTPs, and 2-factor authentication to keep your online accounts secure from hackers.
- Google Calendar — aCalendar lets you manage your to-do list and color-code important upcoming events, but it only works with Android.
- Google Photos — Cryptee’s single sign-on (SSO) feature and biometric authentication keep your photos secure and in encrypted form.
- Google Translate — DeepL understands the context of your translation and provides more natural translations than Google Translate.
- Google Maps — OpenStreetMap is an open-source map, which is transparent about how it uses your location data.
- YouTube — Vimeo is a good alternative to YouTube with video privacy settings and customizability such as embedding videos on other sites.
- Google Play Store — F-Droid only hosts apps with zero ads, trackers, or other privacy-damaging policies.
- Google Chrome OS — Tails is a Linux-based Tor-compatible OS that works with chat and email clients, providing better overall privacy than Chrome OS.
- Google Analytics — Clicky offers real-time website performance metrics and hides your IP address for better privacy.
Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides Alternatives
Zoho Docs gives you advanced security features like 2-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and data backup and recovery. This platform also lets you access and edit your documents in offline mode using the Chrome or Edge extensions. Once you’re connected to the internet again, all changes to the doc will be saved and synced across your devices.
Etherpad is open-source and highly customizable software that lets you collaborate with others seamlessly. Using the web-based editor, you can work on documents simultaneously with your peers. Additionally, the chat box feature keeps everyone connected. Version control lets you easily retrieve previous versions of documents and save the ones you need.
Being open-source fosters a community for contributing to the software’s development freely with full visibility into code changes and audits for security issues. This app also lets you completely control your data by hosting it on your own server. Though this is quite technical, you can also use Etherpad as a host and its intuitive interface requires no expertise to use.
CryptPad is a privacy-focused online collaboration suite that gives you a word processor, spreadsheet editor, presentation editor, and more. It uses end-to-end encryption at the device level to ensure your data is secure and private.
The presentation mode lets you create and present slideshows in a secure and private environment. I found it easy to produce professional-looking presentations with features including transitions, animations, and multimedia content.
Apache OpenOffice offers a full-featured office suite with a cloud-based word processor, spreadsheet maker, and presentation tool that works both online and offline. It also has a drawing and database program. Like CryptPad, it’s open-source so coders are always improving it. It also lets you open and save files in the same format as Microsoft Office for easier cross-platform sharing.
Unlike Google Cloud, Apache OpenOffice saves data on your computer and doesn’t require you to store anything on the cloud — it uses your hard drive instead. This gives you complete control over your data and prevents third-party eavesdropping.
Google Search Alternatives
DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect or share your personal information. It also doesn’t track your search history or filter search results based on your search interests, so everyone sees the same results for a given search query.
However, DuckDuckGo’s CEO announced it wouldn’t show sites classified as Russian disinformation in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war. As a result, results may be biased in favor of certain political opinions. Still, it is a solid choice in terms of avoiding tracking your search history.
Metager is a meta-search engine, which scans multiple databases simultaneously to give you comprehensive results. It’s committed to transparency and openly shares information about its algorithms and ranking criteria.
You can customize your experience by changing Metager’s layout and theme. There’s also an Anonymous Browsing mode that routes your data through a proxy server to hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic when you search.
Qwant doesn’t monitor your online activities and encrypts all your searches. Its results are based purely on content relevance without personalization or bias. Multiple people searching the same query will get the same results.
I liked the Qwick feature, which provides quick answers to common questions like the weather forecast or currency conversions. Just submit your query in the search bar and Qwant will answer it for you instantly, much like Google’s instant answers.
This Swiss-based email platform keeps your emails private with end-to-end encryption. Proton Mail also has a no-logs policy, which means it doesn’t keep a record of data like your IP address, messages, or login times. The free plan supports 1 email address, offers 1GB of total storage, and has a limit of 150 emails per day. Your account can also access the free versions of Proton Drive and Proton VPN.
Like most Gmail alternatives, TutaNota uses a powerful cipher to hide your emails and attachments from snoopers. It even encrypts messages sent to non-TutaNota users, so only the intended recipient can access your email.
Tutanota doesn’t track or sell your data to advertisers. It doesn’t even have ads, so you can rest assured you’re not being profiled. It also supports 2-factor authentication so that even if your password is compromised, an attacker would need access to the code sent to your phone to access your account.
Compatible with popular email clients like Outlook and Thunderbird, Mailfence lets you sync email accounts across platforms and on multiple devices. It also has an in-built document editor, so you can create and edit documents directly from your inbox. It doesn’t scan or track your documents or emails as it complies with Europe’s GDPR law.
MailFence also has a calendar and contact management system so you can manage events, set reminders, and share your schedule with others. Additionally, it lets you import and export contacts easily across different devices. Its free plan includes 500MB of storage, support for up to 1,000 contacts, and up to 500 messages per day.
Google Chrome Alternatives
Mozilla Firefox has extensive privacy features like tracking, cookie protection, and cryptocurrency miner blockers. These prevent your device from being hijacked to mine digital currency, using up data, and reducing your speeds while exposing you to potential legal trouble. Firefox also stops fingerprinting, which is when websites use unique details about your device to track you across the web.
With add-ons and themes, you can also personalize Firefox to fit your preferences with light and dark modes and extensions such as integrated ad blockers. Meanwhile, the browser’s developer tools make it easy for web developers to build and test websites and online applications.
SRWare Iron removes many of the tracking features that are present in Google Chrome. For example, it disables features like usage statistics and crash reports that may transmit data to Google servers. It also has built-in ad-blocking features that reduce tracking and data collection by third parties. The browser makes it easy to delete your browsing history, cookies, and other data at any time.
The Onion Router (TOR) is a free and open-source network that allows you to browse the internet anonymously. Tor routes your internet traffic through a series of volunteer-run servers called “nodes” to mask your IP address and keep you anonymous.
Tor browser’s anti-browser fingerprinting prevents websites from tracking you. After using Tor for a couple of days, I didn’t see targeted ads based on my search history — that’s how I knew the websites I visited couldn’t profile me. The downside to Tor is that since it has to bounce traffic through multiple nodes, it slows down your connection.
Brave is an open-source Chromium browser for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Its built-in ad blocker is on by default. This speeds up page loading times and protects you from potentially malicious ads that could compromise your privacy and security. Additionally, Brave offers a “Shields” feature that can block scripts, cookies, and other elements that track your online activities.
This open-source browser for Android is based on Chrome, but strips away all the Google services and features that could potentially be used to track you. The DNS over HTTPS feature encrypts all DNS queries, so it hides data that third parties use to track your online activities.
Bromite also disables third-party cookies by default and removes many of the tracking scripts that are often found on websites. Additionally, it includes features such as dark mode and a reading mode to improve your browsing experience.
Google Drive Alternatives
Dropbox is a popular cloud storage service that during my tests proved to be a reliable alternative to Google Drive. It uses 2-factor authentication and SSL/TLS, which are advanced encryption protocols so that Dropbox protects your files from hackers and prying eyes.
You can restore previous versions of a file with Dropbox’s file versioning system. The free plan offers a pretty generous 2GB storage, up to 3 linked devices, and a 30-day file recovery period after you delete something.
pCloud uses client-side encryption, which means that your data is mixed up on your device so it’s already unreadable before it goes to pCloud’s server. Even if pCloud is hacked, your files remain safe.
This Google Drive alternative also provides two-factor authentication to secure your account and lets you set passwords for shared files. The free plan offers 10GB of storage, which was enough for me to store multiple UHD videos from my iPhone and all my important work documents.
NordLocker uses military-grade encryption to protect your files with a unique encryption key. The zero-knowledge policy means that no one can access the data stored on its servers, including NordLocker employees. I liked its intuitive interface and user-friendly features like drag-and-drop file syncing. NordLocker isn’t free, but its pricing is competitive and it has a free trial.
Tresorit uses end-to-end encryption, so your files are hidden in a tunnel before leaving your device and can only be seen by the recipient. It offers automatic file syncing across your devices and lets you easily recover previous versions of files. The service is compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
The free plan includes 3GB of cloud storage with a 500MB maximum file size. In addition to its secure file sharing, the free plan includes email plugins to encrypt attachments in Gmail and Outlook.
Nextcloud is a free, open-source, self-hosted cloud storage platform. It encrypts your files with a variety of powerful protocols including AES and TLS, protecting them from unauthorized access. You can even use Nextcloud via your own server, so it eliminates the need for you to trust third parties to store your data and removes the largest security and privacy risk of using cloud storage.
Google Authenticator Alternatives
Authy is a reliable free alternative to Google Authenticator with no limitations on how many accounts you can add. This app is unique among authenticators as it has a Chrome extension, so you can use it on your PC or laptop too.
It includes cloud backup, multi-device sync, and 2-factor authentication. There’s also a backup feature of your encrypted 2FA data that stores it on a separate device in case you lose access to your Authy account.
AndOTP is a free and open-source 2-factor authentication app for Android. It provides a simple and secure way to generate time-based and counter-based one-time passwords (OTP). You can also enable biometric authentication to make unauthorized access to your apps even more difficult.
FreeOTP uses the industry-standard HMAC-based One-Time Password (HOTP) and the Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) algorithms. When you add an account to FreeOTP, it provides a QR code that you can scan with your phone camera to set up the account you want to authenticate. You can also use the command-line interface to authenticate your online accounts on desktops. However, it’s not available for mobile devices.
Google Calendar Alternatives
aCalendar is a good alternative to Google Calendar that’s only available on Android. It has a familiar, beginner-friendly interface. You can color-code events to easily distinguish between them at a glance. I used its birthday calendar to import birthdays from my contacts list. Besides keeping track of upcoming calendar events, you can add to-do lists on individual days irrespective of whether something is scheduled.
Lightning Calendar is an open-source add-on for the Mozilla Thunderbird email client and the open-source Seamonkey internet suite. You can create, manage and share multiple calendars, events, and tasks from within your email client without downloading a separate app. It includes reminders and supports recurring events as well.
Etar is a free, lightweight, and open-source calendar app for Android. Its intuitive interface makes it easy for you to manage your schedules and events. Etar is a great alternative to Google Calendar if you’re looking for a privacy-focused and open-source solution. Etar doesn’t require any online accounts or logins as all your data is stored locally on your device.
Google Photos Alternatives
With Cryptee you can encrypt, store, and organize your photos and videos. Its advanced privacy features include two-factor authentication, single sign-on (SSO), and the ability to lock your account with a password or Touch/Face ID. Cryptee is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is committed to protecting your privacy.
Open-source Piwigo lets you make your own custom online photo gallery. As a self-hosted solution, you have full control over your data and can choose where to store photos. If you don’t have the technical expertise to host your own cloud, you can also use Piwigo’s servers for a small fee or by using its free trial.
It lets you select a range of themes and plugins to customize the gallery’s appearance and functionality. I could add social media sharing buttons, tag and comment on my images, and integrate Piwigo with tools like Lightroom. This is an Adobe plugin that lets you export your photos from the platform to your Piwigo photo gallery.
Google Translate Alternatives
DeepL can accurately translate complex sentences in various languages. To do this, it uses artificial neural networks and deep learning algorithms to understand the context of the text you want to translate. As a result, during my tests its translations were often more accurate and natural-sounding than Google Translate.
A huge bonus to DeepL is that it can translate uploaded documents like PDFs .doc files, and other documents. It worked well during my tests, and I was impressed that even the free version includes this feature.
Also owned by DeepL, Linguee differs from Google Translate in that it doesn’t use machine translation alone. Instead, it combines its own translations with examples from external sources around the web to provide more accurate and contextually relevant results.
You can also use its browser extension to get quick translations while browsing the web. The downside is Linguee can’t handle phrases like DeepL can, but during my tests it was great for translating individual words in 20+ languages.
Google Maps Alternatives
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an open-source community-driven mapping platform that lets you access detailed maps with information about businesses, points of interest, and other geographic features. Unlike Google Maps, OpenStreetMap doesn’t have real-time traffic information, street view, or public transportation information. Since it’s community-driven, the accuracy and completeness of the data can vary by region.
MapHub’s open-source map maker lets you create and share customized interactive maps with others. You can add custom markers, highlight specific blocks on a map, and even import data from third-party sources. Compared to Google Maps, MapHub offers more customization options and doesn’t collect or track your location or IP address.
This free, open-source mobile app for Android and iOS offers offline maps and navigation. OsmAnd is crowd-sourced, so you and others can add to and edit maps. Navigation worked well during my tests with accurate turn-by-turn directions, voice operation, and the ability to search for points of interest.
It can also provide alternative routes based on real-time traffic data, and you can customize trip preferences such as avoiding tolls. Its only con is that obscure destinations sometimes don’t work as well since it relies on community input.
Vimeo offers both free and paid versions. The free plan has an upload limit of 500 MB of videos per week, with a maximum video duration of 5 minutes. It also includes basic features like privacy settings, custom thumbnails, and the ability to embed videos on other websites. For live streaming or advanced analytics, you’ll need one of Vimeo’s paid plans.
A unique feature of PeerTube is its P2P architecture, so you can share video content across multiple servers or nodes without relying on data-gathering third parties. You can choose the nodes or host your own for greater control over your content. With this P2P structure, there are no external web hosts who can lose, leak, censor, or delete your videos.
PeerTube keeps your files safe and your identity private with end-to-end encryption, a feature to let you block certain users, and the ability to host videos anonymously. If you’re technical, you can also run your own node to help power the platform.
Dailymotion is free to use and lets you monetize your videos through advertising just like YouTube. It’s available in 180 countries and supports more than 40 languages. The platform also has a curated selection of premium movies, TV shows, and original series. Partnerships with media companies like Universal Music Group, CBS, and Vice allow Dailymotion to provide high-quality content.
Rumble’s generous revenue model gives you 60% as a content creator, which is much more than YouTube gives. The platform focuses on news and current events, using partnerships with news organizations and journalists to post breaking content. It also includes video management tools, analytics and reporting, and a marketplace for video licensing and distribution.
BitChute is a UK-based video-sharing platform. It allows all types of legal content and offers a decentralized video hosting system to prevent censorship. The interface is simple and similar to other video-sharing sites. However, its search and recommendation features are less sophisticated than YouTube’s because its algorithms aren’t as advanced.
Google Play Store Alternatives
F-Droid is an open-source alternative to the Google Play Store with free and open-source software (FOSS) android apps. You can download the app directly from F-Droid’s website and access its vast selection without an account or having your data collected. F-Droid only hosts FOSS applications that are free of tracking keeping your data private.
Aptoid is a third-party Android app store where you can find paid apps for free. I don’t condone that as it might violate copyrights, so make sure you’re not using it for piracy. It also lets you create your own collection of favorite apps you want to share with others. Similarly, you can browse through other users’ app stores. I found that Aptoide has many apps that Google Play Store doesn’t due to its less restrictive policies. However, a 2020 hack exposed millions of accounts so you should take caution while using Aptoide.
Google Chrome OS Alternatives
Tails is a privacy-focused operating system that runs from external media like a flash drive and doesn’t leave any traces on your computer. It’s based on Debian Linux and includes privacy and security-focused features like the Tor browser, encrypted email, and private chat clients.
Linux is an open-source OS known for its flexibility, stability, and security. It’s customizable, stable, and supports a wide range of free and open-source apps. Though more technical than other operating systems, it has a vast community of developers and users for support. It’s known for strong security since it has fewer vulnerabilities and a more secure code than other similar platforms. It comes in many custom “distributions” with friendly layouts.
Google Analytics Alternatives
Countly is a mobile and web analytics platform that offers real-time data on web traffic and customized dashboards. It offers user segmentation, cohort analysis, funnel analysis, and tools for measuring traffic retention and engagement.
I was immediately impressed by Fathom Analytics’ intuitive interface that displays metrics like page views, unique visitors, and referral sources. I also tracked events and goals to monitor specific actions on my test website, including form submissions and clicks.
It uses a first-party tracking script instead of cookies to track users, collecting no personal data. It has fewer customization options and integrations than Google Analytics but provides valuable insights into your customers’ behavior and website performance.
Matomo is an open-source web analytics platform that offers real-time analytics, A/B testing, and heat maps. It can also truncate your IP address to keep you anonymous. With plenty of customization options, it’s best suited if you have an organization with high traffic or complex data requirements. However, its extensive options make Matomo a bit more technical to set up and maintain than other analytics platforms.
Privacy Solutions to Use with Google
Get a private browser
A private browser is an excellent solution to use with Google as it prevents advertisers from tracking your online activity on websites and apps you use. As a result, sites like Google won’t be able to collect as much data on your searches and app usage, especially if you aren’t logged in.
Popular private browsers like Tor block cookies and third-party tracking and encrypt your traffic to make you anonymous on the web. While this slows down your speeds, it’s worth it for the added privacy for private browsing. As a Mac user, I use Apple’s in-built Safari browser that stops trackers and cookies unless I need to use Tor to use a resource on the dark web, which other browsers can’t.
Download an ad blocker
You should also use an ad blocker to prevent malicious scripts on ads and marketing bots from tracking your devices. Ad blockers also prevent pop-up ads on websites by stopping their code from executing. This de-clutters the web pages and improves your browsing speed.
Some fake ad blockers aren’t safe and could infect your device with malware. Others may not prevent all ads from showing. It’s important to do your research and find a reputable one. I found that AdBlock and uBlock are malicious programs that were flagged by Google and removed from its extensions Web Store.
Use a top VPN
Out of all the privacy solutions, using a reliable VPN is the best one. A VPN makes you anonymous on the internet by routing your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel to a remote location. It hides data like your location and IP address, so no one can know who you are or what you’re doing online.
ExpressVPN is my #1 recommendation for online privacy while using Google or its alternatives. It uses audited TrustedServer Technology with military-grade 256-bit encryption to hide your traffic, so Google can’t collect your data for advertising. Its Threat Manager blocks websites from collecting your information — I didn’t see targeted ads in Chrome after doing multiple related Google searches.
I ran multiple tests and found that ExpressVPN has excellent leak-prevention capabilities, including an IPv6 traffic blocker. This keeps your data in the encrypted tunnel using Google services or one of the above alternatives. Even if the VPN connection is lost for some unexpected reason like your device going to sleep, ExpressVPN’s kill switch will immediately disconnect the internet. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.
Though ExpressVPN costs a bit more than others listed here, it’s for a good reason since its servers, speeds, and security make it one of the top VPNs on the market. Plus, all plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee. My refund request was processed with no questions asked via 24/7 live chat support, and I had my fee back in 4 days.
CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers keep your data private on Google and other services. The VPN manages these servers in its private data facility in the privacy-friendly country of Romania. It has a proven no-logs policy, which means CyberGhost doesn’t have any of your data to hand over to authorities about what you use Google alternatives for.
It has top-shelf security and privacy features, including military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. You can use smart rules to start CyberGhost automatically when you open Google alternatives like Zoho. It also has an in-built ad blocker that removes tracker bots on pages before they can load so your activities stay private.
It’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, but low prices on shorter plans mean CyberGhost is still among the best low-cost monthly VPNs. Plus, its 2-year + 3 months plan is $2.11/month and has a 45-day money-back guarantee so you can try it for free. I had my refund approved immediately via 24/7 live chat, getting my money back in less than a week.
Private Internet Access
PIA’s 20+ servers I tested had zero DNS or IP address leaks, keeping my private data hidden. This gives full peace of mind that online activities are hidden from third parties whether sharing files with Tresorit or unblocking Netflix US with ExpressVPN’s Firefox plugin.
Besides military-grade encryption and a kill switch, PIA includes MACE — an ad blocker that blocks cookies, trackers, and pop-up ads. It improved my browsing speed by about 15% and blocked a phishing link I clicked in ProtonMail. It uses RAM-only servers that can’t store your data in the first place, thereby ensuring a no-logs policy.
The VPN only costs $2.11/month if you get the 2-year + 3 months plan and has a 30-day money-back guarantee that I tested myself. I sent a support ticket asking for a refund and got a confirmation the same day. I had my money back 7 days after that.
FAQs on Google Alternatives and VPNs
Are there any alternatives to Google Android?
Yes, and some of them like LineageOS still use Google’s Play Store. If you’re looking for one that uses Play Store alternatives, Sailfish OS is a good Linux-based choice as it has its own app store called Jolla Store that has native and Android-based apps.
You can also use Ubuntu Touch. This is a Linux-based mobile version compatible with smartphones and tablets. It has a large community of users and developers and is widely used in both personal and enterprise settings.
Do I still need a VPN if I only use Google Alternatives?
Yes, since using Google alternatives doesn’t necessarily guarantee your privacy. A top VPN like the ones on this list encrypts your data so that snoopers can’t see your online activities, especially on unprotected public WiFi which hackers love to exploit.
A VPN routes your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel in another location, masking your IP address. With a VPN, third parties can’t see what you’re doing when you use Google alternatives because your traffic appears to originate from a different location.
Can I use a free VPN to use Google alternatives privately?
Yes, but I don’t recommend it. Free VPNs have severe limitations and some aren’t safe to use. Instead, you can use a top VPN like CyberGhost free for 45 days with its money-back guarantee and just get a refund when you’re done using it.
With the exception of a few of the best free VPNs, most free VPN providers lack security and privacy features like military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection to keep you safe and anonymous online. Some may sell your data to third parties or even infect your device with malware. It’s not worth the risk when you can just use CyberGhost for free.
Final Thoughts on Google Product Alternatives
Google earns over half its annual revenue by showing you ads. Third parties pay billions of dollars to get their ads in front of you based on your browsing history. That’s why Google collects massive amounts of your data like your location, device type, and browsing activities.
However, not even using Google alternatives guarantees your online privacy. You need to hide your digital footprint with a VPN so your location, device, and online activities stay invisible whether you’re searching the web or making a budget spreadsheet. Unfortunately, even some popular VPNs aren’t powerful enough to do it.
ExpressVPN is my top choice because of its powerful privacy features like RAM-based servers, reliable leak protection, and a no-logs policy that was verified by 3 separate audit firms. It also uses military-grade encryption to protect your connection while you use Google alternatives to search, store files, watch videos, and more. Plus, you can buy ExpressVPN with confidence since all its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.