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Dump Google.

Google shows its true colors, and removes “don’t be evil” from the code of conduct. It’s time to dump Google.

For years, Google’s been the good guys of the internet. They’ve provided great services without showing a single stick up their customers collective asses. But when they decided to go to bed with the Pentagon war machine, those of us with an ethical backbone started to feel a tiny tingle in the pooper. I covered the utterly moronic decision in the post You Might Be Helping Pentagon Train Killer Dones back in March.

Even Google’s own employees thought playing with Pentagon was a bad idea, and several thousand of them petitioned the company to end the so called Project Maven. About a dozen employees even quit the company in the wake of information about the project surfacing. But that’s a tiny drop in the vast ocean that is Google. With its 85,000 employees, a dozen resignations don’t make a difference.

Now Google has decided to go full anal fist instead, removing the well-known “don’t be evil” from its code of conduct. For me, this is a clear sign the once beloved company is heading in the wrong direction.

It’s time to dump Google.

The Great Google Purge

Thankfully, I started the Great Google Purge a long time ago. With Edvard Snowden’s massive NSA leak back in 2013, it was obvious that the big companies couldn’t be trusted. I started my PRISM Break series of posts, and replaced the Google search engine with DuckDuckGo, Chrome with Firefox, Google Drive with a self-hosted ownCloud (and later Nextcloud) server running on a ReadyNAS box, and eventually Gmail with ProtonMail.

But last year I had to return to Google Drive. A lot of things had happened since 2013, and the two most important events were getting two kids. As most parents, we take a lot of pictures of them, and those pictures are precious. They were all backed up to the ReadyNAS server – which is not hosted in our house in case it burns to the ground – but for no particular reason, I never quite trusted the ReadyNAS box. I didn’t want to take any chances with the family photos, and went for Google Drive. Their 100GB plan was just what I needed.

Returning to using the ReadyNAS server to back up the photos is not an option. Fortunately, there are numerous services like Google Drive available. So it should be a breeze to change cloud storage provider. At least in theory. The challenge is that I want to use the amazingly sweet automatic cloud synchronization the ReadyNAS can do. You simply connect it to a cloud storage account, and it will automatically synchronize the files on the ReadyNAS with the cloud storage. The number of supported service are limited, though, with Dropbox being the only viable alternative.

Dropbox has had its fair share of security issues, and their most basic paid plan provides a ridiculous 1,000GB of storage. That’s roughly 10 times what I need, and it’ll cost me about 5 times more than Google Drive did. On the upside, Dropbox focuses solely on cloud storage, and I also have the space to back up some other files than just the family photos. So Dropbox it is, then.

Whiteboarding at Google. Probably planning something evil.

Other Services

Google Drive is not the only Google service I still use, though. I had a Google+ account, that I’ve just now deleted. Google’s attempt to create a social network failed miserably anyway1, so it was no great loss. I also had a Blogger blog, which I also just deleted. There was nothing there, except for a link to this site. I use Google Keep extensively, but I’m pretty sure I’ll quickly find a replacement for that as well. The same goes for Google Maps. It’s perhaps Googles best service, the turn-by-turn-navigation, in particular, is awesome. But there are alternatives, most of them based on OpenStreetMap. The last time I checked OpenStreetMap, the quality of some of the maps were sub-par, but that might have changed. I can also make an effort to improve them myself.

The greatest hurdle when it comes to dumping Google is Android. It is theoretically possible to use an Android phone without a Google account, but I don’t have the time nor energy to venture down that path. But the main problem is that there are no feasible alternatives to Android. Apple is not an option after the incident with the laptop battery, and I can’t imagine they are any less evil than Google. Microsoft’s failed Windows 10 Mobile will finally be put out of its misery towards the end of 2019. I’ve also tried Jolla’s a couple of days, but it was far from ready to be my daily driver.

So I can’t dump Google completely. At least not yet, unless I’m prepared to also dump the smartphone, and go back to something basic like the Nokia 3310 3G. But we all know that’s not gonna happen.

Footnotes

  1. I’m a bit surprised they haven’t abandoned Google+, like they sensibly did with Google Wave.

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  1. If the reason you are using Google drive is images and you don’t mind running alternatives yourself I would suggest checking out Perkeep (https://perkeep.org/). It is a storage solution made to “permanently keep your stuff, for life”.
    It has an android app that syncs you images to your perkeep instance and it has a google photos like stream of images and great search possibilities. You can of course use it to store other things as well like files or importing tweets, images from google photo and others (or you can make you own importers).

    Check out this video if you want to know more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlAU_da_U4s

    • I was running Google Drive because I didn’t quite trust my ReadyNAS box, and my own ability to properly configure the Nextcloud server I’ve got running on it. So Google Drive – now Dropbox – is just an extra insurance to make sure we’ve still got the family photos somewhere if I messed up the self-hosted Nextcloud server.