Well, it depends on what you use Google for. But, for most people, you can’t.
Believe it or not, this is one of the easiest things to switch away from. I think most people just use Google Search because they’re used to it, and it’s the default for pretty much everything. But, it’s not _that _hard to change to a different search engine.
I think this is the most well known pro-privacy alternative to Google Search. They’ve processed more than 25 billion search queries and that should speak for itself. Similar to Google, they not only search websites for text, but also images, videos, news, and even products. Although they do have a few ads before your search results, those are based on your queries and you are not being tracked. You can even use DuckDuckGo with Google Chrome.
In case you just can’t stop using Google, then Startpage can help you. Whenever you search something with Startpage, your query goes to them, where they then send it to Google, remove all the trackers, and show you the results. This ensures that you get the results you’re used to, but without needing to give away so much information. Startpage goes the extra mile with their “Anonymous View” feature, which protects you beyond just their search engine. Similar to DuckDuckGo, Startpage also serves ads, but they are not tracking you to serve them.
While slightly harder to replace, it can be done. The biggest problem you’ll have is convincing the people you want to collaborate with to not use Google Drive. If you manage to do that, or simply don’t need to collaborate with others on online documents, you won’t have any problems.
The best alternative to Google Drive I can think of is Nextcloud. Nextcloud is a self-hosted alternative to Google Drive which can take care of syncing your files across computers. There are free Mobile and Desktop applications for nearly every operating system out there which makes syncing very simple. Their mobile application can automatically upload your photos, similar to how Google Photos works. Nextcloud even has integrations for tools which allow you to edit documents online and even have multiple people working on documents at once, just like Google Docs. Since you can choose where you host it, you can be sure you aren’t being tracked as long as you trust your hosting provider.
My setup is currently to host Nextcloud on my [thirstylink ids=”4364”]DigitalOcean[/thirstylink] VPS, and use OpenVPN to connect to my Raspberry Pi NFS setup. My Raspberry Pi is connected to a RAID 1 array of 2TB hard drives, which then makes nightly backups to a third drive. That way, if I accidentally delete something I can go onto the backup drive to retrieve it. But, since I like backups so much, I also have an off-site backup which I update every few weeks. For a simpler setup, you could always just use DigitalOcean’s Spaces which offer really cheap storage. And by cheap, I mean $5 for 250GB with additional storage costing just $0.02/GB/month. So, 1TB of extra storage would cost you just $25($5 for the base 250GB + 1000*$0.02). Oh, and you also need to pay $0.01/GB of bandwidth you use over the included 1TB.
If you’re not up to self hosting Nextcloud, then you may be surprised to learn that Apple has an alternative to Google Drive. Simply visit iCloud.com, sign in, and you’ll be able to create and edit documents completely online. You can even collaborate with others, all while staying away from Google. If you have an iPhone, then you can also backup your photos and other documents without needing to download anything extra. You can sign up and get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, or pay for more. Should you need more than 5GB, it’s not that bad with pricing starting at just $0.99 a month for 50GB.
The hardest part about changing your email is needing to update all of your accounts to use the new one. But, this won’t be a problem if you use a custom domain because you can just point it towards the new servers.
Once again, I prefer to go the self-hosting route. I use the same DigitalOcean VPS to take care of sending and receiving the vast majority of my emails. This was actually easier to set up than Nextcloud because I use a control panel called VestaCP. If you’ve ever used cPanel, it’s the same general idea except it’s free and open source. VestaCP, or any of the many available free control panels out there, offer an easy way to manage your self-hosted email. So, if you’re up to learning some new skills, or already know how to manage a server, this could be a good option.
In the event that you already have an iCloud account, then you probably already know about iCloud Mail. Similar to iCloud Drive, you can manage everything online without ever needing to install anything, although it should work with pretty much any email client. This does not require you to set up your own server, yet you still keep your data out of the hands of Google. But, it should be noted that Google can still track everything you send to a Gmail account and everything a Gmail account sends to you.
I don’t think many people are able to quit this(including me). The thing that sucks is that there really isn’t a good alternative to YouTube. I mean, there is Vimeo and Facebook Video, but no one uses Vimeo(or, at least much less people than YouTube) and Facebook is arguably worse than Google in terms of privacy. The best thing you can do is to stay signed out, get a good VPN provider, and use incognito mode. Even then, you are still using a Google service, and can therefore not completely hide from Google. However, if you do ditch all other Google services, what they can do with your information is rather limited, especially if you don’t sign in.
Firefox? Opera? I really can’t think of anything comparable to Google Chrome, although that’s probably because I have a Chromebook and have been using Google Chrome for the past few years nearly exclusively.
Use iCloud Drive and iCloud Mail, and sign out of YouTube. That’s the best you can do.