Privacy Online, and How to Get Started
So, here we are. My article about online privacy. I knew I'd write about this some day, so let's cut the shit and get started. First off, if you want an easy source for alternatives to Google and other services that track everything you do, I highly recommend PrivacyTools. It's an extensive list of privacy-friendly alternatives to just about everything, and I've switched almost everything I could to tools included there!
Now, to get started, why should you worry about online privacy? Well, to put it simply, practically everyone wants your data to sell, and nobody wants their data sold, right? Trust me, the overall experience with most alternatives is great, especially since there are so many options for you! The best part of it all, though, is just the nice feeling of being safe online. Almost nobody can track me down or break into my accounts now, and it feels amazing. Of course, it's not 100% safe, nothing online ever is, but getting close to it still feels great.
This article will go over my choices and experiences with these alternatives. As always, if you'd like to contact me about this article, you can find me on Mastodon, chat with me directly through Matrix, or send an email to email@example.com.
Personally, I switched to DuckDuckGo for my search engine. Simply put, it's easy, free, doesn't require an account (it doesn't even have accounts!), and has plenty of options and features. There isn't much else to say about a search engine, sadly. I guess the mascot is better than Google's G?
Email & Cloud
Now, my choice for this wasn't on PrivacyTools, but in my opinion, it's still a very nice free choice. I use GMX as my Email and Cloud storage. GMX's Email has multiple options that Google doesn't even provide at all, such as encrypted Emails, alias addresses, and 65GB of mail storage! Sadly, the Cloud storage is a mere 2GB, but personally, I don't use Cloud storage that often, and if I had the time and money, would set up my own Cloud storage server with a Raspberry Pi and an external HDD.
The only issues I've ever had with GMX are the ocassional hiccup while saving settings or syncing my contacts and calendar, but other than that, it's been the best Email service I've ever used!
This one is quite obvious, as all my readers already use at least one of these! Mastodon is a great replacement for Twitter, Pixelfed for Instagram, need I list all the options? The fediverse is just such an amazing place!
By default, all routers and mobile devices use Google DNS. Personally, I wouldn't want that, as Google already collects plenty if you use any of their other services. I switched my router and phone to NextDNS, and have had a blast with it! It has plenty of privacy options, parental controls, and more to help your browsing just be a little bit more secure. Obviously this can't be for everyone, NextDNS is based in the US, but PrivacyTools has a huge database of DNS providers, so take a look through that if you want to escape Google's DNS monopoly.
Let's be honest with ourselves, we all have way too many accounts to reliably have unique passwords for everything, right? Of course we do! So, most people go with two options, using the same password on everything, which is really unsafe, or use a password manager, like LastPass. Personally, I use bitWarden, and don't really recommend anything like LastPass. bitWarden is encrypted, has a password generator that can create very powerful passwords, and can even store more than that for auto-fill, such as credit cards, identity information, and has secure notes for things such as OTP recovery codes. Trust me, if you want your accounts to be secure, grab bitWarden, make an easy-to-remember password, and change everything else to randomly generated ones by bitWarden. You'll feel a lot safer then.
Miscellaneous (Chats, Productivity, etc.)
To finish this up, here are some miscellaneous things I've switched to for other small things you might not think of when thinking about online privacy.
A notepad platform that can sync to most cloud storage options. Has features like markdown support, multiple notebooks, encryption, and more.
A real-time chatting application. Very similar to Discord, and would highly recommend if you aren't already in a friend group that uses something like Discord.
Probably the best option for a 2FA app on your phone, very easy to use and encrypt, has a few options for how things are listed, too.
Take your privacy seriously! Your data is yours, and yours alone. It shouldn't be sold to other companies without your knowledge. I highly recommend you escape any service you can that does this, and use one of the many alternatives.