Google has become so ubiquitous, something inspired me to write this guide. Someone saw me use a search engine they had ever seen before, and they seemed shocked! "Yes, I don't use Google," I said. It was at that moment that I became cognizant that Google knew more about me than my best friends. So, lets discuss why you may want to try alternatives to Google search and how to survive without Google services in general, all with the motivation of privacy.
Google allows probably the most options to secure your private data then any large conglomerate. Under your Google Account, look for Privacy Checkup:
Click get started and follow the prompts. Points 5 and 6 are most important.
You'll see a bunch of expandable drop downs which you can switch off. Switching off anything will pause Google from collecting that respective information. For example, turning off Web & App Activity will disable Google from collecting your web/app data from this point forward. However, it does not mean your past web/app data is removed. To remove past web/app activity, press "Manage Activity."
You should see a window with all your web history. Click on the three dots on the top right to open additional options. Then, click "Delete Options:"
Click "Advanced" and then from the drop down, select "All time." Press "Delete" to finish. Repeat this process for all other options under section 5 such as Location History, Device Information etc.
Once you get to section 6, click "Manage Your Ad Settings."
Simply switch this setting off to turn off personalized ads. I like to turn this off, as it scans all Gmail messages etc, and I use Adblock anyway, so having this option on is not advantageous to me.
An option that Google does not include here, is your Google Now voice recordings. Delete your Google Now Recordings.
To summarize, you may not want to turn everything off and that's fine. For most people, leaving Youtube and Location history on is just fine. The one settings I recommend turning off is Web and App Activity, as we'll be looking for a Google Search substitute next.
DuckDuckGo is a third party search engine that does not track you. Simply change your default search engine in your web browser to DuckDuckGo.
Click on the top right and then click "Advanced Settings" to customize DuckDuckGo to your liking.
One severe disadvantage of DuckDuckGo is that it omits Google search results, relying on Yahoo and Bing instead. Startpage is a search engine that includes Google results. It also boasts forward secrecy encryption, meaning all searches use a different encryption key. Put simply, an attacker couldn't just attain one key to decrypt all your searches, as each search has its own unique key. Although generally slower and lacking some of the bells and whistles of DuckDuckGo, Startpage still boasts security features like proxies and Google search results, and is definitely worth a try.
This guide was a part of my Ultimate Information Security & Privacy Guide. Be sure to check out any related content.