Migrating Away from Gmail and Google – A Pain but Worth the Effort

  • Comments: 37
  • Written on: May 27th, 2010

I love Google.  I like Google’s innovation, their easy-to-use technology and the competition they bring to the marketplace.

But I don’t love Google sticking its nose into every corner of my life, recording every website I visit, every email and attachment I send, and tracking my GPS location through my cell phone.

I have been growing more protective of my privacy over the past few months, and Google’s recent WiFi spying revaluation has made me even more concerned.

While Google claims the spying was inadvertent I find it hard to believe that a whole team of data engineers looked at the raw amount of data that was collected and said, oh yeah…  that is just a bunch of WiFi locations.

Coming from a guy who was one mouse click away from buying a Nexus One phone from Google’s store, you might understand that I try to give Google the benefit of the doubt. But not any more.  It is time for rash actions.

Goodbye Gmail

The biggest intrusion into my life by far is Gmail. Like hundreds of thousands of others I eagerly agreed to let Google read my email, archive my attachments in Google Docs, and display relevant ads on which I have never clicked.  It seemed like a great deal.

By itself, it probably is.  However, if you have ever sent an email and regretted it, if you have ever attached the wrong document to an email, or if you have foolishly included credit card numbers or other personal it is all archived for eternity at Google – even if you delete your Google Account.  I am not ok with that.

For about $10 a month I got a private IMAP account from Rackspace.com and now all of my email moves through that IMAP in the same way it did before with Google.  My phone, desktop, and webmail are all synchronized in beautiful, silent privacy.  I love it.

Goodbye Google Toolbar

The next step it to uninstall the Google Toolbar and remove the Google Gears extension from my Firefox browser.

The Google Toolbar tracks every website your browser visits, and when cross-referenced with the pervasive cookie that is present on your computer when you log into any Google Service, the G-Master knows what web pages you look at, what you search for, what videos you prefer on YouTube, and even the data you place in certain forms on websites.

It is time for me to close that door of information as well.  I don’t plan on using many Google Services anyway, so Gears won’t be too much of a problem.

AdWords and AdSense

I am not ditching AdWords and AdSense and its not just the great money I make as an AdSense publisher or the customers I can attract to Schrock Innovations using AdWords.

AdSense and AdWords have a clear revenue model.  Google is buying and selling advertising.  It’s a marketplace where money is exchanged for advertising.

When you use Google’s free products you are trading your privacy for the use for the free product.  I am no longer willing to pay that price – especially when I can get similar services for such a small amount of money.

So Am I Paranoid or Just Realistic?

People I have talked to either think I am nuts that Google gives a damn about what I am doing in my computing time and others see the potential for privacy abuse in the future.

I am afraid of so much personal information being stored about me in one place because history has shown that in times of economic and political strife, private companies do things they would not ordinarily do.

Take it a step further…  Lets say a state or the Federal government decides they want to charge you retroactive sales taxes on everything you have bought using Google Checkout.  They can use the courts to FORCE Google to hand over their treasure trove of your personal information.

If you thinks that scenario is nuts, watch out – its already happening right now to Amazon in South Carolina.  See below from the Charlotte Observer:

Unable to get Amazon.com to collect the taxes, the state recently began an audit of online businesses, trying to track down what it assumes are millions of dollars in uncollected taxes. The state has told Amazon that it wants buyers’ names and the amounts they spent. That state also needs to know the general categories of spending, like books or movies or food, because some items are tax exempt. Amazon has refused to comply, claiming in federal court that North Carolina may be able to learn the titles of books and movies that its customers have bought, imperiling privacy and free speech. North Carolina officials have said they are not seeking those details. Now it is up to the court to decide whether Amazon will have to reveal the names of customers, without titles.

So would Google go to bat for you? Who knows.

You can’t trust Google implicitly because they are a business created to generate profits. In most cases protecting privacy is key to generating profits, but if governments demand a fat check from the G-Master OR the names of others to collect from, what do you think they would hand over?

  1. taoist meditation said on June 1st, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I can copy folder by folder through my mail client on my pc with an IMAP connection to each account. This is slow, chews up my quota and requires using batches.

  2. Moorpark Real Estate said on June 1st, 2010 at 7:41 am

    I haven’t had such type of problem. I also love Google and all its extra services like gmail, orkut, youtube etc. I have an Adsense account and getting quite healthy money from it. But these days i seeing google everywhere making their mark.

  3. Laptop Attache said on June 1st, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I don’t particularly trust Google or any other company either. Google definitely has too much private information about people. That information could get hacked or they could be forced to give up that info to government agencies. The same goes for facebook. I don’t normally consider myself a paranoid person, but I have chosen not to sign up for facebook or gmail.

  4. business it solutions said on June 2nd, 2010 at 2:13 am

    I think Squirrelmal works pretty well. It has quite a few plugins for extending its functionality, if one doesn’t just want a barebone pop/imap webmail.

  5. Net Age | Web Design said on June 2nd, 2010 at 5:07 am

    I am with you here Thor. Personally I don’t have the Google toolbar installed, nor gears. Gmail accounts come in handy for spammy mailing lists and stuff like that, and gdocs have got merit for coordinating and project managing minor stuff. That’s it. The cloud ain’t gonna get me.

  6. payday uk said on June 2nd, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I would not care if Google uses my data in a non-identifiable manner. I am sure they maintain a strict vigil that they do show and there are laws to ensure that it remains that way. The WiFi incident is just one off thing.

  7. Laptop Attache said on June 2nd, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    @payday uk: I think most people do not have a problem with non-identifiable data. It is more the fact that one company has control over so much personal, private data. I’d feel a lot more secure if all that personal data was spread out over many companies/services. That way, if something is compromised legally or illegally, they likely only have a small portion of my private data.

  8. Wedding Planning Checklist said on June 2nd, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I use google sparingly, to eliminate exactly what you are discussing here!

  9. payday uk said on June 3rd, 2010 at 10:27 am

    @Laptop Attache: Get your point.. but I do not feel particularly threatened with Google holding lot of my data.. I use Google for almost everything. But yeah.. I do appreciate why some would..

  10. Tasarım said on June 3rd, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I think migrating from Google is the right solution Thor 🙂

  11. Depresyon said on June 3rd, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Wow Thor… I didn’t know Google collected that much of an information. I’m seriously considering to migrate now also :/

  12. watch season episode said on June 3rd, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    It does not matter where you go now days everyone is collecting information about you. What you need to decide from day one i how much you care about your privacy because once you take a dive there is no way out. I think it’s a bit too late for me to start ditching services like gmail.

  13. Moorpark Real Estate said on June 5th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I just know one thing Google is best and no one like it. Now very soon its going to launch an awesome operating system Chrome and it will challenge the Microsoft’s window.

  14. cheap college textbooks said on June 9th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I knew google was doing all of that and I have been actively working on a fix for that. I had yet to hear about Amazon, and I hope they will try to further hide this information. It’s crazy the amount of trouble you can walk into with out even knowing it.

  15. Komodo Dragon said on June 13th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    That’s pretty much why I choose not to use Google Chrome when it first came out, it just scared me to think that Google could monitor even more of my online activities. I got that message when I read the privacy/user agreement policy of Chrome.

  16. payday uk said on June 14th, 2010 at 11:43 am

    @Komodo.. Chrome is one of the best browsers out there.. abstaining from using it is a big price to pay for a paranoid fear..

  17. Komodo Dragon said on June 15th, 2010 at 5:18 am

    @payday uk, you are right, it is a good browser, uses alot less resources compared to Firefox, but Firefox still has way better extensions/plugins at the moment, thats what Chrome lacks in my opinion. I do think that compared to the beginning of when Chrome was launched. I do think Chrome’s privacy has improved. But Firefox still wins my heart 🙂

  18. Gallivanter said on June 15th, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Google really knows too much. Whilst Google Chrome has some nice features, think I will stick with Firefox!

  19. taoist meditation said on June 16th, 2010 at 5:10 am

    This is the one and only reason that prevents me from using Google Apps Premier -> because migrating my old Gmail account is too difficult.

  20. Ev Yemekleri said on June 16th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I recently started to use Google Chrome since Firefox is crashing for no reason on both my work and home computers. If these crashes continue, it may be time for me to do a complete switch.

  21. seks shop said on June 19th, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I knew google was doing all of that and I have been actively working on a fix for that. I had yet to hear about Amazon, and I hope they will try to further hide this information. It’s crazy the amount of trouble you can walk into with out even knowing it.

  22. fx15 said on June 20th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    @payday uk, you are right, it is a good browser, uses alot less resources compared to Firefox, but Firefox still has way better extensions/plugins at the moment, thats what Chrome lacks in my opinion. I do think that compared to the beginning of when Chrome was launched. I do think Chrome’s privacy has improved. But Firefox still wins my heart :D:D:D

  23. Moorpark Real Estate said on June 23rd, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Really very nice and informative post. I just know one thing Google is best and no one like it. Now very soon its going to launch an awesome operating system Chrome and it will challenge the Microsoft’s window. Keep updating like that.

  24. Komodo Dragon said on June 24th, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Thor, now that you’ve moved from Gmail, is your “contact” information sill accurate? I see it as listing a gmail email. Is this still your current email?

  25. Tasarım said on July 1st, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Moving away from google is a good ide at some point. You’re doing the right thing Thor!

  26. taoist meditation said on July 1st, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I think the main problem is that most people are only using Gmail some of the time. This means that when they look at email threads, mails they have read in other applications are not collapsed and they have to scroll a long way to find the newest message 😛

  27. abartisizlik said on July 7th, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I haven’t had such type of problem. (:

  28. Bidet said on July 10th, 2010 at 4:17 am

    I dont think Google actually reads the emails you send, they just collect the data so they can show you relevant ads. Its all automated. Even though they collect the data they can’t possibly find it and read it. Why would Google care about personal emails?

  29. Sanalika Hileleri said on July 12th, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I use google sparingly, to eliminate exactly what you are discussing here!…
    Thanks!

  30. Nokia said on July 12th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Hi!
    I think that Google runs over one million servers in data centers around the world and processes over one billion search requests and twenty petabytes of user-generated data every day.

  31. vefasizlik said on July 21st, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Google really knows too much. Whilst Google Chrome has some nice features, think I will stick with Firefox!

  32. linux junky
    linux junky said on July 23rd, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    It use to be people were worried about the government putting their nose in to much of your business. Then people started to fear IBM as all the information was feed in to their mainframes. Again the title shifted from IBM to Microsoft. People’s lives are on the home computer and they feared Microsoft had backdoors to see all their information. Now the tide has shifted to Google. I don’t think this one will last long with Facebook around. Everyone’s life is on Facebook. From that site you can figure out who someone is married to, their kids, their friends, where they work, what they are planning on doing, and what they have done. Add FourSquare and you can figure out where someone was and where they currently are.

  33. bölgesel zayıflama said on August 1st, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I just know one thing Google is best and no one like it. 😉

  34. erotikshop said on October 14th, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I can copy folder by folder through my mail client on my pc with an IMAP connection to each account. This is slow, chews up my quota and requires using batches.

  35. FleslightTürkiye said on October 14th, 2010 at 6:40 am

    I think the main problem is that most people are only using Gmail some of the time.

  36. Meh
    Meh said on January 8th, 2011 at 9:05 am

    It’s funny, because this site even uses Google Analytics…

  37. Marc
    Marc said on March 2nd, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Yes, agreed, I found your site doing some searching for ‘migrate away from gmail’ and plan on dumping them as fast as I can. The lure of disk space only goes so far. Too much of our data is already out there. It’s time for SMART people to rein them in. Question for ya – did RS have any migration tool for that, so you can pull in your whole inbox before closing the G acct? I’d rather not lose everything, and since they will have it forever, I beleive I have the right to keep my data/docs/acct info/contacts, etc. as well. 🙂 Just wondering what might make the process easier~

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