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An update on the Google diet.

I was surprised to discover that it’s almost two years since I started my Google diet, so I thought I’d write a quick follow-up to reflect on how it’s going.

The answer is, in short, very well. I’ve cut a lot of Google from my life and, as I predicted two years ago, I’ve barely noticed. I don’t need Google Analytics, I’m happy with WordPress’ own simple statistics for this blog. I don’t miss Calendar, Apple’s alternatives are more than adequate for my purposes. Google Chrome is still installed on some of my devices but I can’t remember the last time I had cause to launch it (Firefox is my current preference for browsing). I’ve replaced Google Maps with Apple’s offering, which I find is a perfectly good alternative (though admittedly I do occasionally have to hit to use the incomparable StreetView). Google+ is history. Or at least I hope so; it doesn’t seem to take much to accidentally re-activate it. I’ve even dropped Google for search – the thing that brought me into Google’s arms all those years ago and that which I admitted I’d struggle to give up – and have been using DuckDuckGo full-time instead. I’d tried moving to DuckDuckGo in the past and not got on with it but in the last year or so it has dramatically improved. DuckDuckGo is now set as default in all my browsers (desktop and mobile) and I have been thoroughly impressed with it. I haven’t had cause to resort to googling once. Seriously, it’s great.

The bad news is that I’ve not broken completely free of Google yet. The reason? Gmail. I thought I’d grab all my archived mail from Google (for posterity) and be able to ditch their service but it hasn’t worked out that way. Partly it’s because the account is still tied to some other services I’ve not got around to updating yet. Partly it’s because friends and family still send me messages to Gmail, despite me only sending them stuff from my iCloud address now. The main reason though is that I just can’t trust iCloud mail. I don’t know if it’s generally flaky or an overly aggressive content/keyword filter but sometimes my mail just doesn’t seem to get through. I don’t recall (perhaps “know of” would be a better term to use) many problems receiving mail but I really can’t trust iCloud to deliver my messages. They appear in the sent folder but never arrive. I would blame the recipients except that it has happened with things I’ve sent to myself. Bothersome.

So if you’re no longer interested in being Google’s Product, I’d say it is reasonably easy to loosen their grip… but it might not be so simple to extricate yourself fully. I suppose in the end it comes down to willpower and determination. As ever, a diet is probably a good start but a change of lifestyle is better.