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How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads

Derek Walter | Sept. 10, 2014
Tired of targeted ads? Protect your user data with these alternatives to Google, Gmail, Chrome, and Google Drive.

Another strength of Firefox is its mobile browser on Android (there's even a beta version if you want to try out new features before they go mainstream). Firefox Sync enables you to keep your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, and other data across desktop and mobile versions. 

Replace Gmail with FastMail
FastMail is a great-looking and fast-performing alternative to Gmail. If you are concerned about the NSA or law enforcement snooping on your correspondence, take solace in the fact FastMail is located in Australia and has a fairly stringent privacy policy.

FastMail has many of the same features as Gmail, including conversation view and message archiving. There's a dedicated support page for importing messages from your old email provider. This can take awhile if you have multiple gigabytes of old messages, but the payoff is having all your email in one place that's free of Google's advertising software.

Of course, this ad-free perk comes with a price. The Enhanced plan--$40 per year for 15GB of storage across mail, contacts, and calendars--probably meets most needs, but pricing ranges from 250MB for $10 per year up to $120 per year for 60GB of email storage.

FastMail has a ridiculously large number of domains, so the odds are pretty high you can score Such is no longer the case with Gmail, as such combinations were taken by those who scored a beta invite when Gmail launched or were just faster to jump on board (I'm looking at you, owner of

For mobile support FastMail uses IMAP, so it'll work fine with the stock mail app on iOS,  Android, and various third-party clients. 

Replace Google Drive with Zoho Docs
Zoho Docs is's online office suite, which includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs. Like Google Drive, this collaboration tool makes it easy to share files and folders, track document changes, and get feedback in real time.There are also desktop apps for Windows and Mac, so you can sync your content to the desktop and work offline. 

As with Google's productivity apps, you can export documents to Microsoft Office and other formats. You can also import Dropbox files into Zoho Docs. 

You get 1GB of storage for free, though that may not last long if it becomes your core productivity suite. The standard plan of 250GB of storage is $5 per month ($48 per year if you pay it at once). Tiered plans go all the way up to 2TB for those with larger storage needs.  

Like the other companies on this list, Zoho has spelled out its privacy policy, so you can be assured it plays nice with your data.


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