Those with large privacy concerns are marked in red and should be avoided when possible.
Those with questionable privacy are marked in orange. Be careful.
Those with a privacy focus are marked in turquoise.
Those left unmarked should be fine, but don't make privacy a focus.
Wondering why something wasn't included? Check out the FAQ, it might answer your question.
Bing is one of the largest search engines in the world, owned by US-based Microsoft, it utilises its own web crawler and generally has results on par with Google. Using Bing while signed in to your Microsoft account allows you to earn Microsoft Rewards points, which can be redeemed in exchange for various rewards such as gift cards.
US-based DuckDuckGo is the most well-known privacy-focused search engine. It claims to not track user data or personalise search results, avoiding the filter bubble that search engines like Google create. Its results are gathered “from over four hundred sources” including its own web crawler. One of DuckDuckGo's most popular features is the ability to easily query a large number of other search engines with what it calls “bangs”. It also has an Tor onion service available.
Searx is a completely open-source, self-hostable metasearch engine. Searx pulls results from many different search engines and allows easy filtering of results based on category (such as files, IT, or science). It currently has dozens of instances running across a variety of domains (including onion services). The user interface is not as friendly as some of the others, but it is extremely powerful, and being able to audit the code and self-host makes it by far the best option for privacy-focused users. That being said, there is no official Searx instance, so users who don't plan to self-host should be careful as it's entirely possible that some instances are modified to log.
As a permissively licensed open source project, Android has a very active development community that produces custom builds for a multitude of devices. The most popular ROM is LineageOS, which is a widely compatible, well-maintained fork of AOSP with some tweaks. There are also a number of other popular ROMs such as Resurrection Remix, OmniROM, Paranoid Android, and Replicant.
These ROMs do not come with any Google apps pre-installed, so an alternative app store such as F-Droid for free and open source software, or Aptoide for general software, can be installed to replace the Play Store. If you really need apps directly from the Play Store, you could also use an alternate client such as Yalp Store. A number of apps require Google Play Services to function correctly, however the free and open source microG can restore most of the functionality that Play Services provides.
It's worth noting that due to the LineageOS team refusing to implement signature spoofing patches needed for microG to have full functionality, the microG team maintain a fork with these patches as well as microG and F-Droid pre-installed.
While custom ROMs are generally the best solution for Android users, they do have downsides. For starters, if your device doesn't allow you to unlock your bootloader then you're almost certainly out of luck. It can also hinder some device features, most notably the camera quality. This can be mitigated to an extent with GCam ports, but these are often buggy. Depending on your region, flashing these may also void your warranty, so make sure to research your local laws before doing anything.
If your device does not have custom ROM support, the next best thing you can do is disable Google apps. Depending on the device, this may not completely remove all Google integration. It's also likely that it will cause stability issues and that you won't be able to use microG properly on the stock ROM, so you'll lose some functionality.
Bromite is a free and open source Chromium-based browser for Android. It integrates patches from a number of privacy-focused Chromium forks such as Iridium and ungoogled-chromium to remove all Google tracking, as well as integrating an ad-blocker and numerous anti-fingerprinting measures. It also supports removing click-tracking and AMP links from search results. Although it only exists for Android, the lack of syncing means you aren't missing out on any multi-device integration anyway, so you can use it in conjunction with a desktop browser like Iridium without sacrificing any functionality.
Its standout but highly controversial feature is integration with the Basic Attention Token, which users can purchase and automatically donate to websites and creators. There are also plans to allow users to earn BAT by replacing native ads with Brave ads that are locally targeted. For those uninterested in BAT, the system is opt-in and largely ignorable.
Firefox is a free and open source web browser developed by the US-based Mozilla Corporation (owned by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation), and is the 2nd most popular desktop browser after Chrome. It is one of the few well-known browsers that don't use The Chromium Project's Blink engine, instead using Mozilla's Gecko engine.
A lot of Firefox's appeal comes from its customisability, allowing users to extensively change the browser's appearance to their liking, and providing a page where users can tweak advanced settings to get the browser running how they want it to. Despite its shrinking market share, Firefox still has a very active add-on development community, with plenty of add-ons to make the browser fit the user's needs. Over the years, there have been a number controversial changes to the browser, but due to its free and open source nature, there are a multitude of maintained forks without these changes (notably Pale Moon and Waterfox).
Opera is a Chromium-based browser developed by Opera Software, a company that, while technically Norwegian, is wholly owned by Chinese investors. It distinguishes itself from Chrome largely by its user interface and support for customisable mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts.
Opera also comes with a built-in VPN, though it's really more of a proxy as it does not have proper encryption and only applies to the browser. The servers are provided by Canadian VPN company SurfEasy (which is owned by US-based Symantec), which claims it does not log, although it is unclear whether these policies also apply to Opera users. It is restricted to 3 unspecific regions ("Americas", "Asia", and "Europe"), and is rather slow. Opera also provides another service called Turbo, which routes sites through Opera's servers for compression. This is good for users with a slow connection, but does keep some logs.
In terms of the browser itself's privacy, it's basically no better than Chrome, with most data going to Opera Software instead of Google. Most tracking can be disabled, however it is still not recommended for privacy purposes, only for those who like the features and want to get away from Google's offerings in particular.
US-based Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud storage services still popular today. It has a 2GB free tier, with paid tiers starting from 10 USD/month for 1TB. It also lets users earn more storage for free by referring others or completing various tasks. It is extremely easy to use and integrates with Microsoft Office Online, as well as providing its own collaborative document editor named Paper. There are clients for all major operating systems, and the Android and iOS apps provide automatic photo backup functionalities similar to Google Photos. Unlike most competitors, Dropbox uses block-level transfers, meaning files don't have to be entirely reuploaded when edited.
Norwegian cloud storage provider Jottacloud is less known, but provides a gallery almost identical to Google Photos. They offer a free tier with 5GB of storage, and an unlimited (with a fair usage policy that users report to be around 10TB) paid tier from 6.25 EUR/month. There are easy to use clients for all major operating systems except Linux, which only has a command line tool. As previously mentioned, the mobile apps have a gallery with an almost identical layout to Google Photos, and support automatic photo backup, so this service is good for users who like Google Photos.
MEGA is a cloud storage service based in New Zealand. Founded after the demise of Megaupload by its founder Kim Dotcom, MEGA offers a free 15GB tier with additional storage earnable for 180 days by completing tasks. Paid tiers start at 5 EUR/month for 200GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth. MEGA encrypts and decrypts all data client-side, and all of its clients are open source. There are official MEGA clients for all major operating systems, and the mobile clients support automatic photo backup. Due to browser limitations, Firefox users are unable to download files larger than 2GB without installing MEGA's desktop client.
OneDrive, previously known as SkyDrive, is US-based Microsoft's cloud stoage offering. It comes with 5GB of free storage, with a 50GB plan for 3 USD/month, and a 1TB plan as part of Office 365 from 8.25 USD/month. It comes pre-installed on Windows 10 and is heavily integrated with Microsoft Office, with the web version of OneDrive allowing editing of Office formats through Office Online. It has an official client for all major operating systems except Linux, with the Android and iOS versions allowing automatic backup of photos.
Outlook.com, previously known as Hotmail, is US-based Microsoft's free email service. There isn't much to say here, it just works. Each account comes with 15GB of free storage, and it integrates well with Office Online, Microsoft's web alternative to their full Office suite. Starting at 8.25 USD/month, users can get a subscription to Office 365 to get 1TB of storage as well as access to the traditional Office suite basics.
Swiss provider ProtonMail is one of the most popular private email services. It offers a free tier with 500MB of storage and a limit of 150 messages/day, but offers paid plans starting at 4 USD/month for 4GB of storage and sending 1000 messages/day, as well as other features like a custom domain, sending encrypted messages to users not using ProtonMail, and creating up to 5 aliases. It accepts Bitcoin as payment, and its web client is free and open source.
US-based Reddit is a user-voted content aggregator. Split into topic-specific “subreddits”, the site allows users to submit text, images, videos, or any other link, which can then be upvoted or downvoted and commented on by other users. It has thousands of highly active communities spanning a variety of topics, from gaming, to politics, to fashion. If there is not yet a subreddit for a topic, users can create their own. There are official apps for Android and iOS, as well as a large number of unofficial clients with unique features.
Twitter is a US-based social media platform and one of the most popular websites in the world. It allows users to post “tweets” - short text posts up to 280 characters. It also supports attaching images, videos, and polls to tweets, as well as using hashtags that users can search to see tweets about a certain topic. It had official apps for Android and iOS, as well as plenty of 3rd-party apps for core functionality (features such as polls and group DMs are limited to the official API keys).
US-based Discord is a popular and feature-rich chat service. Although primarily targeted at gamers, it serves as an easy to use chat platform for anyone. It has easy to use applications for all major operating systems as well as a web client. Discord offers a subscription from 5 USD/month (10 USD/month to access some of their game library) that unlocks extra perks like animated profile pictures and emojis, but the core functionality is free.
It allows for creation of servers with multiple text and voice channels for different purposes, and easily control user permissions. It allows users to direct message others, create group DMs, and voice and video call individuals or groups. Discord also supports user-created bots that perform various functions.
US-based Facebook Messenger is the second most popular instant messenger in the world after WhatsApp, with over 1.3 billion monthly users. It requires either a Facebook account or a phone number to sign up, and only has apps available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, with a web client and integration into Facebook for desktop users. Its mobile applications contain ads, with the exception of Messenger Lite for Android.
Users can send messages, photos, videos, stickers, files, and audio messages to individuals, groups, and businesses, as well as make voice and video calls. It also allows users to react to messages with emojis, interact with bots, play games with friends, and US users can request and send money. Users can also add to their “Day”, which functions like Snapchat's Stories and disappear after 24 hours.
Signal is a free and open source instant messenger developed by US-based Open Whisper Systems. Endorsed by NSA whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden, it utilises end-to-end encryption through OWS's Signal Protocol, which is also implemented in a number of other communication apps and has been thouroughly tested and verified as cryptographically sound.
It allows users to send messages, photos, videos, voice and video messages, and files to individuals and groups, as well as make voice and video calls. It requires a phone number to register, and users can verify who they're talking to by sharing device-specific “saftey numbers”.
There are clients available for all major operating systems, and can be set as the default SMS app on Android devices. When set as the default SMS app, it works similarly to how iMessage works on iOS devices, sending encrypted messages to other Signal users, but falling back to unencrypted SMS when the contact number is not associated with a Signal user.
Telegram is an instant messenger based out of the UK, but founded by Russian entrepreneurs Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who also founded popular social network VK. It requires a phone number to sign up, but has applications for all major operating systems and a web client. These are free and open source, although the source code often lags behind version releases.
As well as chat, you can send images, videos, files, stickers, your location, and voice and video messages. There is support for voice calls, but currently not video calls. Telegram also supports bots, forwarding and quoting messages, channels (which users can follow for messages from the channel owners), and group messages.
US-based WhatsApp is the world's most popular instant messaging service with over 1.5 billion active monthly users and was purchased by tech giant Facebook in 2014. It requires a phone number to sign up and has clients for all major operating systems except for Linux, as well as a web client. Users are limited to one mobile device, requiring them to backup their messages before switching. The service is currently free, with plans to introduce ads to the mobile clients in the near future.
Users are able to send messages, photos, videos, files, and stickers as well as make voice and video calls to individuals, groups, and businesses. Users can also set a “status” that's viewable for 24 hours, working similarly to Snapchat's Stories function.
Wire is a free and open source chat service based in Switzerland. Founded by ex-Skype employees, Wire provides end-to-end encrypted, multi-device compatible messaging and voice and video calling to individuals and groups. A paid business version with a similar layout to Slack is also available from 4 EUR/user/month.
US-based social media giant Facebook also offers a video platform. For creators looking to move away from YouTube for whatever reason, Facebook is the only real alternative with a large audience. It offers upload of full HD video, live streaming, easy sharing and audience interaction for growth, monetisation of content, and advanced analytics.
Invidious is an open source, self-hostable front-end for watching YouTube content, with an official site available for those who don't want to self-host. It aims to replicate as many YouTube features as possible without having to use YouTube itself. It supports an audio-only mode, subscriptions, video options (quality, speed, etc.), and watch history, all without using YouTube's official APIs. For those who want something with locally stored data but don't want to set up self-hosting, FreeTube is a free and open source client that pairs the Invidious API with a more YouTube-like design. Unfortunately the videos themselves still have to be pulled from Google's servers, but this is as close to Google-free as you can get if you still want to watch YouTube content.
NewPipe is a free and open source Android app that essentially serves the same purpose as Invidious, but for Android devices. It allows you to watch videos in the background and download them to your device. It has local playlists, watch history, and limited subscription management, only displaying the last uploaded video from each subscribed channel. It of course has to pull the videos and subscription information from Google's servers, but does not use proprietary APIs or send any more information than is necessary.
SkyTube is a free and open source Android app that provides almost all functionality from the official YouTube app. It allows you to watch videos in the background and download them to your device. It has watch history and subscription management (including notifications), and unlike NewPipe displays subscriptions chronologically with more than one video per channel. It does not provide playlist support, but allows bookmarking of videos. It does use proprietary Google APIs, but the app itself is fully FOSS. There is a version with proprietary blobs available that supports the official YouTube player and will soon support Chromecast.
ChromeOS - GalliumOS, Ubuntu (or another Linux distro)
Gboard - AOSP Keyboard, AnySoftKeyboard, Fleksy, Minuum, Simple Keyboard, SwiftKey
Google DNS - 188.8.131.52, AdGuard DNS, OpenNIC, Quad9
Google Docs - CryptPad, Collabora Online, iWork for iCloud, Office Online, Zoho Office Suite
Google Keep - Evernote, Joplin, OneNote, Standard Notes, Turtl
Google Maps - Bing Maps, HERE WeGo, MAPS.ME
Google Passwords - Bitwarden, Dashlane, KeePass, LastPass
Google Play Music All Access / YouTube Music - Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify
Google Scholar - BASE, CORE, Microsoft Academic, LibGen, Sci-Hub, Science.gov, SHARE
Google Translate - Bing Translator, DeepL
Reverse Image Search - Bing Images, ImgOps, TinEye, Yandex.Images