Ever since going Google free, I've tried a number of different services to cover my needs. In this post I'll highlight seven alternatives to Google's own products.
Search Engine - DuckDuckGo
It's been two years now since I stopped using Google for searching needs and started using DuckDuckGo. Overtime I used DuckDuckGo's bang methods to redirect search queries to Google if DuckDuckGo didn't have what I was looking for, but overtime I've had to do that less and less. I'm not sure if DuckDuckGo's search results are improving or my searching needs have lessened over time. Either way, I'll be sticking with DuckDuckGo for the foreseeable future.
Email - FastMail
This is another service that I started using two years ago and I continue to use today. FastMail's email service isn't free for those with a moderate sized email archive, but paying for a service helps ensure that it stays around for a long time. Gmail is free, but with an email client that integrated a whole bunch of other Google services, it started to feel less like an email client and more like a communication centre. Gmail's spam filtering was also once the best spam filter in the field, but I'm glad to say that FastMail's own spam filtering is great and I've no complaints.
Cloud Storage - Dropbox
I never used Google's own cloud storage product, Google Drive. I've been a user of Dropbox since it first came out. What I like the most about Dropbox though isn't its pricing, or it's synchronisation across devices. I like the fact it isn't part of something bigger. I think if Google or Microsoft were to buy Dropbox then I would have to look at another cloud storage solution. I don't like the idea of having all my Internet eggs in the one company basket.
Document Management - Pages, Numbers & Keynote
Desktop apps can be just as efficient as cloud solutions like Google Docs. In fact maybe even more. I use Pages, Numbers & Keynote for all my document needs. I usually have my MacBook with me most days when I am working so using these native apps is a no brainer. If I needed remote access to my documents to edit them I would maybe consider using something else, but for my needs this is sufficient.
Analytics - Gauges
I was a long term user of Google Analytics for various websites over the years, but after a while I simply got overwhelmed by all the metrics and stats that Google provided. My needs were simple. I wanted to see how much activity my website was getting in terms of clicks and people. At the time Gaug.es was a product of GitHub, but the service has changed hands. It's still the same service that GitHub made and nothing has changed much over the time since the handover. Gauges isn't the only alternative though, there are a number of alternatives that serve different needs.
Blogging - Heroku & Jekyll
Who says you need to replace one service with another. What about combining products? My blog has been through lots of different iterations but since 2013 I've been using Octopress which is just a nice layer over Jekyll. Recently I switched to just using Jekyll. I didn't need the extra layer of functionality that Octopress provided.
With my blog catered for I needed a host as well for it. Given my website is static, I could use Amazon's S3 storage, but I wanted to be able to extend my site with Sinatra if needed. In the past I've used Linode to host my blog, but with Heroku's recent pricing change towards cheaper dynos, I'm now hosting my blog there. It also means that when I commit my changes to GitHub, my blog is automatically deployed to Heroku.
Rolling your own blog isn't difficult to do but for those that want a simpler way to publish, there's a number of good alternatives.
Calendar - iCloud & Fantastical
Lastly it's the turn of the calendar. I used Google's calendar service a lot. Probably second in line in terms of daily use to Gmail. I use Apple's Calendar app to keep my calendar synced between my laptop and my phone, but I also use Fantastical to manage my calendar on a day to day basis.
Going Googe free is a big move if you have heavily invested your time and needs in Google's own line or products and tools. I was fortunate in that I used mostly Gmail and Google Calendar and they required minimal effort to move across. Two years later, I'm still happy with my own chosen stack of apps that are outside of Google's borders.