Jimmy Westenberg/Android Authority
Google has built a ton of services, all accessible through a single account. In fact, with a few exceptions here and there (YouTube, Google Search, Google Maps), you can’t actually use most of the major services company without creating an account in the first place.
Needless to say, it is very convenient to have all these services under one roof. However, I’ve never felt 100% comfortable using a Google account for everything. Let me tell you why and what I’m doing about it.
The problem with keeping all my eggs in Google’s basket
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
I’m sure it’s an irrational fear, but I’ve always had this latent worry about something possibly happening to my Google account. Whether it was my account being hacked or Google shutting down for some reason, I realized early on that a huge part of my digital life would be lost if my Google Account was no longer accessible.
Much of my digital life would disappear if my Google account was no longer accessible.
This would mean that there would be no more Gmail inbox, Play Store purchases, YouTube profile, Google Chrome browsing data, Drive files, YouTube Music backups and Google Photos. So I would effectively have to start my digital presence from scratch if I was all into the services of the Mountain View giant.
Google is no stranger to unwarranted bans or closures
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
These fears aren’t exactly unfounded, as Google’s algorithm-based approach to enforcement means mistakes aren’t uncommon and people sometimes get their accounts banned for no reason.
There are instances of Google taking a heavy-handed approach to bans when they appear to be at fault, such as a Redditor discovered in 2018. The user had returned devices to Google, but the company charged their account anyway. When they decided to dispute the transaction and issue a chargeback to their bank (after apparently contacting the company several times), Google slapped them with a ban.
There is no shortage of stories about Google account holders who have been wrongfully or mistakenly banned.
We’ve even seen some egregious examples of Google banning accounts that aren’t directly associated with Terms of Service violations. For example, the company reportedly banned mobile game developer Ali Nadalizadeh’s personal account as well as the business account associated with his mobile game studio Raya Games. This errant ban came months after a former Raya Games developer had his personal account banned in the first place. Nadalizadeh said his request to appeal the ban was denied, but Google reinstated the incorrectly banned accounts after the story went viral on Reddit.
Similarly, Google unfairly banned users for emote spam during YouTuber Markiplier’s November 2019 stream, despite the host’s explicit encouragement. And those bans applied to users’ entire Google accounts rather than their YouTube profiles.
Getting banned by Google on one service also applies to all of its services.
That’s the downside of having all those Google services tied to one account: getting banned by Google on one service also applies to the rest of its services.
Hacking is also another pervasive concern, given the cat-and-mouse nature of digital security.
Another event at the end of last year also reinforced my feeling that I should have more alternatives at hand. My original email account (via a long-running local South African service), which I’ve had for over 15 years, was inexplicably closed at the end of the year. I wasn’t the only one either, as it turns out one little other people reported that their accounts no longer exist.
Another courier closed my 15 year old account. What if Google did the same?
Luckily, I had gradually migrated from that account over the years, and it wasn’t a global email service to begin with. Nonetheless, my overriding thought was, “What if the same thing happened to my Google account?” I’ve seen enough of Google’s Kids Die at this point that I know nothing is impossible.
Google has already done this: These failed Google products could have been great
So what should I do instead?
Although I still use a lot of Google services, I have embraced alternatives since using smartphones. After all, having viable challengers for Google is important because it creates competition in the space and forces everyone to improve. Microsoft’s OneDrive and Outlook are pretty handy in this regard, while I’ve also used Ecosia more often for my mobile web search needs.
Find your fit: Google One vs Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Apple iCloud
My main desktop browser is actually Opera too. Yes, yes, Edge is a better alternative these days, but Opera is a holdover from when I had a budget laptop and Google Chrome was arguably an even bigger RAM hog than it was. currently is. I still use Chrome on my phone, but I’ve also been spending more and more time with the excellent Kiwi browser because of its Chrome extension support.
Microsoft One Drive, Ecosia Search, Kiwi Browser – there’s no shortage of alternatives to Google’s services.
It may seem like I should just ditch Google altogether, but I’m not ready to take the Googled route just yet. I am happy to use the company’s services and I am especially aware of the compromises in terms of confidentiality. It’s also incredibly convenient to have one account for all Google services.
Do you have alternatives to Google’s services?
What else can you do?
Jimmy Westenberg/Android Authority
Besides simply using alternative services and therefore putting your digital eggs in more baskets, there are a few other steps you can take to protect your Google Account.
For starters, you can take reasonable precautions like using two-factor authentication for your various accounts. This gives your account an extra layer of protection, requiring bad actors to have your phone in order to gain access to your Google Account.
For your security, set up two-factor authentication and avoid using Google’s built-in password manager.
The next step would be to avoid using Google’s built-in password manager. Since all of your account credentials are stored with Google, anyone with access to your account would technically be able to log in to many of your other services. You’d also be locked out of all non-Google services if you lost access to your Google Account and couldn’t remember your credentials. A third-party manager like LastPass or 1Password is a wise precaution because it relies on a separate account and master password.
Our choices : The best password manager apps for Android
Another tip is to set up automatic forwarding of emails from your Gmail inbox to another email provider. You can also ensure that you have separated your business and personal data as much as possible. This can be accomplished by using different Google Accounts for work and personal use, then setting up personal and work profiles in Chrome, so your browsing data and work/home credentials are separate from each other. others. This should help significantly if an account is compromised.
Separate your personal and professional accounts, forward your e-mails, back up your data. Make sure you don’t lose too much by losing a Google account.
You should also consider regularly backing up your data, either locally or to other services. For example, you should back up your Google Photos and Google Drive content to another cloud storage service or an external hard drive. You might want to do the same for YouTube and YouTube Music if you have content on those services. Using Google to go can help you get a downloadable version of all your data.
Either way, the chances of your Google Account being closed or compromised are low, but never zero. Personally, it doesn’t hurt me to have fallback options if that ever happens. It doesn’t hurt that my mitigations have the added benefit of letting me occasionally discover more services and apps that I might prefer to Google’s.
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