It’s probably safe to say Google knows us better than even our closest friends and relatives. Seriously, the search giant stores all the internet history that goes through any of their products or services. And that is saying a lot, considering Google is pretty much everywhere. Thankfully, they are also pretty transparent about your data and let you know everything they have. You are also allowed to delete Google data, if you so choose. In this post we will show you exactly how to do this. So let’s walk through and teach you how to delete Google data.
Why Is Google Saving All User Data?
Google has probably been able to build quite a profile on you since 2005. Your private information is Google’s golden key to success. And every time you use an additional Google product, you provide Google with even more data. So, what does Google do with all that data?
It’s pretty simple. Google uses this data for three purposes:
- Firstly, Google uses customer data to absolutely own the advertising industry.
- Secondly, Google partners up with governments and helps them to gather data and conduct mass surveillance.
- Thirdly, Google uses the data to grow newly-acquired businesses under the Google banner.
Should You Delete Google Data?
We understand a company knowing so much about you can be concerning. It can be assumed some of you would want to delete Google data due to privacy concerns. We can see why! Taking a quick look at my history. I can see they have my whole browsing, location, app, YouTube and device information, among other things.
When you are going to delete Google data, it may help you sleep better at night. But it will also aggravate your online experience during your waking hours. This is because Google uses all this data to make things more convenient for you.
Have you ever gotten a Google Now traffic notification before heading to work? Or seen your plane ticket information being pulled from an email? Does Google Maps know where you work and live, making it easier to navigate? All of that may be gone. Even simple things like search recommendations will become less accurate.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. All Google services work together to make your usage as seamless and convenient as possible. But the truth is they probably do also use your data for things you won’t like so much. It’s up to you whether you want to sacrifice convenience for privacy.
How to Delete Your Data from Google and Regain Some of Your Privacy
Cleaning Your Gmail
The first step to delete your data from Google is to decide what emails you are keeping, and what you can delete. With lots of storage for each person, Google has championed the idea of “never delete another thing ever again!”. But come on, let’s be honest. There’s a lot of stuff you definitely do not need to keep. Notifications for one. Vouchers which have long run out another. So start cleaning out. One quick way of doing it is to work through each of your labels and delete from each one. Or hunt down the biggest emails by knowing what to type into Gmail.
If there are any you want to keep, hit the CTRL + P function on the email and choose save as PDF (if you’re using Chrome). If you are using Firefox, there are quite a few add-ons to choose from that will convert pages into PDF’s for you. That will save a PDF copy to your computer. Or if you’re an Evernote user, you can use the Web Clipper to “clip” the email into your desktop app. But Evernote is also a cloud sync service. Are they any better? Liberate your data!
Once you have emptied your email account, what then? Where can you go? Well in short, a place that values privacy and secrecy, and for that it’s best to use a service based in the EU. The EU has very strict privacy laws, which can protect you far better than a US service can. For a long time, I have had my eye on ProtonMail, which is a Swiss-based email service. Their servers are hosted in a former military command center deep inside the Swiss Alps. You need two passwords to get in – one to log in and one to decrypt the mailbox – and we’re not talking 2-step authentication. There’s no password retrieval sent to your phone. No backup codes. If you forget your secondary password, you are locked out forever.
ProtonMail has no advertising. You can make expiring emails. No IP logs tied to your account, so privacy is assured.
The small snag is that, for the moment, it’s in beta testing. So you need to request an invite from them to sign up (although I hear they are quite speedy these days). Plus you will find bugs at the moment, as the system is being tweaked. The service is free right now, but you only get 500MB storage. In my view, that is not really a negative, because people need to get out of the habit of email hoarding and start purging after 30 days.
Once the site comes out of beta, there’s no guarantee that they won’t start charging for the service. But again, in my view that’s not a negative. In life, you get what you pay for. If you don’t pay for the upkeep of the service, then the developers are forced to accept advertising.
Web Search History
This is where your searches are exploited for maximum profit. Search results are “tailor-made” for you (meaning you only see what you want to see), adverts appear at the top of the page, and anything you search for can and will be used against you at some point. Searched for a cure for herpes? Then you can bet some pharmaceutical company is taking advantage of that little snippet of knowledge. Plus, as you surf around the Internet, that search will be following you around everywhere, also like a contagious infection.
So what is the solution? Two-fold. Switch search engines for a start. Change to DuckDuckGo, which we have written about in the past. They use Google’s search results. But they also strip away all of the tracking data, IP addresses, and any other bum fluff Google decides to stuff in there.
Secondly, if you must use Google search (say at work), do NOT use it while signed into a Google account. While signed in, everything is being attached to your name. Log out and it won’t (it will still be attached to your IP address though, so you would need to use a VPN ). Or better still, use Incognito (if you’re using Chrome), or Private Browsing Mode (if you’re using Firefox).
Next, check to see if your web history has been recorded by Google. If so, you need to wipe all of it. It may take some time, but you will feel better after doing it. Like a good cleansing. Trust me, it’ll feel good.
Now to your location, which Google very kindly keeps a record of just for us. Here you need to delete Google data about your location. On the left-hand side calendar, drop the small menu and choose “30 days”. This will then show your location history for those 30 days but it also shows another option. Now you should hit that, ignore the jibber-jabber from Google, and click “OK”. Now switch off the GPS on your phone, otherwise this will have been a pointless exercise.
How many YouTube videos do you watch in a month? Looking at a person’s YouTube watching history can provide a revealing look at their personality. It’s no problem if that person is watching SpongeBob. But what about terrorist videos? Bomb-making tutorials? As with everything else, Google keeps a detailed history of your watched videos, your liked videos, as well as anything you marked as “watch later”.
So go to YouTube and click both Clear all watch history, and Pause watch history. Now when watching YouTube, do it when logged out of Google, or use Incognito/Private Browsing Mode.
If Firefox doesn’t appeal to you, how about Tor? It can be a little slow because it has to go through various “nodes” in order to keep you anonymous. But it is still a very good browser, and will give you an introduction to the Deep Web.
Here are the steps you need to take when moving from Chrome :
- Back up your bookmarks. If using Firefox, they have a sync service similar to Chrome.
- Go to Settings >> Advanced Settings >> Privacy >> Clear Browsing Data. Tick all the boxes, and nuke everything.
- Delete your Google Chrome profile from your computer. In Windows Explorer, in the top menu, go to View then tick Hidden Items. Now go to C:/Users/[yourusername]/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data.
Now delete your Google data.
Google Takeout is designed to give you a backup copy of your Google data. I have deliberately held off telling you about this until the end. Because what I have been talking about so far is deleting your data. So it’s best to delete what you can, and if you want to keep anything, then tick what you want in Takeaway and it will be sent to you. Maybe you want your Google Calendar data exported out? Then Takeaway can handle that. Or your Google Voice messages.
Saying Your Final Goodbye to Google’s Database
The above steps I’ve shown you in this article will be your key to restore your online privacy and internet activities. Now you are able to delete your Google data. No more of Google’s prying eyes looking into your search history. No more personalized ads by companies using Google’s data to find you.
Google won’t be able to see what your daily planning looks like in Google Calendar any longer, or what photos you’ve stored in Google Photos. Google won’t be able to see when you send out emails, to whom, and what you write.
Just as a reminder, if you don’t want to repeat this process every few months, make sure to adjust your privacy settings and disallow Google from tracking and saving any of your data in the future.
For now, enjoy the feeling of knowing Google won’t know everything about you anymore and you were successful in the process of how to delete Google data.