Blog Post

Escape from Google — the Data Edition

Google LogoIt’s well known around these parts that I long ago embraced Google (s goog) for most of my services. I use it for two mail accounts, my RSS reader, documents, and contacts, not to mention as my browser. I expect it to use it as my future operating system as well. While I realize that Google gains access to my data and my preferences, I’m willing to give that up to subsidize the free services which are tailored to my needs. Some folks aren’t too keen on that, and I respect that decision. And others stay away because they think they can’t get their data back from Google if they want to up and leave. Well, you can’t take back something you already gave, so your historical preferences are gone, gone, gone. But your data is your data — and Google is ready to help you take it elsewhere.

The Data Liberation Front sounds like an evil organization I heard of on “24,” but in reality, it’s a group of Google engineers. The sole purpose of the DLF is to assist with ways to get your data out of Google and into a format that’s usable elsewhere. Here’s their mission statement, lest you have any doubts:

“Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google’s products. Our team’s goal is to make it easier for them to move data in and out.”

Most, if not all, of the Google products have a link on the DLF sidebar. Each link offers a way to get your data in or your data out of the service in question. While each Google service generally offers an easy to find method to move data in or out, the DLF page offers one-stop shopping — a centralized place to find the quickest way to get your data where you want it. Bookmarked!

(via gHacks)

4 Responses to “Escape from Google — the Data Edition”

  1. JimAtLaw

    Hmmmm. Does their user agreement obligate them not to keep copies of that data, or when you “remove” it are you really just removing it from your views?

    • I haven’t read the user agreement for the nearly two dozen services, so I can’t say for sure. However, the DLF site I mentioned only offers methods to import and export data, not close down accounts. Using the offered solutions, the accounts would still be open, but you’d have a copy of your data, as would Google.

    • JimAtLaw

      What I was pointing out Kevin is that when you say “your data is your data — and Google is ready to help you take it elsewhere,” that’s not really right. Google is willing to let you make a copy of some things – they are most certainly NOT willing to give it back to people “if they want to up and leave.” Google may retain copies of that information and potentially use it in ways that you never considered, let alone intended – and this is perhaps the biggest objection many people have to using these cloud services in the first place.

      I (and many others) will consider Google services when I get control of what they’re storing and tracking and how long it’s kept. As long as Google is going to record every site I visit for eternity, keep copies of all my documents even when I think I’ve deleted them, etc., and give itself the right to use all of this information for its own purposes, the idea of storing anything but the least interesting and useful possible materials with them seems pretty silly, IMHO.