Breaking Free: How I Ditched Google Services
A few months ago I refactored this site and replace all Google services with either self-hosted alternatives or remove them entirely.
Why Did I Do That?
Two main reasons:
- With US-hosted services there’s always a risk of conflicting with
GDPR regulations. There was a wave of civil lawsuits in Germany
in 2022. Even though the originators are facing criminal charges
now (see this report
in German), it affected millions of people with websites and cost
every one of them a lot of unpaid work and brought needless
The best way to avoid being targeted by these criminals is to not include Google web fonts on your page.
- When choosing between a vendor and a self-hosted solution, I always
retain control over the self-hosted version. Google can (and
occasionally will) shut your services down for any reason at
They cannot do so with a self-hosted service.
So what was necessary and what were the alternatives?
This is what I did:
- Google fonts: I self-host all third-party resources now. This resolves GDPR issues with permissions forms that load fonts before the permission was given (and how can you display the text in a form without fonts?).
- Google Analytics: The self-hosted Open Source analytics tool
Matomo replaces Google Analytics. Since Google
regularly phases out or changes its analytics tools, migration is
needed often. So when you have to do the work anyway, it’s easy
to just get rid of GA entirely.
This not only offers more control over the features I use, but it also offers better privacy for my readers. And mitigates the risk of GDPR-related charges.
- Videos: Admittedly, this is a tough one. Replacing videos entirely with a self-hosted solution is not practical, particularly for larger files. On my former company landing page I had a small intro video, and I was able to self-host this one and still get it working in all major browsers. When linking to videos from others on YouTube, however, self-hosting is not an option. It’s more like linking to outside content which means that my website still remains Google-free.
- Maps: Google Maps is integrated easily and
conveniently. Unfortunately, it raises some GDPR issues and for
significant web traffic, it may also get expensive. I have replaced
it with screenshots of
OpenStreetMap and corresponding
links. This turned out to be even faster!
And, of course, there are absolutely no privacy concerns here.
Now, I don’t abandon Google entirely. They offer useful services, and I have no reason to not use them. It’s just that for people like me, there are better choices out there. So if we can, we should focus on those.
What I’m still looking for is a mailing list replacement to Mailchimp. If you have ideas of what I could do here, please feel free to reach out!