Hello lemmings lemmons and any other lemm out there. I’ve always wanted to try to switch to more privacy focused options but it’s always been difficult for me as I’m not really tech savvy and frankly for a very long time haven’t really cared about privacy.

Transitioning has also been hard since I feel like I’m pretty much the antithesis of this community: using an iPhone and 2 windows computers (one for home use and one for my college classes on campus) and use OneDrive to sync work between the 3 devices.

Pretty much every account I have is under my gmail account and a second back up email is also under gmail.

Frankly I’m sure this is the highest form of insult to this community but I use edge simply because I’ve given up trying to fight Microsoft

So it’s been a challenge to switch but for browsers and just copy paste all my bookmarks and saved passwords when I download Firefox on my phone and computers but as for email and online accounts switching off that gmail account seems daunting but not impossible and I have no idea what to do to replace OneDrive since it is useful and works in file explorer with no extra software

I figured if anyone was smart enough to tackle the abomination that is my privacy it’d be you guys

I suggest mega.io as replacement for OneDrive. I use it myself, and it has a desktop app like OneDrive’s.

You already have a plethora of great suggestions for improvements to make, so I won’t leave any more, but rather offer some advice. It can be daunting to go all in and sacrifice the conveniences you currently enjoy. This is why I recommend you change your behaviour and software in a piecemeal fashion. Change only a few (or even one) things at a time and get used to it. Once you are comfortable with where you are at, then introduce more improvements. This approach will help prevent you from getting overloaded or burnt out, resulting in you going back and compromising your privacy. Good luck!

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Yeah that’s why I’m using proton and slowly switching accounts. Proton drive is pretty much OneDrive minus auto save (oh no however shall I manage) so that’s not too big of a leap

The email and calander haven’t seen much use and with transferring accounts to be with my proton email will be slow

Once that’s done and I’m all settled with proton or if I find another solution I’m going to take a look back here and see what a next step could be for me

Leraje
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For taking action regarding your OS, Shut Up Win is good. It works on both 10 and 11. You don’t even need to install it, just download it (it’s free) and double click to run it. If you stick to the ‘recommended’ settings you’ll have a more private OS without disabling anything you might actually want. As you get more knowledgeable or confident you can apply the stricter settings. And to revert changes just run the file again and turn off what you turned on.

Switching to Firefox was a good step but I’d take it one step further, export your passwords from FFox, download BitWarden for each of your devices and import all your passwords into BitWarden. You need to create an account with them (all this is free by the way) and it would be good if you had a non-GMail account to create your BitWarden account.

Tutanota are a well respected company and offer a free (but limited in terms of storage space) option, including a calendar. If you like their service you can pay (about $3 per month) to get much more storage space and other things.

When I left GMail, I made a list of all the ‘official’ stuff (banking etc) and family/friends that had my email. I then emailed them informing them I was changing my email (one email, BCC’d). I then changed my email on all the less vital stuff I could remember and lastly set an auto responder on my old GMail saying the gmail account was no longer in use. This bit takes some time there’s no getting around it.

Lots of people have recommended Proton, so I won’t. But there are quite a few good, easy to use privacy respecting options to replace your OneDrive. I personally really like Filen. They have a free ‘starter’ option (10gb space) to see if you like the service. You just create an account and install the apps on all your devices.

Going back to FFox, install the extensions uBO which will kill trackers for you, MultiAccount Containers which allows you to use (and create your own) Containers so (for example) you could set a Container for Facebook and know that if you access facebook in that contained tab all the crap Meta put on your machine can’t access any other part of your browser.

Search engines you can use that are privacy respecting include DuckDuckGo and StartPage.

You might also want to consider a VPN. They don’t make you anonymous but because they encrypt your data before it leaves your device(s), your ISP won’t know what site’s you’re viewing. Most of the good ones use their own privacy respecting DNS too. Good ones include, IVPN and Mullvad.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Thanks for reply

As for Bitwarden and Tutanota (which someone else recommended) is there any reason to use those over proton

And I said In another reply that proton drive can’t edit files which isn’t a total deal breaker for me just somewhat inconvenient, does Filen allow me to edit files without having to download, edit, then reupload

As for browsers even on edge before this transformation I used UBO and now I’m using it with Firefox and duck duck go but I’ll check out startpage as an alternative browser

As for vpn proton has one but I never really knew what they did other than allowing me to open any site on my middle/high schools and Wi-Fi. I mean is that what they do? Like hide websites from (excuse the lack of my technical knowledge) router but not the router sending the data where ever it needs to go.

But anyways thanks for the super detailed response super helpful :)

Leraje
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As for Bitwarden and Tutanota (which someone else recommended) is there any reason to use those over proton

It’s largely preference. Bitwarden and Tuta (they renamed themselves today lol) do one job each and do it really, really well. Proton do lots of different things and I’ve heard mutterings that their products are slightly lacking. There’s also the ‘eggs in one basket’ thing too. If you use proton for your VPN, email, Drive etc etc then if they’re down for a few hours or the company folds, you’re screwed. That’s not likely to happen of course but even so.

does Filen allow me to edit files without having to download, edit, then reupload

No, it doesn’t. What Filen (and Proton I think) do is monitor directories and files on your devices for changes. So if I’m working in Word for example, I save the document to a directory that I know Filen is monitoring. Every time I save the file, Filen detects that and uploads an encrypted copy to my cloud account. So, unlike OneDrive or GDrive which allow you to edit files in the cloud, with Filen/Proton etc you make all your changes locally and just let it do its thing.

I mean is that what they do?

So imagine all your devices (PC, lappy, mobile etc) connected to your router at home. Lets pretend instead of wifi or cable, they’re connected via a transparent garden hose. Your ISP can see everything that passes through these hoses because they’re transparent.

A VPN is like an opaque, protected hose within that hose. It’s technically known as a tunnel. Instead of data passing through the outer hose, it now passes through the inner, encrypted hose, meaning your ISP can’t see anything inside it. Your data is now invisible to them. All they can see is that your using a VPN.

Your ISP also does all your DNS resolution. DNS is the thing that when you go to somewebsite.com it turns it into the IP address of the server that the website at somewebsite.com lives on. Most good VPN’s also takeover DNS resolution too meaning that not only can your ISP not see your data they also can’t see what sites you’re visiting.

Lastly, when you visit any website, they now can’t see your ISP provided IP address, they only see the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to. Some people use this to pretend they’re in the USA when they’re actually in, say, the UK so they can access things like the US version of Netflix.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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That vpn analogy makes sense so I mean is it necessary for home/cell data use and have it running 24/7 or would I only need it when I’m say connecting to some other network

As for filen and proton, with proton I haven’t seen the ability to watch a directory so I’m assuming that’s a filen feature

But I’m assuming it works like: I’ll have a college folder for all my classes and I want it to watch this folder, inside college are 3 more folder and so if I edit “super_cool_essay.doc” on my local desktop it will then save that as a copy to filen then filen would add the edits to “super_cool_essay” on my laptop or at the very least be able to that process manually

It was kind of a word salad but my ideal solution would be to type away on my home desktop and pick up on my laptop at college or vise versa

Leraje
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That vpn analogy makes sense so I mean is it necessary for home/cell data use and have it running 24/7 or would I only need it when I’m say connecting to some other network

Your call really. I have mine running at all times on all my devices. There’s no data limit and no downside to having it on. Some sites block VPN’s but if that happens, or if you want to access something through your normal ISP connection, some VPN’s let you do what’s called Split Tunneling, which means you can temporarily let an application skip the VPN.

But I’m assuming it works like…

Exactly that. When you download the Filen application on your devices you can set as many what Filen calls ‘Syncs’ as you like. You tell it to constantly watch a directory on your machine and any changes that are made to the contents of that directory (such as you making a change to your Word doc or pasting in a bunch of files) get encrypted then uploaded instantly to a directory in your account on the Filen web server. It’s like having a clone of the directories you choose to watch.

Then, if you want to have access to those same files on your lappy, you create a watched directory on that machine via Filen, do a one time download/sync and from that point on changes you make to those files/directories on either machine will be synced to the other one via your Filen acct.

You can also upload things in non-watched directories so they’re there without being constantly overwritten - for backup purposes mainly.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Thanks

well then filen might be exactly what I’m look (besides a privacy focused 1:1 clone of OneDrive ofc lol). It’s a little confusing reading it but I’m sure it’ll be super easy once I get working on it

But TSYM for the

Just wanted to add a bit about Proton since you mentioned it and I use it quite heavily.

Pros:

  • All-in-one platform for storage, mail, VPN, password manager and calendar. Usually works out cheaper than multiple providers.
  • E-mail aliases built-in to the password manager makes it a breeze to manage. (Tutanota also supports aliases.)
  • Personally, I think the UI is more polished. Not important for privacy but it’s a plus for the non tech-savvy.

Cons:

  • All-in-one platform. I’m acutely aware that I’m going to have a headache if Proton is enshittified.
  • If you’re not looking for all of the products they offer, it’s just expensive. Tutanota is cheaper for e-mail alone.
  • The Drive app needs improvement. Migrating my files was painful and I want automatic Camera uploads. You might be okay with the Windows desktop app.
  • The Calendar app has issues when not connected to the internet.
  • The password manager doesn’t have a desktop application and managing it through the browser extension or app isn’t great.
  • No subject-line encryption support (and other PGP interoperability issues on the free version) but… unfortunately, I don’t get many PGP encrypted e-mails anyway.

Otherwise these two are largely like-for-like for e-mail. There’s no benefit to Proton being hosted in Switzerland and I didn’t move to be warrant-proof or anything silly. The idea is really just moving emails away from an advertising company and paying for a quality service.

I prefer skiff.com for email and drive rather proton the days.

Futt
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I’m not really tech savvy

That’s how they get you ;) There is a trade-off between privacy and security on one end, and convenience and ease of use on the other. Microsoft, Google and all the others profiting off of your data know this and offer you convenience and ease of use in exchange for you giving them all your data. So be prepared to give up a little of that convenience and getting a little more tech savvy.

I recommend you take a look at https://nextcloud.com/ - it’s a self-hosted cloud service solution that offers file storage, calendar, notes, and a lot more. If you don’t feel comfortable hosting your own just yet, there are providers out there that will host one for you for a few $ a month.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Oh yeah I’m very well of privacy vs convenience which is why it’s sorta a goal of mine it eventually learn server and self hosted when I’m all settled with current privacy options

appreciate the link tho definitely gonna try to use that when I’m more techy

Lemming and lemmons made me laugh so hard

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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I’ve been helped so much In this post I forgot about it but glad it served it’s purpose

Take a look at privacy.sexy (you’ll have to paste this is, could not get link to work) first and configure your PCs. That’s the only step imma give and it might be the most important

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Well thank so much for everyone who chimed in I appreciate it a ton. For now I’m going to to test the waters with proton family like the drive and calander and mail and see how I like that and if it’s a viable alternative for OneDrive and outlook for my case. I think it’ll work but I’m still very open to suggestions

Yep, proton.me is a great start. I would also suggest changing search engines to duckduckgo and blocking ads through a free DNS like controld.com. that will get you started at least.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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First off thanks

Second: stupid question is proton.me like an email or an app/website for email or something else entirely and I’m just missing something

Email, Calendar, Cloud storage, and VPN all Free* and Open Source.

*Free as in Freedom. While they do have free priced tiers, you do have to pay for more storage, more VPN servers, etc. Free still worth it IMO.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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So proton.me is essentially everything and I can use without paying as long I delete old stuff

Essentially, yes!

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Also side note. Do they have iOS apps (which I’m assuming will sync between my 2 windows computer) or will I just have to make a web shortcut

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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I took a brief peek at it and it actually looks good

I’m assuming you have experience with it

I might keep my Gmail account around for things like a backup email or super important Stuff like my bank account

You’ve got it backwards, my dude. I’d get your data off of google’s servers. They own everything that hits their servers, including your data.

Protonmail is a solid option. Tutanota is another great second email option that I use. There are others.

If you’re even moderately techy, consider setting up a private cloud on Oracle’s servers for free in their free teir program. You can self-host your own nextcloud, with all the apps included. Edited to add, there are tutorials for this available, which is why I mention it

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Yeah your right about google lol. I’m just not ready to dive into the deep end of privacy, heck the only reason I’m going through all this is because I think it’s just a good practice. I’m totally gonna switch once I get more settled into things

As for proton I’m still testing the waters. I can’t edit files in proton drive which isn’t a deal breaker just mildly inconvenient but it’ll definitely hold me over until I can find something that private and can edit files (If such a thing even exists)

But I super appreciate the recommendations super helpful I’m just not ready to dive in the deep end when the very thought of swimming makes me uneasy

I’m still getting settled and DeGoogling (or I guess in my case DeMicrosofting) myself is gonna be a process but now that I have this post and all the information with it my transformation will begin

Email, Calendar, Cloud storage, and VPN all Free* and Open Source.

*Free as in Freedom. While they do have free priced tiers, you do have to pay for more storage, more VPN servers, etc. Free still worth it IMO.

Bri Guy
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https://www.privacytools.io/

another link to help you find some more privacy-focused alternatives. i think a great gmail, google calendar, and drive replacement is proton.me . I switched to them from google and haven’t looked back

Nowadays privacytools.io has some really questionable recommendations. Check out Privacy Guides instead.

Yes, they are definitely sketchy now.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Thanks for that

Yeah I mainly use outlook just because my college email could only login to outlook both on desktop and my phone and eventually I kinda shifted from the gmail app/website but under the same gmail account. I only took a brief look but that looks like it’d be a good start

One alternative to OneDrive is a local server or just having bigger long term drives on your system.

Also what you can do is encrypt files with gpg for example and upload them to any free cloud service, like for example Google drive.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Like i said I’m not very tech savvy so a local server is something I’d like to try to avoid maybe unless it can run out of the box.

As for encryption wdym by gpg im assuming that’s an encryption service

edric
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It’s not black or white, so don’t worry about trying to do everything on your own at once. Just taking steps to enhancing your privacy like you’re doing now asking questions is already a step in the right direction. If you’re not confident in hosting locally for now, you can try one of the providers NextCloud recommends. Sure it’s not as good has hosting your own, but it’s a big step away from using OneDrive or Google Drive.

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Someone recommended the proton.me family so I think I’m going to start there and get settled there

I might pay for it if I get used to it and settled in compared to OneDrive and all that stuff

Take a look at https://www.privacyguides.org/en/

and

https://ssd.eff.org/

to start your journey

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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I haven’t really gone in-depth on those links but something I forgot to add: OneNote is a huge tool for me as I love to hand write or type my notes on my surface and then be able to get them on my desktop or phone. So any suggestions on that matter or are there stuff in those links

@FlihpFlorp@lemm.ee
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Alrighty I’ll take a look around thanks

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A place to discuss privacy and freedom in the digital world.

Privacy has become a very important issue in modern society, with companies and governments constantly abusing their power, more and more people are waking up to the importance of digital privacy.

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