Google Alternatives

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Gmail

Google has a firm grip on the desktop. Their products and services are ubiquitous. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there are concerns about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.

What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetised and attached to Google’s ecosystem.

In this series we explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We recommend open source solutions.

EmailEmail is one of the most popular online activities, so let’s kick off this series in this area.

Gmail is a free email service which offers 15GB of storage, a search-oriented interface and a ‘conversation view’. It’s hugely popular with more than 1.7 billion active users. But you might not like the automated scanning of email content.

What do we recommend as an alternative? The best solution really depends how you wish to consume your email.

Roundcube
Click image for full size

You might prefer a self-hosted solution. If so, Roundcube is our favorite browser-based open source IMAP email client. The software offers an awesome range of features including MIME support, canned responses, message searching, spell checking, impressive address book integration, threaded message listing and much more.

Roundcube is written in PHP and requires a web server (Apache, Lighttpd, Nginx, Cherokee or Hawatha web server), and a database (MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite database). With its plugin API it’s easily extendable and the user interface is fully customizable using skins (3 are supplied).

Alternative self-hosted open source solutions include Horde, Nextcloud, and Zimbra.

If you’re not looking for a self-hosted solution, Tutanota is an open source service solution. They offer secure email and the free version gives 1GB storage. The service offers paid subscriptions offering more storage.

What if you’re not ready to ditch Gmail but want to experience a native Linux client? One possibility is Thunderbird, our recommended desktop Linux email client. It can be configured to work seamlessly with the Gmail service. Messages are synchronized between your local version of Thunderbird and the web-based Gmail.


All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Google's Products and Services
Google AnalyticsAnalytics is a platform for both website and mobile app analytics. This hosted web analytics software remains the mostly widely used analytics service.
Google CalendarCalendar helps manage your busy life with a digital calendar. It offers tons of features and makes it easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.
Google ChatChat is communication software which provides direct messages and team chat rooms, together with a group messaging function.
Google ChromeChrome is application software for accessing the World Wide Web. It's the most popular web browser but has a chequered track record from a privacy perspective.
Google ClassroomClassroom is a learning platform for educational institutions that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The main aim of the platform is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.
Google DNSDNS resolves a particular domain name to its IP equivalent. There are many free DNS providers. A few stand out from the crowd.
Google DocsDocs is a web-based productivity office suite. The suite includes Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Drawings, Google Forms, Google Sites, and Google Keep.
Google DrawingsDrawings is diagramming software included as part of the web-based Google Docs Editors suite. Create and edit flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps, concept maps, and more.
Google DriveDrive is a file storage and synchronization service. Want a solution that also includes the online office components available in Google Docs?
Google Earth ProEarth Pro maps Earth by superimposing satellite images, aerial photography, and GIS. Fly anywhere to see satellite imagery, 3D buildings, 3D trees, terrain, Street View, planets and much more.
Google FirebaseFirebase is a platform for creating mobile and web applications. It's currently their flagship offering for app development providing an all-in-one cloud service.
Google FormsForms is a survey administration software included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite.
GboardGboard is a virtual keyboard app developed for Android and iOS devices. It features Google Search and predictive answers.
Google MailGmail is a hugely popular email service. You might not like the automated scanning of email content.
Google KeepKeep is a note-taking service. The app offers a variety of tools for taking notes, including text, lists, images, and audio.
Google MapsMaps is a web mapping service offering satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, and interactive panoramic views.
Google MeetMeet is a video-communication service. It offers enterprise-grade video conferencing built on Google’s global infrastructure.
Google PhotosPhotos stores your images in the cloud for convenient access from anywhere. Lots of useful tools, but it’s difficult to shake the sinking feeling that Google is analysing your pictures.
Google SearchSearch looks at privacy-focused alternatives to Google Search. If you believe that Google invades your privacy, what alternatives do we recommend?
Google TranslateTranslate is a multilingual neural machine translation service that translates text and websites from one language into another.
Google YouTubeYouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform. It's a hugely popular service but has encountered a number of privacy issues.
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2 comments

  1. Gmail is a great service. Too much faff having to install my own hosted replacement unless there’s a really easy way of doing it?

  2. I’ve used Gmail for years even though their implementation of IMAP is dodgy. Lately they’ve been blocking IMAP altogether on my mobile provider’s network, so this article is timely.

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