Google’s “Data Liberation Front” – Do You Depend Too Much on Google? (Poll)

Google services Yesterday, Google announced the Data Liberation Front, "whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products."  While this should give users some peace of mind that they won’t be locked into Google products, and even attract some people to Google products, it does raise an important question.  Specifically, do we rely on Google too much, such that we should think about spreading our eggs among other baskets?  For many of us, it seems that our lives are in Google. I’ll be the first to admit that my productivity is dependent on Google.  I use Google Apps, Gmail, Reader, Voice, and Docs, among others.  Are you doing this, too?  Is this unwise?  I’d like to know what you think, in both the poll and comments after the jump.

There are a few considerations when weighing whether you should diversify. This first is reliability.  Gmail’s web access went down for 100 minutes on September 1.  IMAP and POP3 access were unaffected.  The reason that this outage was news, though, was because it was so unusual.  Generally, Google services are reliable.  But the Gmail outage raises a scary thought – what if ALL of Google would go offline for an extended period?  Those who rely on several Google services could really be in a pickle.  Using Google Gears to gain offline access to some apps lessens this danger somewhat, but not completely.  If you had yourself spread among other providers’ services, then you wouldn’t have this problem.

Another consideration is privacy.  We all provide Google with a massive amount of data, some of it personally identifiable.  We have the ability to opt out of some privacy intrusions, but by and large we trust Google to respect our privacy.  Is this smart?  Are we any better off entrusting our data to other providers, about whom we know even less?

We also must be mindful of competition, or the lack of competition, if too many of us keep all of our eggs in the Google basket.  Competition drives innovation, and it would be bad for end users if Google becomes the only game in town.  Google already has a reputation for keeping services in Beta for an extended period, although other apps like Voice show us that Google is still innovating.

I’m guilty of putting too many eggs in the Google basket.  Every now and then I try to use other services, such as Zoho Writer, but I always gravitate back to Google, possibly out of convenience.  How about you?  Let us know in the poll, and the comments below.

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. I can't image the world without Google. If something were to happen to them, I'd be in serious trouble. I am concerned, but there is really nothing else out there that does what they do as well as they do it. I guess I'll just have to live in fear.

  2. I agree Rena, that most of the competition falls short. There is some nice stuff out there, though, like Zoho Writer, which I actually might like better than Google Docs (but for some reason I still use Docs more).

  3. I basically use Google for search, adsense, and mail service. The mail service is using their POP/SMTP servers (I don't use the web interface), so this would be very easy to switch to another provider.

    So it would be an inconvenience for Google to go offline, but I could survive.

    I don't trust anyone with my calendar after ate my calendar many years ago (I have a big family, so there were a lot of dates in it). I now have a simple PHP/MySql setup for important birthdays and anniversaries – easily portable and very easy to back up. This had been in ASP/Access for several years, before I rewrote it to get away from Microsoft :) Well, mostly because MySql is free …

  4. I'm in a similar boat with my main email account. I also have a regular Gmail account, but my main email is my personal domain, which is set up with Google Apps. If something ever happened to Google, I could switch my MX record to point somewhere else, and keep using the same address. I use Google Calendar for family stuff, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if that were lost. My main calendar is through work, which uses Outlook and syncs to my iPhone.

  5. I'd be in trouble personally if something happened to Google. At work I use Outlook and a Blackberry, but for “real life” I depend more and more on Gmail, which opens my docs in Google Docs of course, plus Google Calendar which emails me when a family event pops up. I definitely hope they never have a big security breach, because I have been very careless about letting Google have all sorts of information. I've traded a little security for a lot of convenience!

  6. That's the word I've been looking for – convenience. Although some sites might do some things as well, it is just easy and convenient to use Google. I do shudder to think of what private info I have in the various Google apps.

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