Own your data (again)

Updated in January 2020 with significant improvements since originally posted.

My personal #gdpr today, May 25th 2018: completed my project to get back all my data from @Google, @evernote et al and host it all by myself with @Nextclouders, #joplin and dozens of other @OpenSourceOrg tools that come with the same convenience but with real privacy. Check!

Following this Twitter post I got asked about more details and how I actually achieved that goal. Here is a table of tools that I'm using now instead of the old tools that I consider harmful to some extend:

Task

Old Tools

New Tools

Network

AddOn

Desktop

Mobile

Files

Google Drive

Nextcloud

FileLink*

 

Nextcloud

Dropbox

 

Calendar

Google Calendar

Lightning*  

DAVx5

Contacts

Google Contacts

CardBook*

 

Tasks

ZenDone

 

 

OpenTasks

Notes

Evernote

 

Joplin

Joplin

Bookmarks

xMarks

Floccus

   

Local Search

n/a

Elasticsearch

   

Mail

Outlook

Mail

Thunderbird

Kaiten

Office

MS Office

Collabora

LibreOffice

Collabora

News

Feedly

 

   

Pocket

     

Tracking

Google

 

 

GPSLogger

Communications

Skype

Talk

KeyBase

Talk

Media (Images, Video, Audio, Podcasts)

Google

   

AntennaPod

Emby

   

Emby

Development Collaboration

GitHub

GitLab

Mattermost

BitBucket

Shields

n/a

Pi Hole

 

Privacy Badger

uBlock Origin

Internet Search

Google

   

Duck Duck Go

Ecosia

Analytics

Google Analytics

Matomo (Piwik)

     

Vault (Passwords)

LastPass

KeePassXC Keepass2Android

Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

Google Authenticator

andOTP

Authy

Home Automation   Home-Assistant

Backup

SpiderOak ONE

 

IDE

IntelliJ IDEA

TimeTracking

Toggl

* Plugin for Thunderbird

All the red ones are gone completely - and that feels really good. The green marked SpiderOak ONE - although it falls into the old tool category as it is proprietary - I'm planning to keep that in the tool set, simply because it is powerful, affordable and it well protects my data because everything is encrypted prior to uploading it to their facilities.

That leaves the yellow ones. Those are the tools I would love to replace but haven't found an appropriate solution yet:

  • Feedly and Pocket: The news app in Nextcloud aims to provide the same sort of functionality but lacks some features at this point. Let's hope this is going to improve over time. But as the content being managed there is collected from internet sources and already public, this is not one of the most urgent tasks in my view.
  • LastPass: this is my go to password manager and it does work really well not only because it integrates almost perfectly on all the platforms I'm using day in and day out. However, since they've been acquired by LogMeIn Inc. my confidence dropped significantly and I'd replace it rather sooner than later. There are lots of alternatives and it feels like I've tried them all, but none of them is mature enough yet and I have to keep watching out. January 2020: switched to KeePassXC and couldn't be more excited. I didn't really expect better integration in browser and Android, but all the tools around KeePassXC are better than everything I had seen before (including LastPass).
  • Authy: the fact that all the sites where I'm using 2FA are registered and stored on a third-party facility is a fairly big worry to myself. As the protocol for 2FA is public and the algorithm well documented, this is my number one candidate for a new app on Nextcloud so that I could be hosting all those keys in my own private cloud. January 2020: successfully switched to andOTP which stores all its data on my Nextcloud instance and hence I can use multiple devices or switch to a new one without having to re-setup 2FA everywhere.
  • IntelliJ IDEA: as a freelancer I heavily rely on a code writing tool with lots of integrations and supporting features. There is the open source alternative known as Eclipse, but it is far less capable and lacks performance. As a result, IntelliJ IDEA is one of the last tools that I pay an anual fee for with no regret.
  • Toggl: this is equally important for freelancers - no billing without meaningful time tracking. As toggl integrates very well into almost any task and/or project management system on the planet, it is very convenient and works without extra time being spent. That's the final reason to stick with them, otherwise I'd switch to self hosted open source alternatives.

Of course, while not yet living on an island there are frequent scenarios where exchange with others is important, either for work or pleasure. That's why a number of communication tools (WhatsApp, Messenger, Hangouts, Slack, GoToMeeting, Citrix), networking platforms (LinkedIn, Xing) or social networks (Facebook, Twitter) are still being used on a daily basis. Don't think we are close to the point where we could consider closing them down, but even positive things are happening unexpectadly every now and then - so let's keep hoping for the better. January 2020: most of the above is not true any more: cancelled my Xing subscription, haven't used Facebook for months and don't use the communication tools mentioned above any longer. Just Twitter is left in the toolset, hoping to replace that with Mastodon when my peers are going to move also. Voice and video sessions are on paid Zoom account now which is a commercial tool but at least offers end-to-end encryption.

Especially the communication tools are a main concern. While Skype screwed up completely and friends and customers are all using the wide range of tools listed above, I'd really love to consolidate most if not all on a single platform. Nextcloud Talk is pretty good already but Zoom is the best platform to date (screen sharing on a multi screen desktop in particular) and Mattermost is amazing, feature reach and can be self-hosted. But for all three of them it's hard to get other on board as well which leaves you talking to yourself, which doesn't make sense all day.

Conclusion

Nextcloud managed to evolve into the central hub of all my personal and business data which is well protected with a 3-2-1 backup strategy and synchronizes across all desktop and mobile devices when used together with addons and apps from various sources almost all of which are OpenSource products. Of course, all of these are moving targets as new platforms, gadgets and ideas arise all the time. But so do these platforms and they often integrate faster with new APIs than most of the proprietary tools. I am controlling my own data to a very high degree without giving up significant convenience.

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