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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2012-01-26 01:47:36

With Google changing their privacy policies on March 1st, I finally had a deadline that I could use to combat my procrastination. So today I took a large step in extricating myself from Google dependencies; that of switching away from GMail and wiping down as much of my Google account of data as possible.

I've been using customized emails for all my online accounts (banks, etc.) for a while now, so I didn't have to update anything on that front. Downloading all of my email out of GMail and wiping it clean was also trivial with the mail downloader I wrote a while back. I also set up the GMail account to forward (and then delete from Google's servers) any stray email that comes in.

The main problem, which took me nearly a couple of hours, was extracting the list of people I needed to notify of my email address change. To do this I grepped all of my downloaded GMail messages for the "From" header, and then used a combination of sed, sort, uniq until I got a frequency-sorted list of all the email addresses that had sent me email. After a few more greps to get rid of obvious stuff (tech support, mailing lists, etc.) I was down to ~1400 addresses. I then had to sift through the results manually and extracted the 100 or so people from whom I could expect to receive email in the future, and to whom I sent out a change of email notification. I'll need to make sure I keep enough metadata in my new email/contact list to make this process less painful if I ever have to do it again.

Other than GMail, I didn't have very much in my Google account. The Google dashboard made it pretty easy to find it all - I exported a copy of whatever was in Google Docs and then unsubscribed myself from those documents, unsubscribed from the Google Groups I was a member of, and deleted the one calendar event and analytics account I had from long ago, and erased the mostly empty orkut and Youtube profiles.

The one problem I now face is that I do actually want to remain subscribed to one of the groups I was in, and it seems to be hard (if not impossible) to do that without a Google account. If it comes to that I can use a secondary Google account for this purpose; I'm still satisfied by how much I was able to reduce the surface area exposed to Google.

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