Leaving the Google eco-system

Following on from here, the extrification from Google services is complete, kind of! What a pain it was too. The aim was to maintain email/calendar/contacts/photos/storage across devices but without putting it all in one big tech and hopefully improving privacy somewhat.

EMail

Google takeout is garbage and a pain. Thunderbird email client to the rescue – connect it to your google email account and then export the various labels/folders as you need to. It allows you to manage and maintain control over your account. Thunderbird was also used as the tool to import the mails into the new email ecosystem.

Email privacy

As part of the process I took the opportunity to move some of my email addresses to a privacy first provider. After a lot of research I chose tutanota. It’s not perfect – more on that in a later post.

Calendars & Contacts

I looked at several options for calendaring including self-hosting nextcloud, baikal and radicale, as well as the tools included with my synology NAS. All were great tools and nextcloud/baikal/radicale could easily be hosted in docker on a pi behind a reverse proxy with SSL, I ultimately settled for a baikal installation in docker on a pi4. All of them also offer contacts via carddav and this is where the issues started. We’re a mac household for computers and android for mobile. Calendars via caldav were no problem across the devices but contacts! It seems macos doesn’t play nicely with the carddav standard unless everything, and I mean everything, is correct in terms of DNS, https and SSl certs. If just one part of that chain is mis-configured any mac client just won’t play ball.

The other piece of the jigsaw is the fact that android phones don’t have a native cal/carddav app, because of course they don’t, they expect you to use google. Davx5 to the rescue, and so far so good, it performs well and allows you use just about any calendar or contact app on your android device.

Photos

I looked at several self hosted photo storage type apps but in the end settled for using the built in tool that comes with synology DSM. They have an android app and to be fair, it is just as good as google’s offering but with the bonus that the photos are stored on your NAS and prying eyes can’t see them. The inbuilt synology tools backup the photos to several places overnight so job jobbed. The app on the phone is set to only upload photos on wifi and my synology isn’t publicly accessible so that may cause a minor issue but I doubt it.

Storage

I’ve ended up with a combination of using storage on the synology NAS and our onedrive subscription. Judicious use of the synology cloud backup tools means all eventualities are covered (I think) and we shouldn’t lose anything.