Had enough of Google storing your entire history? In this guide I'll be showing you how you can erase it quickly with minimal effort.
It has been more than two decades since Google first launched in 1998, and its services have developed further than anyone could have guessed 22 years ago.
These days, it is still the most popular search engine in the world, while the company is one of the greatest, most successful corporations around the globe.
However, as you likely know, Google has a nasty habit of collecting any scrap of data that it can find.
Since all of its services are free, the company mostly relies on its relationship with advertisers, and your data is a crucial part of that relationship.
As it turns out, people do not like having their data stored, analysed, or sold, nor do they enjoy being under constant surveillance.
Fortunately, there is a way for you to delete all of the data that Google is storing about you, although it is not that straightforward to find, and you need to know where to look to get it done.
Keep scrolling to find out the quick steps needed to wipe your entire search history.
Before you delete it all…
Before you delete your data, you should know what it is that you are deleting.
Google started recording user history in a way that we know it now around 2005.
That means that it has followed you for the last 15 years, or whenever it was that you started using its services between then and now.
This means that it has kept a record of:
- All of your search activities.
- Links that you clicked on.
- Images that you looked at.
- All the URLs that you typed in.
All of this data is used to profile you, and determine details such as your age, gender, your interests, your language, and more.
Google does it for advertising purposes – so that its algorithms can target you with better, more relevant ads.
Now, before you delete it all, you might want to download it and save it if you are feeling sentimental and you think that getting rid of it all would be a waste.
How to download your Google data
As mentioned, Google released a feature that allows users to download their data, but it also allows its complete deletion too.
If you wish to download it first, here is what you need to do.
- Go to Google Takeout.
- Find ‘Download your data‘ page.
- Select all the data that you wish to download. All boxes should be selected by default.
- Click Next, and choose the archive format and delivery method.
- Click ‘Create Archive‘ and wait for the process to continue.
- Once the process is over, you will be able to download the Archive to your computer or other device.
How to delete your Google data
Now, let's talk about deleting your data from Google. You should know that doing this is permanent, and you won't be able to get it back.
If you still want to proceed, follow these steps.
- Go to Google's My Activity page, and select the vertical ellipsis.
- Click on ‘Delete activity by‘.
- Select the date of the data that should be deleted. By default, it should be set to Today. Change it to All Time.
- In the last drop-down menu, select All Products.
- Click Delete.
- Google will warn you about what you are doing, and it will explain how your data helps make its services useful to you. Hit OK.
- Google will once again check if you are sure that you want to proceed. Hit DELETE.
- At this point, all of your past activities should be deleted.
Stop or pause Google from storing your data further
Another thing to consider is hitting a pause button on Google's data-collecting activities.
While you can never really disable this completely, pausing it is possible.
If you wish to do this, here are the steps that you should follow.
- Go to the Activity Controls page.
- Find a section titled Web & App Activity.
- Flip the switch.
- Confirm that you wish to pause Web & Apps Activity.
- Check if the activity is paused.
- Flip other switches on the page depending on what you wish to disable.
As you can see, the process is pretty quick and simple.
It is not a permanent solution, unfortunately, as Google depends on user information. And, while the company has notified you of all of its data-storing tendencies, you likely never saw it as most people do not read terms and conditions, policies, and such.
A few more things that you should know
Now, we should note that deleting your history and pausing further storing does not mean that you are now invisible to Google.
Especially not if you have an account such as Gmail or YouTube, and if you use its other apps and services.
Simply put, it is impossible to be invisible, although you can do your best not to make it easy for the firm.
You can switch to other less privacy-invasive search engines and abandon Google, and you can also start using a browser other than Chrome.
Other than that, it's worth using a VPN service to disguise your online tracks further.
Full anonymity is next to impossible in this day and age, but if you decide to delete all of your activity, you should also know that there are some consequences to doing that.
Firstly, you should understand that Google uses your data to personalise your search results. You are more likely to find what you are looking for if the company has your information at hand.
If you delete it, your search results might seem a bit random, so you should keep that in mind.
The search will be less specific, and much broad, but that's about as bad as it will get.
Google is a very useful service, with some handy tools that it provides us with.
Best of all, it doesn't charge us a cent to use them.
However, as with all free services – that which is not paid with money usually gets paid with something else. When it comes to Google, you pay with your data.
It is next to impossible to escape this company, apart from ditching all of the modern techs and living like it's the early '90s all over again.
With most people unwilling to do this, the next best thing is to regularly delete your data from Google's servers, although be warned that your searches will not be as effective as they used to be.
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