What Data Does Google Collect?

Google is possibly one of the largest tech giants around. Just shy of 4.4 billion users, it’s safe to say Google handles plenty of data.1 More accurately, it collects plenty of information about you (and what you like).

Other large tech companies such as Facebook, Zoom, Apple, and others also collect your data. But aren’t you curious how much information Google actually collects about you? Between all of the apps and services Google offers–Gmail, G Suite, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Meet and Google Classrooms–that’s a lot of information.

Can you actually delete your search history from Google’s technological memory? Is Incognito Mode really private browsing?

You deserve to know how much information Google actually keeps about you, along with what this tech giant does with it. No matter how rare it is in this techno age, your data is your privacy, and your privacy is your safety. Let’s discuss what Google does with your data and how you can delete it (for real).

How do I delete my data from Google?

Go to the Google Help Center and you can find a summary of all the data Google collects about you. You can go through Google to delete all of it, which we recommend doing. Your data should be your own privacy and not information someone else has.

  1. Go to your Google account.
  2. In the navigation panel on your left, select Data and Personalization.
  3. Click Go to Google Dashboard.

Once you do this, you can see the information Google collects about you. However, this isn’t all the information Good has. You won’t be able to view all Google services when you check your Google account.

How do I delete my location history?

Whether you like it or not, Google collects information on every search you make, all the videos you watch on YouTube, and all the data you enter and use on Google Maps.2  Yep it’s true, Google even keeps track of your location history. You can actually delete this by going to your Google account, clicking on the Data and Personalization and selecting Location History.

You can turn off the setting that allows Google to track data on your location, or you can set up the Auto Delete option so your information always deletes from your history after so many months.

Why does Google collect my information?

Google works by using algorithms. The more cooking videos you watch, the more Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray will pop up in your YouTube video suggestions. The more you search for that new Apple Watch you’re thinking about buying, the more ads you’ll see for Apple Watches, even on other websites.

All of this information tells Google quite a bit about you. What you like, what you don’t like, what you want to buy. It helps Google place ads, know what to recommend to you, and continue building the algorithms so the suggestions are more and more accurate over time. Google wants you to use Google more. The more you use it, the more money it makes.

Since all this info is being stored somewhere, it’s more important than ever for you to take responsibility for protecting your data.

How do I keep my data private?

Even though regularly deleting your search history can help keep your information private, there’s a lot more you can do to stay safe online.

If you’ve seen the recent Netflix hit The Social Dilemma, then you know there are alternative browsers you can use that won’t collect your data like Google does. Qwant is just one example.

Another way to keep your information more private is to start using a virtual private network (VPN). Instead of sharing your direct IP address with every website you visit, a VPN works by giving you a new IP address and encrypting your data, making your information anonymous. If you want to learn more, check out our article about how VPNs work and how using one protects your privacy.

Best VPN services for privacy comparison
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
PureVPN $10.95/mo.PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPNZero logs for incoming or outgoing traffic View Plans
Surfshark$11.95/mo.IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, Wireguard, and L2TPStrict no-logging policy View Plans
NordVPN$11.95/mo.OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSecZero logging policy approved by auditors View Plans
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTPLogs minimal information, such as server location View Plans
CyberGhost $12.99/mo.OpenVPN (TCP / UDP), IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSecDeletes logging data after 24 hours View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Sources 

  1. Deyan Georgiev, Review 42, “111+ Google Statistics and Facts That Reveal Everything About the Tech Gianti,” October 3, 2020. Accessed November 19, 2020.
  2. Dale Smith, Cnet, “Google Collects a Frightening Amount of Data About You. You Can Find and Delete It Now,” June 28, 2020. Accessed November 19, 2020.