I made this guide with the idea in mind that anyone can get this set up in 30 minutes or less. I’ve cut out things such as Tor Browser, as I personally believe those measures to be a little excessive for casual browsing and a hinderance to the overall experience.
The first thing you’ll want to do is download Firefox. Most browsers, including Google Chrome, Brave, and Microsoft Edge are built on Chromium. Chromium is a very complex groundwork for a browser. Despite being open source, nobody is able to confirm with certainty that any Chromium browser is not sending your data to Google due to the sheer size and complexity of the code. Some Chromium browsers tout themselves as free of Google tracking, but I just wouldn’t take the risk. Plus, most common Chromium forks have been caught sending data to Google at some point. Plus, Firefox has more strict privacy features than Chromium out of the box, including built-in support for stopping ‘fingerprinting’ (using information like add-ons, settings, and fonts installed in your browser to tell its you and track you.) Additionally, supporting Firefox also means supporting one of the only viable alternatives to Chrome-like browsers out there – period. Using it encourages variety in Internet browsing and compatibility. Mozilla is a non-profit organization with an emphasis on privacy, and Firefox is also open-source.
You’ll want to install very two important extensions on Firefox. Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin together will block ads and trackers. I would be suspicious of other ad blockers. Some have been paid off by Google to allow data or trackers on certain sites. You’ll also want to change your ‘don’t track’ settings to Strict in Firefox by clicking on the hamburger menu in the top right, clicking ‘Settings’, then clicking ‘Privacy and Security’. Go ahead and flick the tracking protection to Strict.
You’ll probably want to move away from the Google search engine. DuckDuckGo is the most popular alternative. Furthermore, you’ll probably want to find an alternative to Google Maps, like openstreetmap by the same people who make Wikipedia, or osmand, a mobile app using OpenStreetMap data. For Youtube, there’s regrettably no real alternative, but you can use the Invidious frontend to get around Google tracking. Realize how most of this is getting around Google’s stranglehold on online data? Yep, get used to that one.
Finally, you might want to consider getting a VPN to help mask your IP address. Think about IP addresses like the phone numbers of the Internet – you and every website you visit has one. When you visit a website, the website can normally see your IP address, so it knows where to send data back to. When you use a VPN, the VPN server sends the request under its IP address, then sends the data back to you. To websites, your IP will look like the IP of your VPN provider. Due to this, picking your VPN provider is very important – they will see your IP and all the requests you make through them. My only suggestion is to pick a VPN based outside of the Five Eyes countries. This is an intelligence alliance, and these five countries have agreed to share data with each other, while countries outside the Five Eyes have no such obligation.
REMEMBER: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT! Sometimes you'll have to use Google Docs, or OpenStreetMap won't cut it and you'll have to use Google Maps. Don't stress yourself out. I have a seperate browser signed into my Google specifically for these situations.