Computer, Rechnerkram

Trying to move away from US-webservices

Thanks to the new US-administration and its fast move to remove privacy protections for non-US-citizens I try again to move data out of the US.

It is as usual easier said than done. And a lot is about self-hosting. Let’s start with the easiest:

News

How do I get my news nowadays? Mainly Twitter but I am thinking about moving back to reading more stuff via RSS-feeds again.
Right now I am using Newsblur for syncing and managing RSS-feeds. It is a small, fine, independent service that costs around 25€ per year. It has apps for iOS and Android and an API to allow syncing to 3rd-party-services. If you don’t want to self-host and don’t mind that the company is located in the US, I can really recommend it. But I want my data out of the US. So I am switching back to Tiny Tiny RSS. It is easy to install and is even usable on shared hosting platforms. It requires apache or nginx, PHP and either a MySQL or PostgreSQL-database. The nice thing is that it has quite some plug-ins for stuff like removing ads from feeds or getting the full-text-content from sites like heise.de. The Web-UI is ok  and there are apps for Android and iOS. There is even a plug-in that allows the emulation of the fever-API, a self-hostable RSS-solution that doesn’t really exist anymore. But with the emulation feed-readers like Reeder can connect to Tiny Tiny RSS. And henceforth it is really neat. On iOS I use Reeder, on my computer either the web-interface or newsbeuter, a great cli-client for reading RSS-feeds. It claims to be the mutt of RSS feed readers and it is clearly so.

Files

I had a Dropbox-subscription and it was neat. Now I need something else. I looked at Tresorit, a service like Dropbox in Switzerland which encrypts everything. It looked nice, is far more expensive than Dropbox (12,50€ for 100GB per month or 25€ for 1TB, so more than double) but in the end I decided to self-host a Nextcloud-instance. If you do not want to host yourself, you can find providers here and some even have a free tier, many are hosted in Europe.

E-Mail

There are providers that host in Germany like Posteo, Mailbox.org or services like GMX. I’d suggest you to spend a bit of money on letting Posteo or Mailbox.org host your mail than GMX because they are more trustworthy imho. The alternative is self-hosting your mail. There are projects like Mail-in-a-Box that make it a whole lot easier. I will probably do it without something like that for practicing purposes. Btw. self-hosting means that you do not need to hand out data to the government like the pros have to, since you won’t host mail for a thousand users.

Micro/Blogging

I host my blogging for quite some time. I switched between static blogs and wordpress a lot, right now I am using WordPress. I have to switch off Jetpack to reach my goal of getting data out of the US which means loosing convenience features… self-hosting WordPress is not that hard but it will cost you a bit of money. Some webhosters have one-click deploys of wordpress, so that shouldn’t be that hard even for the people who are not that technical competent.

Micro-blogging is a bit harder. You can micro-blog via WordPress and even crosspost to Twitter. You can use a Gnu Social-account at services like quitter or host it yourself. But I am not yet convinced. There is a new service called micro.blog which I want to self-host and integrate it with WordPress. I am not sure yet if I close my Twitter-account. I thought about it quite often but I could not convince myself yet.

Messaging

Recently I am using more often Whatsapp because everyone uses it. And since I have an iPhone again, I am starting to use iMessage again and with colleagues it is Hangouts. I’d like to use more Threema and Jabber though.

Maps

You do not have to use Google Maps or Apple Maps, you can use OpenStreetMaps and it is actually pretty good. On the iPhone I use a client called maps.me. But I am not sure how much of my data lands through that where. But it is probably better than Google or Apple Maps

Todos

That’s a hard one. I couldn’t find a good todo-app that I can sync between an iPhone and Linux and that isn’t located in the US. I tried plain-text systems like todo.txt or the imho better but not as well supported format used by Taskpaper. But on iOS the clients only sync through iCloud or Dropbox. On Android there are clients that can sync through the file system and thus you can use something else. Now I am trying myself at using a paper-based system again. I started to use a Bullet Journal again. I used it last year for a couple of months but abandoned it. Now I am using it for a week and it works out better for me this time. The Bullet Journal is a nice system that allows a lot of customizability1. And using a paper based system means that I moved my todos completely away from the internet except the occasional reminder in my calendar.

The really hard ones

Things I do not want to stop to use in spite of them storing data in the US are Netflix, Google Music All-Access and being able to sync my ebooks through Amazon. I am thinking about not using the last one anymore. I can buy ebooks somewhere else and there are enough other software and hardware ebook-readers out there. Netflix is irreplacable in my opinion and the convenience of a music streaming-service is just sooo big. And they have a lot of radio plays for children which I use a lot. Buying all those would be far more expensive than the 10 bucks/month. But I am open to suggestions.

And then there is pinboard.in. My go to-service fo bookmarking and archiving sites. I guess there is some self-hostable solution but the archiving part will be the hard one. But tweets of the owner of the site give me a lot of trust in him and that he will take care of all those data we entrust to him.

Ok, that’s it I think. And when you think about self-hosting something, don’t forget to do backups because those are your responsibility then as well.

P.s.: I forgot read-it-later-services like Instapaper or Pocket. There is an open source-alternative called Wallabag. It even has a hosted service for a small fee with the data stored in the EU. But I couldn’t get the application to work on FreeBSD or CentOS because I am already failing while installing it. And the iOS-app doesn’t work offline yet. When your connection is crappy you cannot even log into the iOS-app. The devs promised though to fix this. So maybe I give it another try at a later point of time.


  1. Search for Bullet Journal on Pinterest or Youtube and you will find a lot

2 thoughts on “Trying to move away from US-webservices”

  1. Das Vorhaben erscheint mir sinnlos. Web Dienst sind fest in US Hand.
    Amazon , Google, Apple, Facebook Twitter, …
    Da gibts nichts in Europa.
    Mail und Webstorage das geht.
    GMX wollte mich austricksen und mir einen kostenpflichtigen Account unterjubeln. Für mich sind die gestorben.
    Lese aber gern deine Lösungen.

    1. a) ja, ich werde nicht alles rausziehen können, aber man kann versuchen so viel rauszuziehen wie geht
      b) Bei Twitter muss man sich fragen, was man damit macht: News geht auch mit RSS, Kram ins Web pusten geht auch anders und mit Leuten kommunizieren auch. Ich hab mir sagen lassen, dass Leite die Facebook und Twitter aufgaben auf einmal von ihren Freunden per Mail oder Telefon kontaktiert wurden.

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