Alt Tech: When It’s time to Explore Options


In my previous post, I highlighted a recent Skiff article that claims Google’s chat AI client, ‘Bard’ was snooping in on users’ emails as part of its learning regimen. This has led some to raise the apparent privacy concerns as a result of this revelation. Furthermore, Google’s response and initial lack of transparency when questioned, has not instilled any sense of trust that they are in fact, doing no evil.

That article was what prompted me to share some privacy-focused alternatives to big tech companies who have become slack in protecting their users’ personal and private data, and are in fact, exploiting those assets for profit.

No doubt, there are other tools aside from the ones I will mention here, that are entirely capable of replacing the types of services and apps offered by Google. Perhaps I’ll cover them at another time. Or better yet – someone else can publish a write up on what they are using.

For my part, I’ll be focusing on Brave, Proton, Skiff, Keeper, and Internxt. Ready? Let’s dig in!

Before Brave Browser, I was a Mozilla fan. In particular, I loved the Firefox Developer Edition browser and Thunderbird email client.

But that was before the drama that took place when the floundering company’s leadership sought to bring back its founder and JavaScript inventor, Brendan Eich, as CEO to right the sinking ship.

Brendan ultimately took the high road and stepped down to quiet the storm, then went on to focus his efforts on Brave. And I’m so thankful he did.

Let’s take a look at the browser features I’ve found most useful.


Shields is the heart of Brave Browser, which was born with privacy in mind. My favorite feature of the browser are the customizable settings that include blocking unwanted spooky stuff and auto-erasing browsing history, cookies, and other bits of tracking code.


One of the most significant developments coming from the Brave team was the acquisition of Tailcat in March of 2021 to start building its own search engine. This is a welcome addition to the relatively sparse -and poor- search engine choices currently available on the interwebs. Brave’s recent integration of AI via the Summarizer demonstrates their commitment to transparency while continuing to offer up relevant search results.

Other Features

Brave remains at the forefront of alt tech and is strategically positioned to lead as more users begin to seek enhanced privacy, control of their personal info/content, and begin to embrace the decentralized world of Web3.

Other features offered to Brave users meeting those objectives include;

  • Tor Browsing
  • VPN/Firewall
  • Web3/Wallet
  • News
  • Talk
  • $BAT

In my search for an email client to replace Thunderbird, that was neither Gmail or Outlook, I happened upon Mailbird. After some research, I took advantage of a limited time lifetime license sale to download and test the software. For the most part, I must admit I was happy with the product.

But it wasn’t secure. At least, not secure enough.

That is when ProtonMail entered the ring as a contender with its end-to-end (E2E) encryption technology. Offering a freemium pricing model, there wasn’t any risk to give it a try. But it wasn’t long before I was begging them to take my money while subscribing to a personal paid plan, and ultimately working my way up to the business product.

And what’s the value proposition?

  • VPN for multiple devices
  • Additional encrypted cloud storage capacity (buh-bye DropBox!)
  • Secure calendar
  • Custom domain name emails.

Proton’s Calendar and Drive products remain in active development and are getting better with each progressive release. But the VPN and email client with custom domain name features are reason enough for me to continue throwing my hard earned cash at them.

On iOS, the calendar app can easily replace Google for basic functionality and when minimal collaboration is required.

The biggest convenience impact I experienced when dropping DropBox for ProtonDrive was not having a desktop folder that autosync’d with the cloud. While there is a Windows app available, as well as iPhone and iPad apps, there are no integrated solutions for Mac or Linux desktops. I tend to be more active on my mobile devices, so it’s a very small inconvenience to have to use the web apps on desktop. Especially with password managers like Keeper.

Speaking of which, with the recent addition of ProtonPass to the family lineup, my Keeper app might be in trouble. More on Keeper in a second.

I was introduced to Skiff a couple of years ago when I accidentally clicked on a Brave browser popup ad. It’s ok – I had opted in to participate in Brave Rewards and was receiving $BAT.

Turns out Skiff was legit and looked interesting, particularly the Pages app that appeared to be a possible Google Docs or Simplenote alternative. So I decided to give them a try.

I used Skiff Pages exclusively on a couple of specific projects for an entire year. I loved the interface and ease of use, my favorite being the subpages feature. Collaboration was also pretty intuitive and pain-free. Downsides for me were limited formatting and no real Mac app, although the iPad app seems to work just fine on my Mac Mini.

While Skiff does offer a cloud storage app, SkiffDrive is integrated into the Pages app and behaves more like a storage system for docs and files used in Pages.

I haven’t tried out the recently introduced Calendar app, but from what I can gather, it should easily replace Google calendar for the average user.

Like Proton and Brave, Skiff is built with privacy in mind and encryption as the foundational component for all products, although it sees Proton as its direct email client competitor. Skiff’s growth trajectory has been quite rapid, adding custom domains along with other email features and integrations.

Skiff has a more amicable relationship with Brave, however, as the team also has its sights set on web3, welcoming collaboration with Brave’s browser based wallet. Another notable Skiff email web3 integration and partnership was with Unstoppable Domains.

Skiff is a young, but fast-rising company. To date, I haven’t experienced any significant downsides worth mentioning, when it comes to any of their products.

The next two companies are solely concerned with secure file and data cloud storage. I mention them here primarily as alternatives to DropBox and other cloud file sharing tools.

Keeper Security is enterprise grade SaaS software with personal & family tier options. I’m only going to mention these products. It’s not cheap, but thus far I have found it worth the value.

The app might be well known as a secure password manager and generator app, but I have found the file storage feature equally as useful. Again, no desktop or mobile file folder, but the app and browser extension integrates so well that it makes this a moot point.

For an additional cost, Keeper offers add-ons such as extra storage capacity and dark web monitoring of customers’ personal info via the BreachWatch service. And finally, a lesser known product is its free encrypted chat app, KeeperChat.

I may have to do a writeup featuring Zoom alternatives, KeeperChat, Signal, and BraveTalk.

The final app I’ll briefly mention to wrap things up is a somewhat obscure one called Internxt.

Like, Skiff, I was introduced to Internxt through Brave Ads, so kudos to both platforms for their effective targeted marketing.

Internxt is the only E2E DropBox alternative I’ve tried that allows for a local folder on desktop. It functions quite well on Linux Ubuntu and Mint desktop OS’s as well as iOS.

One unique tool Internet offers freely is its encrypted web-based file sharing/sending tool aptly named ‘Send’. I’ve used it more than a few times with only one recipient experiencing mild confusion when accessing the sent file.


Since this post is about secure and privacy-focused apps, I need to mention that one important feature all of the above apps share in common is 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) capabilities. If you are using any app or tool that allows for 2FA – enable it. Personally, I have found Authy to be my choice for this function, but there are others other there.

So there you have it. Hopefully, you will find this to be a helpful resource that gets you started on some deeper digging to find better alternatives to the big tech companies currently dominating the space, and exploiting your privacy.