Curious to see how much a sprawling Internet company knows about your likes, history and movements? Download your Google data.
This is the week many of us took a harder look at our Facebook data, spurred by a reminder that we’ve allowed the social network incredible access to our preferences, thoughts, movements and friends.
But Google tracks even more of our lives, as more people use Google for many other parts of their days —including e-mail, calendar, web browsing and the Android mobile operating system, which has an 85% market share of smartphones, according to market tracker IDC.
Many of us started using Google before Facebook, and thanks to wildly popular services like Google Maps and Waze, Google can keep tabs on our every move. But the varied nature of Google’s apps and products (which also include No. 1 video site YouTube) mean that it may be keeping more on you than you may realize.
This is Google’s data download page, where Google shows you all the various units from the company. Google lets you choose whether to download the data from all the categories from the Google universe or go piecemeal.
Choices include Calendar (what appointments I had), Chrome (my searches), Drive (my saved uploads), Location History (everywhere I’ve driven to or asked directions for in Google Maps), Play Music (what songs I listened to), YouTube (videos) and Hangouts (who I interacted with.)
Gmail is not on the list, but the application keeps a record of your e-mails, unless you’ve deleted them to make space. Last year Google said it would stop reading your email to target ads.
You have the choice of getting the download via an e-mail link or having it archived in your Google Drive, but this does count against your storage quota, Google notes. (I subscribe to a 1TB backup, and it’s already got 750 GB full, so I went for the partial download.)