Monday, 11 June 2018







This is a post on why I disabled Google Analytics and the benefits of NOT using Google Analytics.

-Perry

In keeping with the trend to get rid of Google services in favor of better services that do a better job of protecting peoples personal information. And with the recent GDPR changes, we examined our data sharing polices to simplify and improve privacy for our users. Although privacy has always been a keen focus here at Thexyz, there is always more that can be done. After all the changes, there was really just one Google service left to kill. Google Analytics.

I have been reading a lot of blogs over the past few months on disabling Google Analytics. As a Webmaster myself, I also found myself adding the GA javascript code with or without a request to do so. This way when I did get a request for traffic stats, I was able to provide heaps of data.

The problem with Google Analytics data


Google was quick to point out that Google Analytics is GDPR compliant. Due to browser fingerprinting I am not sure this is actually the case and recently blogged about this. Much of the data collected by Google Analytics is redundant and obsolete. It has become so complicated to use that most users, Google Analytics is useless.

The argument for Google Analytics


There is some good data to be found, especially for high traffic sites like thexyz.com (ranked in top 100,000 most popular websites). This data is helpful for:

  • Finding what posts are most popular
  • Bounce rates although this is not much use
  • Looking for trends (if you can find them)
  • Probably something else but too hard to find

The benefits of removing Google Analytics


I was quite surprised by some of the benefits of removing Google Analytics, such as:

  • Much faster page loads time 
  • Increase in SEO due to page speed improvements
  • Increased privacy for websites visitors
  • Better experience for website visitors
  • Lower GDPR non-compliance risks
  • Simplify your privacy policy
  • Removes externally hosted JavaScript
  • Combines external CSS
  • Shave at least a second off your load time
When looking at this data it made the decision much easier. Google Analytics was causing more harm than good. I also did a page speed test with Pingdom before and after removing Google Analytics to highlight the negative effects of Google Analytics.

Page speed with Google Analytics

  • Performance grade: C/74
  • Load time: 1.51 s
  • Page size: 804.3 kB
  • Requests: 51 

 Link to results here.

Page speed without Google Analytics

  • Performance grade: A/98
  • Load time: 721 ms
  • Page size: 788.6 kB
  • Requests: 46

 Link to results here.

Conclusion 


It is amazing how simply removing a few lines of code from your website can have such a positive effect. From increasing speed, to privacy, to better search engine rankings. The choice to remove Google Analytics is clear. If you still need analytical data from your website why not check Piwik by Matomo.



About the Author

I'm Perry Toone, a British Software Developer with keen expertise in spam and fraud prevention.  You'll regularly find me talking about email privacy and best practices via my podcast.
Tuesday, 5 June 2018

You might think that by enabling "Private browsing" you have everything in place for a private browsing experience, well due to a process know as "Fingerprinting," a website can potentially identify a large amount of information about a user, even when using Private browsing mode. Due to how browsers are designed to work, there is not much that can be done to fully protect your privacy. Here is a list of 7 popular browsers in order of the most private. 
 

1. Tor

Number one on the list is Tor, which uses a series of volunteer servers to send traffic through virtual tunnels rather than making a direct connection. Because of this, it does make browsing on Tor slower than any other browser and probably not a good choice for everyday browsing unless you really need to cover your tracks.

     

    2. Brave

    Next up is Brave, a good choice for everyday browsing with a greater level of privacy. The great thing about Brave is it will block tracking and advertising scripts by default. On some websites that can shave seconds of page loading times and subsequently increase the amount of time you get to spend on other things than waiting for a website to load. If you pay for data, it will also save you money by using Brave.While it is good for privacy it has received some concerns that it is not as secure as some others on the list.


    3. Opera

    A nice lightweight browser that also includes a built in ad-blocker and VPN.


    4. Internet Explorer and Edge

    Microsoft has made big steps towards greater privacy with recent compliance with GDPR and greater user controls towards privacy settings. They have also now turned off by default a highly intrusive web tracking technology called WebRTC.


    5. Firefox

    Although it is possible to disable WebRTC in Firefox, it is turned on by default. Another problem with WebRTC is that it can leak your actual IP even when using a VPN.


    6. Safari 

    Safari is a bit too integrated with the Apple ecosystem with over sharing of data many people would not be comfortable with. Apple has made some great steps towards greater privacy with GDPR compliance. 

     

    7. Chrome

    Last on this list due to the fact Chome is tightly integrated with Google's data collection tactics and also has WebRTC enabled by default. 














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