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Somebody told me, that Google Desktop is unsafe and Google would save kind of a user data list about the files on my PC.

What is known about it?

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A story on the lighter side: 365tomorrows.com/09/12/the-nine-billion-names-of-god –  nik Sep 20 '09 at 17:02
As an alternative, check Locate32: superuser.com/questions/8654/…; makeuseof.com/tag/search-for-files-lightning-fast-with-locate32 –  nik Sep 20 '09 at 17:07

8 Answers 8

There is that possibility, but it is no big deal to silence Google Desktop with a software firewall.

PS: I would not use it. A program indexing the content of my computer and connecting to an external server isn't exactly the most trustworthy solution. And Google's track record regarding privacy protection is nothing to write home about.

I'm using Everything and DocSearcher instead, this combination beats Google Desktop handsdown in speed, efficiency, resource usage and indeed privacy.

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I don't know what you mean exactly with "unsafe" but you might find somes answers here:

I'd check the Privacy section of the Google Desktop entry on Wikipedia too, it might be less biased.

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America is a country at war, how much do you think "not without your explicit permission" is worth once HLS agents start flipping their credentials? :) –  Molly7244 Sep 20 '09 at 17:14
hehe, so true :) –  Pascal Thivent Sep 20 '09 at 18:01

I would have thought that it's unlikely that it would send any data "home". Just think of the volume of data that would be involved even if only a small proportion of Windows users installed it.

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"the volume of data" is probably the least likely argument -- this is Google, after all. Still, I agree that it's unlikely. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 20 '09 at 17:56

Google Desktop search has a feature where you can search over multiple computers that you own. Therefore it needs to store the index of your computer online but I think that you can deactivate that feature.

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Is it safe? It allows someone using your PC to search your PC. If you have incriminating files in a subfolder of your desktop, and you frequently let friends use your PC, then it might not be a good idea.

For the rest of us, it's perfectly safe.

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I'd say it's very likely that Google Desktop Search "phones home", or at least sets some kind of tracking-cookie. After all, what is Google's business model? Yes, advertisements! And the more they know about you the more they can target the advertisements. If you really think Google can provide all their services for "free", you're being naive, IMHO. The same goes with Gmail (or Facebook or Hotmail for that matter!) - they index your email conversations, plug cookies in your browser and track your moves on the internet. That's how you "pay" them for the free services they provide. Don't

I'd think twice to put my private, confidential or business-related info in cloud-services, especially the "free" (ie advertisement-based) ones, because these companies are looking into what you're doing.


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There is one particular safety issue with Google desktop - when you let option "Show Desktop Search results on Google Web Search result pages." active (which is by default), you are vulnerable to possible XSS holes at google.com.

See Indistinguishable from Jesse - My impressions of Google Desktop Search which discusses this and more security issues.

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Users should be given total control over what gets reported back to Google but they aren't.

All those free Google applications phone home to Google regularly with tons of data collected from everything you do (not just their applications, others too, browsers for instance) whether you're a home user or use an enterprise version. It sends all this to Google using stealth/hidden connections without your permission.

Via their little hidden applets, data collectors, statistics collectors, reporter and updaters that are installed (multiple locations, multiple redundancies in case you manage to find and block one) all installed at the root and which send all kinds of data to Google and you don't even know it unless you have outgoing port blockers / extrusion utilities that few users know about, much less how to use.


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