A friend was surfing the Web the other day, and she was surprised to find that Google had not only remembered a search term that she was looking for, it remembered which websites she had visited in the past.
Imagine her shock when I told her how much other information Google stores about her as well. Even telling her how to stop Google from saving her search history didn't cheer her up.
It's an unfortunate reality that if you use Google services, Google has more information on you than you think. That means Gmail, Google+, Google Contacts, Google Docs, Google Calendar and other Google applications, along with Android.
The good news is that you can find out how much of your information has been logged with Google so you can take steps to get rid of it. The better news is that you can download all that information to your computer for your personal records so you don't lose it in the cleanup.
Google Takeout is a service from Google that tells you how much information Google has about you. It's a quick way to see your "Google footprint" across 15 Google services, with more on the way.
Your footprint can be composed of your browsing history, contact information, emails and any other information that is being stored on Google's servers. That could add up to a lot of info.
I'll warn you now that it took me about six hours to get my information. Fortunately, you don't have to do anything while it's collecting. Just be patient and the service will let you know when it's done. Once the information arrives, you can download it.
Services like Google Takeout don't just shed a little light on what's going on behind the scenes of Google's user tracking, they also teach us about exactly how much of our personal info is being tracked. You really should check this out.
Go to the Google Takeout page using my blue link buttons below and click "Create an Archive" to get started. It may take a while for Google to fetch all the data, so just be patient. If you're really active on the Web, it can take up to several hours.
You'll be notified by Google through text or email when your information is ready to download. Click the "My Archives" link to download the zip file to your computer.
Your information will be divided into folders, so you can find your contacts, your mail, your pictures and everything else that Google has through your profiles.