March 1, 2012
The first and easiest way to use Google but keep the company from collecting information on you is to use the company’s services without signing in to your account. YouTube, Search and Maps don’t require users to be logged in to use the services, though even signed-out users will still see ads based on their search terms, etc.
If you, like many people, are constantly signed in to your Gmail account throughout the day, things get a little more complicated.
Users can turn off the setting that allows Google to record their search history. To get to this menu, go to www.google.com/history or head to the “Account Settings” menu from the top navigation bar you see when signed in to your Google account. Scroll down to the “Services” section. From here, you can pause, edit or remove all Web History. On some accounts, you can also go to the “Products” section of your account settings and click the “Edit” link next to “Your Products.”
Google will still keep some of your Web history information regardless of your settings, but the results won’t be used to customize your search results. According to Google, the company “also maintains a separate logs system for auditing purposes and to help us improve the quality of our services for users.” Google keeps the information to “audit our ads systems, understand which features are most popular to users, improve the quality of our search results, and help us combat vulnerabilities such as denial of service attacks.”