If you have been paying attention over the last few months you will have seen the furor online over the fact that Google Reader is being closed as a service.  This was announced in March and the closing date is now only a few short days away at the end of this month.  If you haven’t thought about it and is still using Google Reader, you have a very small amount of time to resolve the situation. Here’s how:

Back-up your data

  • First you should take a backup of all the data you have in Google Reader. Google calls this Data Liberation and provides a tool called Google Takeout here to help you do so.
  • If you are logged into Google go to the link and select Create archive.
  • This will take you to another screen and show a button that will say ‘Building’. Depending on the size of your Google Reader account this will change after a minute or two to ‘Download’.  Click on this.
  • At this point you may need to reconfirm your Google password but you will receive a small download file including all your Google Reader data. Make sure you know where the file is downloading to on your machine.

So you have backed up – but what next?  The file you have downloaded will contain all your RSS feed data and historical data but without a program to interperet it, it is all rather useless. There are a number of alternatives already with more being launched every day but the biggest options are:

feedly

Feedly

Feedly has been making a concerted effort for Google Readers’ crown since Reader’s demise and it looks like they might take it. They offer a flashy, pretty in-browser experience with decent mobile apps on all the major platforms. They have been expanding fast and now also offer an API for other apps, meaning that if you continue to use for example Reeder on the Mac you will be using Feedly’s back end.

newsblur

NewsBlur

Newsblur is aimed at the desktop user who is willing to pay.  Although they do offer mobile apps they are very very configurable on the desktop – far more so than Google Reader ever was.  They are free up to a total of 64 feeds and $24 a year after that point for as many feeds as you like.

newsvibe

NewsVibe

Newsvibe concentrates on trying to offer a simple clutter free RSS reader.  It succeeds at that but only at the expense of getting rid of most of the features.  It’s free and it is simple.

tinytinyrss

TinyTiny RSS

If you are feeling brave then TinyTiny RSS might be the one for you.  If you are worried that the rug might get pulled out from under you again this is an open source program that you install on your own server and will let you run on your own terms.

Conclusion

So which one is best?  A better question would be which one is more appropriate. If you are a cross device user and want to be where most people are Feedly is the winner. If you prefer the desktop and want lots of customisation NewsBlur is your best choice. NewsVibe wins on simplicity.  TinyTiny Rss on reliability and there are 10s of others out there including FeedDemon, AOL Reader, Digg Reader and just using Twitter or Google+.  For what its worth I use NewsBlur and Lily has switched to Feedly. It’s largely a personal choice – pick a reader that you like.

Once you’ve chosen your service you need to get all your backed up data in to it.  If you are doing this before Google Reader is totally retired many of the sites offer import tools that can log into Google and extract your data themselves.  If it is after Reader has retired you will need to look for the import option in settings.  It will probably ask for an OPML or a XML file.


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