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I am looking to buy a GPS computer. I have looked at Giant's NeosTrack and Garmin's Edge series. Looking at the manuals, it is not entirely clear to me if you have to set up an online account. I would rather not because I value my privacy. The main thing I would like to do is transfer my routes between computer and device. I have no need for services like Strava

Does anyone have experience on setting up these devices, or recommend one which does not require an online account?

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All Garmin Edge models can be used without any sort of online account. As can any of the outdoor models, eg the Etrex, Oregon etc. There is a handlebar mount available for these, so you can use them on your bike if you want.

Newer Garmin models work as a USB mass storage device. ie you plug it into your computer, and it appears as a disk drive. So you can just copy files on and off, usually in FIT, TCX or GPX format.

Some models also have the option of Bluetooth or wifi for uploading. These will require a Garmin Connect account, and the app on a phone or tablet. But you don't have to use this, you can just plug in a USB cable as above.

There is a variety of free software you can use on your own computer for viewing rides etc, eg

  • TurtleSport - fairly simple, lets you view rides on a map, and basic statistics
  • GoldenCheetah - good for more detailed analysis of power etc
  • Garmin Training Center - now discontinued, may not work properly with newer devices

For plotting routes, to transfer to the GPS. Depends on what sort of maps you want to use, some options include

  • Garmin BaseCamp
  • QMapShack

Also some websites will let you draw a route, then save it as a file, without an account. eg GPSies

For updating the firmware, you can use Garmin WebUpdater software.

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Depends what you want to do with the information.

If you just want to see your location on screen and nothing more, then no online account is required.

However if you want to push your ride recording/location to a service like strava etc, then you'll need an account with them.

The device maker would want your information for registering the device, and warranty. That would be a different matter, but doing this may give you access to firmware and map updates.

Finally, if your device wants internet access but has no internal cellular SIM, it might pair with a cellphone via bluetooth etc, to get internet access. This is often done through an app on the phone. Or you have to wait till you get home in range of a wireless AP to upload the device's recording.


I don't have a garmin personally, I use an android phone with ANT+ to talk with a HRM and a Cadence sensor. The phone has a data internet link when in-range, and also has wireless ethernet when I'm at home.

I need a strava account, and a cellphone account, and a working internet connection at home.

  • If someone with a Garmin device or the Giant one could add an answer about them specifically, would be better than this answer. – Criggie Apr 21 '18 at 0:12
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    I have a Garmin and you do need an account to update your device/view data reports online, etc. As far as valuing your privacy.....I haven't had any issues with Garmin, their online site is excellent (IMO) and I don't feel as though my data is being sold by them. I might also add that you can use an existing account (like a google account) to use Garmin's site. – Deleted User Apr 21 '18 at 13:56
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    You can, however, with a Garmin edge, use the older desktop version of their mapping software, and manually transfer your activity files, rather than using an account and the auto upload functions. In practice, though, it is time consuming and finicky to do. I gave up on it in short order. – zenbike Apr 21 '18 at 14:22
  • @DeletedUser : Thank you for your insight. By online, do you mean on the web, or just on the local computer? I am not interested at all in sending the data beyond my computer. – John Smith Apr 21 '18 at 15:06
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    You can definitely use a Garmin edge without sending any info over the internet. Regarding software / firmware updates, I'm not 100% sure but would say that you can download the updates without logging to any account. The device works correctly without any update , in any case. – gaurwraith Apr 21 '18 at 22:01
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What you are trying to avoid is probably in fact almost unavoidable these days.

A bike computer head unit that uses a iPhone or Android phone with an app for GPS that does not specifically require creating an account still creates an identity and record of your activities that the computer vendor then stores, sells etc. etc.

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The short answer is not. Although GPS devices with maps and routing existed before social media exploded and Garmin were the industry leaders in this, it no longer makes commercial sense to build products based on this model.

So where does that leave someone who does not want to leave a footprint on the internet - fundamentally you are stuck in limbo, no one wants to provide you a modern product.

The solution is rather than avoid online registration, set up an internet presence for just that one purpose. Open as gmail account "BobsGarminAccount.gmail.com" and sign in with this when using Garmin. You will have the advantage of working within the system, getting updates etc, while remaining (relatively) anonymous.

Maintaining a separate digital identity for this purpose can be difficult, but it is, theoretically possible. Avoiding logging into the shadow identity account from your normal pc or phone/home WiFi/regular Starbucks WiFi AP might be required, and may not be practical, but it is possible.

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    Although it answers the question briefly, this answer is 90% rant on narcissism in social media. It may be true, but it is irrelevant to the point and obscured the actual answer to the question. -1 – zenbike Apr 21 '18 at 14:19
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    +1 on this advice. Creating separate 'personas' via free mail accounts is probably the best you can do these days. You have to be careful about keeping the accounts separate though, if you log in to your regular gmail account and a 'garmin' account on the same computer, Google will make an association between the two. – Argenti Apparatus Apr 21 '18 at 14:21
  • @ArgentiApparatus That is quite true. And maintenance of that type of separation is time consuming and difficult, especially as Google/Facebook/etc... use each other’s mined data to make these corollaries between identities. And using a separate computer, but one which accesses the same internet access points will also connect you. – zenbike Apr 21 '18 at 14:25
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    Edited answer to delete aspects unrelated to answering the question asked. Hopefully while maintaining the original point of view. – zenbike Apr 21 '18 at 14:33

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