For as long as Google has existed, it has been and continues to be my favorite search engine by far. I like the company, their services, and just about everything about them except for one thing: abysmal privacy policies.
Though Google has legitimate use for storing search records to see how long it takes someone to find what they're looking for, there's no need to store an IP address along with the search records. Any unique identifier would work. There's certainly no reason why Google should store your records for 18 months, let alone 18 minutes.
To be fair, sometimes they get things right like when they strongly resisted government invasion of search records, but the information is there and that creates a risk.
While that issue is still in the air, Google recently made another step in the right direction with their Google Dashboard feature. When logged into any Google service, you can go to http://www.google.com/dashboard to see a consolidated listing of everything Google knows about you. Documents, chat records, search history, etc.
The service gives you single-page access to the privacy controls for every service that you're using with Google. This not only makes what they have on you more transparent, but easier to manage. Granted, they have more work to do in giving you control over what's stored and what isn't, you can at least delete some of the data. For instance, if you've made searches in the past that list your home address or medical information and you don't want Google to have that on file, you can delete it.
Of course, that doesn't get rid of every copy that exists, but it at leasts takes it out of their current records and makes it less likely to get swooped up by government snooping or any future data breaches that Google might suffer. All in all, a very good step in the right direction so make sure to check it out if you use Google services.