The Most Private Search EnginesUpdated: January 09, 2020
Switching to a private search engine will help you remain private while searching the internet.
When you open your search browser and type in queries, data starts being collected and shared with third-parties.
If you want online privacy while you're browsing the internet, you can't rely on a search engine like Google. Although Google is really efficient when it serves results, making it convenient and the most popular, it can give you great results because it tracks a huge amount of data about your activity.
For enhanced privacy, you must switch to a private search engine that won't collect your information.
There are more ways in which search engines track you. When you enter a keyword in a search engine, a first-party cookie is stored so it records your search. Once you start clicking on the results, third-party cookies keep tracking your activity. The data they collect is used in various ways. From helping search engines give you better search results in the future to selling it to advertising companies to sell you products and services with targeted ads.
Now let's talk Google. Have you heard about browser fingerprinting? Simply explained, fingerprinting is a process used to collect information so they can create a unique and identifiable profile of you. Through this process, Google has access to the files inside your computer to pull information such as your time zone, installed plugins, the size of your screen, installed fonts, and many more.
Switching to a private search engine won't completely stop fingerprinting, but it will limit it to a great extent.
One of the aspects that a private search engine can't fix, is the fact that the websites you'll be accessing will be able to see your IP address and location. More so, most ISPs track your online activity and sell the data to third-parties. Using a private search engine in conjunction with a VPN will solve this problem.
The VPN routes all the traffic through a remote server in a location of your choice. Once you connect to the remote server, the ISP won't be able to see what you're doing on the internet. And the websites you're visiting don't have access to your real IP address and location, they'll see the traffic as coming from the VPN server.
When you choose a VPN provider, it is important to make sure you can trust them. A poor VPN will not only slow your internet connection, but there are also other risks such as having your data collected by the provider and sold to third-parties.
DrSoft VPN keeps you private with a no-logging policy and protects your data with a strong 256-bit AES encryption. Hundreds of servers all across the globe, an integrated kill switch, and DNS leak protection are some of the perks, so you can be safe on up to 5 devices at once.
StartPage is a private search engine developed on the belief that "personal data should be your data, not Big Data". They don't collect or share any of your personal information, so no IP address and cookies storing. They do display sponsored links on the results page. But none of the ads are personalized to individual users.
The results are quite great as they are using mighty Google's search results. When you conduct a search, your query is stripes of metadata, including the IP address and other identifiable information. The anonymized search query is sent to Google and you receive the results. Your search queries are not recorded.
StartPage also provides a feature called "Anonymous View". This feature allows you to visit search results in full privacy without websites installing cookies on your device.
- They don't log your IP address or any other identifiable information
- They don't log your search history
- No cookie storing
- The results are pulled from Google
- Non-personalized advertisements
- Anonymous View feature
There are a couple of aspects making some be a bit skeptical when it comes to DuckDuckGo. One of the reasons is the fact that they record search history, although they claim the searches can't be traced back to you as they are stored without unique identifiers.
"We also save searches, but again, not in a personally identifiable way, as we do not store IP addresses or unique User agent strings. We use aggregate, non-personal search data to improve things like misspellings."
Another reason is they make some of the revenue from commissions paid by affiliate sites such as eBay and Amazon. To be clear, they do not sell your data to these companies!
- They don't log information about your User-agent or IP address
- They store search queries but they are anonymized
- They provide a browser extension that shows you the level of privacy on every website you visit
Swisscows is a search engine designed with privacy in mind. They never collect or track your data. Their data centers are located in Switzerland, which is the safest place in Europe. The search engine is interactive. When you type a query, you'll get recommendations of related terms mapped in different colors to make the search quicker and easier.
- No data collecting or tracking
- No search history storing
- Great interface
- Quick results
- Serves located in Switzerland
Disconnect Search that pulls the results from other search engines such as Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo and you have the ability to choose your preferred one. Your search queries are anonymized so they can't be traced back to you and they are not stored.
- No tracking or logging
- They don't store your search queries
- You can choose from which search engine to pull the results
- Feature to search by location
- They provide a browser extension
Searx.me is a metasearch engine, aggregating the results of other search engines such as Google. Any identifying data is removed before your requests are sent to the other search engines so the activity can't be traced back to you. They don't store any data, nor they record your search queries.
- Doesn't record your data
- Doesn't store your search queries
- Pulls results from popular search engines
- No ads
- The code is open source
Gibiru is a search engine designed with the mission to provide users private access to information. They don't log your searches, IP address, nor they place cookies on your device. They don't sell your data to advertisers or target you with ads because there is no data to be shared.
- Doesn't store your IP address
- Doesn't collect user data
- Uncensored results
- They provide plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
Privatelee is a private search plugin that combines the results from Google and Bing. After you install the plugin, you can use it from the search bar. They don't store your IP address, cookie, not they track your activity.
- They don't log IP addresses
- They don't store your searched queries
- The results are aggregated from Google and Bing
- Infinite scrolling