Christian Stewart

@stewofkc

Alternative Private Search Engines to DuckDuckGo

When it comes to private search engines, DuckDuckGo is by far the most popular. If someone has heard of one private search engine, it is probably DuckDuckGo. It began in 2008, and has been growing rapidly ever since. DuckDuckGo currently records over 20 million searches per day.

Back in February, I published this story about the best private alternatives to Google:

Since then, the post has racked up over 220k views. After a few months of feedback, I realized that Google wasn’t the only search engine people were looking for alternatives to.

While DuckDuckGo doesn’t track people using its search engine, it isn’t a perfect, private solution. It doesn’t “follow you around the web with creepy ads”, but for security and privacy there are better options.

Search Encrypt

Search Encrypt uses end-to-end encryption to keep your searches totally private. It started in April 2016 and has been steadily growing. As far as private search engines go, Search Encrypt is probably the most focused on encryption to keep your searches private.

You can use Search Encrypt online or as an extension installed on your browser. Search Encrypt, like most others on this list, is a metasearch engine. This just means that Search Encrypt securely gets its search results from somewhere else, rather than using its own search technology.

When you search with Search Encrypt your search term is encrypted locally, and then and transmitted to Search Encrypt’s servers securely. Your personal information is never linked to your searches. After you’ve finished your searching, the encryption key for your search term expires so it is essentially gone forever.

How Search Encrypt Keeps Your Searches Private:

  1. No Tracking
  2. Expiring Browser History
  3. SSL/HTTPS Encryption
  4. Privacy by Design
  5. Transparency

StartPage

StartPage is a great private search option for anyone who prefers Google search results. StartPage calls itself “the world’s most private search engine”. It began as IxQuick in 1998, but later switched to StartPage which was easier to spell and remember, and incorporated Google’s results.

StartPage has a large user base around the world, especially in European countries. It also does a good job of protecting user privacy. It doesn’t store any user data or share information with third parties.

Another useful feature StartPage offers is a proxy. This lets you visit any website in your search results through StartPage’s proxy service, further protecting your personal information, like your IP address.

StartPage lets users change their preferences and save them in a privacy-friendly way. You can switch your settings as needed, and then StartPage will give you a unique link to use that will give you access to your “version” of StartPage.

Qwant

Qwant is a search engine based in France that “never tries to guess who you are or what you are doing.” According to its About page, Qwant doesn’t track your searches or use your personal data for advertising or other purposes. Qwant has a feature called Qwick search shortcuts that’s similar to DuckDuckGo’s !bangs.

Qwant offers many filters for finding the right search results faster, including web, news, social, images, videos and music. Another cool feature is called Qwant Lite. This is a special version of Qwant that is optimized for users with older browsers or who are using slower network connections and older computers.

Searx

Searx is a private metasearch engine that is completely open source. This lets anyone using it to create their own instance. However, if you use your own instance, your search results will be the only one served so it diminishes the privacy.

There are a number of public instances that anyone can use, but because it is totally hackable, someone could create a “rogue” instance and potentially log your searches. For that reason, you can use searx.me — the official public instance.

Searx’s results page offers many search categories, which helps narrow down your search results. It has IT tab, with results from sites like Stack Overflow and GitHub, which is definitely useful for developers.

Searx offers really diverse search results, as it sources results from about 70 different search engines.

More About Private Search Engines

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