* Privacy-Focused Search Engines

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Privacy has, for the past several years, been a particularly prominent theme in the online community, and it looks like it’s about to get a whole lot bigger with the recent news regarding the change in FCC rules that will allow ISPs to share or sell data about their customers’ browsing habits without explicit permission.

By now, everyone should be aware that searching through Google, Bing, and Yahoo may give acceptable results, but every bit of data you send though them is collected, profiled, and resold for their profit … and your harassment.

This should be of concern for anyone who values their privacy and personal information. Privacy-focused search engines like StartPage, SearX and DuckDuckGo are a good starting point for keeping your personal data private where possible, but which one does the best job?


Probably the most famous of the privacy-focused search engines (it does, after all, have a cute duck as its mascot), DuckDuckGo is a poster child of privacy. There is nothing recorded or kept about you, your location, your IP address, or even your actual search topic. And, its search results are, marginally, the fastest of all the private search engines.

DuckDuckGo makes revenue using ads and affiliate-linking to sites like Amazon, but all ads are clearly demarcated and blockable, and the affiliate linking doesn’t contain any personal info, so your search results are safe.


The second most popular choice is StartPage. Known for its balance of high-quality searches and respect for privacy, StartPage has the benefit of replicating Google’s search results by sending your searches to Google, then returning them to display for you. Google doesn’t know it was you – all it knows is that StartPage requested the information which doesn’t tie back to you in any way.

StartPage also uses top-end SSL encryption and doesn’t use cookies or keep track of IP addresses or searches. It searches with all the power of Google but without the intrusiveness. One of my favorite features is the option to let you search by proxy, so even your browsing within websites can’t be tracked when you visit them.

In a testament to their seriousness about keeping your data private, StartPage even removed Yahoo from their search results when it was unveiled that Yahoo had willingly helped the NSA snoop on Yahoo account holders. Good on you, StartPage!


SearX is specifically developed for Linux users. What’s instantly likable about SearX is the fact that it’s open-source, therefore run by volunteers with absolutely no interests in profit – that means no ads, affiliate nonsense, or any such things that you might not feel comfortable with.

While SearX’s official public version has all the privacy-friendly bells and whistles of others on this list, it encourages Debian/Ubuntu users to create their own instance of the search engine where you have complete control over how it performs searches and therefore complete control over your privacy. It’s a bit of a fiddly process, but if you fancy giving it a go then here are the instructions.


The lesson here is that there are different search engines for varying degrees of privacy. For pure, hardcore privacy, the feature-richness of DuckDuckGo and StartPage are the way to go.

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!


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  1. Hi George,
    Our article focused on the top two search engines for the Windows platform.
    Qwant is a popular search engine based in France. The main reason we did not add it was because it uses Bing as it’s core engine. And while Microsoft is the big daddy for computing, it’s business model has become based on grabbing personal data and profiling individuals. Bing is noted for opening it’s door to other Microsoft advertising as well. For that reason we did not include it.

    And since the release of Windows-10 and the way it uses machine telemetry and data collection, we have become part of the group that doesn’t trust Microsoft’s online business model. It has joined Google and Facebook as the world’s worst invaders of personal privacy.

    Additionally, many Internet security experts feel Qwant may not really be a search engine but simply a website aggregating results of other search engines.

    Therefore, we recommend Duckduckgo and Start Page for for Windows.
    For additional security, try TOR as your door to the web, then use one of the two suggested search engines. Your activity may be a little slower since you are bounced through different servers to cover your tracks, but you would be convered when your data comes out the other end.


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