10 Best Private Search Engines That Don’t Track You Like Google (2020)

by Pratik

The majority of the Internet uses Google for their searches and we know what’s wrong with that. Annoying ads, tracking your searches, filter bubbling, search leakage, and even profiling you. I mean that’s a concern and to add to it, Google only shows you 4% of the entire Internet. So, you lose data plus you end up circling around the same horizon.

But, you use Google because Google’s popular and you cannot beat the accuracy of Google searches. Having said that, there are search engines that are as accurate as Google and don’t even risk your privacy. So, here are the best private search engines for you.

Best Private Search Engines

1. DuckDuckGo

  • Type Of  Search Engine: Hybrid
  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: USA
  • Revenue Model: Ads and affiliate links from Amazon and eBay.

DuckDuckGo is the most popular search engine on this list. DDG has always been vocal about Privacy and the best thing is its transparency. They don’t log your personal information like IP address so that keeps profiling and tracking out of sight. Another interesting phenomenon is search leakage where websites apart from the one you are visiting can see your IP and search term. DDG prevents search leakage by routing your entry to the target website so that no leakage occurs.

DDG is a hybrid search engine. Hence, it uses its own crawler as well as sources data from Bing, Wolfram Alpha, etc. They also have their own web browser which you can download but if you wanna stick to the one you have, DDG works with almost all the web browsers.

DuckDuckGo - Best Private Search Engines

The only problem with DuckDuckGo is that they are based in the US and have their data on AWS. Although it sounds good, companies in the US fall under US jurisdiction. So under the Patriot and NSA act, the government can ask DDG to disclose their data. While DDG sends data to the websites in an encrypted format, the data is stored in the browser history in plain text. Anyone can view it and especially your web browser can view it.

Visit DuckDuckGo.com

2. Search Encrypt

  • Type Of  Search Engine: Meta
  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: USA
  • Revenue Model: Frontpage ads and search-page ads.

Search Encrypt takes another step in ensuring your privacy. Before your search query reaches the server, it is encrypted locally on your computer. For instance, have a look at the below screenshot. The search query that goes through SearchEncryt is encrypted whereas the one that goes through DuckDuckGo appears in plain text. The encryption eliminates the risk of sniffing and collection in the network. It uses AES-256 with SSL for encryption.

searchEncrypted_DuckDuckGo_Comparison - Best Private Search Engines

Search Encrypt is a metasearch engine and it sources its results from its network of search partners. The search page has a minimal design and you get a few ads at the bottom of the search bar and below the search results. These ads come from the Yahoo-Bing Advertisers Network and are not personalized. The ads are kind of upfront and annoying but even SearchEncrypt has to earn their bread & butter.

My favorite thing about SearchEncyrpt is that, unlike DuckDuckgo,  your search history on the web browser is hidden. It can only be viewed once you click on it. If that was still not enough, your search history expires after 30 minutes of inactivity. The only problem with SearchEncrypt is the slow response time due to encryption. Moreover, the company is based in Florida, US so it comes under US jurisdiction.

Visit SearchEncrypt.com

searchEncryptSearchEngine - Best Private Search Engines

3. Swisscows

  • Type of Search Engine: Meta
  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: Switzerland
  • Revenue Model: Search-page ads and premium subscription

Swisscows, formerly known as Hulbee, is another privacy-focused meta-search engine. Apart from all other privacy features, Swisscows stresses the fact that they use their own servers. There’s no cloud storage involved (*cough* AWS *cough*) and the servers are located in the Swiss Alps and are outside the jurisdiction of the EU and US. The search engine doesn’t track you geographically and you have the option to select the region target of your search.

The revenue model of Swisscows is non-personalized search page ads, affiliation, and Swisscows prime membership. The Swisscows prime membership starts at $5.49/month. It provides you a totally ad-free experience with a few interface customizations.

swisscows-private-search-engine

Read: How to Set Two Default Search Engines On Any Browser

4. Gibiru

  • Type of Search Engine: Meta
  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: USA
  • Revenue Model: Search-page ads.

Remember the intro, Google only shows you 4% of the Internet. Well, here’s Gibiru which is based on the model of uncensored data. Gibiru’s search algorithm is a modified version of Google’s search algorithm so the search results are quite comparable.

Gibiru doesn’t link your searches with the IP address or store local cookies and thus eliminates censorship. So, on the search page, you have the option to toggle between All Results and Censored Results. The Censored Results page is built especially for News. Apparently, search engines have separate indexing and strict criteria for the news website. This mechanism is built to combat fake news but it also leaves out a new news website or a citizen journalist. The censorship tab shows all the websites by eliminating such filters.

The search works great but there is an amount of noticeable delay. Also, the search history shows up in plain text in the browser which is not good. Moreover, they don’t have an inbuilt proxy. Hence, it is suggested to use a third-party proxy server or VPN.

Visit Gibiru

Giribu - Best Private Search Engines

5. Qwant

  • Type Of Search Engine: Crawler-based
  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: Europe
  • Revenue Model: search-page ads.

Finally, a search engine based out of Europe. Qwant was founded in 2013 and the search engine has been handling billions of requests every year. Qwant is also built on the lines of privacy. It doesn’t store any personal information or tracking details.

Unlike every other search page, Qwant is quite visually appealing which makes the home page really stand out. The search page has a separate Junior mode which works as a child lock and filters adult content. You also get Qwant Music which searches only songs, artists, and albums. My most favorite thing is snippets. Similar to Google, Quant also provides solutions quickly on snippets at the top of the search page.

Visit Qwant.com

qwant.com - Best Private Search Engines

Read: 10 Best Anonymous Chat Apps When You Want to Talk to Strangers (2020)

6. searX (Open source)

  • Type Of Search Engine: Meta
  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: NA
  • Revenue Model: NA

In case you don’t trust any search engine then a self-hosted search engine is an option. searX lets you download the source code and host the search engine on your local machine. The entire documentation and code are present on GitHub. It is a unique metasearch engine where it aggregates data from 70 different sources. The search query is hidden from the address bar because it is being sent via the POST method. This eliminates profiling and personalization but you can’t expect the results to be as good as Google.

The search page UI is basic and you get some advanced search filters. You can decide the type of search like Files, Images, Map, Music, Science, etc. You can also customize the language of your search results. In case you can’t host searX, you will have to use one of the public instances mentioned on this GitHub page. However, I cannot guarantee the server logging. So, use them at your own risk.

Visit searX GitHub Page

searx - Best Private Search Engines

7. YaCy

  • Type Of Search Engine: Crawler-based, Meta
  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: NA
  • Revenue Model: Donations

Similar to searX, YaCy is also a self-hosted search engine. However, it brings a peer-to-peer (P2P) model with it. So basically, unlike other search engines, YaCy doesn’t have a central server that stores browsing data or webpage information. The data is rather distributed across the YaCy search engine users. Hence, when you install YaCy, you contribute a bit of space and network bandwidth from your local machine to the YaCy search engine. The P2P network ensures that your search history is not at a central place and lesser the chances of it being harvested.

Of course, you can switch off P2P mode and use YaCy like a normal search engine where it crawls data from other sources.  YaCy can be installed on any Operating system that supports Java installation. You would need to have Java 8 and higher installed for the search engine to run.

Download YaCy Search Engine

yacy-search-engine

8. Ecosia

  • Type Of Search Engine: Meta
  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: Germany
  • Revenue Model: Ads

Ecosia is a unique search engine. It plants a tree for every single search you do through it. Basically, Ecosia earns some amount of money by showing you ads (Bing Ad Network) beside your search results. They donate a major part of this money to planting trees. The search engine is quite transparent with its financial reports. All in all, it has a pretty transparent revenue model and privacy policies.

Ecosia collects a small amount of personal information like the IP Address, user agent, location, etc. This information is then anonymized within 7 days and can’t be traced back to you. If for some reason you don’t want to share this information, you can enable the “Do Not Track” switch in your browser’s settings.

Visit Ecosia

ecosia-search-engine

9. Mojeek

  • Type Of Search Engine: Crawler-based
  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: United Kingdom
  • Revenue Model: NA

Unlike Ecosia, Mojeek is a crawler-based search engine. So, Mojeek generates its search results from its own database. Apart from being crawler-based, it also doesn’t collect any personal data (not even your IP Address). The search engine has so far indexed 3 billion pages which are nowhere near to Google or Bing. Hence, at times, the search results are a bit underwhelming.

Mojeek is funded by a bunch of private investors and is growing at a steady pace. They don’t show ads or track any personal information as of now. The search engine has to figure out a business model yet.

Visit Mojeek

mojeek-search-engine

10. MetaGer

  • Type Of Search Engine: Meta
  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: Germany
  • Revenue Model: Ads, Donation

MetaGer is another Meta search engine. However, its run by a German non-profit organization called SUMA-EV. Metager servers are located in Germany and they run on 100% renewable source of energy. The search engine stays afloat from the ad-revenue and member donations.

Visit MetaGer

metager-search-engine

Which one should you choose?

I can’t deny the fact that accuracy and speed is the ultimate factor in deciding the ideal search engine. However, privacy is something you should really consider. On that note, you cannot go wrong with DuckDuckGo. For extremely sensitive data you can try SearchEncrypted or Swisscows. If your searches are mostly based on music or videos then Quant is a good alternative.

Irrespective of any search engines you choose, let me know what’s your take on privacy & profiling in the comments below.

Also Read: 7 Best Open Source Browser for Android (2018)

You may also like

Leave a Comment