6 Best Private Search Engines That Don’t Track You Like Google

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.

Well, Google’s popular because you cannot beat the accuracy of Google searches. Having said that, there are search engines which 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

DuckDuckGo is the most popular search engine in this list. DDG has always been vocal about Privacy and the best thing is their 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 intended website so that no leakage occurs.

The UI of the search engine is fairly minimal. You can search Images, Videos, News and stock with different tabs. DDG has it’s own search algorithm and doesn’t source data from any other search engine. It is fairly efficient in it and the search results are almost as good as Googles. 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

One notable feature is Bangs. You can assign a keyword to websites and start searching from the DuckDuckGo search bar itself. For example, if I want to search for products on Amazon.com. I assign “!a” as Bangs Keyword and now when I prefix my searches with the keyword, DuckDuckGo searches the query on Amazon.com.

DuckDuckGo is based in the US and they have their data on Amazon Web Services. Well, it does definitely sound good because companies based out of the US have to stick to their privacy policy. But that also means they 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. Also, DDG is not open source so you don’t know what the code is doing.

  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: USA
  • Revenue Model: Ads and affiliate links from Amazon and eBay.

Visit DuckDuckGo.com

2. Search Encrypt

Search Encrypt takes another step in ensuring your privacy. Before your search query reaches the server, it is encrypted locally on your computer. For eg: Let’s google “NSA is watching you” on DuckDuckGo and also on SearchEncrypt. Now, have a look at both the URL below:

searchEncrypted_DuckDuckGo_Comparison - Best Private Search Engines

The search that goes through SearchEncryt is encrypted while the one that goes through DuckDuckGo appears in plain text. This eliminates the risk of sniffing in the network. It uses AES-256 with SSL for encryption. Search Encrypt retrieves your search results from its network of search partners. Unlike DuckDuckGo, your search history on the web browser is hidden and the search result can only be viewed when you click on it. If that was still not enough, your search history expires after 30 minutes of inactivity.

The search page has a minimal design and you get a few ads at the bottom of the search bar. These ads come from the Yahoo-Bing Advertisers Network. Once your search results are displayed, you get a few ads below it which are generic. I know it’s kind of annoying but even SearchEncrypt has to earn their bread & butter. On the top, you have the normal Image, Video, Map search with the highlight being the video search. You can watch the video on the search page itself which cuts off the needless redirection to the website plus video ads.

Since the search queries are locally encrypted, the response time is slightly slower. The company is based in Florida, US so it comes under US jurisdiction. The search accuracy is not the best and not even close to Google. Search Encrypt is not open-source, so you don’t know what the code is actually doing!

  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: USA
  • Revenue Model: Front page ads and search-page ads.

Visit SearchEncrypt.com

searchEncryptSearchEngine - Best Private Search Engines

3. Startpage (Open source)

What if you have a search engine with the accuracy of Google and also ensures that data is not leaked? Well, StartPage is built on those lines. It picks the results from Google, filters out the malware sites and provides it to you. It doesn’t collect any of your personal data until you choose to give it. When you set particular preferences or settings for StartPage, it puts them in a cookie and saves it on your hard drive. This is the only cookie stored by the search engine.

It has a simple search page with the name and the search bar. Once you fire the query, the result page gets you the searches with no ads. Besides, every search result you have a small hyperlink called anonymous. When you click on it, it takes you to the website via a proxy. It’s really amazing and the websites couldn’t detect my IP address.

start_page_anonymous_view - Best Private Search Engines

For some reason, it doesn’t work when you are connected to a private network. When I am on my office WiFi which is a private network and IP’s are Class A, StartPage blocks my searches. When I move over to my carrier network, it works well. This is a major downside which will at least prevent me from using it as the default search engine.

  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: Netherlands
  • Revenue Model: Ads with affiliate links.

Visit Startpage.com

startPage - Best Private Search Engines

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

4. Gibiru

Remember the intro, Google only shows you 4% of the Internet. Well, here’s Gibiru which is based on the model of uncensored data. You choose to decide what’s good for you and not the algorithm or the Government. Gibiru’s search algorithm is a modified version of Google Search Algorithm so the search results are quite comparable. It doesn’t link your searches with the IP address or store local cookies. This eliminates behavioral search results and censoring.

The start page is clean with no ads and only the Gibiru branding. Once you fire the search query, the top few searches would be ads which basically is their business model. You have only Image search apart from the web search which is quite a bummer. On the search page, you have the option to toggle between All Results and Censored Results. The Censored Results page is built 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 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.

  • Open source: No
  • Server Location: USA
  • Revenue Model: Search-page ads.

Visit GIBIRU

Giribu - Best Private Search Engines

5. Qwant

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. They have a separate mobile application. You can use Qwant as the default search engine or install their chrome extension.

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 like a child lock and filters adult content. You also get Qwant Music which searches only songs, artists and albums. It has so many features that it would literally take you a day to wrap your head around it. The search result page shows news and social stuff on the right-hand side. Similar to Google, you also get search results in boards. You can customize all of these features according to your preference.

The search engine really works well and there’s nothing I can complain about. I mean really can there be a perfect search engine? No! the search results show up in plain text in the browser history which is not good for anonymity.

  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: Europe
  • Revenue Model: search-page ads.

Visit Qwant.com

qwant.com - Best Private Search Engines

6. searX (Open source)

In case you don’t trust any search engine then why don’t you host one of your own? I am not being arrogant but this is actually 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 search sources and lists your query from them. You cannot see the search query in 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 don’t get any fancy bells and whistles. Although you get advanced settings which are basically 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 don’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.

There is a public version of searX which is obviously public and less secure. So, if you are not that techy and you are not hosting the search engine, you should better refrain from this one. To add to that, the browser history is logged in plain text.

  • Open source: Yes
  • Server Location: NA
  • Revenue Model: NA

Visit searX GitHub Page

searx - Best Private Search Engines

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 StartPage. 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)

About Pratik

Pratik works as an In-House writer at TechWiser!