When it comes to the leading search engines — such as Google, Bing, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox — we consumers essentially agree to a deal based on a necessary evil: these platforms provide efficient browsing experiences, but in return collect data on us, and even track us. For most this is acceptable, but for those who are more privacy-minded, it can be tempting to look for alternative search engines that guarantee privacy and anonymity. With that in mind, read on for our list of the best (and free) private search engines in 2022.
DuckDuckGo (2008) is one of the most popular private search engines, with 10 million daily searches. It has a simple and user-friendly design, and best of all there are no advertisements.
It comes with a browser extension, which you can use to keep your browsing private. DuckDuckGo also does not partake in tracking its users or sharing their data. It also has a feature called “!bang”, which allows users to search other websites directly, like Wikipedia and Amazon.
SearX (2014) is an effective meta-search engine. It offers what the platform calls a “decentralized” approach to the Internet. It aggregates results from 70+ search engines, providing accurate results with no user tracking, profiling, or cookies. The search engine is bare-bones, but very fast. It is also fully customizable — with users able to host it on their server, thereby acting as their own personal search engine.
StartPage (1998) is a veteran of the internet, and continues to be the prime choice for many users. This Holland-based search engine is the best alternative to Google, using the same search results but without logging any user data. It also doesn’t share anything with third-parties. StartPage also offers advanced filtering to aid your browsing experience. Available as a Chrome and Firefox extension, it has three key distinguishing features:
- HTTPS support that provides results from trusted websites only;
- Proxy server that hides your IP address;
- URL generator that negates the need for cookies.
Ecosia (2009) presents itself as the environmentally-conscious search engine. Unlike other platforms, Ecosia is carbon-neutral. Powered by Bing, Ecosia uses its generated revenue to plant trees — so as you browse, you could be helping the environment! Aside from the ecological aspect, it is also an effective search engine in its own right, with 20 million users. As you would hope, it doesn’t track your information or share it. Ecosia also has a nifty phone app.
Qwant (2011) is another popular private search engine. Founded in, and based out of, France, Qwant has a nice user-friendly interface. As with the other entries, Qwant does not record its users’ search activity and does not share data with third-parties.
The platform’s results are organized into three categories of news, web, and social. Qwant also has a dedicated AI with which music-lovers can discover new songs and artists. Families also appreciate its “Qwant Junior” section, which offers child-friendly browsing.
#6 Disconnect Search
Disconnect Search (2013) are an interesting group, founded by ex-Google and NSA employees. They’re firmly on the activist side when it comes to private browsing, having worked with the likes of The New York Times and The Washington Post in investigative journalism.
Disconnect Search is essentially a proxy (similar to a VPN), which reroutes search results from other browsing platforms — but anonymously. The platform blocks sites that track your data and loads pages faster than average. It also allows users to view advertising requests. The engine is basic, with no filters and settings, but very fast and efficient.
Trend Micro’s VPN Proxy One Pro
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