When you use a search engine like Google, you don’t expect it to collect information about you, but that’s exactly what happens with every query and every search.

Among other things, this data collection leads to the cases of “I bought a lava lamp and now I’m being bombarded with ads for lava lamps.” But there are search engines that do not track you. — Let’s review some of the best.

What is a private search engine?

A private browser does not track you. It is expected to have the following characteristics:

  • Does not track user data
  • Does not save your IP address
  • Does not store your search history
  • Does not sell your data to marketers
  • Does not offer targeted advertising
  • Anonymize your data (since some of the information must be stored for various functional purposes)
  • Reveal sources of funding.

Anything that goes beyond that is an advantage, although the most common are:

  • map functionality
  • Google-like search results page
  • Browser Plugins
  • dedicated apps
  • Ways to make it the default search engine.

And now, let’s get into our list of the best search engines that will not leave you in evidence.

The best search engines that don’t track you

1.DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo

Regarding privacy, DuckDuckGo is safe to use. It is the private and secure search engine preferred by millions of privacy enthusiasts, thus reaching 100 million daily queries in 2021. It collects information from about 400 sources (such as Bing) as well as its crawler.

DuckDuckGo is monetized in two ways: through Microsoft Advertising (which keeps your data safe) and affiliate contracts with eBay and Amazon.

When I tried it, just searching for “cat” or “cats” wasn’t enough to bring up ads for cat food. DuckDuckGo also has fun features like this! Bangs that immediately lead to search results on other websites. For example, “!w cats” would take you directly to the Wikipedia page on cats.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Well established
Search results often miss obvious things
many users
Keep showing ads
Has a custom tracker
Nice extra features

2.SurfsharkSearch

SurfsharkSearch

Surfshark Search is a search engine that has been created with privacy in mind, so it does not collect any data about you and offers you organic search results.

The only small downside is that it only includes a subscription to Surfshark One (although we’re sure it’s a good product). On the other hand, this means that Surfshark Search does not have to be financed through third parties and does not display ads or affiliate links. Never.

Forget about ads and tracking
Advantages
Disadvantages
Without any type of advertising
Lack of extra features
Developed by a cybersecurity company
It’s not free

3. Homepage

start page

Startpage’s origins date back to 2006 (or even 1998, if we go by Wikipedia), which is pretty old as far as search engines are concerned. It is based in the Netherlands (as is another company whose blog you may be reading right now ) and therefore operates under strict Dutch and EU privacy laws.

His other sales pitch is Google. Unlike many alternative search engines, Startpage uses the Google search engine while anonymizing the search request. So your search experience will be similar to Google’s, including ads. Startpage finances your business by displaying ads, but they are contextual and not targeted.

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Advantages
Disadvantages
Use anonymized Google results
Keep showing ads
Respect EU privacy laws
established presence

4. Ecosia

Ecosia

Carbon offsets — something pretty out of the ordinary. However, Ecosia is not in the business of pretending to care about the environment by planting a tree now and then. It is a private finder that donates 80% of its profits to tree-planting programs.

Ecosia claims that it has planted more than 140 million trees so far — impressive for a search engine funded entirely by advertising associations. According to the project, a single search contributes, on average, half a euro cent. For added transparency, Ecosia posts a bunch of reports and data on how its tree-planting efforts are going on its website.

On the less exciting end, Ecosia pulls search results from Microsoft Bing (also its advertising partner) enhanced with its algorithm.

Advantages
Disadvantages
look at all those trees
Keep showing you ads
very transparent
Still uses Bing results, sort of
Bing results improve thanks to a proprietary algorithm

5. Qwant

Qwant

Qwant was launched in France in 2013. It differs from other search engines that don’t track you because it has its indexing. This means that it stores and categorizes the data in its way and does not depend on, for example, Bing to do it. So if you are not satisfied with the search results that Bing gives you, Qwant will be an improved experience.

Quant, like many others, is funded through advertising deals with Tripadvisor, eBay, and others. It also offers Maps (based on the OpenStreetMap project) and Junior, a version of the browser for children from 6 to 12 years old.

Advantages
Disadvantages
It has its indexing
ad-supported
Offers features like child-friendly search
Some of the project information is only available in French
Integration with OpenStreetMap

6. Gibiru

Gibiru

Launched in 2009, Gibiru is a private search engine — otherwise very little is known about it. Use search results but with a twist!

You can choose to see “censored” results for your searches, that is, things that Google decides not to show you. Other than that, it is funded by commissions (when users buy something or make a call to action), offers its own VPN (virtual private network), and has apps for Android and iOS.

Advantages
Disadvantages
It is based on Google search results
Little is known about the project
search censored

7. Searx

Searx

Searx is a bit different from other search engines. It is a metasearch engine that collects results from 83 other sources (including Qwant and Startpage). Second, it was created by some privacy nerds, and as such there is no Searx hub: anyone can run a public instance. And instances are a must since Google has started blocking some of them.

You can set some preferences for browsers, which will be stored in a cookie on your device and nowhere else. You can also use specific commands that allow you to get output from just one particular engine instead of all of them.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Collate results from many sources
Independent public instances are of variable quality
There is no central axis that can be disassembled
You can run your public instance

8. swisscows

swisscows

Swisscows is based in Switzerland, with a server located in Mount10 AG’s secure bunker (seriously, that’s what their marketing material says). They claim that their searches are faster thanks to their company’s semantic indexing system. Like most of the entries on this list, it is supported by Bing ads.

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Another thing Swisscows prides itself on is being a family-friendly search engine thus omitting any sexually explicit content. The rest is the usual: there are no user profiles, the data is anonymized within a week, it is not transferred to third parties, etc.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Semantic indexing to gain speed
You may want those unfamiliar results
For the entire family
Bing Ads

9.MetaGer

MetaGer

MetaGer is quite old, having been launched in 1996. This is a metasearch engine that arises from the cooperation between a German organization that promotes media literacy and the University of Hannover and is aimed at transparency and privacy. In addition, its infrastructure is powered by solar and hydroelectric energy. 

MetaGer’s source code is freely available for anyone to take a look at. They’re also pretty open about how their system ranks pages for search results, including how they remove pages they’re legally bound to, or ones that appear shoddy or provide blatant disinformation.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Green energy
They support deleting results, which is a balancing act
The source code is available for your reference

10. search encrypt

search encrypt

The name says it all about Search Encrypt. It is a search engine that encrypts your searches. In addition, it does not save your data, cookies, or cache, and all your activity is completely deleted after 30 minutes of inactivity. As a result, it is one of the best browser options for privacy.

Like most on this list, Search Encrypt displays contextual ads to finance its activity. The results you get are pulled from several search partners rather than a single search engine, and you can access Search Encrypt through its website or a Chrome extension.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Does not store data
Keep showing ads
Clear your history after a period of inactivity
Use strong encryption for your searches

11. Wojtek

mojeek

Mojeek is another great private search engine for the environmentally conscious. Instead of using results from other search engines, Mojeek has its crawler with over 5 billion pages indexed to date. Like everyone else on this list, Mojeek does not track you or store data about your searches.

The company hosts its servers at Custodian, a data center known for using only renewable energy and other “green” initiatives. They go out of their way to do the right thing, both when it comes to your privacy and the environment. They also offer customizable searches and a mobile app to give you the best search experience possible.

Mojeek gets its funding through ads and by exploring other sources of revenue, such as partnerships and APIs.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Environmentally friendly
show announcements
It has its tracker
Smaller search index compared to the largest search engines
Does not track user data
customizable searches

12.DisconnectSearch

DisconnectSearch

If you’re looking for a private alternative to Google, why not choose one created by ex-Google employees? It does not have its tracker; in fact, it doesn’t even run its searches itself. Just use the Disconnect extension to protect your searches across all platforms, including Google and Bing.

The extension runs your searches through its servers, encrypts them, and does not save any information about your activity. In a way, it is similar to a VPN, but it only protects your search queries, whereas a VPN protects all your internet traffic.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Block ads
It doesn’t have an engine.
encrypt searches
It only works through an extension
Does not store information
Brave Search

As you might guess from the name, Brave Search is the default search engine of the Brave browser, but you can access it through other browsers. It has its indexing but uses third-party search engine results to try to deliver the best possible results.

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Brave Search does not track your activity or store your information. The ads they display are not personalized (although you can enroll in the Brave Rewards program and earn reward points if you agree to be shown personalized ads). Brave also uses private usage metrics by default, but they can be turned off in the settings.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Does not store data
show announcements
It has its indexing
Requires you to set it up well for maximum privacy
Does not record your activity

14.InfinitySearch

InfinitySearch

If you don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for a private, ad-free search experience, Infinity Search is a great option. It offers a lot of customization while providing results from its indexing, as well as from Wikipedia and Google.

Since it doesn’t store your data or track your activity, you get entirely unrecorded results every time you search for something. If you are a business owner, Infinity Search also offers private browsing plans for businesses.

Advantages
Disadvantages
Does not store data
It is a paid service
Does not record activity
Registration required
Does not show ads
It has a lot of customization

Get the most suitable secure search engine for you

Although Google dominates the search engine scene to an absurd degree, you don’t have to submit to its Orwellian nightmare. As this list shows, alternative search engines exist, and they can help you navigate without being bombarded with annoying targeted ads or hoarding your data for sale. And now that you’ve read about it, you can make an informed choice.

Use a search engine that doesn’t track you

 

Frequent questions

Is there a search engine that does not track you?

Yes, several safe search engines do not track you, such as DuckDuckGo, Surfshark Search, and Startpage.

Which browser is the most private?

Nobody knows which browser offers more privacy. Especially since the concept of “most private” is quite confusing when it comes to search engines and determining how much user data they need to function.

For now, any search engine on our list is good.

How can I search and not be tracked?

Here’s how you can search without being tracked:

  1. Use private search engines
  2. Use a VPN
  3. Use your browser in incognito mode.

What is the drawback of DuckDuckGo?

As someone who uses DuckDuckGo on their phone, I can tell you that search results sometimes omit obvious answers that Google would provide.

But that’s the downside: you trade comfort for privacy.

Is DuckDuckGo owned by Google/Amazon/China?

No, DuckDuckGo is owned by Duck Duck Go Inc, an American company.

What are the different types of search engines?

Search engines can be classified as private or non-private. Industry giants like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are great at delivering search results, but they store your data and track your activity to show you targeted ads, meaning the worst in terms of privacy.

Then there are search engines like DuckDuckGo, Surfshark Search, Startpage, and others, which do not track your activity, nor do they store your data. Some don’t even show ads and the ones that do show ads are based on the context of your search and not your activity. The search results themselves aren’t always that great, but they keep your privacy more.