3 Private Search Engines for More Privacy Online

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Online privacy is increasingly a rare thing. However, that’s not to say there are not some steps you can take back some control over how much of your personal data is being collected by the online services we like to use. Search engines are a prime example. Google is the number one search engine in the world, but most people know that their business model is focused on collecting your search data so that it can better serve ads to you. Private search engines don’t work that way. In fact, they go out of their way to make sure that your internet searches are not recorded or seen by others. Here are three of the best.

1. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo has been my default search engine for years now. I use it on laptops, desktops, phones, and tablets. I don’t toggle between DuckDuckGo and Google, because I almost never have problems with the search results I get from this private search engine. This is perhaps all the more surprising when you realize that it relies upon the Bing search index to deliver your results. DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect or store your personal information and they don’t track you in or out of private browsing mode.

How does DuckDuckGo cover its operating costs? Ads are included above your search results, but those ads are not based on your search history and if you want to turn them off in Settings, you can. DuckDuckGo is also part of affiliate programs for Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and make a purchase, they receive a small commission. Learn more here.

hands holding a cell phone in front of a laptop. Both devices are showing the same search results from DuckDuckGo.com

2. Brave Search

Brave Search is the new kid on the block. It is brought to you by the same people who make the Brave Browser, an excellent Chromium alternative to Google Chrome. Brave Search doesn’t track you or your search queries. It doesn’t follow you around the web and it’s impossible for them to share, sell or lose any of your data because it doesn’t collect it in the first place. However, what makes Brave truly unique is that it doesn’t rely on Google, Bing, or Yahoo for search results. It has its own, independent index that is built from scratch.

So, how does Brave Search make money? At the moment, it doesn’t. It’s still officially in beta and although monetization plans are on the table for the future, there is nothing in place at the time of writing. It may not always deliver the best search results, but it’s getting better all the time, and it makes a great pairing for a privacy-focused browser like Brave.

3. Startpage

Startpage is a fast, search engine that has the user at the center of everything it does. It doesn’t use 3rd party ad trackers, cookies, or any other form of tracking. Like the other two on this page, Startpage doesn’t collect your personal information or your location so that you can browse the web safely and with confidence. It also includes Anonymous View which acts like a VPN, but without an account or any of the fees. Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which makes it bound by Dutch and EU privacy laws, some of which are among the most strict you will find. Best of all, it uses Google’s search index to deliver the search results you actually want.

How does Startpage make money? Ads are served at the top of the page when you search for something. These ads are based on the keywords you used when you entered your search query and not based on your browser history, data collection, or any kind of tracking. Learn more here.

Person typing on a laptop with one hand and holding a cup of coffee in the other hand. Startpage logo is on the side.

How to Change Your Default Search Engine

If you decide to give one of these search engines a try, feel free to use the links below to follow the information below on how to change your default search engine for these popular browsers:

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