Search engines are the best place for us to go when we want to learn about something new or research a specific topic. Ironically, it is likely that you may have even found this article through a search engine; however, although they give you access to an infinite number of results and possibilities, there are known issues with search engines as they can take your personal information.
These search engines can access your IP address and track everything you search, what you click on, how often you revisit that page, and so on, until they have a clear digital map of your browsing history and are able to begin gearing ads your way.
If you use Google, for example, you may find that you type in a keyword and the top result is something unrelated but a targeted ad based on something you have researched previously. Third parties will pay search engines to target their ads to you in order to boost their sales and profit margin. You can choose to ignore this but bear in mind that it is because the search engines have access to your browsing information that this is even possible.
There are search engines that are completely private and limit the risk of accessing your IP address and other personal information. In this guide, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about private search engines such as the best ways to stay protected on the internet, the best VPNs, and the best private search engines you should consider.
How To Protect Your Privacy Using A VPN
Virtual Private Networks, known commonly as VPNs, are a popular method to help preserve your anonymity and allow you to access the internet safely. Whether you are wanting to use it for the surface web (sites such as Google and Bing) or the dark web, VPNs can come in handy in an array of situations.
This is where VPNs come in. They help to protect your identity and activity by concealing your location meaning that your IP address cannot be tracked and therefore you browsing activity. This can prevent your personal information from falling into the hands of third parties, especially when that information is sold to rig elections and other serious issues.
VPNs are recommended for those who wish to make online purchases as well as those who log into various accounts and don’t want their passwords or payment details to be hacked and leaked which can lead to extortion and other serious crimes.
Knowing what VPN is best for you can be a tricky place to start, especially if you haven’t really come across them before. With both free and paid options, it may seem that they all offer the same level of security but this is not the case.
A lot of free VPNs come with very little security and a lot of sites such as Netflix and Google will more likely be able to penetrate through the VPN and detect your activity. On the other hand, paid subscriptions have higher levels of encryption and security thanks to their military-grade technology which ensures that you are completely anonymous online.
Using techniques such as ad blockers, kill switches, and IP cloaking, these VPNs are able to bypass any blocks and prevent any site from accessing your information. They also tend to offer speed, unlimited data, and the ability to unblock an array of geographically blocked sites such as Netflix among much more.
The first option you should consider is CyberGhost which is the best choice for those who haven’t used a VPN before and are intimidated by them. It simply works with a single click and grants you anonymity and privacy as you use the internet.
What makes CyberGhost such a great choice is that it boasts an array of advantages that will ensure your data doesn’t fall into the hands of any third parties.
It includes an automatic kill switch which means that your information won’t be exposed should your server disconnect at any point as well as AES-256 encryption and DNS leak protection which means that you don’t have to worry about any sites penetrating your VPN and exposing your data.
No matter what device you install CyberGhost on, you’ll always be safe when using the internet.
ExpressVPN is by far the best option on the market today which is backed up by the huge number of people who use it regularly and haven’t looked back.
What sets ExpressVPN apart from the competition, including CyberGhost, is that it provides the best security on the market while also offering fast speeds meaning that you don’t have to compromise any aspect of your browsing activity.
Like CyberGhost, ExpressVPN is developed from military-grade encryption and utilizes an array of protocols to ensure that it can bypass any kind of block. It also comes with an automatic kill switch to ensure that you are hidden should your server disconnect at any point.
Best Private Search Engines
Once you have decided which VPN is best for you, it’s time to consider which private search engine you wish to start using. Bear in mind that each option has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what you are looking for when it comes to your security. Regardless, these are the best choices that you should choose between as they will offer the best chances of privacy, anonymity, and security. Here are the top eight private search engines:
Our first recommendation is Disconnect Search which is one of the rare private search engines that aren’t currently making money and yet offers its services for free. They are planning to introduce paid plans in the future, but at the moment, Disconnect Search generates no revenue.
Using other search engines to generate results such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo, Disconnect Search allows you to maintain your anonymity so no matter what search engine it takes the results from, there is no chance of your personal information being stolen and sold to third parties.
One of the easiest private search engines to use, Disconnect Search’s interface has been designed to replicate mainstream search engines which makes it an easier and more seamless process, especially for those who haven’t used a private search engine before.
You do have the option to research local results should you want to research a topic by its location but this is dependent on personal preference. However, it should be noted that Disconnect Search isn’t the most secure option on this list due to its dated technology but hopefully, in the future, they’ll be able to apply maximum encryption and anonymity once they begin to generate revenue.
Our second selection is one of the best choices that you can make and it is DuckDuckGo. One of the most popular and commonly used options on our list, DuckDuckGo is the largest private search engine that collects its results from hundreds of different sources including Bing, Wikipedia, and Yahoo among many more.
However, there are certain areas where DuckDuckGo does compromise some data such as search histories although they do not connect it with a specific IP address. They use the data for themselves but it is important that you know that they make their money via affiliate links such as Amazon and eBay meaning that your data isn’t sold to them but you may see limited targeted ads from time to time depending on what you use the search engine for.
However, DuckDuckGo is a much better option for anonymity and security than mainstream search engines such as Google and Bing as they don’t sell any personal information such as location to them.
Our third choice is MetaGer which is a German-based private search engine and has become hugely popular in its home country and is quickly spreading across the world.
This is thanks to the intricate technology it applies by filtering your research request anonymously to all public search engines via a proxy that hides your IP address and other crucial information from them. This makes MetaGer a great choice for those who want to utilize the resources that mainstream search engines offer without the risk of anonymity or security being compromised.
You can choose whether you want to search anonymously making this search engine perfect for those who want to customize their settings meaning that third parties cannot access your browsing information or data.
MetaGer runs best when used in conjunction with a VPN as you’ll be guaranteed maximum security at both the entry and exit points of accessing the search engine meaning that no third party will be able to see your location or personal data.
Our fourth recommendation is Qwant which may seem like an odd choice for those who are familiar with the search engine. This is because it does take certain pieces of data but not as much as mainstream search engines such as Google.
The only reason Qwant does this is so they can tailor results to your interests, but this may seem a bit too familiar to how Google and Bing run. However, Qwant is adamant that no information is shared with third parties and they do not believe in targeted ads which makes them more secure than public search engines.
If you are wanting to use a private search engine that 100% guarantees your anonymity and security without any inkling of targeted ads or any data being compromised then Qwant definitely is not the best choice for you.
If you are interested in Qwant then you may be able to try accessing it using a VPN which may minimize the risk of any data being stolen at all. They also offer Qwant Junior which has been designed for children to use to ensure that they do not stumble across any inappropriate pages such as those that contain pornography.
Our fifth selection is Searx.me which is another popular option as it collects its results from a number of different search engines but allows you to research the results anonymously to ensure your security and privacy.
Utilizing proxies so your queries are entered anonymously, Searx.me is great as they remove any and all data on your part when you enter your search terms so there is no chance of any search engine or website page collecting any personal data from you.
Searx.me doesn’t run any ads on its pages so you don’t have to worry about any targeted ads or affiliate links as they have a page where you can donate to the search engine anonymously.
The site is run on open-source software which makes it easy to install on any device as it is highly compatible with any operating system.
There are certain aspects of Searx.me that you should be aware of, however, which includes that using any codes on your device whilst using the search engine can expose your real IP address. To prevent this from happening, you can invest in a high-quality VPN which will ensure that your IP address is always hidden at both the entry and exit points of accessing the search engine meaning that it will not be at risk of exposure at any point.
You can also download Searx.me as an extension on Firefox to prevent using the homepage every time should you wish.
Our sixth choice is Startpage which is one of the most popular choices on this list and offers the most privacy. This is because it was the first-ever private search engine and continues to apply advanced technology ensuring that the infrastructure is up to date to promote a private and secure experience for the user.
What sets Startpage apart from the other options is that there are customizable settings meaning that you can choose how safe and secure you want to be when it comes to your browsing activities.
Offering a fantastic amount of search results as well as an array of features that will enhance your experience and make it more seamless, Startpage is easy to use and is more consistent and relevant than other private search engines. This is thanks to their use of Google technology without utilizing their tracking systems meaning that you can reap the benefits from Google without worrying about your data being compromised or stolen at any point.
The majority of private search engines on this list tend to rely on Yahoo and Bing which means that they aren’t as reliable or relevant as they don’t have the same scope as Google.
Featuring a strict no-log policy, no information is stored or shared with third parties meaning that your data will never be stolen and the company is based in the Netherlands meaning that they adhere to the strict EU privacy laws which are among the strongest in the world.
What is great about Startpage is that you can set it as your default search engine or install it as an add-on. This makes it versatile and easy to use as you can use it whenever you want while being assured of the anonymity and safety that comes with it.
They have been commended for their data-handling practices which makes them trustworthy and reliable in terms of how they run the search engine which is ideal for those who are skeptical about using search engines.
Their customer service team is on hand 24/7 so you can always contact them should you need any assistance anonymously thanks to their “Anonymous View” which means that they can deal with easy to complex issues with ease.
Whether you want to hide your IP address or remain anonymous at all times, you can alter these accordingly in the settings menu making it great for those who want to customize their settings.
This means that you don’t have to worry about them recording any important information such as your browser information, browsing history, IP address, among much more while also ensuring that no search terms are analyzed, recorded and sold to third parties.
Using their own private servers, Swisscows operates completely in-house with their technology meaning that no third parties are involved in running the site or maintaining it. In fact, the only statistic that Swisscows keeps a record of is how many search requests have been entered on a daily basis but this is not broken down into individual user use or specific devices. This is to help them see how many times their search engine is being used.
Swisscows is a fantastic search engine because it adheres to the laws of Switzerland, where it is based, and therefore protected by their strict privacy and data retention laws meaning that they cannot legally do anything with the data anyway.
With its headquarters located in the Swiss Alps, Swisscows earns its money by displaying sponsored ad banners at the top of your search results. These ads are not targeted in the same way that Google and Bing ads are as they will be related directly to the specific search query you have entered rather than your browsing history or location.
Therefore, if you were to look up basketballs, you will see ads for basketballs but once you type in something different such as pizza, you’ll never see the basketball ad again. This browsing history is not recorded so once you click off the search engine, it will be as though you were never on there are all.
The ads are also never explicit making it a great search engine for family households as they promote a family-friendly image meaning that you’re not at risk of any inappropriate content appearing.
Ensuring that no IP addresses are stored in the system, Yase is incredibly fast and utilizes surface sites such as Wikipedia and Bing for answers to any questions without compromising your privacy meaning that you will have limitless access to the internet without compromising your security or speed.
The user-friendly interface makes it great for those who are unfamiliar with using a private search engine whilst also providing one of the best answer systems that means searching with Yase is a seamless experience.
Searching on private search engines can help prevent a variety of issues that users face today. From small inconveniences such as targeted ads to more serious problems such as data being stolen by companies.
Whatever reason you have, using private search engines ensures that you are being safe no matter what websites you are accessing as you will maintain your anonymity and privacy meaning that you have the freedom and assurance that your personal data will not be leaked.
If you want to be guaranteed complete anonymity and security throughout your internet use, then make sure you invest in a VPN as this will ensure that no information is leaked at the entry and exit points. A lot of the options provided in this guide have money-back guarantees so you can use it and decide if the product is right for you with peace of mind.