- The majority of web browsers and search engine track your online activity to collect information about your behavior and use it to serve personalized ads.
- The trend nowadays is to regain control over personal data and decide who can collect it, who can use it and for what purposes.
- If you're looking for a private search engine to protect your data while online, this guide will help you choose the best one for your needs.
- Visit our web browsing hub to learn how to get the most out of your browsing experience.
Normal browsers like Google and Bing are designed to track users’ activities and profile their online behavior. The primary reason for this is to create advertisements that will be attractive to the user.
However, there there is always the concern of personal information being compromised due to security breaches, state surveillance, and unauthorized data sharing.
Fortunately, private search engines can help keep your private information safe.
Simply put, Private Search Engines, also known as PSE, uses proxy and encrypted search request to hide your personal information from anyone looking to misuse your information.
Below you will find more information about what a PSE is, how it works, and where to find the best private search engines on the internet.
Regular search engines vs private search engines
Everyone knows how a normal search engine like Google.com and Bing.com operates. Users simply type in what they are looking for and related links and websites will appear.
However, what most people do not know is that many of these popular search engines keep a profile of each user.
This profile is typically used for advertisement means, as it can tailor ads for you. Yet, private sensitive information can also be exposed, which can be harmful to the user.
Therefore, private search engines are becoming more and more popular as they help keep a user’s browsing information private. PSE do not allow cookies to track your browsing history, which means that their won’t be a profile of you.
While there may still be advertisements on PSE, they will not take part in any sort of behavioral tracking. There will not be bias or filter that is based on your previous online behavior.
There are two types of private search engines: independent and metasearch. Independent search engines use their own index and crawler.
In other words, they do not utilize the help of search engine titans such as Bing, Yahoo, and Google.
On the other hand, metasearch private engines use proxies and sometimes encrypted, servers to access popular search engines like Google.
Obviously, metasearch engines will be more powerful as they have access to the large indexes of normal search engines.
Why do I need a PSE?
Now that you know what PSE is and how it works, you may ask why should I get one? Individuals typically use PSE primarily for privacy reasons.
But, with a PSE you will also not be targeted with advertisements that are based on your previous online activity. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about your information being sold to third-party trackers.
So, simply put, if you value your privacy and you are tired of advertisements using your private information then you will want to use a private search engine.
If you are interested in using a PSE but don’t know where to start, then the below list of top PSE on the internet will help point you in the right direction.
Looking for browser with a built-in private search engine?
Before we dive in, let us ask you a question? Have you heard of UR Browser?
If not, we’re sure this post will come in handy. UR Browser is a privacy-focused browsing solution that comes with a built-in private search engine.
In other words, if you install UR Browser, you hit two birds with one stone. You get a fast and secure browser, as well as a private search-engine — all in one solution.
If you prefer to keep using your current browser, then read on to learn what are the best privacy-focused search engines that you can use on your PC.
DuckDuckGo already surpassed 10 billion searches. Because of the recent cyber attacks and scares of increased government surveillance of the internet, it is not surprising that PSE like DuckDuckGo are becoming more popular.
DuckDuckGo is probably the most popular of all PSE, boosting 10m searches per day.
There are many reasons why this PSE is so popular. Part of its popularity is attributed to the high security DuckDuckGo promises to users. Searches will produce instant results without any tailored advertisements.
Users also have the ability to save settings such as language, region, safe search, etc, on the cloud. This means users will be able to access their personal settings on multiple devices.
Individuals can also filter their searches searches into categories and regions. For instance, perhaps you will want to have easy access to the news of a different country or region. With DuckDuckGo filter feature, you can easily do just that.
DuckDuckGo users also have the ability to turn off annoying advertisements in their settings.
Users concerned with interface aesthetics will be pleased to know that DuckDuckGo offers customization options. Currently there are six themes to choose from: Retro, Terminal, Contrast, Default, Basic, and Dark.
The colors of backgrounds, search results, typeface, etc, can also all be changed and customized to your liking.
The great thing about Lukol is that it will not only keep your information safe by using proxy servers, but it is built to help prevent users from being tricked by internet fraudsters.
In other words, it has a safeguarding features that keeps users from entering websites that could potentially flood your computer with spyware and viruses.
It allows users to search for specific types of content such as videos, images, news, and more. Furthermore, it does not allow any party to store or track your browsing data.
Users of Oscobo also have the option of adding a Chrome extension which will make using the PSE more convenient.
WolframAlpha is a special type of search engine that is designed specifically for providing knowledge to its users. It is unique because it uses its own massive supply of expert level information.
Furthermore, WolframAlpha uses algorithms to quickly and automatically answer questions you input in the search query.
While WolframAlpha can be used to find about entertainment, home, and work related information, it is primarily built for teachers and students. This is even more evident in the pro version of the search engine.
Users will need to pay a monthly fee in order to go pro. However, WolframAlpha pro offers many more features that can significantly aid a student in his/her struggle for academic success.
Pro users have the ability to upload data for analysis, get interactive visuals that can be used for presentations, access optimized web apps, and more.
StartPage is perfect for users who are looking for something simple, minimalist, and aesthetically pleasing.
It offers few settings, few filters, and few options, which is attractive to some people who are just looking for something easy to navigate.
It may not be as powerful as other private search engines, but it certainly easy to use.
So, with the help of private search engines, individuals can once again rest assured that their browsing activities are safe from the prying eye.
There are also a number of features included in some PSE that are not found on normal search engines. If you favorite one of the PSE in this list, feel free to let us know why in the comment section below.
FAQ: Learn more about private search engines
Does Chrome have private browsing? Google Chrome supports a private browsing mode called Incognito Mode, but the browser can still collect information on the websites you visit. If you log back into your Google account before you leave Incognito Mode, your recent browsing data will be linked to your account. So much for data privacy. Are there any search engines that don’t track? There are plenty of search engines that don’t track users and don’t store information on your searches and browsing history. The most reliable ones are DuckDuckGo, Lukol, Oscobo, WolframAlpha and StartPage. Is Incognito mode effective? Using Incognito Mode is not the best approach to preventing third-parties from tracking your online activity. While there is no browsing history stored in Incognito Mode, the websites you visit can still track you and profile you. Moreover, your ISP still has full access to your browsing history whether you use Incognito Mode or not. Does Incognito Mode hide your IP address? While Incognito Mode hides your browsing history, it does not hide your IP address. In other words, your identity and location are not hidden. How do I hide my search history? Here’s what you can do to hide your search history and prevent search engines from collecting data on your browsing history: Use a privacy-focused search engine Enable privacy mode or incognito mode in your browser settings Delete your browser cache and cookies.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.