Enhance your Privacy: The World’s Most Private Search Engines!

It’s official… I’ve finally dumped Google as my preferred search engine. With all the ramifications presented by recent disclosures regarding privacy and PRISM, the NSA, etc. it seemed a prudent move to make.

I’ve been using Google search for many years. However, with privacy issues so much in the spotlight of late I thought it was time to seek out a replacement from among those alternative search engines which promise to deliver optimum privacy. In no particular order, here is a brief rundown on the three contenders:

Duck Duck Go

duck duck go search

The oddly named “Duck Duck Go” is arguably the best known of these search engines which advocate and emphasize privacy. I added Duck Duck Go to the list of search engines in Firefox some time back but I openly admit I haven’t used it very much at all (the ‘devil you know’ syndrome).  Duck Duck Go’s policy is simply stated as follows:

DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.

Zero ambiguity there… short, sweet, and to the point.

Duck Duck Go includes a drop down menu adjacent to the Search bar which allows for more concentrated searches:

Duck Duck Go_search options (2)

And a nice range of “Settings” to customize behavior, look and feel:

duck duck go settings

The all important results:

duck duck go results


ixquick searchI hadn’t heard of this search engine until I recently tripped over a reference to it on Bill Mullins Tech Thoughts site. Ixquick’s privacy policy is similarly short, sweet, and unambiguous:

Ixquick does NOT collect or share ANY personal information!

According to Ixquick’s About Page, it draws its results from a combination of popular search engines:

When you search with Ixquick search engine, you are searching many popular search engines simultaneously and anonymously. Combined, these engines cover more of the Internet than any one search engine alone.

An Ixquick result is awarded one star () for every search engine that chooses it as one of the ten best results for your search. So a five star () result means that five search engines agreed on the result.

Settings are pretty straightforward with provisions for behavior, filtering, and basic customizations:

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And the all important results:

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Startpage_search engineLook familiar? That’s because Startpage comes from the same stable as Ixquick and is pretty much identical to its sister search engine, with one notable exception:

When you search with Startpage the Web results are generated by Google. This offers you the search results and search features you may have grown accustomed to.

On Startpage the privacy of Ixquick is combined with the Web search results from Google. The combination of these two features is what makes Startpage so special.
You can continue using the Web results from the world’s most popular search engine but now under the privacy protection of Ixquick, the world’s most private search engine.

Startpage’s privacy policy, settings, and display are pretty much identical to Ixquick’s so no further elaboration is required.

All three provide simple methods to either add the search engine into the browser as an option or set as your home page (which is the preferred option for persistent/default use).

The Verdict

All these search engines offer comparable privacy features so the decision is pretty much subjective. I settled on Ixquick for my new default search engine simply because I prefer the way in which it displays search results. If you are into extra features, I would suggest Duck Duck Go may be for you. And, if you simply cannot get by without your daily dose of ‘Googling’, then Startpage should fit your bill nicely.

P.S. Indications are now coming to hand that Duck Duck Go’s traffic has surged substantially since news of PRISM and its implications were uncovered.

Interview with DuckDuckGo Founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg on Bloomberg TV:

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Managing Editor/Contest Coordinator of Daves Computer Tips - Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30 years of experience. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s. He progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PC's in the 1990s. Jim currently uses both Win7 and Win8. Jim has a passion for free software and hopes to share that passion with others during his tenure here!

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