7 privacy-first search engines you should try

Even when you don’t have anything to cover, looking the net with Google can generally really feel unnerving.

Possibly you’ve acquired a medical query or monetary concern that you’d relatively hold to your self, or you need to analysis a product that received’t later grow to be fodder for focused advertisements. In all these circumstances, it’s good to search the net with out having a tech big logging your each transfer.

That’s why I’m an enormous proponent of spending some high quality time with non-public alternate options, ones that don’t hold a document of your search historical past. Set a search engine like DuckDuckGo as your default, and you find yourself lacking Google lower than you’d anticipated. And if not, you can all the time go crawling again.

Beneath are among the finest ones to take a look at. Whereas they every have their professionals and cons, all of them promise to not hold a private document of your search historical past.



DuckDuckGo guarantees to by no means create a private historical past of your searches, and it doesn’t gather details about your laptop that is likely to be used to establish you. It’s additionally essentially the most polished non-public search engine accessible, with devoted outcomes carousels for movies, recipes, and buying. It additionally provides an array of extra privacy options, similar to the power to cover searches from the URL and handle bar—and, by extension, out of your browser’s historical past.

However like most non-public search engines, the outcomes can really feel much less complete than with Google, particularly as your searches get extra detailed. It’s additionally lacking one table-stakes function: It doesn’t show article publication dates in its fundamental search outcomes.

Knowledge collected: DuckDuckGo doesn’t retailer cookies by default, however will accomplish that to recollect your search settings if you change them. It anonymously aggregates customers’ searches to establish points, similar to misspellings. For native search outcomes, DuckDuckGo collects an approximate location utilizing your IP handle—or a exact location on cellular gadgets, if you decide in—however doesn’t retailer that information after utilizing it to serve data.

Search sources: Consequence hyperlinks come primarily from Microsoft’s Bing search engine, however DuckDuckGo makes use of a whole bunch of different sources for its class pages and instantaneous solutions.

Further privateness options: DuckDuckGo provides mobile browsers and desktop extensions with monitoring controls, together with additional settings to cut back information assortment even additional.

The way it makes cash: DuckDuckGo consists of advertisements in its search outcomes and provides affiliate codes to some hyperlinks (similar to Amazon and eBay) to earn a gross sales fee on issues you purchase.


Courageous Search

Nonetheless in beta after launching in June, Brave Search is already a formidable DuckDuckGo various, in that it additionally retains no document of your search historical past. Its outcomes pages are slick, and it’s practical about its blind spots; every outcomes web page features a hyperlink to the identical question on Google in case you’re not happy with what Courageous turns up. You can too manually set a zipper code to get native outcomes for that space with out sharing your IP handle.

On the draw back, load occasions are a bit on the sluggish aspect, and its search classes are restricted to information, pictures, and movies.

Knowledge collected: Courageous collects nameless metrics on issues like search frequency, question size, and whether or not the search results in a hyperlink click on, and it briefly makes use of your IP handle to ship native search outcomes. Each these choices may be disabled.

Search sources: Courageous is constructing its personal index of the net, however mixes in outcomes from Google and Bing if its personal index falls brief. A “outcomes independence” share, accessible by means of Courageous’s settings menu, reveals how typically this occurs.

The way it makes cash: Courageous plans to supply a free ad-supported model and a paid ad-free model of its search engine sooner or later.


Startpage will get its search outcomes from Google by way of a singular association with the search big, and its simple checklist of blue hyperlinks feels rather a lot like what Google was—for higher or worse. Whereas it has separate pages for pictures, movies, and information, it lacks the sorts of detailed reply widgets, video carousels, and web page grouping that you discover in different trendy search engines.

Nonetheless, it’s an fascinating method to get Google-like leads to a non-public means, and it takes additional steps to attenuate information assortment than a few of its rivals. As an example, it doesn’t embody your question in its URLs or web page titles, so that they don’t present up in your browser historical past, and it doesn’t log IP addresses until it thinks you’re a robotic looking at extraordinarily excessive volumes. You can too click on the “Nameless View” button on any search consequence to load the web page by means of a proxy server, stopping it from figuring out you.

Knowledge collected: Startpage retains nameless statistics, such because the working methods, browsers, and languages that guests are utilizing, and it makes use of cookies to retailer particular person search settings.

Search consequence sources: These principally come from Google, although its information part is powered by Bing.

The way it makes cash: Startpage reveals ads based mostly in your present search question. (A minor controversy broke out final 12 months when an promoting firm known as System1 grew to become a serious investor; Startpage says its authentic house owners make all privacy-related choices, and that System1’s funding was borne out a need to diversify away from privacy-invasive enterprise fashions.)


As a substitute of merely serving as a search engine, Neeva positions itself as a type of data concierge. Past conventional search outcomes, it could possibly serve up private data from apps, similar to Google Drive and Dropbox, and its “Areas” function lets you save hyperlinks to retrieve later. That makes its information base really feel broader than Google’s in some methods, even when its core search outcomes aren’t on par.


Neeva can also be the one paid search engine on this checklist, with a subscription worth of $5 per 30 days after a three-month trial. In alternate, the corporate guarantees to be utterly ad-free. Nonetheless, it’s a bit much less non-public than another non-public search engines, because it depends on person information to personalize its outcomes.

Knowledge collected: Neeva does require a login to make use of, and by default it retains a document of your search historical past, which may be disclosed to 3rd events in response to a subpoena or courtroom order. (This “Reminiscence Mode” may be disabled in Neeva’s settings.) It additionally collects details about your working system and browser, and it makes use of your IP handle for native outcomes.

Search consequence sources: Neeva has its personal index, but in addition mixes in search outcomes from different sources similar to Bing, Google Maps, Yelp, and Climate.com. That’s along with any private information sources you connect with the service.

The way it makes cash: Neeva has a subscription enterprise mannequin, earning profits immediately from customers by charging $5 per 30 days.


Mojeek, which has been round since 2004, doesn’t hold a private document of customers’ search outcomes, and it solely logs customers’ areas on the nation stage. That limits any considerations over location-based information assortment, albeit on the expense of native data.

Whereas it’s not the slickest search engine—it lacks class sections for maps, buying, and movies—it earns bonus factors for constructing its personal net index as a substitute of leaning on Bing or Google.

Knowledge collected: Mojeek collects nameless, mixture search data to enhance its outcomes, together with different mixture data, similar to time of go to and referral information.

Search consequence sources: Mojeek depends solely by itself index, which has crawled more than three billion pages as of April 2020.

The way it makes cash: Mojeek sells numerous companies to companies, similar to site-specific search and an API for net outcomes.


A personal search engine for cryptocurrency geeks, Presearch routes searches by means of “nodes” run by different customers, who in flip question quite a lot of sources to ship outcomes. Customers earn cryptocurrency tokens for every search, as do the group members who run every node. Successfully, the node suppliers assume the chance of getting searches related to their IP addresses, whereas customers get to search privately.

The outcomes themselves may be hit and miss, however the token system gives a small incentive to keep it up, as does the promise of constructing a decentralized search community, as detailed in this TechCrunch profile.

Knowledge collected: Because the token system requires an account, Presearch collects an e-mail handle and password. It additionally collects an IP handle, details about your laptop and net browser, and a few fundamental particulars on how you use the search engine.

Search consequence sources: The corporate doesn’t specify, however it’s a mixture of different search engines, databases, and APIs.

The way it makes cash: The aim is to construct the worth of Presearch’s cryptocurrency over time, and to have advertisers pay for contextual search advertisements in PRE tokens.


On the acute finish of the privateness spectrum, Private.sh guarantees to attenuate information assortment by encrypting search phrases domestically in your laptop. It then sends the knowledge by means of a proxy server to Gigablast, its search supplier, which decrypts the question, reencrypts the search outcomes, and sends them again to be decrypted by the browser once more. That, in flip, prevents the search engine from figuring out something about you, together with your IP handle. (Gigablast itself is a privacy-focused search engine that guarantees to not share its question logs with anybody, and to delete them on “a daily foundation.”)


The outcomes are naked bones, with no native outcomes, no sorting choices, and solely “Information” as a further outcomes class, however it looks as if the surest method to search with out a hint.

Knowledge collected: None.

Search consequence sources: Gigablast, the underlying search engine, operates its personal net crawler.

The way it makes cash: Non-public.sh is run by the VPN service Non-public Web Entry, and you’ll see an advert for that service on each search outcomes web page. (Non-public Web Entry itself has just lately come under scrutiny after being acquired by a agency accused of making malware and adware previously. That firm, Kape, is seemingly now attempting to scrub up its fame because it buys up numerous VPN companies.)

One final non-public search tip

If you do go operating again to Google in the long run, a minimum of think about turning off advert personalization by way of this page, turning off customized search outcomes on this page, and managing your auto-delete settings on this page. Doing so received’t stop the corporate from amassing information about your searches, however it could possibly assist stop that information from coming again up when you least anticipate it.

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