Source: This article was published itsfoss.com By Ankush Das - Contributed by Member: Issac Avila

Brief: In this age of the internet, you can never be too careful with your privacy. Use these alternative search engines that do not track you.

Google – unquestionably being the best search engine out there, makes use of powerful and intelligent algorithms (including A.I. implementations) to let the users get the best out of a search engine with a personalized experience.

This sounds good until you start to live in a filter bubble. When you start seeing everything that ‘suits your taste’, you get detached from the reality. Too much of anything is not good. Too much of personalization is harmful as well.

This is why one should get out of this filter bubble and see the world as it is. But how do you do that?

You know that Google sure as hell tracks a lot of information about your connection and the system when you perform a search and take an action within the search engine or use other Google services such as Gmail.

So, if Google keeps on tracking you, the simple answer would be to stop using Google for searching the web. But what would you use in place of Google? Microsoft’s Bing is no saint either.

So, to address the netizens concerned about their privacy while using a search engine, I have curated a list of privacy oriented alternative search engines to Google. 

Best 8 Privacy-Oriented Alternative Search Engines To Google

Do note that the alternatives mentioned in this article are not necessarily “better” than Google, but only focuses on protecting users privacy. Here we go!

1. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is one of the most successful privacy oriented search engines that stands as an alternative to Google. The user experience offered by DuckDuckGo is commendable. I must say – “It’s unique in itself”.

DuckDuckGo, unlike Google, utilizes the traditional method of “sponsored links” to display the advertisements. The ads are not focused on you but only the topic you are searching for – so there is nothing that could generate a profile of you in any manner – thereby respecting your privacy.

Of course, DuckDuckGo’s search algorithm may not be the smartest around (because it has no idea who you are!). And, if you want to utilize one of the best privacy oriented alternative search engines to Google, you will have to forget about getting a personalized experience while searching for something.

The search results are simplified with specific meta data’s. It lets you select a country to get the most relevant result you may be looking for. Also, when you type in a question or searching for a fix, it might present you with an instant answer (fetched from the source).

Although, you might miss quite a few functionalities (like filtering images by license) – that is an obvious trade-off to protect your privacy.

2. Qwant

best privacy oriented search engine

Qwant is probably one of the most loved privacy oriented search engines after DuckDuckGo. It ensures neutrality, privacy, and digital freedom while you search for something on the Internet.

If you thought privacy-oriented search engines generally tend to offer a very casual user experience, you need to rethink after trying out Qwant. This is a very dynamic search engine with trending topics and news stories organized very well. It may not offer a personalized experience (given that it does not track you) – but it does feel like it partially with a rich user experience offered to compensate that in a way.

Qwant is a very useful search engine alternative to Google. It lists out all the web resources, social feeds, news, and images on the topic you search for.

3. Startpage

best privacy oriented search engine

Startpage is a good initiative as a privacy-oriented search engine alternative to Google. However, it may not be the best one around. The UI is very similar to that of Google’s (while displaying the search results – irrespective of the functionalities offered). It may not be a complete rip-off but it is not very impressive – everyone has got their own taste.

To protect your privacy, it lets you choose it. You can either select to visit the web pages using the proxy or without it. It’s all your choice. You also get to change the theme of the search engine. Well, I did enjoy my switch to the “Night” theme. There’s an interesting option with the help of which you can generate a custom URL keeping your settings intact as well.

4. Privatelee

best privacy oriented search engine

Privatelee is another kind of search engine specifically tailored to protect your online privacy. It does not track your search results or behavior in any way. However, you might get a lot of irrelevant results after the first ten matched results.

The search engine isn’t perfect to find a hidden treasure on the Internet but more for general queries. Privatelee also supports power commands – more like shortcuts – which helps you search for the exact thing in an efficient manner. It will save a lot of your time for pretty simple tasks such as searching for a movie on Netflix. If you were looking for a super fast privacy oriented search engine for common queries, Privatelee would be a great alternative to Google.

5. Swisscows

best privacy oriented search engine

Well, it isn’t dairy farm portfolio site but a privacy-oriented search engine as an alternative to Google. You may have known about it as Hulbee – but it has recently redirected its operation to a new domain. Nothing has really changed except for the name and domain of the search engine. It works the same way it was before as Hulbee.com.

Swisscows utilizes Bing to deliver the search results as per your query. When you search for something, you would notice a tag cloud on the left sidebar which is useful if you need to know about the related key terms and facts. The design language is a lot simpler but one of its kind among the other search engines out there. You get to filter the results according to the date but that’s about it – no more advanced options to tweak your search results. It utilizes a tile search technique (a semantic technology) to fetch the best results to your queries. The search algorithm makes sure that it is a family-friendly search engine with pornography and violence ruled out completely.

6. searX

best privacy oriented search engine

searX is an interesting search engine – which is technically defined as a “metasearch engine”. In other words, it utilizes other search engines and accumulates the results to your query in one place. It does not store your search data being an open source metasearch engine at the same time. You can review the source code, contribute, or even customize it as your own metasearch engine hosted on your server.

If you are fond of utilizing Torrent clients to download stuff, this search engine will help you find the magnet links to the exact files when you try searching for a file through searX. When you access the settings (preferences) for searX, you would find a lot of advanced things to tweak from your end. General tweaks include – adding/removing search engines, rewrite HTTP to HTTPS, remove tracker arguments from URL, and so on. It’s all yours to control. The user experience may not be the best here but if you want to utilize a lot of search engines while keeping your privacy in check, searX is a great alternative to Google.

7. Peekier

best privacy oriented search engine

Peekier is another fascinating privacy oriented search engine. Unlike the previous one, it is not a metasearch engine but has its own algorithm implemented. It may not be the fastest search engine I’ve ever used but it is an interesting take on how search engines can evolve in the near future. When you type in a search query, it not only fetches a list of results but also displays the preview images of the web pages listed. So, you get a “peek” on what you seek. While the search engine does not store your data, the web portals you visit do track you.

So, in order to avoid that to an extent, Peekier accesses the site and generates a preview image to decide whether to head into the site or not (without you requiring to access it). In that way, you allow less websites to know about you – mostly the ones you trust.

8. MetaGer

best privacy oriented search engine

MetaGer is yet another open source metasearch engine. However, unlike others, it takes privacy more seriously and enforces the use of Tor network for anonymous access to search results from a variety of search engines. Some search engines who claim to protect your privacy may share your information to the government (whatever they record) because the server is bound to US legal procedures. However, with MetaGer, the Germany-based server would protect even the anonymous data recorded while using MetaGer.

They do house a few number of advertisements (without trackers of course)- but you can get rid of those as well by joining in as a member of the non-profit organization – SUMA-EV – which sponsors the MetaGer search engine.

Wrapping Up

If you are concerned about your privacy, you should also take a look at some of the best privacy-focused Linux distributions. Among the search engine alternatives mentioned here – DuckDuckGo – is my personal favorite. But it really comes down to your preference and whom would you choose to trust while surfing the Internet.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was published rankred.com - Contributed by Member: Jennifer Levin

Google tends to be a giant gorilla in the room during all SEO discussion. The reason behind this is its dominating market share – according to netmarketshare, Google holds more than 90% of mobile and tablet and around 80% of desktop global search engine market share.

However, it isn’t the only option. There are literally tons of search engines on the web. Some of them focus on tech news or research paper, while some provide a single line answer instead of listing millions of pages.

We would like to present you some of the most advanced alternatives to Google that will help you find what Google might not. We are not saying they are better than Google, but some of them are good at performing specific searches. Because our aim is to uncover the things you might not aware of, we haven’t included some big players like Bing, Baidu and Yahoo search.

18. StartPage

startpage

StartPage was the first search engine to allow users to search privately. None of your details are recorded and no cookies are used, unless you allow it to remember your preferences. It also provides a proxy for those who want to not just search, but browse the internet with full privacy.

In 2014, the company released a privacy-protecting email service, called StartMail. As of 2015, the search engine reached its record daily direct queries of 5.7 million (28-day average).

17. BoardReader

BoardReader is a very useful resource for any type of community research, as it searches forums and message boards. Users can either look for content on the forums or for forums related to the specific topic.

The front-end looks quite simple, exactly what forum search engine should look like, but on the back-end, they run a robust data business by selling off user’s data to advertising companies.

16. Yippy

Founded in 2009, Yippy is a metasearch engine that offers a cluster of results. It’s search technology is used in IBM Watson Explorer (a cognitive exploration and content analysis platform).

With Yippy, you can search different types of content, including news, images, blogs, government data, etc., and filter the results category wise or flag any inappropriate content. Like Google, it lets you view cached web pages and filter results by sources or tag clouds. Also, there is a preview link on each result that shows how content looks like, on the same page.

15. FindSounds

FindSounds is the perfect search engine for finding sound effects for personal or commercial use. Just filter the results before you begin, using the suitable checkboxes. You can search anything by category, from animal to vehicle sound effects, and the search engine will return you detailed results, along with file format, length, and bit-rate information.

Overall, searching sound effects using google is always an option, but FindSounds is the perfect sound engine to speed up your search and get the specific element you are looking for.

14. SearchCode

SearchCode is a free source code and documentation search engine that finds code snippets from open source repositories. It has indexed more than 20 billion lines of code, from projects on Google code, Github, Sourceforge, GitLab, Bitbucket, Codeplex and more.

Most web crawlers face difficulties while searching for special characters used in the code. SearchCode overcomes this issue and lets you search for code by method name, variable name, operations, usage, security flaws and by special characters much faster than other code search engines.

13. GigaBlast

GigaBlast is an open source search engine, written in C and C++ programming language. As of 2015, they had indexed more than 12 billion web pages and received billions of queries per month. It provides search results to other companies like Zuula, Blingo, Clusty, and Snap.

GigaBlast allows you to search with certain customizations and optional parameters, for instance, searching by exact phrase, terms, filetypes, languages and much more.

12. KidRex and Kiddle

KidRex and Kiddle are both child-safe search engine that keeps out age-inappropriate content unfit for consumption for children. Although they are powered by Google Custom Search (utilize Google SafeSearch), they maintain their own database of inappropriate keywords and websites.

The interface of KidRex features hand-drawn crayon and colored marker design, whereas, Kiddle is written in the characteristic colorful Google Style, with a red droid alien on the top waiting to answer your queries.

Also, you will find search results are slightly modified. For instance, if you search Narendra Modi, the search engine would return web pages from sites like famousbirthdays.com, britannica.com, instead of Wikipedia and news websites. The aim is to provide the simple and easy-to-read content that kids could understand without putting a lot of effort.

11. MetaGer

MetaGer is German-based metasearch engine, developed on 24 small-scale web crawlers. It focuses on user’s privacy and makes searches untraceable by leaving no footprint behind. Also, it integrates a proxy server so that users can open any link anonymously from the search results while keeping their IP address hidden from the destination server. This eliminates the chances of advertisers to target you for ads.

The results are obtained from 50 different search engines. Before presenting final results of the query, they are filtered, compiled an sorted.

10. Libraries.io

This is an open source search engine for finding software development project, including new frameworks, libraries, and tools. It monitors more than 2.5 million open source libraries across 34 different package managers.

In order to collect the library information, the website uses the dominant package manager for each supported programming language. Then, it organizes them by the package manager, programming language, license (MIT or GPL), and by keyword.

9. Creative Commons Search

This search engine is extremely useful for bloggers and authors who need content that could be reused in a blog post or commercial applications. It allows users to search for images and contents that are released under the creative commons license.

The website provides social features, allowing users to build and share lists, as well as add tags to the objects in the commons and save their searches. It also offers some useful filters such as, find images that can be used for commercial purpose or images that can be modified and reused, or search within tags, title and creator.

8. IxQuick

IxQuick is the metasearch engine that provides the top 10 results from different search engines. In order to rank the results, it uses a ‘star system’ that awards one star to each result that has been returned from a search engine. Therefore, results returned from the most search engines would be at the top.

IxQuick doesn’t store your private details – no history, no query is collected. However, it uses only one cookie, known as ‘preference’, to remember your search preferences for future searches, which automatically gets deleted if you don’t use visit IxQuick for 90 days. Moreover, with around 5.7 million searches per day, the network is growing very fast and currently supports 17 languages.

7. Dogpile

Yet another metasearch engine that gets results from multiple search engines (including Google, Bing, and Yahoo) and directories and then presents them combined to the user. There is an advanced search option that lets you narrow down searches by exact phrase, date, language, and adult content. Also, you can set your own preference and customize default search settings.

In addition to that, Dogpile recommends related content based on the original search term, keeps track of the 15 most recent searches, and shows recent popular searches from the other users.

6. Internet Archive

It’s a nonprofit digital library that aims to provide universal access to all knowledge. Internet Archive consists of websites, music, images, videos, software applications and games, and around 3 million books that fall under public domain.

As of 2016, Internet archive had 15 petabytes of data, advocating for a free and open Internet. Its web archive, known as Wayback Machine, allows users to search for iterations of a website in the past. It contains more than 308 billion web captures, making it one of the world’s largest digitization projects.

5. Yandex

Yandex is the largest search engine in Russia with nearly 65% of Russian market share. According to the Comscore, it is the fourth largest search engine in the world with over 150 million searches per day as of 2012.

Yandex features a parallel search that shows results from main web index as well as specialized information resources, including blogs, news, image and video webpages, and eCommerce sites. In addition, the search engine provides supplementary information (like sports results), and contains spell checkers, autocomplete functionality and antivirus that detects malicious content on web pages.

4. WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine that answers factual questions from externally sourced curated data. It does not provide a list of web pages or documents that might contain the specific answer you are looking for. Instead, you get a one-word or one-line, and to-the-point answer.

It is written in Wolfram programming language (contains over 15 million lines of code) and runs on more than 10,000 CPUs. It is based on a computational platform known as Wolfram Mathematica that encompasses numerical computation, computer algebra, statistics and visualization capabilities.

3. Ask.com

Launched in 1996, Ask.com is a question answering-focused web search engine. Despite its age, Ask is still very active. They have coupled their search-system with robust questions and answer system with billions of online content.

As of 2014, the website had 180 million global users per month (with a larger user base in the US), and to date, its mobile app has been downloaded over 40 million times. They acquired a social networking site, Ask.fm, where people can ask questions with the option of anonymity. ASKfm handles around 20,000 questions every minute.

2. Ecosia

Ecosia donates 80% of its profit to plant trees and supports full financial transparency. As of October 2017, the website has reached the milestone of 15 million trees planted. In 2015, the company was shortlisted for the European Tech Startups Awards under the ‘Best European Startup Aimed at Improving Society’ category.

The search result(s) of Ecosia is powered by Bing and Ecosia’s own search algorithms. The company claims that it takes 45 searches to fund the planting of the single tree, and they assure that algorithms can easily detect fake clicks and invalidate them. Currently, it’s the default search engine of Vivaldi, Waterfox, and Polarity web browser.

1. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is the best alternative option available out there. The search engine doesn’t collect any of your personal information or store your history. They don’t follow around you with ads because they have nothing to sell to advertisers.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t provide personalized results – all users will see the same results for a given search query. Rather than returning thousands of results, it emphasizes on returning the best results and extracts those results from more than 400 sources. It’s a smart search engine (uses semantic search technique like Google) that depends on a highly evolved contextual library for intuiting the user’s intent.

Categorized in Search Engine

Privacy search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage are becoming increasingly popular. They usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who made the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise to not log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Why privacy search engines?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, in order deliver highly targeted advertising direct to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf around the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA.

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service.  Naughty, naughty.

The filter bubble

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you. They can then return results they think will interest you.

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, This locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be very dangerous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo Privacy Search Engines

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters
  • CONS
  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results 

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You.” Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company, and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA,  but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Aesthetics

DuckDuckGo sports a clean interface. I find its red, grey, and white styling and cutesy logo attractive and fun, although this is, of course, a matter of personal taste.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are very fast. This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page, or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those of Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG’s discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays ads alongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, there are clearly marked and are displayed separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g. Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some  criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”.

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are proxied, but if you are signed into Google (for example), then Google will know who you are and will record the search terms.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo is, in my opinion, the best looking and most user-friendly privacy search engine out there. This makes it great to use, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that go a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember to sign out of your Google account before using a Google bang!

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

Startpage (and Ixquick)

Startpage

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results
  • CONS
  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Aesthetics

The cloudy blue sky default theme doesn’t really do it for me, although this can be changed in the settings. Overall, there is nothing wrong with how Startpage looks, but I much prefer DuckDuckGo’s red-themed cutesiness.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above search results. These are clearly marked as ads, and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube can be played directly on the Startpage website, although you are warned that this is not private.
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google, and are therefore very good. This does mean, however, that information censored by Google is also censored from these returns.

startpage-1

Ads are more prominent than with DDG, but the ability to proxy webpages is great

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage makes money from ads and affiliate links. These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Webpages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage sits between your computer and the website.

This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you.  The downside is that pages load more slowly, since StartPage must retrieve the contents and redisplay them.

I must say that this is a terrific feature, and one that can greatly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

Startpage is not as pretty or user-friendly as DuckDuckGo. But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rivals long (if you specify non-US servers!). And  the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

 SearX

Search

  • PROS
  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads
  • CONS
  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to setup and run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Aesthetics

I would describe SearX as functional looking, rather than pretty. That said, the layout is clean, and results are displayed clearly. It is possible for hosts to customize their instances somewhat, although most instances look and feel fairly similar to the official template.

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

searx-search-engines

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered as you type, but are displayed to the right of your search returns.
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Starpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches, and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

searx-reults

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websites is a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit.

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines
  • CONS
  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin, and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

disconnect-search-1

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product (see review), but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when making searches, but then sends you direct to the selected search engine.  This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when making a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company, and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disonnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way hide your true identity whilst making searches using your favorite search engine.  The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue.

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

Results are displayed as large thumbnail previews of returned webpages

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I therefore think it worth flagging up Peekier, and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will greatly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded in order to build to help a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

DuckDuckGo, in particular, is extremely user-friendly. This makes it a great service for transitioning away from Google.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is therefore a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

Update

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. It is his firm (and I believe genuine) belief that DDG is as secure and private as a search engine can be (barring one that is self-hosted). And that my concerns about it being a US company and over its partnership with Yahoo are largely unfounded.

Central to his argument is that DDG keeps no logs. This means that it cannot be subpoenaed to provide what it does not have, and makes it irrelevant who it partners with. As no information exists about DDG’s users anyway.

Gabriel also pointed out the legal protections US citizens enjoy against government spying that are not afforded to other nationals, and that DuckDuckGo operates non-US servers. Users outside the US will mostly be directed to these when performing searches.

Now. I will go on record as saying that I think being a US company is a serious threat to privacy. This article is not the place to discuss such issues in detail, but look out for an upcoming article where I will dive into the subject head first.

Source: This article was published bestvpn.com By Douglas Crawford

Categorized in Search Engine

Private browsing using the supposedly private or incognito modes on your regular browser does not give you the level of privacy you think it does. You might not want to be tracked and have made it clear to your default browser as to the fact, but you know that’s not the case when ads that are related to your recent searches turn up on Facebook or inside your Gmail.

When in doubt, opt for private search engines instead. Private Search Engines are the search engines that do not store your queries or track your steps on the Internet.

There’s actually quite a number of them with a range of features and methods to keep your searches safe. Most of these search engines are not much to look at but they’re not here to look pretty, they’re here to give you a safe way to search for things that matter to you.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is one of the most secure search engines that never tracks your searches while providing you an enhanced search experience. It’s purposely built for people who love to remain private, and delivers instant results without tailored ads on the search pages. This search engine serves 10M+ searches a day.

duckduckgo
WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha is a computable search engine that provides accurate answers and offers open knowledge. It’s a knowledge-packed private search engine which nonetheless does not track what you search for.

This private search engine performs dynamic calculations using inbuilt algorithms and delivers expert knowledge about people, calculations, health & medicines, money & finance, music & movies and much more.

WolframAlpha
Startpage

Startpage works powerfully to provide search results while protecting your searches and avoiding tracking your steps. It offers browsing through a proxy server to help protect you from websites tracking your IP address or location. You can add it to your browser, on Chrome or Firefox, and even change its color theme.

Startpage
Privatelee

It’s not much to look at but Privatelee enables secure searches and strict filters if you need it. This search engine doesn’t keeps your search keywords to be used for ads or surveillance. Privatelee offers ‘PowerSearch‘ commands that lets you configure the search source and more. It is also known by an alternative name Qrobe.it.

Yippy

With Yippy, you can manually filter the results category-wise and flag any inappropriate result. Unlike some engines, Yippy allows searching of many types of content including web, images, news, jobs, blogs, government data, etc.

Yippy also lets you view cached pages (like Google) and filter results by tag clouds, sources, websites. It does not track your search queries and doesn’t show customized ads.

Hulbee

Hulbee is a private search solution that delivers instant searches while not tracking your search or location history. Hulbee provides intelligent information yet never analyses or stores its visitors’ information.

Your searches are all encrypted for security against middleman attacks and data leaks. Among its options: choosing a region for most relevant search results and even lets you ‘clear your activity‘ to avoid leaving any trace overall.

Hulbee
Gibiru

Gibiru offers fully uncensored yet encrypted search engine to prevent data leaks to any third parties. Gibiru works faster than most private search engines because it uses ‘Google Custom Search‘ to provide its service. It does however remove all tracking methods used by Google.

It also offers a free Firefox/Chrome search bar to help you make anonymous searches right from your browser.

Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search uses content search assistance from major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo but never tracks your online searches or activities or IP address. Disconnect Search lets you surf by location so that you can get location specific relevant results based on the location of your choice. It clearly informs about the tools that which are protected and unprotected, letting you choose which to use.

Lukol

Lukol uses a proxy server to deliver customized search results from Google using its enhanced custom search yet conserves your privacy by removing traceable entities. Lukol is considered as one of the best private search engines that protects from online fraudsters and keeps the spammers away by safeguarding you from misleading or inappropriate sites. It ensures full anonymity of your searches.

Disconnect Search
MetaGer

MetaGer lets you make confidential untraceable searches that leave no footprints. It also integrates a proxy server so that you can open any link anonymously from the search result pages and yet keep your IP address hidden from the destination server. It also never tracks your keywords.

This prohibits third parties or advertisers to target you for ads or any of malicious attacks. Its default language is in German.

Gigablast

Gigablast indexes billions of web pages and provides real time info without tracking your online searches or browsing history. It is considered as one of the best private search engines that keeps you almost entirely hidden to marketers and spammers.

Gigablast offers searching with certain customizations and optional parameters like searching by exact phrase, languages, terms, filetypes and many more.

Oscobo

Oscobo is an anonymous search engine that allows no tracking of any type. This search engine does not store or track user data in any way, nor does it let any third party hack or misuse users’ data.

Like a few of the private search engines here, it lets you search for information, images, videos, news, etc. It also offers a Chrome extension for making searches.

Source: This article was published hongkiat.com By Ashutosh KS

Categorized in Search Engine

Privacy-focused search engine StartPage has launched an upgraded private image search feature. With extreme concern mounting about plans for ISPs to be granted permission to sell customers' browsing histories without express permission, interest in untrackable browsing is on the increase.

Based in the Netherlands, StartPage is outside the reach of US law enforcement agencies, and it uses a secure connection so there is no way to tell what users have been searching for, and also secures click-throughs using a proxy. In addition to the private image search enhancement, StartPage has also launched Instant Answers to provide searchers with easy access to key information.

StartPage is powered by Google so it is possible to benefit from the power of the search behemoth, but there are none of the downsides of search tracking and targeted advertising. While image searching is not a brand new feature for the site, it has now been greatly improved to allow for filtering and fine-tuning of results. It's a feature that will be of interest to people looking up information about health conditions, for example, without wanting to share that information with all and sundry.

But it is not just the search results themselves that are private and secure, as StartPage explains:

In addition to serving Google search results in privacy, StartPage provides a free proxy link with every search result. When users visit third-party websites through the proxy links, no one can see them or interact with their browsers -- not the websites, their advertising partners, or ISP's. This protects against spyware, viruses, and annoying targeted ads that stalk users across the Internet.

StartPage's new Instant Answers feature is its version of Google's Quick Answer Box, providing at-a-glance information about questions you might ask. This can be used to pull in information from Wikipedia without having to visit the site, quickly look up the weather forecast, flight times, movie screenings and much more.

Head over to StartPage.com to try it out.

Source : betanews.com

Categorized in Search Engine

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A new search engine has surface which brings a new approach to the concept of browsing. While fighting the likes of Google upfront is definitely an uphill battle, StartPage is looking to fill in a niche that currently doesn’t have any competition for the aforementioned developer. The new search engine experience focuses on searching for private images.

This opens up a lot of new possibilities but also opens the door for many concerns which need to be addressed, regarding safety. Many see this as a dangerous endeavor because it can potentially lead to ISP’s being able to sell customer sensitive information without needing to ask them. This is so because following the concept of this new search engine, sensitive information could be available straight in its search history.

It can get complicated fast

The situation is a bit more complicated than meets the eye as it is very hard to tell where the legal line is and if StartPage has crossed it. Speaking of lines, this developer is operating from across the border as it is based in the Netherlands. The US authorities have no jurisdiction there obviously so they can’t really intervene for as far as most are concerned.

This has allowed StartPage to use proxy to secure click through and also make it so users can search without being detected. The developer also released something called Instant Answers. Instant Answers can be very helpful as it used to search for important information and facilitate users even further.

It’s more than meets the eye

Many are concerned on what this search engine is able to accomplish truly and what kind of security vulnerabilities are featured on it. StartPage recognized the need of communicating and informing the public about what its product actually does, so it released a statement.

“In addition to serving Google search results in privacy, StartPage provides a free proxy link with every search result. When users visit third-party websites through the proxy links, no one can see them or interact with their browsers — not the websites, their advertising partners, or ISP’s. This protects against spyware, viruses, and annoying targeted ads that stalk users across the Internet.”

Author : GEORGE FINLEY

Source : Windowsreport.com

Categorized in Search Engine

The private search engine Startpage is my search engine of choice. If you are a long-time reader, you know that I made the switch from using Google first to DuckDuckGo, and then to Startpage, back when news about Prism and other government surveillance and privacy-invading activities hit the world.

Startpage works considerably well out of the box. Open the site, enter your search query, and browse the results. It features web, image, and video searches, and ships with a couple of extras that make the experience even better.

I mentioned the Startpage proxy in 2014 already that enables you to load results anonymously, and posted a list of ten tips to improve Startpage search back in 2014 as well.

This guide will focus on tips that are new and have not been mentioned yet.

Startpage Tips

startpage tips

The following tips let you customize your Startpage search experience. All options are accessible on the preferences page.

Only connect to servers

startpage servers

Startpage will connect you to the closest (of their) servers when you connect to the site and run searches on it. This ensures quick response times.

You can change that default option in the settings. Basically, what it allows you to do is set a server that you want to be connected to.

So, if you don't want your search queries to be processed by a server in the US for instance, you could set this option to EU or Asian servers instead to avoid that.

The four options provided are a) closest, b) EU servers, c) US servers, or d) Asian servers.

Homepage Search Mode

startpage advanced search

If you happen to use the advanced search interface regularly, or maybe even exclusively, then you may find this option useful.

It allows you to switch from the basic search interface to the advanced search interface by default. So, whenever you open Startpage, the advanced search interface is loaded directly.

Homepage Theme

startpage theme

Startpage supports several themes that you can switch between. The default theme is called Air, and it is a light theme. You can switch to night for a darker theme, or white or black, which are like Air and Night, but without the background image for the most part.

Last but not least, you may also switch to classic themes if you prefer those. The classic themes change link placements on the Startpage homepage though, so keep that in mind.

The main use here is for users who prefer a dark theme instead of a light one, and for users who prefer a basic design when it comes to search (by removing the background images).

Search Suggestions

startpage suggestions

Startpage displays no search suggestions by default. You can enable those in the preferences. Startpage's suggestions system is different from many others as it puts privacy first and foremost.

The search engine displays general suggestions and won't display user queries as suggestions. Startpage shows "generally relevant suggestions" for queries only. Suggestions honor family filter settings.

Switch the "search suggestions" option in the Startpage preferences to "on" to enable suggestions.

Automatic highlighting

startpage search highlight

This is another interesting option. It highlights the search term on the web page that you open when you click on results.

But that is not the only thing that happens. Startpage opens the result using its proxy as well. If you enable the option, all results are automatically loaded using the proxy.

So, if you always want to use the proxy, this is one option to automate this.

Author: Martin Brinkmann
Source: https://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/03/startpage-tips-search

Categorized in Online Research

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