Are you looking for a secure search alternative to Google? We’ve rounded up five of the best to allow you to browse the web without tracking.
If you are reading this, then you have probably learned enough about online privacy and security to know that every letter that you ever typed into Google’s search engine got recorded and studied by the tech giant’s teams.
Google likes collecting as much data as it possibly can and analysing it for clues regarding your interests. That way, it can offer you better ads, and there is a higher chance that you might buy something.
It’s questionable, but it may even offer a better service.
However, people tend to value their privacy, which is why most of us choose to shift to a secure alternative search engine upon realising just how appreciative of information Google is.
If you’re looking for a secure alternative to Google then in this article, I’ll be exploring five of the best.
Leading secure Search Engines
There’s now plenty of choices when it comes to search engines, but finding a secure one that won’t track you is more complicated.
Below are our top five options.
DuckDuckGo is probably the best-known and most popular alternative to Google these days.
Searchers use it mostly for privacy, which is among the biggest reasons for its popularity. On the surface, it looks and acts similar to Google, which is why a lot of people feel comfortable with it.
However, beneath the surface, its method of operation is quite different.
While Google tends to collect and use your data for different purposes – sometimes to help users, sometimes to improve itself – DuckDuckGo does not store your personal information.
They neither collect it nor share it. DuckDuckGo also doesn’t follow you with ads, nor does it track you in a private browsing mode. It is one of the best choices if you seek greater privacy.
We and others highly recommend it. It makes a great alternative to Google and they’ve got Android and iOS apps available.
Next, there is StartPage, formerly known as ixquick, which makes the bold claim as “The world’s most private search engine”.
It is similar to DuckDuckGo, in a sense that it does not store any personal data of its users or more importantly, your search queries.
However, it is still capable of providing you with a top-quality service thanks to the fact that it takes your search, and it runs it through Google. When Google brings the information back, StartPage sends it on until it reaches you.
In a way, it is like using Google, but with StartPage acting as a user friendly security layer between you and Google itself.
That way, your IP address does not get tracked, you do not have issues with cookies, and Google has no idea who is searching behind the security of StartPage. This is why it is one of the best choices for those who seek Google’s search technology but also privacy.
Then, there is Ask. Most internet users will have stumbled across Ask sooner or later, and you may remember it as ‘Ask Jeeves’.
What you might not have known is that Ask offers some decent privacy options, such as the feature to erase all of the data, and prevent anyone from tracking you.
However, you will have to remember to do it yourself, and Ask will still try to track you, similarly to Google, unless you delete it, so it’s not entirely on the same level as DuckDuckGo or StartPage.
But, unlike Google, it gives you an option to delete all of the data and keep your privacy intact. In other words, it all comes down to you and your desire for privacy.
If you wish, you can get rid of it all, or leave a bit for Ask to collect and analyse.
The service is decent enough, easy to use, and it brings back useful search results, so you might consider switching to it as well.
When it comes to Privatelee, it follows a bit different method than previous options.
It works by combining the best results from several other search engines, such as Google and Bing. That way, it brings you all the results it can find, which often results in a greater selection, as well as some interesting findings.
Additionally, it will not save your IP address, nor will it set ad network cookies, or even uniquely identifiable cookies.
It features a WOT rating, and it allows for infinite scrolling. Finally, it is customisable, and you can choose where the results are coming from. It is an excellent option if you wish to switch to a more secure alternative.
Finally, we have Swisscows – a private search engine based in Switzerland.
Switzerland is one of the countries with the most exceptional security and privacy awareness in the entire world. You can see this in their products, as well as their laws.
It is safe to say that almost anything that the country comes up with can be trusted.
Swisscows does very well when it comes to security and privacy. It does not track or collect your data, and it has a Swiss Fort Knox data centre for its server infrastructure.
It provides excellent results, although they mostly source them from Bing. Finally, this is an excellent option if you are interested in primarily reaching family-friendly content.
It is a suitable choice for children, as it stands up for moral values and digital media research, while it does not tolerate pornography or violence.
What is the best way to search the internet privately?
Searching the internet privately has become a significant focus these days, as the awareness of information collecting and tracking continues to grow.
The best way of doing it is by using one of the private search engines, like the ones listed above. They will keep your privacy safe and not collect any data from you or your searches.
An additional method you can use is a VPN service to protect yourself.
With a VPN, all of your traffic will be encrypted and shielded by security protocols, and not even Google will be able to see and record your real IP address, as a fake one will replace it.
ExpressVPN is the best choice, as it has excellent privacy and security features, but also fast download speeds, and a massive selection of IP addresses and servers.
Just remember that even if you are using a VPN if you log into Google or another search service, then your search history and interests can still be recorded.
Is StartPage a VPN?
No, StartPage is another secure search engine made by ixquick, as mentioned earlier.
It offers pretty much the same privacy settings and features as ixquick itself did. That means not having to worry about cookies, IP address, and alike. Even so, there are differences, such as the way StartPage displays the results.
If you want to learn more about what a VPN is, then our handy beginner’s guide to VPN will tell you all you need to know.
What is the most secure search engine?
There is not a simple way to measure or answer this.
All search engines that put your privacy first have their strengths and weaknesses, and pointing out the best one as a fact is not possible.
Some of them may feel better to you than others, but in the end – the choice is yours.
There are many others, apart from the ones mentioned on this list and although we rate these as the best, it pays to do your research and consult multiple sources.
Which search engine is best for user privacy?
Any search engine that does not record your searches and data, and does not bombard you with cookies and ads can be considered suitable for your privacy.
Take DuckDuckGo as an example – the service collects absolutely nothing, and you can use it safely, all the while knowing that no one is collecting your information and creating a profile about your likes and dislikes for ad targeting and other nefarious purposes.
All of the services we listed above are good, only keep in mind that Ask might try to track your browsing, but it also gives you the ability to delete it all and prevent it from doing so.
Why do people prefer Google over DuckDuckGo?
The fact is that Google does its job well, even though it collects your data. It’s also become a household name.
How many times have you heard the phrase “Google it” or “I’ll Google it” as a generic meaning for searching for something?
Besides, most people do see any immediate consequences as a result of Google’s data collecting. Many would argue that they never got in trouble with the law, lost friends, or had issues at their job because Google collects their data.
As long as it does not directly affect their lives, people do not tend to care, which is not the most positive of attitudes, but it does make it understandable, and we are mostly all guilty of this out of sight, out of mind mentality.
Add the fact that Google is familiar, and that it has been around for years, and it is easy to understand why people don’t bother to shift.
Does Google track your browser history?
Unfortunately, yes, but only if you are using Google Chrome.
Google was quick to put out its browser and start dominating when it comes to all kinds of services. The fact that all Google products work simply kept attracting people. However, it also allowed Google to keep collecting your data.
It can even collect your browsing history if you are logged in, so if that is one of your concerns – keep that in mind.
When using Chrome, Google will not only have access to what you search but also a whole detailed history of every site you visit. In this case, you may want to make use of a different web-browser.
Can we trust Google?
The answer to that depends on you and every other individual user.
Google collects user information, yes.
It analyses it, stores it, and uses it for targeting you with ads. It tracks your phone, and it can tell where you are, where you have been, and what you did online.
With some 84% of mobile phone searches done through Google alone, it pays to take note. Desktop searches are reportedly even higher.
However, while much of appears to be done for improving the quality of service, it is also used to tailor targeting to you.
It delivers better results, it shows you relevant ads, and it simply makes using it worthwhile. But, it still tracks you and stores your data, so it is up to you to decide if you can live with the privacy implications for the ease of use it provides.
Google is the world’s biggest search engine, but its business model is one that stores every scrap of your data it can find.
It understands the importance of information, and it collects it and uses it for providing a better service. While this is great for the user experience, many have a problem with that, which is why you might want to shift towards a secure search engine.
Google is a business, and it uses the tools at its disposal to do what it does best. It takes things in return as well, but that is how companies work.
Whether or not this is a problem for you is your decision to make. If you choose that it is – there are plenty of alternatives, five of which we’ve listed above.
Choose one and enjoy searching the web more securely than before.
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