7 Search engines that protect your privacy

Finding your way on the internet is done mostly through search engines. No doubt, Google is the biggest player and even the term “search” is often replaced by the business name, e.g. “let’s Google it”. Did you know that your search queries are not private, but stored in Google’s enormous database? With this information Google is able to present you with personalized ads and search suggestions throughout their network. The same goes for most other big search engines, such as Yahoo! and Bing.

Luckily there’s some great search engine alternatives that don’t hold your private data. I have to admit that it takes some time to get used to some of these alternatives, as it seems we are used to the way Google has served us for the past couple of years, but hey, there was a time when AltaVista was big and now hardly anybody remembers it.

1. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo privacy protected search engine

DuckDuckGo is developed by a strong community and it is now considered one of the number one private alternatives for Google. With their slogan “Switch to the search engine that doesn’t track you” they provide you the search results without any ads. It is also possible to filter the results by location.

DuckDuckGo search results

2. StartPage

Startpage the world's most private search engine

Startpage is one of the first search engines to offer privacy protection. In 2008 they were the first search engine to receive a European Privacy Seal. This search engine uses the Google database, but does not record IP addresses and protect your privacy via proxy servers. Just like the DuckDuckGo search engine, the search results are clean and ad free.

StartPage search results

3. Privatelee

Privatelee search engine

The name says it all: another search engine that offers ad and spam free search results. A great feature that makes this search engine stand out, is the Privatelee PowerSearch commands that allow you to go directly to the search results of Google, Amazon, Ebay, Netflix, Youtube and lots of other popular destinations.

Privatelee search results

Privatelee PowerSearch

4. search engine

Very similar to Privatelee. Actually, it’s almost an exact copy. Just like with the Privatelee search engine, you have the option to use PowerSearch commands to quickly connect to different outlets. search results

5. Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search allows you to select the search engine of your choice (Bing, Yahoo! or DuckDuckGo) to search their database without them collecting private information. Unfortunately, Google is not available yet, but this will probably just a matter of time. The website has a very clean, basic look without any thrills. With a slogan “Stop search engines from tracking your searches”, you might want to give this one a try.

Disconnect search - search results

6. Lukol

Lukol search engine

This is basically Google, but without tracking your personal information. Where Disconnect Search does not include Google in its search results, Lukol is fully Google based and even shows images, news and ads. Search results can be filtered by web, images, news and video’s. It’s actually a very slick looking search engine that can definitely replace your Google favorite.

Lukol search results

7. MetaGer

MetaGer search engine

While doing our research, we stumbled upon MetaGer. This non-profit organisation provides a very sleek looking search engine that is capable of searching multiple search engines and at the same time protect your personal data. An English version is currently in beta development stage, but already works very well. You can filter your search by “web, pictures, news, science, shopping”, but you can also customize the channels.

MetaGer search results

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Collecting data may not seem a big issue, but be ware that all your search data will be stored for years when you make use of the mainstream search engines. In worst case scenario, it may be used legally as well.

While doing research I also came across Yippy, which seems more dedicated towards younger folks. Yippy filters out all adult content and links to gambling sites. The reason why I did not add this search engine to my full review, is that we had problems with the loading time of the website and also the search results were not very accurate to our taste.

As always, I am very curious to learn about your experience with different search engines. And if you do come across other alternatives, please let me know so I can incorporate this in my research.

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Noud is an experienced web developer and founder of Data Roots. His passion is to develop high-quality websites for his customers that will last for many years. Noud's got 20 years experience developing websites for companies of all sizes and loves to help. Contact Noud.

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