List of privacy search engines for anonymous Internet search

Search the internet with privacy

Every time you use a search engine to look something up on the Internet personally identifiable information will be collected by all major search engines. The search terms submitted to the search engine, as well as the time, date, and geographical location of the computer carrying out the search will be logged and stored.

The search words you enter are often stored within search boxes in your browser, your computer will normally cache those words and pages you visit, your searched for terms can be retrieved by anyone with access to the hard disk.

Do you really want search engines like Google or Bing to know everything you search for on the internet?

What information do search engines keep?

1) IP Address: Your personal computer IP address can be traced back to you through a reverse DNS lookup with tools finding out not only your ISP but also your approximate location such as State or Province.

2) Date & Time: The exact date and time you were searching for a certain keyword will be logged. The browser you use is normally also stored in search engines logs.

3) Query Terms: The terms your searched for will be stored.

4) Cookie ID: A unique code is embedded into the cookie and assigned to a particular computer by the search engine. It allows a search engine to learn if requests came from a particular computer, as long as that identifiable cookie is still stored in the browser Internet searches can be linked and traced back to you independently of what computer IP you use.

Notice that after some pressure from privacy groups some major search engines have begun to mask the computer user IP address on their search logs but this does not make your search history anonymous.

What information do search engines send to webmasters?

After you click on one of the results given by the search engine, your search terms are passed to the website server logs, that webmaster will know what search terms you used to find that site, the referring URL and your IP address, as well as other data like your Internet browser and operating system you are using and even your default browser language, all of this can help to identify you.

Google maps search

Google maps search

Privacy search engine Duck Duck Go

Your web browser automatically sends information about your user agent and IP address to the search engine but Duck Duck Go will not store it at all. This information could be used to link you to your searches and other search engines will use it to show you more targeted advertising. Duck Duck Go will go out of its way to delete that data.

At Duck Duck Go no cookies are used by default and they do not work with any affiliate program that will share personally identifiable information like name and address. Feedback at Duck Duck Go can also be given anonymous not having to enter an email address in the form (it can be left blank). This privacy search engine also allows searching via its SSL website and lots of customization options.

Duck Duck Go pulls results from Microsoft’s Bing and Google search APIs, a lot of what you’re getting are results you could find on those search engines with the added advantage that your personal privacy is respected while searching the Internet. Duck Duck Go also has its own web crawler and web index.

https://www.duckduckgo.com

Duck Duck Go no logs search engine

Duck Duck Go no logs search engine

Privacy search engine IxQuick & Startpage

 IxQuick was awarded the first European Privacy Seal, IxQuick privacy search engine will not record your IP address, other data like the search queries are deleted from the log files within a maximum of 48 hours, often sooner.

IxQuick uses the POST method to keep your search terms out of the logs of webmasters of sites that you reach from their results, the major search engines on the other hand, use the GET method which allows web servers to log what search terms you used to reach them.

You can use encrypted Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connections to carry out your search stopping your ISP from snooping on you, this is of vital importance if you are using a public computer in an internet cafe, library or at work where the network administrator can easily spy on your search terms.

IxQuick uses a single anonymous cookie to remember the search preferences you saved for your next visit, it will not use cookies with a unique ID like many other websites do.

IxQuick also allows for advanced syntax search and being a Metasearcher, it pulls some of it results from other major search engines like Bing, Ask or the Open Directory. IxQuick also lets you visit the chosen page with a built in proxy,  the webmaster server logs will only see/log IxQuick IP address and not yours.

I tested IxQuick search proxy on my server and it also spoofs your agent ID and operating system, identifying itself as Google Chrome and Windows 7, this is a good practice as it makes even more difficult to pin you down.

The Dutch IP IxQuick search proxy gives once reversed identified itself as Webhosting customers, making it obvious it is not an ISP but a hosted proxy, the URL entry was presented as blank in the server logs, overall, their proxy for searching in privacy does a good job at keeping your privacy online.

https://www.ixquick.com or https://www.startpage.com

IxQuick privacy search engine

IxQuick privacy search engine

 Search engine Blekko

It has an HTTPS preferred mode that will show you search results secure SSL sites instead of the normal ones whenever they are available. Extra privacy features have to be turned on in settings. The Super Privacy mode will eliminate all advertisements, Facebook buttons, turn off DYM hiding the search terms used to reach a site from the webmaster server logs, the less logging option will anonymize search session data and click tracking will not be collected.

If you have Do Not Track turned on in your browser less logging will be enabled by default in Blekko, otherwise it has to be done manually, this search engine erase all logs in 48 hours regardless of settings.

https://www.blekko.com

Privacy search engine Blekko

Privacy search engine Blekko

 Usenet search engine BinSearch

 This is not an anonymous Internet searcher but it is included on the list because it carries results that nobody else does. BinSearch specialises in crawling binary Usenet newsgroups results that are ignored by all major search engines. You can search for Usenet posts subject, filenames or .nfo and limit your search to certain newsgroup or timeframe.

Due to the huge amount of data that Usenet carries, results are refreshed every few weeks and old ones dropped, Binsearch crawls thousands of groups but it is not possible to index all of them, only the major newsgroups.

http://www.binsearch.info

BinSearch binaries Unsenet search engine

BinSearch binaries Unsenet search engine

 Google SSL encrypted web search

 Google search over SSL is an end-to-end encrypted search solution between your computer and Google, this will not make you anonymous at all but will stop unwanted middle parts like your ISP or network computer administrator from seeing what you are searching for, although they will still know what sites you visit once you click on the links.

When you use Google SSL encrypted search your Internet browser will also stop sending referral data and the webmaster of the site you visit will not know what search terms you used to get there.

Google makes no mention whatsoever about logs, one can safely assume they still keep logs, I am just mentioning Google SSL search as a mere a curiosity and I would place them at the bottom list of all the privacy search engines reviewed.

https://encrypted.google.com

Google encrypted SSL search

Google encrypted SSL search

 Tips to search the Internet with privacy

Do not accept any of the major search engines cookies, they might use them to identify you later on, if you already have a Google or Bing search engine cookie on your computer, delete them.

Do not sign up for email at the same search engine where you regularly search, your personal email address can potentially be tied up to your search terms. Using Google and Gmail (both Google products) or Bing and Hotmail (both Microsoft products) together is not a good idea.

Mix up a variety of search engines, this will spread all of your searched terms across different companies and servers. Varying the physical location you search from can also be helpful, you can use a VPN or proxy to change your computer and country IP and delete all of your search engine cookies before starting a new private searching session.

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10 thoughts on “List of privacy search engines for anonymous Internet search

  1. I have been using Duck Duck Go as my default search engine and as my home page in Firefox 10.0.2 . My history and web surfing are being saved in History. I can open ‘History” in Firefox ane every site I have been to is shown. So how is this Duck Duck Go any different , if it is saving my surfing history ?

    Where is my privacy here with all my surfing sites shown ? i started using it , because I understood that it did not tract your surfing , but it most definitely does so. i don’t see any difference.

  2. Caitlin is correct. Click tools, options, privacy and select under History : never remember history. That will fix your problem.

  3. As the others have said, Firefox is saving your history.

    Useful add-ons for Firefox are:

    Add block plus
    Desopa
    Better Privacy
    Ghostery

    Better privacy allows you to monitor LSOs being planted on your system

    Ghostery shows the shpcking monitoring done by facebook and google even for non members.

  4. People worried about Firefox, or any other browser, saving the sites they visit all they need to do is to use “Private Browsing”.

    Firefox>Start Private Browsing

  5. @Jill on 29 February, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    You are really dumb. That’s not your search history being recorded online. That’s your own browser. Search in private browsing mode or in Firefox go to Options > Privacy then configure your browser not to remember your search history. You can also delete your search history at any time from your browser.

    The search engine you use can protect your search history from being stored on some online server to be used against you in the future. Your Internet Browser is on your own PC, not on the Internet. They can only get at the search history in your browser by seizing your computer from you.

  6. Take GIBIRU off. they use google tracking – or at minimum unnecessary information in their link.

    Yes this is GIBIRU, at the bottom of their page, you can see it is powered by google – whom we all know, are the biggest trackers off all – and looking at the above link, there is nothing GIBIRU linked from their results page.

  7. Hello Cain

    It is not a problem that Google powers a search engine as long as logs are not kept by the independent engine and Google is not able to log the third party user IP, Startpage is also powered by Google and it is a great privacy search engine, but I have now decided to remove Gibiru from the list because I am not convinced that their privacy policy is as good as they claim to be. The information on their website is somewhat sketchy and it looks like a one man operation and not a company. Thank you for your comment.

    Hacker10

  8. I would like to suggest users also consider using http://anonymousengine.com for anonymous searches. It uses proxy search technology to help you with anonymity for your internet searches.

    Currently uses javascript encryption technology and plans are in the works for an 256 bit ssl encryption level.

    Malware and javascript filtering is included to remove any dangerous sites you might visit.

  9. Another cool anonymous metasearch engine that already exists since many years is http://www.etools.ch from Switzerland.
    Beside being out of the US (and even the EU – hello GCHQ!) they implement all basic precautions correctly (TLS 1.3, forward secrecy, optional redirects, …) and search over the best search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and many others.
    Moreover, they show the results transparently, allowing you to inspect the results from each source separately.

    Enjoy,
    Bernd

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