We all use a search engine at least once a day, however, many people resent having to surrender their privacy in exchange for information. Is it possible to circumvent this trade-off and use alternative search engines to Google? Of course. Here’s how.
We all use a search engine at least once a day: whether it is to get more information about a restaurant, find a service we need, or simply satisfy a curiosity we cannot get out of our heads.
The business model of the most popular search engines like Google is to offer an apparently free service, and then collect data on users and sell it to companies.
However, there are search engines that follow a different model. Here are the best five.
The best alternative search engines to Google that do not track your data
DuckDuckGo is certainly the most popular service among privacy-focused search engines. Unlike Google, however, it is a meta-engine, i.e. a tool that collects its search results from other sources. It is estimated that around 14 million users a day use it.
Unlike other ‘private’ search engines, DuckDuck Go has the possibility of saving your search histories, but making sure that they cannot be traced back to you. To meet its expenses and still make a profit, DuckDuck Go uses non targeted advertisements and affiliate marketing.
“We do not collect any personal information from our visitors. Absolutely nothing.”
You will find this sentence on the Swisscows homepage, and you can bet on its veracity. This search engine stores neither IP addresses nor any other information. Including, however, your history. The only data collected by Swisscows is the total number of searches you perform each day.
Swisscows does not rely on any third-party infrastructure, and uses proprietary servers located right in Switzerland – where strict privacy and data storage rules apply. Unlike all other engines, this one has no servers in Europe or the United States, making it unassailable.
Just like DuckDuckGo, Searx.me is a meta-search engine – and thus aggregates search results from Google, Yahoo and Bing. However, unlike the latter, Searx does not collect data on you and your searches.
Searx also does not exploit advertisements, offering one of the best surfing experiences to date.
4. Disconnect Search
Disconnect Search is a NoProfit: it does not generate any revenue from its search engine – at least for now. Precisely because of this economic independence, Disconnect does not need to collect any data from you.
It is also a meta-engine, and thus collects results from other search engines, but does not track and trace them back to you, nor does it save any data sent from your devices.
MetaGer works slightly differently from the browsers we have seen so far: instead of anonymising searches, it includes an ‘open anonymously’ option for pages, so that the target website has no way of tracking your actions.
Online privacy, why it is always better to use a VPN
The issue of privacy is becoming more and more important and is also a hot topic for social and messaging apps such as whatsapp, which recently announced several privacy-protecting innovations, including the silent exit from groups.
Before we dwell on the safest search engines in terms of privacy, it is good to know that – unfortunately – there is no method that is 100 per cent clean from tracking. This is why VPNs were born, very useful tools that allow you virtually anonymous surfing.
VPNs are software that you can easily install on your PC or smartphone – some are free, some are not – and which allow you to hide your location by replacing it with a random IP, i.e. an identifier that differs from your real IP. Don’t worry: it is 100% legal.
The most popular VPNs are NordVPN, ExpressVPN and CyberGhost: if you value your online privacy, we recommend you install one even if you use one of the search engines in the list above.