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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

10 Best Private Search Engines (2024): No-Log Services

Hendrik Human Updated on 5th June 2024 Fact-checked by Aleksandra Kovacevic Cybersecurity Researcher

Mainstream search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo threaten your privacy. They are massive data collection tools that harvest information about you and convert it into a consumer profile to sell to advertisers.

These popular search engines log your IP address, online searches, location, and any web browser or operating system you use. As a result, you’re bombarded with targeted ads.

Luckily, there are alternatives that can help keep your online activity and identity safe while navigating the web. These search engines deliver the same experience without tracking you. My list of tested private search engines are easy to use, provide quality search results, and have transparent privacy policies.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best Private Search Engines in 2024

  1. Startpage — Uses powerful Google technology without tracking to provide an anonymous and smooth browsing experience.
  2. DuckDuckGo — Most popular private search tool with a 100% transparent privacy policy.
  3. Swisscows — Operates its own servers and is customized for child-friendly searches.
  4. SearX — Open source Metasearch engine allowing you to modify its code for extra security.
  5. Wolfram Alpha — Powerful tools and modes to conduct academic research.

See 5 More Great Private Search Engines That Work

Pro Tip: Use a VPN for Increased Anonymity Online

Even when using private search engines, the websites you visit can collect your data and send it to advertisers. A private search engine's privacy-friendly measures and policies typically start and end with its search page.

Using a VPN and a secret search engine offers you greater privacy. A VPN encrypts your data and masks your IP address, making it difficult for hackers, snoops, and ISPs to monitor your online behavior.

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Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Best Search Engines for Privacy That Won't Track You

1. Startpage — Leverage the Power of Google Search Technology, Without Any Tracking

  • Jurisdiction: Netherlands
  • Type: Metasearch engine
  • Ads: Yes

Startpage offers the benefits of Google's search algorithm without logging your data or sharing it with third parties. During testing, search results were consistently relevant. You can filter out results from specific countries or search by location. Its interface is straightforward and features 10 different languages.

With Anonymous View, you can see images, videos, and websites without leaving any traces. This feature protects you from website fingerprinting, cookies and trackers, Facebook tracking, and geo-based price tracking. Simply click the mask icon next to your search results to use this mode. It hides your IP address and the user agent, which includes information about your browser, operating system, and hardware.

Screenshot of viewing Wikipedia using Startpage Anonymous View.You can return to normal, unprotected viewing by clicking “Visit original website”

Its headquarters and main servers are in the Netherlands, a member of 9 and 14 Eyes Alliances. This isn’t ideal for user privacy because these countries have intelligence-sharing agreements. However, Startpage has passed independent (EuroPrise organization) audits of its privacy and data-handling practices. Plus, operating from there means all global users are protected by the Dutch and EU privacy laws, which are some of the most stringent in the world.

You can install the Startpage extension and set it as your default search engine on all major browsers, including iOS and Android devices. You can even personalize it by switching colors, adjusting family filters, and changing the theme. Plus, I reached out to its support, and its team was very responsive.

Visit Startpage

2. DuckDuckGo — Most Well-Known Engine With a 100% Transparent Privacy Policy

  • Jurisdiction: United States
  • Type: Metasearch engine
  • Ads: Yes

DuckDuckGo is a powerful Metasearch tool that gathers results from over 400 sources, including Yahoo, Yandex, Bing, and Wikipedia. It is extremely popular, receiving about 14 million search queries a day, and it’s the default search engine in the Tor browser. There’s even an extension for Chrome, and you can customize this search tool to your liking.

The search engine comes with a shortcut feature called !Bang that lets you search sites like eBay, Wikipedia, and Amazon with a single click. To use !Bang, type an exclamation mark to the left of your search query. The feature has existed since 2008 and has thousands of bangs already. You can even submit your own bangs.

Screenshot of DuckDuckGo search with !Bang search suggestions for the word car.DuckDuckGo will also suggest sites that are relevant to any keywords you type

I appreciate that its privacy policy is detailed and completely transparent. Unfortunately, DuckDuckGo is partnered with Microsoft to deliver relevant ads, but it now blocks Microsoft trackers on its mobile apps and browser extensions. It also earns revenue through private ads and affiliate partnerships, but it’s only based on your current search query and not by profiling you.

Like Startpage, DuckDuckGo offers an excellent user experience with an intuitive interface. You can easily personalize it by changing the theme or setting links to open in a new tab. It offers its own private browser for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, and it's also the default search engine for the Tor browser.

Visit DuckDuckGo

3. Swisscows — Best Family-Friendly Private Search Engine

  • Jurisdiction: Switzerland
  • Type: Search engine
  • Ads: Yes

Swisscows filters out adult or inappropriate content, making it great for shared family PCs, the workplace, or school. As part of the company’s ethos to protect minors online, it excludes stuff like porn or violent content from the search results. So, it’s great for privacy and safe browsing.

A screenshot showing Swisscows doesn't index or displays explicit contentThe explicit results filter also applies to images, videos, and music searches

Swisscows runs its own server network and doesn’t rely on any third-party infrastructure. Its data center is located underground in the Swiss Alps and is protected by Switzerland’s strong privacy and data retention laws. None of its infrastructures is located inside the EU or the US.

It also doesn't use cookies or other tracking technologies and states it won't create user profiles. SwissCows is adamant that “we do not know who you are.” So, your IP address, browser information, and device information remain private.

Search results are available in multiple languages, including English, Italiano, Francais, and Deutsch. The interface is also user-friendly — I could easily navigate to any section in seconds. Donations are its primary source of revenue, but it works with Bing to display search ads next to your search results. These ads are based on your search queries, not your location or search history. It can’t be traced back to you and is deleted after 7 days.

Visit Swisscows

4. SearX — Customizable Open Source Metasearch Engine That Doesn't Track or Profile You

  • Jurisdiction: Any location (Open source)
  • Type: Metasearch engine
  • Ads: No

SearX is a Metasearch engine that gathers and combines results from 80+ popular search engines. The interface is simple and displays relevant results based on your search queries. You can search the web for images, news, videos, maps, and more. You can even view cached versions of the websites you intend to visit.

It runs on open-source software, and its code is available on GitHub. The company encourages you to download and modify the code for even greater privacy. For the less tech-savvy, it’s easy to customize from the main search page.

Screenshot of Searx's interface with its filters and advanced settings.Some public instances offer even more filters or preference settings

The one downside is that Searx occasionally gets blocked by search engines like Google. When this happens, you’ll only see an error or a very limited set of results. However, in my experience, you can often fix it by refreshing, waiting a short while, or using a custom instance.

Since it’s open source, public forks are available for anyone. However, I don’t recommend using them if you don’t completely trust the owner, as they can compromise your privacy. Some forks could be operated by cybercriminals who can log your browsing activity. So it’s best to run it directly from your device.

Visit SearX

5. Wolfram Alpha — Privacy-Friendly Engine for Academic and Scholarly Research

  • Jurisdiction: USA
  • Type: Metasearch engine
  • Ads: No

Wolfram Alpha computes answers using objective data sourced from credible references. It’s ideal for researching academic topics, with categories like maths, science and technology, social science, and culture. There is even a math input tool and an extended keyboard to simplify entering complex equations.

Screenshot of Wolfram Alpha's dashboard with its math input options and search categories.Under the extended keyboard, you can also find special characters, like the Greek alphabet

Because of its freemium pricing model, Wolfram Alpha doesn’t serve any ads. The basic free version still offers you all of its academic search categories and mathematical functions. However, Pro users can also generate practice problems, use advanced calculators, and get customer support (with the Pro Premium plan).

Although it sounds complex, Wolfram Alpha is very easy and fun to use thanks to its user-friendly design and illustrative icons. It even has different modes, like reverse image or random search. There are also extensions for Chrome, Firefox Edge, mobile apps, and other handy apps.

The one downside is that Wolfram Alpha collects more personal information than other private engines. It claims to do this to provide some of its advanced features. However, the privacy policy clearly states that “We do not sell, rent, trade or lease your information to third parties.”

Visit Site

6. MetaGer — Keeps Your Search Results Private by Sending Them Through a Proxy Server

  • Jurisdiction: Germany
  • Type: Metasearch engine
  • Ads: Yes (Ad-free when you get a MetaGer membership)

Created by a German non-profit NGO, MetaGer is very popular in its home country and is now attracting users worldwide. Like the above providers, MetaGer converts your search request into an anonymous query that it transmits to major search engines.

Privacy protection continues if you follow links on the destination website. It uses a free proxy that masks your IP address. While it’s not totally secure, it’s a huge step up from handing over all your data to Google. Plus, it doesn’t use cookies or store your real IP address. It does keep some logs for up to 96 hours which are auto-deleted once that period elapses.

A screenshot showing MetaGer anonymizes search results by sending your requests through a proxy server.MetaGer’s results pages include an “open anonymously” option for every link

It has its own web crawler but also gets results from Yandex and Yahoo. This means you get diverse results from different sources for each search. You can integrate it easily with projects like YaCy, a free, open-source engine based on P2P networking.

MetaGer is supported by user contributions; you will see a prominent Donate button on your results pages. Ads appear at the top, but you can enjoy an ad-free experience by signing up for a MetaGer membership. Instead of a subscription, you buy tokens upfront for the number of searches you want to perform, starting at €5 for 500.

Visit MetaGer

7. Qwant — Search by Country for More Targeted Results

  • Jurisdiction: France
  • Type: Search engine
  • Ads: Yes

Qwant lets you customize your search by country to get localized results. For example, find stores near you that sell a specific item. One of its new features is a map-based search similar to Google Maps. It allows you to find hotels, restaurants, shops, and services or plan routes without anyone tracking your movements.

Screenshot of Qwant map-based search with the map interface and its business type filters.There are options for many different business types, including eco-friendly alternatives

You can also change languages and the display mode — light or dark. On top of that, Qwant Junior is kid-friendly and automatically blocks potentially harmful content. There’s also Qwant Lite, designed for older browsers for those in the family (looking at you, grandma) who haven't updated their browsers in forever.

It relies on its own indexing technology to provide unprofiled results. That means it doesn’t rely on the logged data of people who use the search engine but rather shows you independent results.

Qwant acknowledges that its revenue source is advertising and that ads are generated in cooperation with the Microsoft Bing ad network. An association with Microsoft doesn’t exactly scream “user privacy first” to me. However, the provider filters out native advertising from results.

Visit Qwant

8. Mojeek — Lets You Search Based on Your Emotions

  • Jurisdiction: United Kingdom
  • Type: Search engine
  • Ads: Yes

With Mojeek, you can filter searches based on different emojis. For example, suppose you type in “today” and select the sad face emoji. In that case, you’ll get the latest “sad” stories containing that keyword. To do this, open Mojeek and click “Emotion” on the top right corner of the screen. Next, choose your emoji. I selected the “All” icon to broaden my search results.

A screenshot showing where to find the emotions button on Mojeek's home screen.Simply type a search term and then click the emoticon with the emotion you want to target

Unlike DuckDuckGo and SearX, Mojeek has its own crawlers — it doesn’t depend on popular search engines for results. So, it’s a great option if you want to avoid anything provided by mainstream search engines. However, keep in mind that results might be less extensive as Mojeek’s algorithms aren’t that powerful yet.

Mojeek follows a strict privacy policy in that it doesn’t log any of your sensitive data. However, it collects standard information like referral data, timestamps, and web pages visited, but none can be tied to you.

There are multiple customization options that you can utilize. For example, Mojeek lets you adjust the default location to a country of choice. Apps are available for Android, iOS, and Opera and Firefox extensions.

Visit Mojeek

9. Brave Search — Built-In Ad Blocker to Stop Annoying Ads and Tracking

  • Jurisdiction: United States
  • Type: Search engine
  • Ads: Optional

Brave Search has a feature (Brave Shields) that blocks trackers, cross-site cookies, and ads. It doesn’t collect your browsing history, personal data, or activity and serves you with results retrieved from its own web crawlers. This is great if you want to steer clear of search results from engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

It also has its own browser, built off the open-source Chromium Web core. This makes integration a hassle-free process. Aside from that, the browser comes with a password management feature and ad-blocking capability.

You can use filters to remove adult content from appearing in your search results. Every time you search, you’ll see 3 options — Strict, Moderate, and off. Strict filters out offensive content, Moderate limits you to some content, and off lets you find any content.

A screenshot of Brave Search engine showing its Safe search function where you can choose to filter out offensive or explicit contentYou can use Brave search with the Brave browser for extra privacy

Since some of its features (like Goggles) are still in the beta stage, it may fail to offer refined results. So if you’re looking for a search engine with advanced functions, you may want to consider one of the other private search engines on this list.

Visit Brave Search

10. Ecosia — Supports the Environment and Offers an Encrypted Search

  • Jurisdiction: Germany
  • Type: Metasearch engine
  • Ads: Yes

Ecosia is an anonymous search engine with a strict privacy policy that donates 100% of its profits to support reforestation. It has overseen the plantation of roughly 190 million trees across 35+ countries. It also frequently publishes its financial reports for transparency.

A screenshot showing Ecosia's AI Chat interface, powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT.You can also choose specific types of information or search engines to crawl

It doesn’t profile users according to search patterns, either. However, the service may collect some of your data for website analytics. Ecosia claims this is key to improving its services and that no personally identifiable information gets logged. The data it collects is only deleted after 7 days. So, it might be used to create user profiles.

Like most secret search engines, it makes money by targeting you with ads based on your search terms. Still, these ads are non-intrusive and appear at the top of your search results. Ecosia uses its own algorithm and Microsoft Bing to increase your chances of getting refined answers.

Visit Ecosia

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Our Score: 10.0
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Verified to not collect or share data

(Not So) Private Search Engines to Avoid

Not all independent search engines take your privacy seriously. Some claim not to log or sell any data but still make money by sharing your info with third parties. I read the privacy policies of these so-called “private” search engines. The amount of data they collect is more than I'm comfortable with.

For now, if you're looking to surf with increased privacy, I recommend you avoid the following:

  • Search Encrypt. Upon close inspection, Search Encrypt's revenue model is murky at best. It claims to prioritize user data protection, but still shares encrypted search terms with its advertising partners.
  • GhostPeek. While the platform emphasizes non-collection of personal data, it remains tight-lipped about its partners' data collection practices. This vagueness leaves room for speculation and potential misuse. Plus, its chain of ownership leads to a personal data aggregating company in China.

Tips on Choosing the Best Private Search Engine

Below are the features I reviewed and tested before choosing the best private search engines. All of my listed secret search engines performed well in these criteria. However, if you want to do your own tests, feel free to use this list as a guide:

  • Privacy. Consider the kind of information the search engine logs by reviewing its privacy policy. Ideally, the data it collects should not include identifiable information like your IP address.
  • Unbiased search results. Choose a private search engine that displays relevant, independent results. Some use their own crawlers and do not pull data from big search engines like Google, so results will not be as personalized as you're used to.
  • Easy to use. Make sure the service and apps are user-friendly and uncluttered to start searching immediately.
    Customization. Some private search engines come with additional features like anonymous viewing, selecting your preferred country, and changing the look and feel.
  • Transparency. Trust is essential when choosing a private search engine. One way to determine if a company is reputable is by checking how it makes money. You can usually find this in its privacy policy.
  • Mobile apps. Maintain your privacy while using your phone by choosing a search engine that offers apps for your preferred device.

How to Stay Safe When Using Private Search Engines

Private search engines can still log some information about you, like your search requests. There are additional steps you can take for greater online anonymity while using a private search engine, for example:

  • Use a private browser. Your browser can reveal a lot about you, including your login credentials, browsing history, and location. Fortunately, the best search engines, like Brave Search, have a private browser that you can use to access the web safely.
  • Get a VPN. A VPN protects your data by sending your traffic through its private server network — encrypting it and replacing your actual IP address. This prevents any third parties from intercepting your data. Premium VPNs also follow strict no-logs policies, so your information (like browsing history) never gets collected in the first place.
  • Use a good ad blocker. Most ads today can compromise your privacy by exposing you to online threats. Others contain malware that can leave your device vulnerable to hackers and snoopers. The best ad blockers can help you avoid these.
  • Log out. Even when using private search engines, browsers like Chrome can still collect data about you if you're connected to your accounts like Amazon, Gmail, and YouTube. Log out of these accounts to protect your privacy online. Alternatively, use a secure browser like Brave.
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Military-Grade Security Features
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Editor's Choice for Security
Our Score: 10.0
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Verified to not collect or share data

Why Should You Use a Private Search Engine

Traditional search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo extensively track user data such as IP addresses, search history, and browser cookies. They use this to build detailed user profiles for targeted advertising, regardless of your privacy. These engines integrate with advertising and analytics services and prioritize data collection to understand and exploit your behavior.

Some of the information they collect include your:

  • IP address
  • User agent (browser and OS, device, preferences, and more)
  • Location
  • Unique identifier (stored in browser cookies)
  • Search history and queries

What’s more, popular search engines also often engage in censoring results, either due to governmental regulations, corporate policies, or algorithmic biases. This can lead to omitting or downranking certain websites, information, or viewpoints, potentially skewing the information you can find.

Private search engines address these privacy concerns by not storing or tracking your search terms or personal information. By minimizing what they collect, they reduce the risk of your personal data being used for advertising or falling into unauthorized hands. While some data might be logged, it’s typically only used to improve the service and search experience.

How to Change Your Browser's Default Search Engine

Setting a private search engine as your browser's default option is a simple task. Below, you'll find instructions on how to do it on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Change your default search engine in Chrome

  1. Select Settings. Go to the Chrome home screen and click on the 3 dots on the top right.
  2. Find Search engine. In the Settings menu, scroll down to Search engine and click on it. In the dropdown under Search engine, you should see the available options. During testing, my options were: Google, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and Bing.
  3. Switch the search engine. Use the dropdown to choose your favorite private search engine. If your preferred search engine is not present, click Manage search engines and site search to add a different one. A screenshot showing where to find default search engines in ChromeClick “Manage search engine and site search” to add your preferred option
  4. Add a new search engine. On the new screen that opens, scroll down to Inactive shortcuts. If your search engine is listed here, you can just click the Activate button to make it your default search engine. If not, hit Add and fill out the fields in the Add search engine. Here is what I entered in the 3 fields:
    • Search engine. Enter the name of the service. I entered “Mojeek - en”.
    • Shortcuts. This is the keyword you’ll use in the address bar. “Mojeek”
    • URL with %s in place of query. To find the URL “https://mojeek.com/en/web?query=%s” type any search query in the search engine and swap your search term with “%s.”
    A screenshot showing the details to enter to add a new search engine in ChromeDon’t include quotation marks in %s
  5. Click Save. The new search engine automatically appears under Site Search.
  6. Make the service your default. Now click the 3 dots to the right of the search engine and select Make default.

Change your default search engine in Android (Chrome)

  1. Open the Chrome app. To the right of the search bar, click on the 3 dots and then select Settings.

    A screenshot showing the 3 dots and Clicking on “Search engine” displays the available search engines to choose from

  2. Change the default search engine. Under Basics, click Search engine and select the search engine you want to use. The service you typed in Chrome’s address will appear on the list.

    A screenshot showing where you can find default and recently visited search engines in Chrome forAndroidClick on the radio button to set your favorite search engine as the default

Note. If the search engine you want to set as the default isn’t on the list, go back to step 1 and type the services you want to set as the default in the search bar, open it, and perform a search. You must do this for this alternative to appear on the Search engine menu. During testing, the search engine I entered in the search bar appeared under Recently Visited.

Change your default search engine in Firefox

  1. Open Firefox. Click the Hamburger icon in the top right of your browser. Next, select Settings.
  2. Choose Search. Under the Default Search Engine, hit the dropdown menu to select your preferred search engine. If the option you want isn’t available, scroll down (while still in the Search menu), and choose Find more search engines.

    A screenshot showing it's easy to change default search engine in FirefoxThe dropdown menu lets you choose from DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing, Startpage, and more

  3. Enter your preferred search engine. At the addons window, type the service you wish to install and hit enter. Next, click on it and tap Add to Firefox. You’ll get a confirmation message once the search engine is added.

    A screenshot showing it's easy to download and install private search engines in FirefoxNext, click on the “Add to Firefox” tab to start the installation process

  4. Go back to the Search settings windows. The Default Search Engine menu should now have the service you just added.

Change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge

  1. Open Microsoft Edge. Search the service you want to set as your default. For example, type “https://metager.org/” in the address bar.
  2. Choose Settings. In the top right of your browser, click on the 3 dots and hit Settings.
  3. Select Privacy, search, and services. Scroll down to the Services section and click Address bar and search.

    A screenshot showing where to find the Don't get distracted by the various options under setting, go to services and scroll down

  4. Change your default search engine. Choose your service from the Search engine used in the address bar menu. The search engine you use will appear in the list. If the search engine you want isn’t there, go to Manage search engines.

    A screenshot showing where search engines appear on Microsoft EdgeMicrosoft Edge offers a long list of private search engines you can set as your default

  5. Add the search engine you want. Here you can change the settings for all your search engines. Click the Add button if you want to set a new default search engine on Edge.

    Edge should automatically add search engines to this list if you visit their pages

  6. Enter search engine details. You’ll see a popup with three fields. Here are the details I entered to add Ecosia:
    • Search engine. Enter the name of the service. I entered “Ecosia”.
    • Shortcut. Enter the Ecosia URL as “ecosia.org.”
    • URL with %s in place of query. This should look like “https://www.ecosia.org/search?q=%s” for Ecosia.

      Screenshot of microsoft edge search engine details to add a private search engineMake sure that you use the recommended details in each search engine’s documentation

Change your default search engine in (iOS) Safari

  1. Click Settings from your device's home screen.
  2. Choose Safari. Scroll down and select Search Engine.

    A screenshot showing the This takes you to the “Search Engine” menu

  3. Switch search engine under Default Browser App. Now choose a different search engine from the default options, like DuckDuckGo or Ecosia.

    A screenshot showing default search engines on your iOS deviceUnfortunately, Apple won’t let you add extra options — you have to stick with what appears on the list

Best VPNs to Use With Private Search Engines in 2024

  1. ExpressVPN — RAM-only servers erase your data with every reboot, so there's no information to collect in the first place. Plus, you can try it risk-free as it's backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. CyberGhost — Extra protection while navigating the web with its built-in ad blocker, stopping ads, malware, and trackers.
  3. Private Internet Access — Customizable settings to increase online security without compromising speed.

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

FAQs on the Best Private Search Engines

Are private search engines really private?

Private search engines help you keep your personal details hidden while you search. They are definitely more private than mainstream engines like Google and Bing. Unfortunately, you are still vulnerable to your online activity getting tracked, as search engines have no authority over the websites you visit. Luckily, there are ways to enhance your anonymity online.

Will private search engines use my data?

Some private search engines use your data but only to deliver relevant search results. Unlike Bing, Yahoo, or Google, they do not trace or track your online activity. You might want to review their privacy policies to understand exactly what data they collect and why.

Are private search engines legal to use?

Yes, private search engines are legal to use in most countries. However, they may be banned in certain locations, so you need to update yourself on the surveillance laws of the country you’re in. For example, China blocks Startpage and DuckDuckGo. The private search engines on this list are all legal and allowed in most countries, including the US, UK, and India.

Also, keep in mind that certain searches might be illegal in countries with strict censorship and online surveillance. We at vpnMentor don’t condone activities that go against local rules and regulations. Always check the recent laws in your area before using a private search engine.

Are US-based private search engines safe?

Yes, but you must be careful because the US has strict data-sharing laws. The government may compel them to collect and share user data anytime. That’s why many of the listed private search engines are based in Europe, with strict user privacy laws (GDPR). While DuckDuckGo is technically based in the US, some of its servers are located abroad.

How do private search engines make money?

They make money through affiliate programs, contextual advertising, and donations. You can look at the privacy policy of a private search engine to understand how it generates revenue streams. For example, DuckDuck makes money through affiliate programs. MetaGer and SearX, on the other hand, are supported by donations.

Does incognito mode make my searches safe?

No, incognito mode doesn't make your searches safe. It prevents your browser from saving your search history, cookies, and form inputs on your device. However, it doesn't hide your browsing activity from your ISP, the websites you visit, or any network observers. If security is your main concern, you're better off investing in a premium VPN.

A private search engine protects your online privacy. Such engines or browsers typically don’t track your searches, store your history, or sell your data to advertisers. Some even obscure your IP or allow you to view web pages anonymously by routing your traffic through a secure proxy server.

What are the different types of private search engines?

Private search engines fall into two primary categories: meta-search engines and standalone search engines. While they offer mostly the same online privacy protections, they mainly differ in how they source and provide you with search results:

  • Standalone search engines. These are engines that rely on a single search engine's results or have their own unique search algorithms and databases. For example, Startpage provides you with the same results as Google’s privately. These generally offer a more consistent and familiar search experience.
  • Meta-search engines. These engines aggregate and present results from multiple search sources, with or without their own search algorithms. By pulling data from various search engines, they provide a more diverse set of results. DuckDuckGo, for instance, has its own crawler and also sources results from various partners.

Conclusion

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo threaten your privacy by tracking your data, including IP addresses, search history, and device specifics. They use this information to profile you for targeted advertising and even sell your data to the highest bidder. The best private search engines offer similar capabilities without invasive tracking and data harvesting.

I carefully curated the best private search engines and recommend Startpage for users who want Google-quality search results without tracking. Wolfram Alpha suits those seeking answers in fields like mathematics or science. DuckDuckgo is a great all-rounder, balancing privacy with user-friendly features.

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Hendrik is a writer at vpnMentor, specializing in VPN comparisons and user guides. With 5+ years of experience as a tech and cybersecurity writer, plus a background in corporate IT, he brings a variety of perspectives to test VPN services and analyze how they address the needs of different users.

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