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How To: Perform Private Searches Online

by Tracy Knauer •

Performing online searches using major search engines is a big privacy risk. Here are a few alternative search engines that allow you to search without being tracked.

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! track you in various ways. If you have an account with them, they can correlate your searches with other details you reveal about yourself. And even if you don’t have an account, they track you in other ways. For example, you can still be identified by your IP address or through cookies.

If you want to search without losing privacy, you should use an alternative search engine that doesn’t track you. These include the following:

  • DuckDuckGo. This is probably the most popular private search engine. DuckDuckGo does not log IP addresses or attempt to identify users via search patterns. It also has a feature that allows users to route their searches through Tor for extra privacy.
  • Disconnect Search. Disconnect masks search engines like Google and Bing. Basically, you can harness the power of Google, but avoid the tracking. This includes Google image search and video search. Disconnect comes in two versions. One is a simple Web-based search that promises not to track users. Another is a browser plug-in that uses a VPN to let you access major search engines without revealing your real identity.
  • ixquick. This search engine also disregards IP addresses or other data that could be used to track users. It works by essentially serving as a proxy between a user and the major search engines. It forwards search terms to other search engines, then returns results with proxy links that you can use to browse a result without revealing your real IP.
  • StartPage. This website is owned by the same outfit as ixquick and it works in the same way. The major difference is that it pulls its results only from Google, rather than from a variety of sources. This could be a good option if you like Google’s search results but don’t want to expose your true identity while using Google.

Comments 1

  1. Personally use start page when I can but soooooo used to the look of google that it’s odd when I go on something else.

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