Which private search engine should you use?
Without search engines, crawling billions of web resources is an impossible task. While Google manages to do this in the best way, some alternatives focus on delivering search results without tracking your data.
And among some popular private search engines, DuckDuckGo and Startpage seem to be the best candidates. But what should you use? Let’s compare privacy-friendly search engines by considering some of the important factors you should look for when choosing your default search engine.
DuckDuckGo does not collect your IP address but logs search queries without identifying you personally. No information is linked to you for the search query terms you search with them. Search terms are primarily used to improve their search results or track trends while keeping you anonymous.
For Startpage, they don’t collect anything, not even search queries, unlike DuckDuckGo. Technically, Startpage gets an advantage here.
Advertisements are needed to keep the lights on. You will notice advertisements on both search engines.
Fortunately, they let you turn off the ads if you want to. Startpage relies on the Google advertising network to display all the advertisements related to what you are looking for.
And DuckDuckGo uses Microsoft’s advertising network to display ads on the search results page. None of the ads are based on your personal search activity.
The ads shown are based on what you are looking for, not your past activity. In some cases, you may notice more ads listed on the start page compared to DuckDuckGo. As of this writing, DuckDuckGo appears to be showing fewer ads.
Country of jurisdiction
While they do not collect any research data that can be traced back to you, the country in which they operate may offer them additional benefits when reviewing privacy laws.
Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which is subject to the control of EU laws. And DuckDuckGo is based in the United States.
Typically, European privacy laws are more focused on providing users with control over their data, as they do with GDPR compliance. They are constantly introducing measures to keep large companies in check with data collection practices. For example, if a company does not have strong data protection measures, it may not continue to operate in the EU or face a hefty fine.
So while there is an uncontrollable possibility that Startpage collects any form of data, European privacy laws help put users in control and hold the business accountable.
But when it comes to the United States, even if DuckDuckGo begins collecting all forms of data, US privacy laws may not help users take control of their data and immediately give them the power to hold it. responsible business.
While this is highly speculative, it is just something you should know and a factor that could influence your personal decision to keep your privacy-conscious mind at peace.
Not all users want to personalize the experience when using a search engine, but for those who do, DuckDuckGo turns out to be the best option.
Startpage offers most of the essential options, including region selection, topic, and search results per page.
In comparison, DuckDuckGo provides a few more options that include infinite scrolling, map rendering, and several additional appearance adjustments.
Quality of research results
Startpage uses the Google search index by making anonymous requests. So the search results are better from the start.
DuckDuckGo relies on Microsoft’s Bing and certain indexing partners to provide you with search results. Although it is comparable to Google’s, it may be different for a few specific queries.
Note that the quality of local search results may not be comparable to Google for both. For example, they naturally don’t have all of the location-specific features that Google offers to help you quickly find a place or business.
When you search for something on DuckDuckGo, if it is a hot topic of interest covered by news organizations, you will find recent news highlighted in the search results. This makes it convenient and accessible to keep up to date with news related to your query.
Although Startpage gives you a separate news section, it doesn’t automatically show up in search results. They might introduce it soon, but it’s not available at the moment.
Likewise, DuckDuckGo offers the functionality of “Bang” shortcuts; These allow you to search using all supported sites and quickly navigate to your favorite websites without clicking on the search results.
Suppose you want to search for a product on Amazon; type “!a“in the search box with a product name, like:
! a galaxy s21
This should take you straight to Amazon.com and list the Samsung S21 devices available for purchase.
Some other bangs include:
- !drive: to access Google Drive.
- !in FR: to translate something from English to French using Google translate.
- !Brown: to access the Brown University library.
You can check out the full list of bangs (shortcuts) on their official webpage.
Thousands of sites can be accessed using this kind of shortcut. So if you want to filter your search results from just one site and search for it, this feature can come in handy.
You don’t have anything like that with Startpage. So if you are an advanced user of keyboard shortcuts, you might prefer to use DuckDuckGo for these shortcuts.
DuckDuckGo has additional features that don’t influence your search experience but might be useful.
The DuckDuckGo browser extension is one such offer to block trackers on the websites you visit.
You can also find a DuckDuckGo browser to get a safe browsing experience while using the default search engine.
They also offer an email tracking protection service, which is in the testing phase at the time of writing.
Additional offers might not be a deciding factor, but if you want to stick with one service for various online tools, DuckDuckGo can be a serious consideration.
Startpage doesn’t offer any additional services or tools, but it’s one of the best Google search alternatives you can find nonetheless.
What should you choose for private research?
Technically, choosing DuckDuckGo or Startpage will result in a private search experience.
If you want more customization options, built-in services, and additional offerings, DuckDuckGo seems like an easy choice to use. If you want the utility of Google search results while keeping search private, Startpage is a no-brainer.
Overall, user experience, availability of themes, features, and anything unique to a search engine depends on your personal preferences. Pick the one that helps you find web resources as efficiently as possible.
Google or Bing cannot search everything. To explore the invisible web, you have to use these special deep search engines.
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