Privacy-focused search engines and browsers that protect your data
Popular search engines and browsers do a great job of finding and browsing content on the web, but can do a better job of protecting your privacy while doing so.
Because your data is the digital currency of our time, websites, advertisers, browsers, and search engines track your web behavior to serve personalized ads, improve their algorithms, or improve their services.
In this guide, we list the best search engines and browsers to protect your privacy while using the web.
Privacy-focused search engines
Below are the best privacy-focused search engines that don’t track your searchers or show ads based on your cookies or interests.
The first, and probably most recognizable, privacy-focused search engine we highlight is DuckDuckGo.
Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is popular among online privacy-conscious users, and the privacy-friendly search engine recently said it had logged 2 billion total searches.
With DuckDuckGo, you can search your questions and websites online anonymously.
DuckDuckGo does not compile comprehensive profiles of user search habits and behavior, nor does it collect any personal information.
DuckDuckGo is offered as a search engine option in all popular browsers.
In 2017, Brave added DuckDuckGo as the default search engine option when using the browser on mobile or desktop. In the Brave browser, your search results are powered by DuckDuckGo when you enter private (incognito) tabs.
Last year, Google also added DuckDuckGo to its list of search engines on Android and its platforms. With iOS 14, Apple now also allows users to use DuckDuckGo as their preferred search engine.
Unlike DuckDuckGo, Startpage does not crawl the internet to generate unique results, but allows users to get Google search results while protecting their data.
Startpage began as a sister company to Ixquick, which was founded in 1998. In 2016, the two websites were merged, and the owners of Startpage received a significant investment from Privacy One Group last year.
This search engine also derives its revenue from advertising, but these advertisements are generated anonymously only based on the search term you enter. Your information is not stored online or shared with other companies, such as Google.
Startpage also comes with a cool feature called “Anonymous View” which allows you to view links anonymously.
When you use this feature, Startpage renders the website in its container and the website will not be able to track you because it will see Startpage as a visitor.
The next search engine on our list is Ecosia.
Unlike all other search engines, Ecosia is a CO2 neutral search engine and uses the revenue generated to plant trees. Ecosia’s search results are powered by Bing and enhanced by the company’s own algorithms.
Ecosia was first launched on December 7, 2009, and the company has donated most of its profits to plant trees around the world.
Ecosia claims that it is a privacy-friendly search engine and that your searches are encrypted, which means the data is not stored permanently and sold to third-party advertisers.
List of privacy-friendly browsers:
Web browser developers have taken existing browser platforms such as Chrome and Firefox and modified them to include more privacy-focused features that protect your data as you browse the web.
Brave is one of the fastest browsers that only focuses on privacy with features like private browsing, data saver, ad-free experience, bookmark sync, tracking protections, HTTP everywhere, and more.
Brave’s memory usage is much lower than Google Chrome and the browser is also available for mobile and desktop.
You can download Brave from here.
Tor Browser is another browser that aims to protect your data, including your IP address, while browsing the web.
When you browse the web with Tor, your connections to websites will be anonymous because your request will be routed through other computers and your real IP address is not shared.
Additionally, Tor bundles come with NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere extensions pre-installed and clear your HTTP cookies on exit, to better protect your privacy.
You can download the Tor Browser from here.
Firefox Focus is also a great option if you’re using Android or iOS.
According to Mozilla, Firefox Focus blocks a wide range of online trackers, clears your history, passwords, cookies, and comes with a user-friendly interface.
Firefox Focus also comes with a built-in ad blocker to improve your experience and block all trackers, including those operated by Google and Facebook.
You can download Firefox Focus from the App Store and Play Store.