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Search Engines

Use a search engine that doesn't build an advertising profile based on your searches.

The recommendations here do not collect personally identifying information (PII) based on each service's privacy policy. There is no guarantee that these privacy policies are honored.

Consider using a VPN or Tor if your threat model requires hiding your IP address from the search provider.

Provider Search Index Tor Hidden Service Logging / Privacy Policy Country of Operation
Brave Search Independent Anonymized1 United States
DuckDuckGo Bing Anonymized2 United States
Startpage Google and Bing Anonymized3 Netherlands

Brave Search logo

Brave Search is a search engine developed by Brave. The index is optimized against Google Search and therefore may provide more contextually accurate results compared to other alternatives.

Brave Search includes unique features such as Discussions, which highlights conversation-focused results such as forum posts.


Note that if you use Brave Search while logged in to a Premium account, it may make it easier for Brave to correlate queries with specific users.

We recommend you disable Anonymous usage metrics as it is enabled by default and can be disabled within settings.


DuckDuckGo logo

DuckDuckGo is one of the more mainstream private search engine options. Notable DuckDuckGo search features include bangs and a variety of instant answers. The search engine uses numerous sources other than Bing for instant answers and other non-primary results.

DuckDuckGo is the default search engine for the Tor Browser and is one of the few available options on Apple’s Safari browser.


DuckDuckGo offers two other versions of their search engine, both of which do not require JavaScript. These versions do lack features, however. These versions can also be used in conjunction with their Tor hidden address by appending /lite or /html for the respective version.


Startpage logo Startpage logo

Startpage is a private search engine. One of Startpage's unique features is the Anonymous View, which puts forth efforts to standardize user activity to make it more difficult to be uniquely identified. The feature can be useful for hiding some network and browser properties. Unlike the name suggests, the feature should not be relied upon for anonymity. If you are looking for anonymity, use the Tor Browser instead.


Startpage's majority shareholder is System1 who is an adtech company. We don't believe that to be an issue as they have a distinctly separate privacy policy. The Privacy Guides team reached out to Startpage back in 2020 to clear up any concerns with System1's sizeable investment into the service, and we were satisfied with the answers we received.

Startpage previously placed limitations on VPN and Tor users, but they recently created an official Tor hidden service, and as of April 2024 we have no longer noticed extra roadblocks for Tor or VPN users.

Metasearch Engines

A metasearch engine aggregates the results of other search engines, such as the ones recommended above, while not storing any information itself.


SearXNG logo

SearXNG is an open-source, self-hostable, metasearch engine. It is an actively maintained fork of SearX.


SearXNG is a proxy between you and the search engines it aggregates from. Your search queries will still be sent to the search engines that SearXNG gets its results from.

When self-hosting, it is important that you have other people using your instance so that the queries would blend in. You should be careful with where and how you are hosting SearXNG, as people looking up illegal content on your instance could draw unwanted attention from authorities.

When you are using a SearXNG instance, be sure to go read their privacy policy. Since SearXNG instances may be modified by their owners, they do not necessarily reflect their privacy policy. Some instances run as a Tor hidden service, which may grant some privacy as long as your search queries does not contain PII.


Please note we are not affiliated with any of the projects we recommend. In addition to our standard criteria, we have developed a clear set of requirements to allow us to provide objective recommendations. We suggest you familiarize yourself with this list before choosing to use a project, and conduct your own research to ensure it's the right choice for you.

Minimum Requirements

  • Must not collect PII per their privacy policy.
  • Must not require users to create an account with them.


Our best-case criteria represents what we would like to see from the perfect project in this category. Our recommendations may not include any or all of this functionality, but those which do may rank higher than others on this page.

  • Should be based on open-source software.
  • Should not block Tor exit node IP addresses.

  1. Brave Search collects aggregated usage metrics, which includes the OS and the user agent. However, they do not collect PII. To serve anonymous local results, IP addresses are temporarily processed, but are not retained. 

  2. DuckDuckGo does log your searches for product improvement purposes, but not your IP address or any other PII. 

  3. Startpage logs details such as operating system, user agent, and language. They do not log your IP address, search queries, or other PII. 

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