What’s the best private search engine? We compare the two most notable privacy-focused services, Startpage and DuckDuckGo.
Without search engines, exploring billions of web resources is an impossible mission. While Google manages to do it in the best way, some alternatives focus on providing search results without tracking your data.
And among some popular private search engines out there, DuckDuckGo and Startpage seem to be the best contenders. But what should you use? Let’s compare the privacy-friendly search engines by considering some of the important factors that you should look for when choosing your default search engine.
DuckDuckGo does not collect your IP address but logs the search queries without personally identifying you. No information is tied to you for the search query terms that you look for with them. The search terms are mostly used to improve their search results or track trends while keeping you anonymous.
For Startpage, they do not collect anything, not even the search queries, unlike DuckDuckGo. Technically, Startpage gets an edge here.
It is worth noting that none of them collect anything that reveals your identity or your location. You can explore theand to know more.
Advertisements are necessary to keep the lights on. You will notice advertisements on both the search engines.
Fortunately, they let you disable the ads if you want to. Startpage relies on Google’s Ad network to display any advertisements related to what you search for.
And DuckDuckGo utilizes Microsoft’s Ad network to show up advertisements on the search results page. None of the ads are based on your personal search activity.
The advertisements displayed are based on what you search for, not your past activity. In some cases, you may notice more advertisements listed on Startpage compared to DuckDuckGo. At the time of writing this, DuckDuckGo seems to display fewer ads.
Country of Jurisdiction
While they do not collect any search data that can be traced back to you, the country where they operate may give them some added benefits when considering privacy laws.
Startpage is based out of the Netherlands, which comes under the scrutiny of EU laws. And DuckDuckGo is US-based.
Generally, European privacy laws are focused more on providing users with control of their data, like they do with. They constantly introduce measures to keep the big companies in check with the data collection practices. For instance, if a company does not have strong data protection measures, it may not continue business in the EU or be liable to pay a hefty fine.
So, even if there is a wild possibility of Startpage collecting any form of data, the European privacy laws help give users control of it and hold the company accountable.
But when it comes to the United States, even if DuckDuckGo starts collecting any form of data, the US privacy laws may not help users take control of their data and give any immediate power to them to hold the company accountable.
While this is highly speculative, it is just something that you should know and a factor that could influence your personal decision to keep your privacy-conscious mind at peace.
Not every user wants to customize the experience when using a search engine, but for those whose who do, DuckDuckGo proves to be the better option.
Startpage offers most of the essential options, including region selection, theme, and search results per page.
In comparison, DuckDuckGo provides a few more options that include infinite scroll, map rendering, and several added appearance tweaks.
Search Result Quality
Startpage utilizes Google’s search index by making anonymous requests. So the search results are better right off the bat.
DuckDuckGo relies on Microsoft’s Bing and some indexing partners to provide you with search results. While it is comparable to Google’s, it can be different for a few specific queries.
Note that the local search result quality may not be comparable to Google for both of them. For instance, they understandably do not have all the location-specific features that Google offers to help you find a place or business quickly.
When you search for something on DuckDuckGo, if it is a timely topic of interest covered by news outlets, you will find recent news highlighted in the search results. This makes it convenient and accessible to catch up with news related to your query.
While Startpage offers you a separate news section, it is not automatically displayed in the search results. They could introduce it soon, but it is not available at present.
Similarly, DuckDuckGo offers the functionality of “Bang” shortcuts; these let you search using any supported sites and navigate to your favorite websites quickly without clicking on the search results.