Fortunately yes, DuckDuckGo is safe to use and considered one of the best search engines that value your privacy. Unlike Google Chrome, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track or collect your browsing and personal information. It even blocks well-known trackers across the internet.
You can get a DuckDuckGo app for iOS, Mac, and Android, add an extension to Google Chrome, or simply visit their website and perform your searches there. Needless to say, access to safe searches should not be an issue.
Table of contents
What is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is an internet privacy company formed back in 2008. They offer a privacy search engine and other apps and extensions to protect users from Facebook, Google, and other trackers on the web.
Your search privacy is DuckDuckGo’s main selling point. Though it’s a free service, your information is not stored every time you search for something. Also, your searches aren’t exposed to third parties, nor do they create a user profile tied to your searches. Therefore, fewer ads.
Unless you wish to share your personal information with DuckDuckGo, they don’t keep anything on their side of the platform.
DuckDuckGo’s encryption also solves the “search leakage” issue – which usually means that the search term you entered in the search engines will be sent to the website you click on – putting the minds of many privacy enthusiasts at ease.
Can you be tracked on DuckDuckGo?
It isn’t easy to be 100% private when you need to make a living – as in DuckDuckGo’s case. All their services are free, but it’s far from perfect if you want more private browsing. So, does DuckDuckGo track you? The answer is both yes and no based on the following two sections.
Why DuckDuckGo can’t track you
DuckDuckGo solves one major problem regarding internet privacy: search leakage. Other search engines, such as Google, collect your data and use it to track your actions. Search leakage happens when data from the search engine is sent to the site you visit.
Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo doesn’t send that information. Other sites won’t know that you came in from DuckDuckGo. This is due to the encryption the search engine uses to remove this part of the information sent through the internet.
However, in terms of local-level hacking, DuckDuckGo will not be able to save your information. That’s because although the searches are encrypted, they will remain behind on your computer. In other words, your browsing history will still leave hints detailing your path.
So, if someone were to hack your computer, DuckDuckGo’s protection wouldn’t help you. Your search history is also visibly trackable, as clicked sources appear darker.
Ways that DuckDuckGo can track you
Despite the following site not knowing where you came from, links still provide information about where you are going. Given that these links take you back to your search, this search engine can still track you with enough effort.
Also, if you willingly share your personal information with DuckDuckGo, they may be able to track you.
DuckDuckGo: pros vs. cons
As we’ve explored, DuckDuckGo does stand up to its primary mission: keeping you private. However, there are some downsides to its search engine.
DuckDuckGo’s upsides are plentiful, including:
- No tracked user data — DuckDuckGo doesn’t even know how many users it has;
- No stored user data — it only stores the bare minimum for spelling corrections and search suggestions;
- Pure search results — it won’t give you search results based on assumptions of your location or browsing history;
- No ads — you won’t get any annoying ads popping out while you browse;
- One-scroll experience — all search results are shown on one page, letting you scroll down to see more results;
- Bangs — a feature that lets you get results only from a specific platform like Wikipedia instead of searching the whole web;
- Instant answers — it works similarly to Google’s featured snippet by letting you get answers to your search queries without having to open any webpage.
Of course, DuckDuckGo also has its shortcomings, the biggest being:
- Lack of personalization – since DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect your data, it’s not possible to get user-specific results (i.e., the auto-suggest function). Therefore, local listings may also be harder to find;
- Fewer services – unlike Google, DuckDuckGo only has a search engine. Therefore, things like the Play Store, Google Books, Google Music, etc., are not available.
DuckDuckGo vs. mainstream search engines
You can’t do a proper review without having a look at the competition. Since you now know all the perks and disadvantages of DuckDuckGo, you must be wondering how it stacks up against the most popular search engines. Let me answer your questions right now.
DuckDuckGo vs. Google
Google is the default search engine for most and has even become synonymous with the process of searching for anything online. And while it’s great, it’s not exactly perfect. Here’s what Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO of DuckDuckGo, had to say about Google:
“The issue with Google is they run four of the biggest ad networks in the world, and only one is search-related. The rest are on millions of sites and apps across the internet, and they use tracking to do better at ads on these third-party sites.”
DuckDuckGo’s philosophy is that the companies behind search engines shouldn’t profit from your data. Therefore, the search results do not come from an algorithm built on user information. Instead, it’s a blank slate search-wise.
On the other hand, Google collects a lot of information about you, such as your search history, location, and IP address, which leads to search results that are more user-oriented. Google also offers more features outside of Google search, such as Google Workspace or Google Maps, which DuckDuckGo does not offer.
So if you want more features and search results tailored around you, Google is the way to go. But DuckDuckGo has a big edge when it comes to user privacy.
DuckDuckGo vs. Yahoo
Much like Google, Yahoo delivers personalized search results. It also shows targeted ads. This means that Yahoo collects just as much of your data as Google. In other words, Yahoo does a great job at providing search results that you would be interested in. But it doesn’t do that well when it comes to protecting your privacy.
On top of being a popular search engine, Yahoo also offers a lot of customization options for its interface, which makes the search truly feel like your own. If you want an email, Yahoo has got you covered with one of the most popular email services in the world.
DuckDuckGo does not have any of that fancy stuff. But it does provide unbiased search results while maintaining your privacy.
DuckDuckGo vs. Bing
I know, I know. This is getting a bit repetitive. Bing is a big and popular search platform that collects your data. As a result, your search results fit your interests accurately. But you’re also presented with targeted ads, and little is done to protect your privacy.
There are some things that help Bing stand out. Mainly, it has a great image search, and it’s associated with the Microsoft Cashback program, which allows you to get some of your money back by shopping on Bing.
Once again, DuckDuckGo has the same edge over Bing as it does over the other search engines mentioned above. It does a far better job at protecting your privacy and keeps your searches bias-free, without any personalized ads.
Why use a VPN on top of DuckDuckGo?
So far, I’ve mentioned several ways DuckDuckGo is safer and more private than Google, the go-to search engine. However, if you want to take an extra step toward ultimate online privacy and security, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like Surfshark on top of DuckDuckGo is vital.
When you connect to Surfshark, your data is automatically encrypted, and your device is given a different Internet Protocol (IP) address. This will keep your real IP safe from third-party websites as well as any third-party trackers that DuckDuckGo has chosen not to disable (like what happened recently with Microsoft).
All the websites you click on when browsing with the DuckDuckGo search engine will think you are a unique user from another country. It’s a 2-in-1 combo of privacy protection – you get all the perks of a private search engine while enjoying an extra layer of security from Surfshark VPN. In other words, your internet world of possibilities just got bigger.
Why not try Surfshark Search instead?
That’s right — all Surfshark enthusiasts can use Surfshark Search. It’s our search engine that doesn’t track you. It doesn’t even have ads.
And since you know that the subscription model funds Surfshark, there’s no need to worry about us selling your data. Not that Search keeps any as all results are organic, not influenced by your previous searches.
DuckDuckGo reviewed — the verdict
DuckDuckGo focuses on privacy and doesn’t store or track user data and, as of 2022, it also blocks all major trackers. Despite relying on Bing for search results, DuckDuckGo provides better anonymity, and is one of the main search engines for ToR.
Remember, there’s no one perfect privacy tool. But with DuckDuckGo and Surfshark combined, you can be sure that your data is safer than it would have been without it.
What is the downside of DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo doesn’t offer personalized search filters for getting better search results. But there’s a trade-off that appeals to privacy-seekers: DuckDuckGo doesn’t store personal data like Google, meaning your prior activity doesn’t affect search results.
Is DuckDuckGo owned by Google?
DuckDuckGo is not owned by Google. It is owned by Duck Duck Go Inc., which, as far as we know, isn’t owned by anyone else.
Is DuckDuckGo a VPN?
DuckDuckGo isn’t a VPN. It’s a search engine and an associated web browser.
Is DuckDuckGo owned by Microsoft?
DuckDuckGo is not owned by Microsoft. However, Bing-powered ads are one of the ways that DuckDuckGo earns revenue.
What is the most secure search engine?
DuckDuckGo, Startpage, and Surfshark Search are among the most private search engines around – check our article for more details.
Why should I use DuckDuckGo instead of Google?
There are two main reasons for choosing DuckDuckGo over Google: privacy and unbiased search results. DuckDuckGo does not store or track user data, which goes a long way when it comes to ensuring your online privacy. And since they don’t have any of your data, they can’t personalize your search results, which means they stay pure and without user bias.
Is DuckDuckGo free?
Yes, DuckDuckGo and all of its services are completely free. The company makes money through ads, therefore, it does not require any payments from the user.
Since DuckDuckGo does not collect your data, the ads you see are not personalized and simply chosen to match your search query.