- DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused competitor to Google Search that doesn’t collect or share your search history or clicks.
- I switched to DuckDuckGo for one week, and learned to appreciate some aspects like fewer advertisements, comparable search results, and an easy-to-navigate settings page.
- I did miss Google’s layout — especially the “Top Stories” thumbnails that appear at the top of the search results page— and I often wondered if I was actually getting the best possible results with DuckDuckGo.
- Ultimately, I didn’t find the privacy features of DuckDuckGo compelling enough to permanently make the switch from Google.
Back in the day, there were options when it came to search.
Choosing between AOL, Yahoo, or Alta Vista kind of just depended on your mood that day. And then came Google, and a clear search engine king was crowned.
The ubiquity of Google search today is astounding. In September, Google powered over 86% of desktop searches worldwide, according to Statista.
However, with personal privacy becoming more of a concern — especially the Google+ fiasco that led the company to shut down its less-than-beloved social network — perhaps search is headed for a shakeup.
If any privacy-focused search engine is going to rival Google Search, it might be DuckDuckGo. With 800 million daily direct queries as of this September (up 33% from last year), the search engine named after the children’s game appears to be gaining some real traction. In fact, it’s a profitable business.
Beyond not tracking my every move (DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect or share your search history or clicks), there were some other aspects I learned to appreciate like less advertisements, comparable search results and an easy-to-navigate settings page that allowed me to freely switch between themes.
I tested DuckDuckGo for one week, completely locking myself out of Google search to see if I could survive on this more privacy-focused alternative.
Here’s what I found.
Privacy is the main selling point for DuckDuckGo. The Google search alternative doesn’t track your search history, the time or location of your search, or your Internet address — a stark contrast
However, I didn’t feel the privacy features at work a ton in my day-to-day usage of the product. Typically, privacy isn’t an issue until it’s an issue; it’s not something you care about when you’re just trying to find information and get stuff done.
One cool privacy feature was the ability to see the number of ad trackers blocked on each website I visited. On the TheRinger.com, for instance, DuckDuckGo was able to block 13 trackers for me.
After checking out this feature a couple of times, though, I forgot it was there and wasn’t thinking about how many trackers were being blocked for every website I visited.
There were fewer ads on DuckDuckGo, providing a cleaner (and less creepy) experience. Fewer ads also made the platform feel more secure. Although when searching for ad-bait terms like “cheap flights,” DuckDuckGo still returns a number of ads as top search results. Hey, they have to make money somehow.
As TechJunkie reports, though, having “true” privacy online is almost impossible. Even though search engines like DuckDuckGo help keep things private on your computer, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still access your search history.
If complete privacy is of utmost importance to your browsing on the web, TechJunkie suggests the Tor browser.