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submitted 3 weeks ago* (last edited 2 weeks ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

So with the recent Bing situation I wanted to take a second look on private search engines and sharing my conclusions of each search engine. Here is my list of private search engines:

Duckduckgo

I really like Duckduckgo, it has all important tools, decent result quality and a great image search function. Instant answers is very useful. My main problems are the reliance on Bing as the index and the choice of Apple Maps as mapping solution. Apart from the situation with the browser and Microsoft tracking Duckduckgo has a pretty clear record and the privacy.

Startpage

Startpage is another great option. Apart from mapping everything is there and, while not as good as Duckduckgo's, the image search engine good. The results are based on google and on par to better than those of DDG. The main advantages over DDG are European base (Netherlands) and the anonymous view, which basically functions as a quick access VPN, but sadly breaks ad/tracker blockers. Privacy for regular search is equal to DDG, but you have to disable JS to get rid of some telemetry. It is owned by an advertising company

Swisscows

Swisscows is okay. It is also Bing based, but slightly worse than DDG results. It lacks image search filters and mapping, but offers a music search which allows you to listen to ad free music. It also has an anonymous view, but it's not interactive. Privacy is similar to DDG, but has more telemetry and (temporally) stores your IP. It is from Switzerland, it also has a very strict anti gore/porn policy that sometimes makes normal search terms inaccessible.

Qwant

Qwant used to be very solid French search engine, has dropped in quality. Similar search quality to DDG, image search like Startpage. They use Bing in combination with their own index. Then problems: They share your IP with Microsoft and they replaced their main advantage, openstreetmap based independent mapping service, with AI summary's that require an account. Worse privacy than all the above.

Ecosia

Very similar to DDG. The main differences are that Ecosia is based in Germany, it plants trees to fight climate change, but also forwards your IP to MS.

Brave

Braves main advantages are being independent, both with the search and the AI, and the goggles that allow you to customize your results. Search results are slightly better than DDG, image search is bad, no mapping is available. Brave has had invaded privacy in the past, but currently the privacy is good as long as you disable statistics. The company itself is a bit concerning and the CEO is homophobic.

SearXNG

SearXNG is self hosted and open source, it uses various search engines as index and has a ton of extra feature like music search, fediverse search and a bunch more. While it has the most features and best privacy of all options, public instances are sometimes slow and the results aren't really good.

Kagi

Kagi is in principle a decent quality search engine, but it is paid and has some problems that are only getting worse. For those interested read this blogpost.

4get

4get is a open source, self hostable search engine. It acts as a web scraper for various search engines, also supports Soundcloud. It has great privacy and good results, but it lacks mapping and the official instance requires a CAPTCHA per 100 searches

Yep

Yep is an independent search engine. It is private and has good results, but lacks image search tools, video search and mapping.

Presearch

Decentralized independent search. It has good results but lacks image search tools, is sometimes unreliable and has intrusive advertising

A quick fire round of search engine that have decent privacy, but I wouldn't use due to result quality:

Ekoru Like Ecosia, but for cleaning oceans, Bing based, few features, requires extension.

Whoggle Like SearXNG, but with less features.

Metager Meta search engine with multiple search back ends, mainly Bing (Yahoo), completely powered by renewable energy

Mojeek Independent UK search engine with few additional feature, is supposed to be unbiased

LibreX/LibreY Like Whoggle

AstianGO Slightly modified version of LibreX by the Devs of the Midori Browser

Ghostery German independent search engine, regular web only, offers tracker analysis for websites

Stract Open source, self hostable, independent search engine

Lilo Like Ecosia, but with fewer features and the option to support various projects

YouCare Bing based search, shares your IP with MS, does "good deeds", some missing features

Giburu Google based proxy search

Gigablast Open source, self hostable, independent search engine

Mwmbl Open source, independent, self hostable search engine. Only web results

Marginalia Open source, independent, self hostable search engine. Only web results, offers filters

That would be my list. I'll still be sticking with Duckduckgo but I'd reconsider if Startpage improves it image search. Brave will probably never be my default, but it has proven it's role as a more private backup. Comment if I missed any search engine

Search engines I didn't include due to horrible privacy Bing/Google/Yandex/Yahoo/You/Baidu

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[-] [email protected] 4 points 2 weeks ago

4get

requires a CAPTCHA per 100 searches

The software itself doesn't require any Captcha, it's just the specific instance you chose that has this requirement. There are many other instances (like e.g. 4get.ch) that don't have a Captcha at all. You can find the entire instance list at https://4get.cynic.moe/instances. It also shows you whether an instance has the captcha enabled or not.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

What about Mullvad Leta?

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

Can someone explain like I'm 5 searXNG?

Like, I vaguely understand the terms everyone uses to explain it but I don't really understand what it does or how it does it. I've used a public instance of it that the maintainers of my Linux distro provide and is set as default search on a fresh install. The results weren't terrible but did take some time to load, which is the main reason I tend to use other engines.

If I self host it do I get better performance? What about results? Are they different on different instances?

[-] [email protected] 4 points 3 weeks ago

SearXNG searches google, bing etc. for you and shows them to you. Speed depends on server speed and user number. Even if you don’t self host you can change the search providers in the settings, which can have an effect on result quality, but the less you choose the faster

[-] [email protected] 4 points 3 weeks ago

I used to be a Kagi subscriber because I believed in their image for Orion. Their strong views on privacy, imo, directly conflict with their action to keep the product closed source “because it’d slow them down”, so I ended up unsubscribing. Good to see I unsubbed just in time.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

Thanks for the linked blogpost about Kagi! That saved me a lot of money.

It really changed my mind about it.. I want to support a privacy focused search engine, not an AI-loving mess without focus on their core product.

I will have a look at MetaGer next. Although I am sad that there is still no good original search engine with it's own results.. Still all depending on Google and Microsoft.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

In the forum we also have a huge list of search engines (arranged alphabetically with it's corresponding insert codes)

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

Thanks a lot for the write up!

[-] [email protected] 9 points 3 weeks ago

Thanks for the list!

One point I will add is that Startpage is actually owned by an American spamming company:

https://restoreprivacy.com/startpage-system1-privacy-one-group/

I used to use them a lot before the system1/Privacy One acquisition, but then decided to switch back to google (never liked DDG's results, but might have to try them again).

[-] [email protected] 3 points 3 weeks ago

Google is most definitely worse than system1/Privacy One.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

Maybe, maybe not.

Google does have PR considerations to manage.

Not saying they are better, but it is one constraint on their behaviour that doesn't apply to system1/privacy one.

The fact that they are not very open about the acquisition of Startpage also doesn't inspire confidence.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 weeks ago

Google does have PR considerations to manage.

No. That's for smaller companies. Google is at the point where they can do whatever the hell they want without having to care about "PR considerations". They could praise genocide and it's hard to imagine people would drop Youtube, Google Search, Android or Chrome.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

This is a very comprehensive summary, thanks for the effort you clearly put in.

If I can make one correction, it would be to clarify that Ecosia is not really comparable to DuckDuckGo in terms of privacy. Not only does it log your IP address, but it also logs your search queries and forwards both of these to Microsoft and/or Google (depending on how you choose to search). Ecosia anonymises your IP address after a week, but for Microsoft that process takes 6 months and for Google it takes 9 months. In contrast, DuckDuckGo does not log your IP address and only collects anonymised search results, completely separated from any personal identifier. It does not forward this data to any third party. DuckDuckGo has also made privacy-guaranteeing agreements with Microsoft around ads (which are provided by Microsoft). Ecosia has not made similar agreements with Microsoft and Google from what I can tell.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 3 weeks ago

I mainly use Andisearch, maybe one of the most privacy protecting search engine with AI. It's PP is pretty impressive

[-] [email protected] 8 points 3 weeks ago

Startpage recently started collecting browser/OS telemetry using JavaScript so if you want to use it you should disable JavaScript on their site

I would use kagi, but only if they supported monero payments.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 weeks ago

What is the issue with BTC You can send BTC anonymously too

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

What about Presearch.com ?

[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 weeks ago

I just switched to Kagi because I liked the idea of a paid search engine who's aim was to remove the internet's clutter, not use any profile besides the one I create to show me results, and where I could weight certain sites that produce good content.

Reading the blog post the issues allegedly are:

  1. Privacy is not guaranteed, like with a 3rd party audit
  2. AI usage is growing not shrinking
  3. The business seems to be poorly run and could have a short lifespan

Is this correct?

[-] [email protected] 3 points 3 weeks ago

Yeah that blog post didn’t contain anything damning, just generic level “business could be run a little better”, and “they like AI more” than the blogger dies. Ok, so, and? Whole lotta smoke there without much fire. I still am happy with Kagi from what I read.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

The fact that much of the project is discussed over Discord should be damning enough...

Don't you think is damning that someone's concern of privacy is handwaved because the data was "volunteered, not collected" ?


And, as a user, many of the AI features are limited at best and factually incorrect at worst. I would only salvage FastGPT and Quick Answer; they summarize the first 4 or 5 relevant links and contrasting views (even if it bases the whole search on a single Reddit comment from 2017).

Funnily enough the Universal Summarizer and Discuss Docs are the least reliable.


All in all, I am conflicted because it seemed like a pristine service and it's getting clouded with time.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

As far as I know, Startpage uses Bing, not Google now. The same is true for Ecosia.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 weeks ago* (last edited 2 weeks ago)

Back then they used Google only but now Bing a bit too

[-] [email protected] 5 points 3 weeks ago

According to their about page they use google

[-] [email protected] 3 points 3 weeks ago

It didn't return any search results during the Bing outage, as experienced by me personally and reported by others. At least one blog post claims it relies on Bing.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago
[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

That's what they say, but I'd expect it to be producing some results even in the event of Bing being down if that were the case.

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this post was submitted on 26 May 2024
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