|Promises to protect privacy|
|Can be added to your browser|
|Tracking codes are disabled|
|Independent since 2008|
|Doesn't encrypt all your traffic|
I carried out a little research before I considered using DuckDuckGo, and discovered that it ranked #2 for the best private search engine of 2022. This was according to Softwear Testing Help, a site that knows about such things. Privacy is the main selling point of DuckDuckGo, as you'll see when you hit their home page. It’s a search engine you can use for free, and makes an alternative to the many others out there, and it’s also one that comes as an add-on to your browser. Depending on which browser you prefer, you’ll find it easy to add it, and you can rest assured there is no advert tracking; not from the search engine, that is. Individual site may still track your interests and history in the standard way.
DuckDuckGo makes several promises. It says it doesn't alter your search results according to your previous search history, as some engines do. It’s a private company, so it’s not controlled by Google, and it has been independent since it was founded in 2008. They also state: “The DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser mobile app and Privacy Essentials desktop extension both come with our best-in-class tracker blocker, encryption enforcer, and private search engine—all in one simple package.” You’re wondering how it makes money, and they explain that as well, stating that they receive an income from private advertising, but this is not based on any profile information collected about users. It sounds very safe and user friendly, but what are its search results like?
I tried DuckDuckGo on Firefox. It’s easy to install as an add-on (and also easy to uninstall with no harmful effects), or you can use it as a search engine without installing the extension. I started by browsing for ‘Porn Guide’, of course, and we came up top of the list. Good. Once you’ve run a search, you’ll see that there are a few options to customise your searching. ‘All Regions’ lets you easily select what country you want to search in, and that’s a great little tool. With Google, for example, I’m forever getting USA results when I want UK or elsewhere, but that’s not the case here. Then, you can have a strict safe search or a moderate one, or you can turn off safe searching completely. With it set to moderate, my ‘Porn Guide’ image search returned G-rated pics only; another good thing. With the safe search off, I got what I expected; lots of porn pics! The third main feature is ‘Any Time’, where you can limit your results to things posted in the last week, month etc.
I did notice a couple of oddities. I ran a random image search for ‘porn’ and got what I was expecting; lots of guys and girls banging away in shots from various adult sites. Then I ran a search for ‘gay porn’ and the results that came back were some of the most extreme I’d ever seen. So, I went back to ‘porn’ and this time, most of the results were gay pics; not as extreme as before, but still, the search had been altered because I’d previously entered ‘gay’ into the box. I didn’t suffer any adverts later in the day when on my social media sites, so it seems DuckDuckGo works in that respect.
It certainly looks like DuckDuckGo lives up to its promises and keeps the adverts and tracking away from your PC. Its results are returned to you within a second, so it’s also a powerful and fast search engine, and it has customisable features. These make it easy to be specific about where and when you want your results to come from. What I noticed and liked most about it, though, was that it was uncluttered. Unlike the larger players (you know who I mean), there was none of those righthand side extras that come back after you hit ‘search’, and that made reading the results lists much easier. The bottom line is, if you want to try a new search engine, try this one because it’s not going to follow you around with adverts based on your search history, it’s secure and it appears to keep to its promises.