DuckDuckGo vs. Google: The Best Search Engine for You
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Google is one of the world’s largest companies. Although they have expanded into many areas of our lives, they are still best known for their search engine. To keep their services free, Google records a staggering amount of data about our online habits. That data is used to show us targeted advertising—Google’s primary source of income.

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If you’re looking for a privacy-focused alternative to Google search, then the DuckDuckGo search engine might be the answer.

What Is DuckDuckGo?

The DuckDuckGo Search Engine
DuckDuckGo describes itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you.”

Most search engines collect and store search data, with Google even linking that data to your account. The recorded information is used to personalize your search results, and to show you targeted advertising.

But DuckDuckGo (DDG) doesn’t track you and opts not to personalize your search results.

The site has grown steadily since its inception, going from an average 79,000 daily searches in 2010, to 38.8 million daily and 31 billion total searches as of June 2019.

Some of this growth has been down to DDG’s partnerships with browsers like Firefox and Apple’s Safari. They have also partnered with many Linux operating systems and have native apps for both Android and iOS.

For those that want to take anonymity a step further, TOR browser users are presented with DuckDuckGo search results by default. DDG focuses on search result quality over quantity, with results coming from over 400 sources.

If you still crave alternative results, DDG’s bangs feature allows you to search third-party sites and even other search providers directly.

Who Owns DuckDuckGo?

Press Shot of DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg
DuckDuckGo was first launched in 2008 by founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg. It is still owned and operated by Weinberg under the privately held company DuckDuckGo Inc. The company currently has over 65 employees working behind the scenes to continue development of DDG.

When talking about privacy, it is essential to know a bit about the people that run the companies you entrust with your data. Before creating DDG, Gabriel Weinberg developed one of the first-wave social networks, Names Database.

He later sold the business for approximately $10 million in 2006. The money was used to self-fund the development of DDG through the company’s early years. Weinberg later co-authored Traction, a book about startup growth.

How Does DuckDuckGo Earn Money?

Weinberg’s initial cash injection carried the company for some years. In 2011, the venture capital firm Union Square Ventures invested in DDG. According to Crunchbase, that initial funding round netted DDG an additional $3 million. To date, their external fundraising has generated $13 million.

However, venture capital investments don’t make a company profitable. To create a financially sustainable business model, DDG displays advertising.

However, unlike other search engines, the adverts are not based on targeted data. Instead, the ads are based exclusively on the keywords in your search. All of DDG’s advertising is syndicated by Yahoo, which is part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance.

https://marissamayr.tumblr.com/post/116552888324/moving-search-forward


While DDG doesn’t provide any personal data to either company, the inclusion of two technology giants with questionable attitudes to privacy might make you uncomfortable. That’s why DDG allows you to head over to the settings and disable advertisements.

This is one of the most important points in the DuckDuckGo vs. Google battle.

DuckDuckGo is also part of Amazon and eBay’s affiliate programs. If you click through to either site from your search results and make a purchase, DDG receives a small percentage of the sale. However, no personal information is passed through to either company.

Can You Trust DuckDuckGo?

Developments in recent years have shown that many technology companies can’t be trusted with your data. From Facebook selling your data to unscrupulous third parties to Timehop losing the personal information of over 21 million accounts, there are many data breaches that may have put you at risk 5 Recent Data Breaches That May Have Put Your Data at Risk 5 Recent Data Breaches That May Have Put Your Data at Risk It can be hard to keep up with all the latest online security hacks, so we've rounded up some of 2018's most notable breaches. Read More .

So, it’s only natural that you would question why you should trust DuckDuckGo. The founder’s privacy-focused background and the company’s admirable business model are excellent starting points, but there are plenty more reasons to trust DDG. If you’ve been wondering is DuckDuckGo safe, then these points may reassure you.

Privacy Policy

Their clearly written Privacy Policy also makes for reassuring reading, providing detail on the small amount of information they do collect. The key takeaways are that they do not store IP addresses or unique User-Agent identification and will set a cookie only for saving site settings.

It ends with the assuring statement:

“…we will comply with court-ordered legal requests. However, in our case, we don’t expect any because there is nothing useful to give them since we don’t collect any personal information.”

Open Source

As well as being built using free and open source software (FOSS), DDG has made parts of their software open source. Many of the site’s designs, mobile apps, browser extensions, whitelists, and instant answers are available on DuckDuckGo’s GitHub page.

Although the primary search core is proprietary, open-sourcing most other parts of the site means that, given the inclination, anyone can view the code.

Donations to Privacy

Like many companies, DDG also donates a portion of their income to good causes. They specifically select organizations which share their “vision of raising the standard of trust online.”

Each year DuckDuckGo selects a new group of organizations, even reaching out to Reddit for suggestions. To date, they have donated $1.3 million to their chosen beneficiaries. The Donations page on their website lists each donation they’ve made, arranged by year.

Beyond Search

In January 2018, DuckDuckGo moved beyond search, releasing a suite of tools to help you maintain your privacy across the internet. They revamped their browser extensions and mobile apps to include tracking protection, encryption, and quick access to their private search.

The update also added a Site Privacy Grade rating from A through to F, for you to gauge how much a site maintains your privacy. Many of the features found in the browser extension and mobile apps aim to stop tracking and protect your privacy. In other words, DuckDuckGo’s privacy apps want to keep you safe online How DuckDuckGo's New Privacy Apps Keep You Safe Online How DuckDuckGo's New Privacy Apps Keep You Safe Online Privacy-based search engine DuckDuckGo has released new mobile apps and browser extensions. Here's how they can keep you secure online. Read More .

DuckDuckGo vs. Google

Alongside search, Google operates some of the web’s most used software including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, and more besides. Google’s access to vast amounts of your data means that its results can be deeply personalized and their search page pulls it all together in one place.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t have any personal data to draw from, and so makes itself stand out in other ways. It’s one of the many ways that DuckDuckGo protects your personal information online How Does DuckDuckGo Protect Your Personal Information Online? How Does DuckDuckGo Protect Your Personal Information Online? Curious about DuckDuckGo but confused about how the search engine can improve your online privacy? Here's what you need to know. Read More .

This privacy-focused environment is almost the exact reverse of Google’s highly targeted surroundings. There are no personalized ads, no personal search results, and no filter bubble. Depending on your point of view, this is either one of DDG’s best or worst features. For the privacy-minded, this lack of tracking is likely to seal the deal.

However, DuckDuckGo has another trick up its sleeve: bangs.

Bangs allow you to search third-party sites directly from DuckDuckGo. Say you wanted to search makeuseof.com. Google would let you perform a site search by entering site:makeuseof.com. Using DDG’s bangs, you type !muo followed by your search term. There are even plenty of bangs that make Google search look slow.

What’s more, searching a site with any of the thousands of available bangs takes you directly to the site, rather than the search engine’s results. If you do find yourself missing Google’s tailored results, then adding !g with your query will take you directly there.

DuckDuckGo Apps and Extensions

At this point, most of us are already deeply embedded in operating systems, browsers, and apps. That Google is so widely accessible on nearly every device, screen, and browser means that DuckDuckGo needs to be readily available wherever you need it too.

That’s why DDG has graduated from its web-only origins to now offer mobile apps and browser extensions which add privacy-focused features to their private search.

DuckDuckGo on Your Browser

Screenshot of the DuckDuckGo Browser Extension
DuckDuckGo is a search provider on most mainstream browsers, but Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari users can also install the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension. The extension blocks hidden advertising trackers, forces sites to switch to HTTPS where possible, and gives you quick access to DDG’s search.

Download: DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials for Chrome | Firefox | Opera | Safari (Free)

DuckDuckGo Mobile Apps

DuckDuckGo’s Android and iOS offerings build on the features found in the browser extensions. Tracking prevention, encryption, and DDG’s private search are all built into a minimal mobile DuckDuckGo browser. A fire icon on the browser lets you erase all browsing data and close all active tabs.

There is a basic bookmarking feature for access to your favorite sites, but there are few other features. For most people, this won’t do as a browser replacement. However, it’s handy for when you need to search for something sensitive.

Download: DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android | iOS (Free)

Is DuckDuckGo Better Than Google?

Google became the dominant force in search by offering you personalized search. They built incredibly useful apps and services which captured even more of our data to improve your search results further. However, in light of several privacy scandals in recent years, we are becoming more cautious with our data.

DuckDuckGo shows us that user privacy and usefulness aren’t mutually exclusive. Is it the absolute winner of the DuckDuckGo vs. Google fight?

DuckDuckGo appeals to the privacy-minded, but importantly, it isn’t a niche product. There are a range of useful features and some DuckDuckGo search tricks that don’t even work on Google 8 Search Tricks That Work on DuckDuckGo but Not on Google 8 Search Tricks That Work on DuckDuckGo but Not on Google Google Search is king. But DuckDuckGo has earned a loyal fan following. It has a few unusual features that even Google doesn't have. Read More .

Explore more about: DuckDuckGo, Google Search, Private Browsing, Web Search.

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  1. Kaleo
    July 9, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I have been using DDG. However, I may switch back to Google. My adblocking and privacy settings probably minimize any snooping that G does. The reason for switching is that I am surprised how often DDG does not return some highly relevant results. G does better.

    • James Frew
      July 9, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      That is part of the trade off. Google can return very personal results because of all the data it stores about you. DDG doesn't track or store data, and can't return tailored search results to the same degree.

  2. dragonmouth
    July 3, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    I don't want/need personalized search results. I want objective results.

    "Targeted ads" I am shown (whether Google's or somebody else's) are waaay off target. They are reactive, not predictive. Most of them are for items I have purchased in the past and no longer are interested in. Just because I search the term "cattle prod" does not mean I am looking to purchase one.

    • James Frew
      July 4, 2019 at 8:52 am

      Amazon is quite bad at this too. Purchase a product, and they bombard you with prompts to purchase the incredibly specific item you've just bought. Do you use DuckDuckGo then?

  3. Jonas
    June 17, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Not everybody searches from a search engine's home page -- I don't. I have an extension in Firefox ("Context Search") that lets me expand the list of search engines in the search box (I think I use another extension so I still *have* a search box separate from the address box). Anyway the net result is I almost never search from a separate page. Both Google and DDG are in my popdown list; I tried making DDG the main (default) search, but went back to Google. Here's why:

    With Google set as my main search engine, I can time-delimit the search to just the last year, or any date range I want (once you learn the syntax). Or, if I go to Google's own search page, there's a simple popdown menu to set a date range to just last year's items, or whatever.

    DDG doesn't seem to do date ranges, or anyway I can't figure out how to. This alone prevents me from making it my main search engine. Even Google isn't perfect in this respect -- it doesn't show me the date next to each item in its search results -- but at least it lets me roughly date-filter them.

  4. Ellen Berger
    May 22, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    Can I donate to DDG?

  5. Thirdeye108
    May 20, 2018 at 11:39 am

    James Frew I have been using Duckduckgo for a long time but recently I permanently switched to StartPage. I still use duckduckgo when Google based search results are not to my liking. I can't say right now how much of an improvement I have seen over Duckduckgo purely based on the quality of search results, I intuitively I must say I am happier.
    One primary reason goes to the fact that Duckduckgo does not displays the date at which the web page was published while startpage does. Further, startpage offers more flexibility in time based searches. The lack of these positives in Duckduckgo along with the fact that many a times I gave me undesirable search results (forcing me to use Google) was a deal breaker for me.
    I also think Duckduckgo, which also happens to fall under highly undesirable US jurisdiction is overhyped. StartPage is better even though we cannot disable advertisements on it.

    I have set StartPage as my default search engine on Microsoft edge, my default browser on PC as well as on Microsoft Edge browser for Android, which I extensively use.

    • James Frew
      May 20, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Startpage is definitely a reasonable alternative if you want to regain some privacy from Google. As you mention, the results for Startpage are closer to Google's as it does use Google's search, but without passing on identifying personal information.

      I agree that it'd be preferable for DDG to be based outside of the US. I'd also be interested to know why you believe DDG is overhyped?

  6. hal
    April 27, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Google (for the last time) IXQUICK and STARTPAGE, two search engines by the same company, I have been using them for years and am very happy with them. They also offer an email account. As they say " The worlds most private search engine".

  7. John Eccles
    April 27, 2018 at 6:18 am

    The problem with DGG is that it's very US biased so here in the UK DGG is not a good choice.

    • James Frew
      April 27, 2018 at 6:30 am

      When you run a search you should see a toggle just underneath the search bar, but above the results, that allows you to switch to local results. I've added a screenshot of it here (https://imgur.com/a/ENdRRjD).

  8. Scott
    April 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    A private search engine only hides your queries from itself. Your device, browser, isp and the site you land on know who you are and how you got there. If any of these private search engines were a threat they would have been bought. Instead google probably hones in on searches done thru DDG.
    Only a cloud browser lets you search with privacy.

  9. Ananya Gupta
    April 21, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    This site has basically become an anti Google site using whatever leverage they can as clickbait to get people to read articles.

    Nowhere in this comparison do you actually list the benefits of using Google with a personalized search versus DuckDuckGo. The objective of the writer seems not to empower the reader to make a decision but more to gyrate him towards DuckDuckGo.

    • James Frew
      April 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      In the past we have written a lot of articles about Google and it's services (I've even written a few of them). As more people have become aware of privacy concerns with the big tech companies, we have explored products and services that aim to guard your privacy. As most people are aware of Google search, we focused on what makes DuckDuckGo different to Google. In any case, thanks for reading the article and taking the time to comment.

  10. likefunbutnot
    April 20, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Unfortunately, DuckDuckGo doesn't do search well. Google excels at fuzzy searches, while DuckDuckGo barely meets the standards set by other also-ran providers like whatever Microsoft is calling its search this week.

    I understand and value what DuckDuckGo is trying to do, but if I can't get roughly equivalent results from it, it's not ready to compete and it doesn't belong at the big-boy table.me

    • James Frew
      April 20, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      You're right that its results aren't quite in line with Google, Microsoft etc. but their big boost there is bangs. If you aren't getting the results you want, then just use the '!xx' and you get transported to the other site's results. This means you can set your default to DDG, where it'll be fine for most things. When it's not - bangs.

      • likefunbutnot
        April 20, 2018 at 3:35 pm

        @James Frew,

        I'd rather use the tool that works the first time. I do periodically use DuckDuckGo, as it's the default search provider on some minor browsers I'm familiar with and haven't bothered to customize out of inertia, but I haven't noticed enough of an improvement over a span of years to consider it anything but a second rate experience.

  11. John
    April 20, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I think DuckDuckGo is a option but clearly its a small player in the search field. Given that Google has like 85% or more depending on stats and Bing and Yahoo are the next closest at single percentages. While many users seem to claim they want more privacy, their actions say different as if they really don't care what information is stored or collected. After using DDG for a month I found the results to be a mixed bag of not so relevant results to being about as good as Google or Bing. But as they say old habits are hard to break and I found myself typically defaulting to Google search for the most part. I avoid some of Google's tracking anyway by not signing into Google account and if Google search can improve results with some information gathering. I am really OK with that.

    • James Frew
      April 20, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      I'm glad that you felt like giving DDG a try - but that's why competition is great, it means that there are options available for everyone.

      • The Anonymous Duck
        April 20, 2018 at 9:44 pm

        DDG may not be better but it's a lot less scary when you understand that it has the goal to protect the user and their right to privacy. Idc how accurate the results are if I don't have the GDPR or "The Right to be Forgotten". I don't want them to have access to everything I want to know. Imagine the profile that they have on you. "Oh yea person number 4472910. Yea here's everything he needed to quickly understand, all the tutorials he's watched on YouTube and a few of his diseases he hasn't told his friends and family about." To me that is HORRIFYING. Even Google chrome scans your files now.