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Preoccupied with privacy? You’ve come to the right place. In today’s guide, I’ll go through everything you should know about Duckduckgo vs Google, how each of them works and how you can make the switch work for you (or not). You’ll also get performance comparisons, pros and cons for each product and advice on how to make the most of your privacy.

Should you decide in the end to switch to the Duckduckgo search engine over Google (I won’t tell you what to do, the decision is entirely yours after getting all the info below), I’ll also share extra advice on how to make the most out of your Duckduckgo products. Since the software suite is not limited to the search engine, there are also some software products to consider. But first thing’s first, let’s check out the Duckduckgo vs Google competition, comparison, and in-depth analysis.

Duckduckgo vs Google: The Competition Between Them and the Shift of Users

Usually, when people think of the Duckduckgo vs Google competition they are immediately thinking of the search engine Duckduckgo vs the search engine Google. Namely, this debate is about whether to use Duckduckgo or Google as your default browser search engine and / or homepage.

Even though Duckduckgo has other tools and apps besides its search engine, as I’ll get into below, for now let’s keep referring strictly to the search engine. This way, you’ll understand better what all the fuss is about with the Duckduckgo vs Google debate. Here’s an overview of public perception on it and everything you need to know about the context of this competitive comparison.

As the tools and techniques used for data gathering have slowly turned into more and more comprehensive algorithms tracking scores of information, both consumers and businesses have become more preoccupied with privacy. The rise of the so-called big data and big tech conglomerates has led to an increased level of surveillance which makes most people uncomfortable.

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The fact that all the search history of users is tracked by Google (even in incognito browser mode) has contributed to the growing discomfort of concerned users.

If they’re not particularly concerned with how Google itself manages their personal data, then they’re concerned about data breaches.

Nowadays, with so many breaches making the headlines, it’s hard to trust that your data will remain as private as you’d like. Even if the entities you’re willing to share that data with have your confidence, no one is truly unhackable.

So How Are Duckduckgo and Google Competing?

Google doesn’t compete with Duckduckgo so much, in the grand scheme of things. Google is the big guy in the industry and while they are certainly aware of their smaller competitors catching up, it’s not really the same league. Yet.

Virtually all internet users tend to be Google search engine users, by default. The main strategy for Google is to try to hold on to the users it has by implementing better security and privacy protection measures. This is something definitely on their agenda, but the issue still remains that user data is tracked. Therefore, Google is leaking some users who are leaving its boat in order to climb aboard that of Duckduckgo.

For their part, Duckduckgo are directly positioning themselves as an alternative and competitor to the Google search engine. Their very blog is aiming to answer the very direct question of ‘Why You Should Use Us Instead of Google’.

So, why do some users prefer switching to Duckduckgo from Google? Here’s our unbiased comparison.

Duckduckgo Search Engine at a Glance: Pros and Cons

Obviously, since many users (exact number unknown) are switching to Duckduckgo from Google, the product is a great one, for people who are more concerned with privacy.

Why is the number of Duckduckgo users unknown?

Well, that’s the beauty of it: not even Duckduckgo knows exactly how many users it has, precisely because they do not track them. Nice, right?

However, according to their official approximations based on the number of searches they get each month and based on the fact that each user makes 1 search per day, on average (so 30 per month), their total user pool should be around 25 million people. That’s pretty impressive.

As a side note, I’d like to point out that my intuition says people make more than 30 searches per month if they are active internet users. And if they heard about Duckduckgo enough as to use it, they are probably tech-savvy and active enough online to use their devices almost daily. Therefore, I’d say that there’s a good chance that some users only switch to Duckduckgo when they are doing searches which they would rather keep truly private. Funny thought.

As you can see, the main advantage, unique selling point and promise of the Duckduckgo search engine is its utter privacy. Here’s the entire picture of my Duckduckgo review, broken down in pros and cons.

Pros of Duckduckgo as a search engine:

  • Perfect privacy. No data on your online searches collected or stored. (If you want this privacy to extend further than searches and to all your browser activity, you need to install the complementary Duckduckgo products, which I described below).
  • No ads targeting you based on your searches.
  • No social engineering techniques used on your based on your searches and other interests.
  • You can be sure you are getting the same search results as all other users (no targeting or profiling).
  • 1-page search results. Infinite scroll: as long as you keep going down, more search results keep loading. It’s a well-known fact that many users don’t make it to the second page of Google search results, but Duckduckgo just presents to you more info on the same page so you never have to click next and lose the initial results from sight.

Cons of Duckduckgo as a search engine:

  • Has a few nice extra perks and features, but still not as many as Google. Just think of Google Maps, Google Flights, Google Finance, Google Books, etc.
  • Less personalization: Duckduckgo doesn’t remember your search history, which is technically an advantage for privacy, but it can also be less convenient sometimes.

screenshot with duckduckgo search

For example, here’s a Duckduckgo search I did for ‘Aviatorilor’, a place in Bucharest, the city I live in. Normally, with Google, I would also get the option of quickly checking out on the map where that place is and how to get there from my location, how long will this take and so on.

In terms of privacy, Duckduckgo clearly wins. But if privacy is not your pet peeve, Google is an incredible product as well, and not one to reject without careful consideration. Here’s how things look like from the other side, too.

Google Search Engine at a Glance: Pros and Cons

Google is not the immediate loser in this competition, however. Not only because it’s still leagues away from Duckduckgo and because most internet users still use the Google search engine.

But it also has unique advantages when compared to Duckduckgo, advantages which derive precisely from its data collecting practices. After all, even if your personal data is used by Google to make money, you still get a few benefits too.

It all comes down to whether you prefer privacy or personalization. Since personalization requires data storing, you can’t have both.

So, here are the pros and cons of the Google search engine, very briefly.

Pros of Google as a search engine:

  • Displays unique content (including advertising content) tailored for your preferences and history
  • Offers built-in features which can be of help (like Google Maps, or help with calculating your trajectory to a place you’re searching for, or search results filters like Books or Flights, etc.)
  • Remembers your search history (this also counts as a con, but it can be helpful in some cases when you want to revisit a web page you forgot to save elsewhere)
  • It’s integrated with your other Google accounts and products, which can sometimes be rewarding.

Cons of Google as a search engine:

  • Remembers your search history (also counts as a pro if you need it, see above).
  • Not even incognito browsing is truly private (read the fine print the next time you open an incognito browser tab in Chrome – or Mozzila, for that matter).
  • Sells your data to third parties and offers them sophisticated tools of tracking you across the web so you can be bombarded with tailored ads.
  • Pulls data from your private emails in order to spam you with ads. Google representatives say this is an automatic process and that no human employee sees your personal emails but it can still be uncomfortable for some users. Imagine, for example, that you and your partner are surprised with an unexpected pregnancy and you’re considering abortion, only to be spammed with baby carriage ads all of a sudden.

How to Protect Your Privacy with the Duckduckgo Search Engine

If you decide to go for Duckduckgo as a way to protect your privacy a bit more, here is everything you need to know in order to make the most of it. The goal is to increase your privacy while also making sure you understand all the ways you can use the Duckduckgo technology to your fullest potential and, if possible, to preserve some of the convenience we are used to from the Google days.

Frequently asked questions about Duckduckgo

Q: Can you browse dark web websites with Duckduckgo?

A: Indeed, you can. But we’d recommend using the go-to browser for the deep and dark web, which is the Tor browser. Many users browse the darker regions of the internet by using the Duckduckgo search engine on the Tor browser.

That still doesn’t mean that doing illegal things on the dark web or on the deep web will stay secret if you do, however. Law enforcement can still track illegal things taking place there (as they should). But as far as privacy goes (and if you don’t want the other users lurking around the creepy corners of the web to see you), Duckduckgo is a great tool.

Q: What browser is better for privacy, Tor or Duckduckgo?

A: First of all, let’s make something clear: there is no Duckduckgo browser on computers. There’s just the Duckduckgo extension to be added to Chrome. But you can use Duckduckgo as a search engine on the Tor browser and that is, indeed, a much more private option than using Duckduckgo in Chrome (even with the extension installed).

On the other hand, there are Duckduckgo browsers for mobile devices (more on those in the products section below). Still, mobile devices also have the option of using the Tor browser for Android. Both are just as safe, privacy-wise.

Q: How does Duckduckgo make money if it blocks ads?

A: One of the major things that puts people off regarding Google is that it makes money selling their data to advertisers. You know what they say – when a product is free of charge, it’s because you are the product.

So, in search of more privacy and less misuse of their data (or less risk of data breaches), people switch to Duckduckgo. But then they think ‘wait, but Duckduckgo is also free’. So how do they make money, then, if they don’t store and sell data?

Just because they offer you complete privacy, it doesn’t mean Duckduckgo has no advertising ties. The Duckduckgo business model is still based on advertising and affiliate revenue. The ads are displayed on the right of your search results, based on the exact keyword of the search. But unlike Google, those ads are not personalized (as in, based on your search history, demographics, shopping history, etc.), because your data is not tracked.

Other Duckduckgo Products to Consider

Mainly, Duckduckgo is a search engine and that’s their core product offering. A search engine with a focus on privacy much above Google privacy practices, which is great for the users who are concerned about this. In today’s digital landscape, we should all be a little more watchful of our private data and what happens to it.

So the privacy aspect of the Duckduckgo search engine is what makes people use them.

The search engine is their main product, and you can access and use it as an URL here. It’s simple and clean and comes with no other product required for its use.

On the other hand, you can also access this search engine from the Duckduckgo products which complement it. Here are the options:

  • The Duckduckgo extension for Chrome: As far as security goes, this is a great Chrome extension to add*. It’s great if you want to keep using Google Chrome (it’s not like you want to reject the brand altogether in a full-on Duckduckgo vs Google war, right?) but still make sure that the Duckduckgo search engine is used everywhere in your browser by default, and that your data is not collected or stored. Using the Duckduckgo extension for Chrome will also block advertising trackers.
  • The Duckduckgo Privacy Browser (Android app): This is a privacy browser meant to be used on tablets and smartphones using the Android OS.
  • The Duckduckgo Privacy Browser (Apple app): This app is the same, but issued for Apple mobile devices (like iPhones).

You will notice that there is no Duckduckgo browser for computers or laptops. That’s because it isn’t needed: the Duckduckgo extension for Google Chrome effectively turns your browser into a Duckduckgo browser.

Of course, you can still use the Duckduckgo search engine with other browsers as well, such as Mozilla Firefox, or Opera and so on.

Some users who really want to maximize their privacy protection use the Tor browser with the Duckduckgo search engine. Duckduckgo is actually the default search engine for the Tor browser, especially desirable for users who want to browse the deep web or the dark web safely.

Important note: you will notice many other sources and blogs saying Duckduckgo is a ‘safe browser’ or ‘secure browser’. This safety and security they are referring to only extends to the privacy aspect. Using Duckduckgo will not keep you safe from viruses, malware, ransomware, and other internet dangers. Only a full security solution (based both on an anti-virus component and a traffic filtering, proactive component, like our Thor Premium Home) can protect you from cyber-attacks.

*You can also check out other great Google Chrome extensions for increased security (all hand-picked by us and devoid of any ulterior motive like compensation or whatever).

Bonus: 15 Extra Duckduckgo Features which Google Doesn’t Have

#1. Seeing social media bios

You can have links to the social media profiles featured on a website directly from the search results. If you want to connect to an author or customer support for a specific business and so on, Duckduckgo will point you directly to those profiles, no need to enter the website and manually search for them.

#2. App store alternatives to apps

You can search for apps in the app stores just as you would do in any other search engine, but Duckduckgo will also present you with alternatives for the same thing. No more time wasted on scout work.

#3. The Duckduckgo bangs

This is a very cool feature that allows you to search within a specific website for the words you want. Here is the entire list of Duckduckgo bangs.

#4. Weather data available instantly

You can search for simple things like ‘Is it raining in [town name]?’ and you’ll find out what you need to know instantly.

#5. Keyboard shortcuts

Macros and other cool keyboard shortcuts are just a few settings away in Duckduckgo.

#6. Emoticon ‘translations’

Not sure what an emoticon like ‘;;)’ means? Just ask Duckduckgo. (P.S: It’s something from the ancient times of Yahoo Messenger and I know it because I’m old. No, I’m not serious about the last part).

#7. Quick stopwatch

Just what the name says.

#8. Drink recipes

If you search for stuff like ‘how to make a mojito’, the recipe will be displayed right in the search results, no click required. Cheers!

#9. Password generator

Just like other browsers, Duckduckgo will help you generate stronger passwords. (This is important because of credential stuffing attacks and so on). But unlike other browsers, it won’t store them in any way. That’s up to your memory, password manager tool, etc.

#10. Finding rhymes

Troubled by some poetry writing and you just can’t find the rhyme? Or you’re unsure whether two words actually rhyme? No worries, ask Duckduckgo and it will tell you. Yes, seriously.

#11. Calendar as an instant answer

Google also has a calendar feature, but with Duckduckgo it’s an instant answer. You can just search for ‘March 2021’ and you will instantly see the month calendar laid out right in the search results.

#12. Loan calculators

Need help figuring out interest rates and stuff? Duckduckgo has you covered with this too.

#13. Cool features for developers

Plenty of nice things. Here’s just a few:

  • Generate lorem ipsum text quickly and automatically
  • Encode links to machine-readable text
  • Convert binary code to decimal code
  • Convert content to ASCII texts
  • Show a list of special characters and their HTML values
  • Show HTML value for any special character
  • Convert colors to their universal numeric code
  • Show colors based on hexadecimal values

#14. Anagram solver

If you have a poetry writing assistant built-in, why not also an anagram solver assistant? Yes, it really works.

#15. Instant text converting for lower-case, upper-case and capital letter

This is super-useful whenever you need to modify a text in this regard, and it’s a feature currently supported nowhere else.

Final words

If you think these Duckduckgo features look good, rest assured that there are many, many more. Some are downright useful, others just cute, but there’s no denying that Duckduckgo is heading on the right track when it comes to popularity.

This surge isn’t limited to the geek community. More and more users are making their choice in the Duckduckgo vs Google battle, and it’s not in favor of the Google giant.

Comments

I have been using Duckduckgo for some time. Not long ago nearly every page I tried to access would be blocked by my Norton anti-virus. I sent them a message, and though they did not respond, the problem seemed to stop. Now it is again warning me if I click on any link through DDG. If I try the same search on Google there are no warnings for the same links. Is DDG not safe, or is Norton in league with Google to suppress DDG? Has anyone else encountered this?

Hi Doug,

Duckduckgo is safe to use (unless it becomes involved in a security incident, but all browsers – as all apps – can become vulnerable at some point). While nothing is impenetrable, I wouldn’t say it’s more vulnerable than others.

I don’t have definite info that other Antivirus software intentionally flag down products or apps which are otherwise safe. But I do know that some AV products block webpages which publish positive reviews of their competitors :)).

Regarding Duckduckgo, apparently some other Norton users have the same issue (but not everyone): https://community.norton.com/en/forums/duckduckgocom It can be solved with allowing the software to download all its updates and then giving your device a restart.

Do let me know if you encounter more issues. It’s a pity to stop using DDG or your favorite apps over AV errors.

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