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Are you 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 its users by implementing better security and privacy protection measures. This is definitely on their agenda, but the issue remains (user data is tracked). Therefore, Google is leaking some users who are leaving its boat to climb aboard that of Duckduckgo.

For its part, Duckduckgo is directly positioning itself 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 vs Google Heimdal

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 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 are used 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.

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 storage, 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.

Frequently asked questions about Duckduckgo

Q: Can you browse dark web websites with Duckduckgo?

A: Yes, you can. DuckDuckGo indexes both surface and.onion websites. However, it only indexes.onion sites on the dark web, so this is only applicable if you use the Tor browser. Remember that you can’t just go onto normal DuckDuckGo and wait for .onion sites to appear. It has two versions (one surface web, one Tor), so you’d have to download Tor and use it through that.

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: 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.

Q: Where does DuckDuckGo store your search history?

A: The answer is simple. It doesn’t. Other, less private search engines, such as Google and Bing, frequently store your information on their servers remotely, including the keywords you use, the web pages you click on, and the date and time you executed the search. However, this is not the case with DuckDuckGo.

Q: Can I see my search history on DuckDuckGo?

A: It is true that DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your search history, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have access to it. You can still view your search history through your browser’s history settings. Search Encrypt, for example, is an alternative search engine that hides your search history in your browser settings.

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.

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, with 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 letters. 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.

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This article was originally published by Miriam Cihodariu in May 2019 and was updated by Antonia Din in October 2021.

Comments

KEN (OLD MAN)

While i see many valid points i came here to test out how far and balanced my question results ended up, and to be straight up i could tell Google actually does hide or bury articles and information.
So if DDG is trying to be unbiased and give all the information, that’s why i am here, and will be staying, not trying to hide but rather trying to find out the truth

I agree with Al and Joan after a quick read this morning. Thank you all employees of DDG I was listening to AM radio and once again heard about DDG.

Last comment was 2019 so this probably won’t get far, however I would like to say – The majority of people using search engines at present are trying to find an answer to an individual, specific, personal and time related, question that they need an answer to. They are not, when they conduct these type of searches, in any way interested who might be listening or telling stories about their search questions. The only people seriously interested in this level of anonymity are either people who have something to hide or people who are significantly opposed to the ‘Big Brother’ scenario apparently being followed by corporate institutes. This issue will sort itself out as time progresses, and our children/grandchildren take control of the situation, and start to dictate how much control our internet, website, tech companies are allowed to have over their individual lives. Not a technical comment but I think it is a real comment.

Codeaxia Digital Solutions on May 4, 2021 at 9:45 am

Your Article is very nice and helpful ….

On Android, most of antivirus stop DDG. I paid and have kaspersky, which is half compatible. For instance: with google or samsung browser shows if visited site is safe, but such feature is not possible on DDG.

Maybe other antivirus are fully compatible on Android?

If example I copy and paste articles from this website, is there any plagiarism apps can detect? Or it’s just me who knows?

Do you have recommendations for alternatives to Google Maps?

Hi Lloyd, personally I like OsmAnd, but there are other good alternatives to Google Maps out there. If you want one that is integrated into a search engine, just like Google’s, you could switch to Bing Maps for example.

After I set DuckDuckGo to my default I could not open or receive any gmail my email. Now I can’t change back my default browser to chrome. How can I do that on an iPhone?

Hi Miriam: I am interested in better privacy, and someone mentioned DDG. I have a Windows PC and a Chromebook laptop. DDG mentions the option to make them the default search engine, and as an extension for Chrome. With Chrome as an OS, and as a browser, and as a search engine, I get mixed up.
I thought to set DDG as the default search engine AND install DDG as a Chrome browser extension, but their site doesn’t mention combinations, conflicts, or wisdom. They also don’t show a way to ask them a question (their ‘community answer’ had no answer for me.)
Do you have any help for me on this topic?

Hi Peter, as far as I know, there will be no compatibility problem if you do both, so feel free to go ahead with that. 🙂

I don’t know what to make of it or whether I could be bothered wasting my time

Privacy Advocate 4,659 on December 27, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Have a blessed day. I truly do not want you to take offense, as my comment was not aimed at “you”, it was aimed at everyone that shares your neglect to protect your own privacy. I wish you the best.

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

no one wants personalised, none asked for it, user friendly what’s not manipulates you. how stupid people can be?

I found it very difficult to read the information on the websie due to rolling text at the top of the page A blog written A Blog on A blog that etc. It is so annoying that I gave up trying to read the informations. Perhaps I could copy and paste the information into a text doc?

Please don’t add my email address to your mailing list because I won’t be back to use your website unless you give me permission to copy and paste the text into a readable document or you stop the rolling text at the top of the page or you give your readers the choice of letting it roll or stopping it. I would appreciate this.

BTW the email address I provided is a new addition to allow me to sign into google and that’s why I want to get rid of google because I remove cookies (well some of them anyway I hope) at least once a day and therefore I have to sign in to a google account to use the google search engine

I’m not savvy on or with electronics I like goggle as to filling needs that I need to research for what ever the reason. With that said I do not like my information sold to everyone on the websites so I’m still not sure that I can use DuckDuckGo although still thinking about it. Thank you for a new option

I just can’t believe you are comparing duckduckgo with tor.
“just as safe”… Really? LOL

Thank you for your clear explanation of duckduckgo, Mozilla & Chrome – very helpful for those of us who never knew computers while in school (I’m 74) – they used only binary computer systems then. My college math major roommate had to go to West Point to attend classes of binary info. So glad binary’s gone now for us oldsters.
Someone commented on how nice looking you are – you Do look like a kid! But I’m amazed at your ability to write in coherent English! You write more clearly than many Americans, esp. younger ones. (I once lived in Germany for 4 years & it was difficult to write in German, although speaking & reading came easier, especially after a few beers!)
Thank you, again, for your clear explanations of the above-listed programs. I use Kaspersky & like it better than Norton/Symantec, etc.

Although the article was quite good. But the writer is quite good looking.

I have just added the DDG Chrome extension. This article/post was the tipping point. Thanks.

My security suite, Kaspersky, doesn’t support DDG as my default internet browser; only Chrome and my cell phone’s Samsung browser. Is there security suite software that offers protection for DDG?

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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