Is DuckDuckGo Really Private?

Reading time: 10 min read
Maxym Chekalov
Written by
Maxym Chekalov

Updated · Sep 14, 2023

Maxym Chekalov
SEO Specialist | Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Maxym Chekalov

With a master's degree in telecommunications and over 15 years of working experience in telecommunic... | See full bio

Florence Desiata
Edited by
Florence Desiata


Florence Desiata
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Florence Desiata

Florence is a dedicated wordsmith on a mission to make technology-related topics easy-to-understand.... | See full bio

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Everything revolves online today, from banking, social media, shopping, and more. While Internet use is convenient, organizations can easily track your digital footprint. Unsurprisingly, 80% of Americans worry about how companies use the private data they collect online.

Tracking programs are non-malicious, focusing on search results and personalizing content through cookies, online activity, and web history. However, they can cause security concerns as malicious actors can hack into a website's database. On the other hand, personalized ads can be suspicious, making opting out time-consuming.

Introducing DuckDuckGo, a search engine geared for private browsing. This search engine maintains privacy by blocking trackers, using encryption, and won’t record your search history.

So yes, DuckDuckGo is as private as a mainstream search engine can be. However, many people can't help but wonder: Is DuckDuckGo really private?

This article will uncover how DuckDuckGo protects user privacy, its advantages and limitations, and more. Let's begin!

🔑 Key Takeaways: 

  • DuckDuckGo, created by Gabriel Weinberg in 2008, enables you to search the web without being tracked.
  • Using a VPN while browsing DuckDuckGo lets you bypass country limits and keep your data private.
  • Limitations of DuckDuckGo include lesser personalization, little to no virus protection, and not as comprehensive as Google.
  • Despite its safety features, DuckDuckGo has faced controversy over Microsoft’s data breach, requiring users to use a VPN for enhanced security.

DuckDuckGo: A Privacy-Focused Browser

Gabriel Weinberg created DuckDuckGo as a search engine in 2008. It has since become a must-have for online web searches without anyone knowing your age, interests, hobbies, or other personal information. 

The search engine gives you a clean search history, and your browser won't show targeted ads linked to your online behavior. DuckDuckGo also joined forces with Yahoo in July 2016. It improved search results by using some of Yahoo's personalized recommendations.

This collaboration offered new features, like using date filters to see results from a specific day, week, or month. It also shows additional links to popular websites. 

Let's discuss how DuckDuckGo ensures your searches stay private and secure with its features. 

💡 Did You Know?

Search engines like Google may keep your data for up to 18 months. Check out Techjury’s article if you're curious about what Google knows about you

Privacy Features of DuckDuckGo

Unlike other search engines or browsers, DuckDuckGo focuses its platform on security. To ensure their users achieve the best browsing experience,  DuckDuckGo made some of these qualities possible.

Here are the privacy features that make DuckDuckGo private:

1. Anonymity and Personal Data Safety

Keeping your anonymity and personal data safe is the top priority of DuckDuckGo. The platform shields your information from unwanted eyes, letting you explore the internet without leaving digital footprints behind.

👍Helpful Article: 

In the digital age, nothing is entirely private. There is always someone out there who is after your data. Worry not! Techjury has provided tips on how to protect your data online.

2. Immediate Linking To Encrypted Sites

DuckDuckGo enhances identity security by quickly connecting you to secure websites through encrypted links. In contrast, non-encrypted sites are riskier for malicious content.

Moreover, encryption speeds up your searches with indexing, caching, and other advanced technologies and protects your data from harm.

3. Protection Against External Trackers

There are things called spyware that marketers and organized crime use to collect information about you. DuckDuckGo protects you against these external trackers that monitor your online activities. This shield ensures your internet activities remain confidential and secure.

4. Prevents IP tracking

DuckDuckGo hides your IP address, which (when not hidden) can reveal your exact location and track your online behavior. Digital detectives cannot trace where you've been online this way.

🎉Fun Fact:

In the European Union, there's such a thing as a right to be forgotten, which lets people request search engines remove irrelevant, outdated, or privacy-detrimental links.

The search engine commits itself to providing a private online experience. This time, let's delve into the ways DuckDuckGo improves privacy protection.

How DuckDuckGo Protects Your Privacy

To keep your online activities private, DuckDuckGo has extra features and removes privacy-detrimental properties from online browsing. Specifically, they do this by blocking the following:

1. Third-Party Trackers

When you visit a website, it often connects to other sites controlled by third parties. DuckDuckGo prevents third-party tracking by using browser extensions and app features that block the collection of your data.

It disables trackers on websites you visit, making it harder for them to follow you. This feature ensures that your online activity is kept private and that your personal information is not shared with others.

👍Try this:

DuckDuckGo now has a bangs feature, which lets you search on specific websites to improve search results. Try to type an exclamation mark and a letter shortcut. For example, when you type !yt, the search results will lead you to Youtube.

2. Search History

Unlike other search engines, DuckDuckGo offers a fire button to let you clear up your searches from the current session. This way, DuckDuckGo only records your online activities for a short time.

To do this, DuckDuckGo does not log the timing of your searches. Because of this, websites won’t know about your online activities.

3. Profiling

Most websites use cookies to store your unique internet address and personal information. They use it to send personalized emails, recommend content, and perform analytics. On the other hand, DuckDuckGo doesn't use cookies, which prevent websites from creating a profile about you when you visit. 

4. Eavesdroppers and Hackers

DuckDuckGo goes the extra mile by using HTTPS everywhere, which facilitates encrypted searches. Encryption forces the sites you visit to use a secure connection whenever possible. This technology is widely used for privacy-focused features and services like SSL emails.

On DuckDuckGo, encryption is a shield that prevents data theft when interacting with sites. The platform adds an extra layer of security to your online browsing compared to other similar search engines.

5. Spam Content

DuckDuckGo shows you less spam content and ads. Instead, it focuses on showing relevant and valuable information in your search results. They do this by reviewing user feedback, blocklisting reported websites, and employing strict advertising guidelines.

With these privacy features, users enjoy a seamless browsing experience. Let's explore how using DuckDuckGo can enhance your privacy and search experience.

Advantages of Using DuckDuckGo

Discovering the benefits of DuckDuckGo brings new perspectives to your online experience. This search engine offers unique advantages that set it apart from other browsers.

Here are more advantages of DuckDuckGo to help you explore its unique benefits: 

1. No Filter Bubble

Search engines show different content based on user profiles. They create this profile using your personal information and online activities. DuckDuckGo's search results are consistent and diverse, as it doesn't create or maintain user profiles, allowing users to find relevant content.

👍Helpful Article:

Search engines like Google can create a "fingerprint" to track you based on your browser settings, fonts, plugins, and many others.

2. No Search Leakage

Unlike other search engines, DuckDuckGo does not collect and share users’ personal information with other companies. This way, no sensitive information will be leaked to businesses that use them for advertising purposes.

3. Ad-free Browsing

DuckDuckGo won't show you ads based on your search history and interests. However, you might still see a few ads.

These are ad posts sourced exclusively from Google and Yandex and do not reflect your online activities, search behavior, or personal info. Still, if the ads annoy you, you can quickly turn them off in the Settings.

4. Secure Browsing

Many websites employ a tracker to know your online activities once you visit their websites and approve the privacy notice, which is so long that no one reads it.

Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo blocks these trackers and uses a proxy server. The proxy works as a middleman that keeps you from being directly connected to the websites you visit.

Limitations and Considerations of Using DuckDuckGo

While DuckDuckGo offers privacy features, keeping its limitations in mind is essential. Let's explore the limitations of this private search engine below.

1. No Personalization

Preventing search engines from keeping user profiles is indeed good privacy protection. However, the downside is the need for personalized search results, meaning you may have fewer relevant results in DuckDuckGo.

✅ Pro Tip:

To ensure a protected search experience, install privacy browser extensions like uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS everywhere for private browsing. These block trackers and encrypt connections, making it harder for websites to gather sensitive information from you.

2. No Virus Protection Included

DuckDuckGo lacks built-in protection, making users vulnerable to malware, viruses, and ransomware, as these threats can still infiltrate the device through other means. Because of this, you may still want to use third-party antivirus software to add protection while browsing the internet.

3. Not as Handy as Google

DuckDuckGo offers less convenience as it requires integrated services like Google Maps or Gmail, lacking built-in services like Google's. The platform doesn't provide personalized features easily accessible through other search engines.

DuckDuckGo vs. Google

Google is the go-to search engine. However, cyber attacks happen almost every half a second, and more than 50% of users worry that companies and governments use their personal information.

With that, it’s reasonable for people to switch to DuckDuckGo. Here’s a comparison between Google and DuckDuckGo regarding market share, user numbers, search features, security, privacy, and ease of use.

1. Market Share and Number of Users

While Google commands over 85.53% of the search engine market, DuckDuckGo holds a 0.52% market share from 2018 to 2023. Despite its market share, DuckDuckGo still offers something that Google does not: privacy and security.

2. Search Features

DuckDuckGo emphasizes unbiased results, blocking personalized ads and offering instant answers to queries. In contrast, Google's extensive integration provides customized recommendations, access to integrated services, and a broader scope of information.

3. Security and Privacy

Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo offers flawless privacy protection, blocks search-based ads, and doesn't store your search history. It also doesn't store your IP address or any other information about you. 

Meanwhile, Google collects user data for personalized advertising. The ads you see are more likely targeted ads you've searched for or websites you've visited. 

4. Ease of Use

Google's integration with other services like Gmail and seamless access to personalized recommendations enhance its ease of use. On the other hand, DuckDuckGo's simplicity and commitment to privacy make it a straightforward choice for users who value a more private browsing experience.

The DuckDuckGo - Microsoft Controversy

Though DuckDuckGo aims to keep your searches private; there's been a talk about how well it's protecting your information. In May 2022, security researcher Zach Edwards discovered that DuckDuckGo allowed Microsoft trackers to harvest user data and IP addresses when they visited Bing and LinkedIn on the browser.

This data breach allowed Microsoft to trace DuckDuckGo browser activity for advertising. In August 2022, DuckDuckGo's CEO Gabriel Weinberg said they have now increased protection from Microsoft trackers in their browsing apps.

Despite this information, keeping your online privacy in check is still important. One way to do this is to use DuckDuckGo alongside a VPN. The added benefits of using a VPN include:

  • Increased security when you use public WiFi
  • Tracking prevention from your Internet service provider
  • Access to blocked content, using torrents, and improved gaming experience

This combination adds an extra layer of security to your online activities.

Increasing DuckDuckGo's Privacy with A VPN

Enhancing your DuckDuckGo experience through a VPN serves two vital purposes:

  • Bypassing geo constraints and censorship - China and India have banned DuckDuckGo. Having a VPN lets you use DuckDuckGo in these countries, as it changes the IP address.
  • Achieving complete privacy through encryption: DuckDuckGo is not a VPN, even though it offers protection. Combining it with a VPN encrypts your internet activity for maximum privacy.

There are many reputable VPNs, such as Urban VPN, McAfee, and Surfshark. Also, consider UltaHost, a go-to VPN for important websites or applications. This platform allows a fast browsing experience and protects sensitive information for your security. 

In addition, they also offer affordable pricing:

  • Shared Starter: $3.29/month
  • VPS Basic: $5.50/month
  • Power Plus: $37.50/month
  • Ulta100 Xeon: $129.90/month

Bottom Line

In a nutshell, DuckDuckGo is a legitimate privacy-focused search engine you can use instead of Google. Aside from keeping your searches and sensitive information private, DuckDuckGo has minimal, unpersonalized ads.

Using DuckDuckGo with a VPN further improves data security and provides more protection from cyber threats. Overall, DuckDuckGo goes a long way toward protecting digital footprints and taking control of the information shared online.


Can your Internet provider see your history on DuckDuckGo?

No, your internet provider can't see your history on DuckDuckGo.

Does DuckDuckGo censor content?

DuckDuckGo aims to avoid biased results, but some safe content might be excluded.

Is DuckDuckGo better than incognito?

DuckDuckGo offers privacy, while incognito mode only hides your local history.


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