Most Popular Search Engines For Dark Web

Deyan Georgiev
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Nov 04, 2022

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There’s a vast chunk of the Internet that’s hidden and unindexed on traditional search engines.

To access that part of the online sphere, you’ll need a dark web search engine – and that’s just one part of the equation.

Here’s everything you need to know about accessing the unindexed part of the Internet and the most popular search engines for the Dark Web. 

What Is the Dark Web and How Can You Access It?

The dark web is one, very concealed part of the world wide web consisting of websites that are not indexed by traditional search engines. 

These websites, which account for roughly 48% of the Internet, operate on a randomized network infrastructure and are further hidden by various security measures, like encryption and firewalls.

Dark Web vs. Deep Web

The dark web is a subset of the deep web that sits on special networks.

Unlike the majority of the deep web, it's not regulated by any business, organization, or government, and can only be accessed via special tools, like the Tor browser.

The deep web, which makes up around 90% of the world wide web, is much broader and is essentially the “invisible” part of the web.

Classified government data, sensitive health records, email accounts, and personal banking portals are all part of the deep web.

How Can You Access the Dark Web?

The quickest way to the dark web is through the Tor Browser.

This browser routers your traffic through the Tor network, which consists of different routers called nodes, that encrypt your data and hide your IP address, as well as any other identifiable information.

Simply put, this browser makes it impossible – or at least very difficult – to identify Tor users

If you’re set on accessing the dark web and don’t mind a slightly slower browsing experience (due to the routing of data), you can download the Tor Browser from the Tor Project website. It’s available for Windows, Linux, and MacOS, and there are also Tor browser apps for Android and iOS available on Google Play and the App Store. 

For added safety, it’s best to first turn on your VPN (Virtual Private Network), a practice that is known as Tor-over-VPN, and if you want to download any files, you’ll also need to have good antivirus software.

Dark web browsing is not as simple as regular web browsing, but there are specialized browsers that can help you find your way around there.

Assuming privacy and speed are your priority, here are the best dark web search engines on the market:

DuckDuckGo

The DuckDuckGo dark web search engine has a user-friendly interface, a search box in the middle of the page, and lists searches in a Google-like format. 

Not only is it the go-to search engine on the Tor Browser, but it’s widely considered to be one of the best private search engines on the market.

The search engine has a no-log policy, blocks trackers, is ad-free, and you can use it for surface websites too.

Ahmia.fi

Like DuckDuckGo, Ahmia.fi is a surface web search engine that’s compatible with Tor.

It’s one of the few dark web search engines that filters search results in the Tor browser to weed out unsafe and fake websites that may contain malware.

Despite being primarily used to search the dark web, Ahmia allows users to conduct deep web searches in regular web browsers too, like Google Chrome.

Haystak

Haystak is one of the best Tor search engines that boasts the biggest number of indexed sites than any other deep web search engine.

With more than 1.5 billion pages and over 260,000 websites, Haystak reaches parts of the onion network that other searches can’t. 

More importantly, the search engine is fast and helps protect your privacy and identity. It does not track data and if you go premium, you won’t be shown any ads and you’ll get additional data insight.

Torch

Torch, whose name is a portmanteau of Tor + search, is one of the oldest and most popular darknet search engines, which was introduced to the market in 1996. 

The search engine boasts the largest number of onion search links and a massive indexing database. It has a familiar and simple interface and web speeds are relatively fast.

Torch doesn’t filter any websites, which means you may stumble upon some malicious sites, but it gives users additional information about search results, such as the size of the pages you want to access, which makes it a great tool for investigating the dark web.

Candle

Candle is a darknet search engine and a web crawler for Tor.

It has more than 100,000 web pages, most of which include forums and marketplaces.

The search engine is minimalistic and resembles Google’s search engine – which holds over 80% of the search engine market – with a large search box in the middle, which can’t read characters like quotation marks and parenthesis.

Compared to Google, it offers fewer features and is smaller but effective and relatively fast.

The Hidden Wiki

The Hidden Wiki is not exactly a dark search engine, but rather a useful directory for those who wish to explore the dark web.

Put simply, it’s the onion version of Wikipedia.

It contains deep web search engine links to a variety of websites in different categories, which allow you access to social networks, anonymous chat rooms, blogs, and more. 

The Hidden Wiki isn’t completely uncensored and makes an effort to filter sites that aren’t safe, but it sometimes indexes sites that search engines like Google block.

Recon

Recon is the best dark web search engine for shopping

The search engine covers around 40 active marketplaces and 21,000 vendors and allows cross-referencing vendor details, listings, statistics, and marketplace addresses.

It also offers promotion tools for vendors, markets, and other services through advertising banners and listing promotions in the product search.

Once vendors create a profile there and upload their first post, they can see notifications from their followers. Users, on the other hand, can keep up to date with their favorite vendors.  

Onion Search is one of the best dark web search engines that’s specifically designed for the Tor Browser that can be used on the surface web.

It has a simple interface and offers descriptions of each site on the results page. The pages are largely unfiltered but users get to report unethical content.

If you prefer it for regular searches, you can add it as an extension to your Chrome browser as well.

Not Evil

Not Evil is the best Tor search engine for beginners and people who haven’t dabbled in the dark side of the Internet.

The name is a reference to Google’s questionable motto “Don’t be evil,” and the search engine lives up to its name by filtering misleading and unethical content and encouraging users to report spam sites.

The interface is user-friendly and there’s a simple search box that will give you access to a list of results from more than 32 million websites and addresses in Tor.

Not Evil doesn’t feature ads and never tracks your web traffic.

Deep Search is the brainchild of a group of students aiming to create a search engine that’s effective and unique.

This open-source web crawler has a one-of-a-kind ranking system, filters illegal content, and features a long list of marketplaces and exchanges. It’s easy to use, ad-free, and constantly working to add more restricted dark web forums to its search results.

Users can also create an account that lets them provide feedback and recommend new onion sites for indexing.

Things to Consider When Browsing the Dark Web

The dark web is a largely unregulated part of the Internet, which makes it a risky place for the casual browser.

If you’re looking to protect yourself when accessing the dark web and stay out of trouble (ISPs are often on the lookout for Tor use), here are some things you can do to improve your online privacy and security:

  • Always use a VPN before opening Tor. A good dark web VPN will protect your data and hide your dark web activities from your ISP.
  • Avoid downloading files from the dark web. There’s a strong chance that the file you download is malware-laden.
  • Don’t click on links that aren’t familiar or look suspicious. Scam pages are a common sight on the dark web.
  • Don’t use your personal email address on the dark web. If you need to use one, create a different email address from a privacy-focused service, like ProtonMail. 
  • Always use two-factor authentication to protect yourself from attacks.
  • If you’re buying products, make sure you’re getting them from a reliable source. 

Bottom Line

Despite accounting for a substantial chunk of the Internet, accessing the dark web can be tricky, especially without a good search engine.

The most popular web search engines for the dark web can not only help you navigate through the vast world of the dark web, but they can also help protect your privacy, keep you away from unsafe sites, and give you access to a large number of sites you can’t find with traditional search engines.

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Deyan Georgiev

Deyan Georgiev

Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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