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May 13, 2019

Private browsing experience: myth or reality?



Google (News - Alert), the world’s top search engine, has penetrated so deeply into users’ everyday routine that looking something up on the Internet and the nifty term “googling” have become nearly synonymous. Millions of people benefit from using various Google services, both free and paid, but few of them realize that the technology giant meticulously monitors their activity.



Google is aware of your lifestyle, habits, favorite places, shopping preferences, and so many more things that even your family might not know about you. The search engine leverages the entirety of this personal information to display targeted advertisements whenever you visit a social network or random website whose owner wants to monetize the traffic via Google ads.

Unless you perform every single search in a private, or “incognito”, window, the global data aggregate will know pretty much everything about you. Do you find this state of things acceptable?

Opt for search engines that don’t surveil your activity

If you want to avoid Google tracking, then it might be a good idea to use other search providers that don’t have the huge monitoring resources and processing power to keep track of everything you do. Such a service definitely shouldn’t be affiliated with Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Even if you aren’t very privacy-minded and don’t care much about online anonymity, consider using substitutes for Google that will help you keep the most offbeat and intimate searches secret.

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-centered search engine that doesn’t monitor or retain logs of user queries. Its design is similar to Google’s, and it boasts accurate and quick results.

This provider goes with a few extra features. One of them is the Instant Answers section above search results, something Google displays as well. However, with DuckDuckGo you can get an “express” answer to your query without having to click on any links. Also, you can filter search results by categories, such as Images, Videos, News, and even Recipes.

As long as you use this service, you won’t be running into any contextual ads on websites you visit. Interestingly, you can even use the “Cloud Save” option to save and store your personal search settings permanently.

Swisscows fits the mold of a reliable, privacy-friendly search engine. Aside from that, the speed of returning the results is also on the plus side of this provider. Swisscows has an appealing look and feel, and its start page includes about a dozen most popular search requests you can simply click on. This feature is really welcome if you are looking for some subjects to read about.

To its credit, this provider applies cryptography to make sure your queries aren’t leaked and cannot be accessed by a third party. You can opt for regional search if you like. Also, it excludes pornographic content from the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Startpage is one more worthwhile search engine that priorities user privacy. When you use it, your connection is tunneled via a proxy server, which prevents the visited sites from tracking your IP address and whereabouts. You can make Startpage your default search engine so that all of your searches are private.

Wolfram Alpha (News - Alert) definitely stands out from the crowd. It leverages proprietary algorithms and AI (artificial intelligence) technology to return the most precise reports and answers relevant to the keywords you enter. Whereas this service doesn’t keep a record of your searches, it provides query options and suggestions that help you express an idea accurately. In case you need to find information related to mathematics, science and technology, or society and culture, then Wolfram Alpha is the optimal choice as it generates comprehensive answers on these areas.

Tor Browser is a combo of a modified Firefox version and The Onion Router technology, with privacy at its core. It can be downloaded and used free of charge. The underlying network includes multiple servers maintained by volunteers.

Tor ensures anonymity by streaming the traffic through at least three servers, or nodes, while also encrypting it. Consequently, there are no electronic breadcrumbs that lead to you. For more privacy, Tor employs an IP address that’s typically registered outside of your country of residence, and it’s always obfuscated from the sites you go to.

Summary

With such an abundance of search providers out there, Google doesn’t appear to be the only possible choice, does it? It may take you some time to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities and features of these services, but the result is definitely worth it.

However, if you think the extent of privacy delivered by these remarkable search engines isn’t enough or you want to get around geo-restrictions imposed by some content providers, then consider using VPN browser extensions. The beauty of this technique is that all traffic is encrypted and you can use servers located in different parts of the globe.



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