Your IP: Unknown · Your Status: ProtectedUnprotectedUnknown

Is DuckDuckGo safe?

Imagine a search engine that doesn't track you or collect your data. All the data traces you generate as you use it disappear immediately, and you can browse safely and privately. In the era of big tech and data farming, that sounds like a fantasy, right? But, thanks to DuckDuckGo, a privacy-oriented search engine, you no longer need to rely on Google. So what is DuckDuckGo? How does it work? And is DuckDuckGo safe?

Paulius Ilevičius

Paulius Ilevičius

Is DuckDuckGo safe?

What is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a private search engine. Unlike Google and other mainstream search engines, it offers no personalized search results, making it harder to get caught in an information echo chamber. It doesn't profile its users according to their search patterns, and everyone gets the same search results.

While it functions primarily as a web search engine — using it is very similar to making a Google search — DuckDuckGo also has its own apps and extensions for all major operating systems and internet browsers. DuckDuckGo is a stripped-down search engine, which doesn't offer you many additional features, but instead focuses on its main function — providing a quality and private search experience. You can use it on both a desktop and mobile browser.

DuckDuckGo also doesn't split its search results across multiple pages. Instead, you've got a single endless scroll. This is way more convenient, as in Google's case, most internet users don't bother looking further than the first page.

Is DuckDuckGo a VPN?

DuckDuckGo is not a VPN, it just doesn't track you in the same way that Google does (remember, even if you're using Incognito Mode, your search history is not fully private).

If you want to browse the internet safely, combine DuckDuckGo with a VPN which will wrap your traffic in encryption and protect your IP address.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

Is DuckDuckGo safe to use and private?

DuckDuckGo is fairly safe and offers much more privacy than mainstream browsers. First of all, DuckDuckGo's main appeal is your search privacy. This means that DuckDuckGo doesn't collect user data and track your search history. Unlike Google, it doesn't associate what you look for online with your IP address. That means you won’t be bombarded with personalized ads.

Also, it doesn't collect your search history, so every time you use the engine it’s a fresh start. Of course, the drawback of this is the lack of an auto-suggest function, but that’s a small price to pay for more private browsing. You can also share your personal data with DuckDuckGo search engine, but only if you wish to.

Can you get a virus from DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a relatively safe search engine and you can use it without compromising your security. As any other browser, DuckDuckGo is susceptible to viruses, malware, and online threats. Whether or not you’ll get infected very much depends on your common sense and on what you choose to do online.

PRO TIP: Combine DuckDuckGo with a VPN to supercharge your privacy. While DuckDuckGo is a lot better than Google, it doesn't keep your browsing activity private; your internet service provider (ISP) will still be able to monitor your internet traffic. With a VPN on your device, not even your ISP can track you.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

How does DuckDuckGo make money?

Of course, DuckDuckGo still has to monetize its operations somehow, so it still uses ads based on keywords you type in. If you search for “cat food”, the ads on DuckDuckGo’s search page may reflect that. However, the service won’t remember that you looked up cat food once you navigate to a new page.

It also uses affiliate codes and earns commissions when a user buys a product after searching through DuckDuckGo, or through their advertising content.

Microsoft trackers controversy

It's worth mentioning a recent blemish in DuckDuckGo's privacy record.

In 2022, reports emerged that DuckDuckGo isn't blocking trackers from certain Microsoft-owned platforms, including Bing and LinkedIn. This is apparently part of a deal DuckDuckGo made with Microsoft to facilitate ad provision.

In a statement, DuckDuckGo has assured users that these trackers don't allow Microsoft to monitor individual users or link search activity to specific people. But the lack of transparency around this situation is concerning, and highlights DuckDuckGo's close links to large tech companies and advertisers.

Pros and cons of DuckDuckGo

Pros

  • Improved privacy
  • Privacy is the search engine’s main selling point. DuckDuckGo doesn't store your data or track your habits and search history. It can't pass your information to third parties, leak it, or use it for marketing purposes.

  • Additional features
  • The service offers many handy additional benefits such as readily available weather data, extra features for developers, visible social media bios, loan calculators, and more. Thanks to the privacy policy, you won’t have to deal with targeted ads.

  • No targeting or profiling of search results
  • Wherever you are in the world, whatever demographic you belong to, you’ll get the same results.

  • It is simple and easy-to-use

Cons

  • Fewer services
  • DuckDuckGo doesn't offer as many services as Google and other search engines.

  • Not as convenient as other search engines
  • It doesn't have the same market share as Google, so you cannot sync lots of your accounts and services with it.

  • No personalization or autosuggestions
  • This may also be a pro as these features are only possible for Google due to their tracking practices.

Pros and cons
Improved privacyyes
Additional featuresyes
No targeting or profiling of search resultsyes
It is simple and easy-to-useyes
Less servicesno
Not as convenient as other search enginesno
No personalization or autosuggestionsno

Is DuckDuckGo better than Google?

In the DuckDuckGo vs. Google debate, everything depends on your priorities. You’ll be sacrificing some of the convenience Google Search offers, but you’ll have a safer, more private experience. If you value your privacy, DuckDuckGo is better.

Of course, it is hard to avoid Google, and it’s likely that most of your accounts are already synced with this giant. DuckDuckGo offers an excellent opportunity to minimize its use, however, and it’s great to support a service that offers a more transparent search experience.

Since DuckDuckGo doesn’t track its users, nobody knows how many people actually use this browser.

Every time you search for something online, you get the same search results as other users. Google does the opposite: it profiles users and provides search results depending on your search history. Not to mention dozens of irrelevant ads that will follow you after every search query.

Check out our brief video on private engines below.

Why do you need a VPN too?

Avoiding online threats.

While DuckDuckGo gives you privacy on the search engine level, it doesn't protect you from other online threats. Individual websites or social media platforms can still track you and collect your data, while cybercriminals can target you with social engineering attacks.

Protecting your internet traffic.

Also, your traffic remains unencrypted on DuckDuckGo, so someone can intercept it, see your IP, spy on your traffic, and intercept your private information. Whatever default search engine you’re using, your internet service provider (ISP) can still see what you’re doing and can share this data with third parties. Even worse, if you’re using unsecured Wi-Fi, a cybercriminal could watch your activity from afar and steal your personal information.

Enhancing your security.

We strongly advise you to use a good VPN service. With NordVPN, all your online traffic is encrypted when it leaves your device. The service will also hide your IP address, so no one can use it to find your location. Combining DuckDuckGo with NordVPN provides a genuinely secure and private browsing experience. NordVPN's Threat Protection feature will also help you identify malware-ridden files, stop you from landing on malicious websites, and block trackers and intrusive ads on the spot.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

Also available in: Dansk, Nederlands and other languages.

Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius is a technology and art enthusiast who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in cybersec and internet freedom. He is always in search for new and unexplored angles to share with his readers.