You may already know that a VPN disguises your real IP address so that your computer appears to be from another IP address in a different country. This makes you anonymous to websites that normally block users from restricted locations. Moreover, your internet service provider cannot tell the sites you visit.
Similarly, DuckDuckGo provides online privacy. But how much do you know about it? Is it a special form of VPN? What happens when you type in a query? Find the answers to these questions below.
Basically, DuckDuckGo is an obscure search engine which doesn’t track internet users. The provider claims that no cookies are used to follow the users and no personal information is collected.
What’s more, it hides your IP address, meaning that your browsing history is kept safe from intruders, including the founder of the search engine. Since we have mentioned that it is a type of search engine, you may want to know how it differs from Google and the likes of Bing or Yahoo.
If you are browsing the internet through Google, whether you are in incognito mode or not, the keywords that you insert are forwarded to the websites you click on in the HTTP header. If you log in to a certain site, your device will share your information automatically, including your IP address, hence the website owner can identify you.
This is what is referred to as search leakage, according to DuckDuckGo. And this is what the engine prevents by default any time you get the search results. It achieves this by masking your search keywords so that other sites don’t get to see them.
The only thing that your destination sites will know is that you have visited and not the exact terms you entered to access their content. That means they don’t have a way of identifying you.
Note that the search results you get from DuckDuckGo are different from those you would get from Google. They are still helpful but there are not as many results as those provided by Google. So, it is very clear that this is not a clone of Google. There is also an encrypted version of DuckDuckGo which changes links automatically from authoritative sites (e.g. Wikipedia and Amazon) to encrypted versions.
Main differences between DuckDuckGo and VPN
You need to understand that a VPN cannot stop websites from tracking you through advanced ways e.g. browsing fingerprints, cookies, and search terms. But, as explained above, DuckDuckGo cannot track internet searches so you get to surf anonymously.
It also comes with extensions and apps that can block ads and snoopers. These features are not available in most VPNs, especially the free versions. Since a VPN does not guarantee complete anonymity, you can use it together with DuckDuckGo to enhance security.
DuckDuckGo has been operating for a while but it is only used by 5 to 7 percent of internet users. It is still a safe option for browsing when connected to public Wi-Fi. It is an obscure search engine that can save you a lot of web intrusion. It may not be a leader in the search engine industry but it is a king of privacy. Choose it if you want to go incognito.
Is it legal to use DuckDuckGo?
You might be wondering whether DuckDuckGo is a legitimate search engine because it could be a perfect platform for a lot of things including black market business. It is important to know that it is fully compliant with the GDPR as from May 2018.
It is an ideal platform for people who don’t want others to know what they are up to on the internet. Suppose you are at the Airport collecting valuables. The last thing you want is for intruders and criminals to know what you are up to. This keeps you safe and no one can sell your data to third parties.
The problem with third parties is that they tend to bother internet users with promotional messages, peddling just about anything from auto insurance to scratch cards which you may not be interested in at all. However, it is important to note that DuckDuckGo is censored in some countries like China. But you can access it through a VPN.
The ISPs, websites you browse, and snoopy people using the same network as you, can access your browsing history through your real IP address. Even the so-called incognito mode cannot save you from snoopers.
But today, you have learned that you can avoid being tracked by using DuckDuckGo. However, we must insist that this search engine doesn’t eliminate the need for a VPN service.
It may keep your searches anonymous but it doesn’t give an option to tap into a specific server, say in the US. Moreover, you may not use it in countries where it is banned. So, it doesn’t offer protection beyond its borders.