Is DuckDuckGo legit?

DuckDuckGo positions itself as a privacy-friendly search engine, attracting tens of millions of users worldwide. Despite its no-tracking promise and user-friendly features, it’s not unreasonable to question how DuckDuckGo generates comprehensive search results without engaging in the extensive data collection practices of competitors.

Below, we’ll examine whether DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused model is as transparent and effective as it claims to be. We’ll also explore some alternatives and compare and contrast what they offer in relation to DuckDuckGo. This should give you a better understanding of this increasingly popular search engine and whether it’s the right choice for your browsing needs.

DuckDuckGo pros and cons

There’s a lot to like about DuckDuckGo, but of course, it’s not perfect. Below, we summarize what it does best and where there’s perhaps some room for improvement:


  • Privacy-focused: DuckDuckGo doesn’t track or store personal information, providing a high level of privacy.
  • No targeted ads: Because DuckDuckGo doesn’t track users, it doesn’t serve personalized (and potentially invasive) ads based on your search history.
  • Simplified privacy settings: DuckDuckGo offers straightforward and accessible privacy settings, making it easier to control your data.
  • Clean interface: The user interface is minimalistic and free from clutter, providing a simple search experience.
  • Bang commands: Offers unique “bang” commands, allowing you to search other websites such as Amazon and Twitter (X) very quickly.


  • Search result quality: Some may find that, while generally good, the relevance and depth of results are less comprehensive than those of Google.
  • Limited advanced features: Lacks some of the advanced features that Google offers such as in-depth search tools and maps.
  • Fewer connected services: Some users may prefer the convenience of having connected services like Gmail and Google Drive.

A brief history

DuckDuckGo was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinburg, an American entrepreneur who was previously responsible for Names Database, a now-defunct social network which he ultimately sold to in 2006 for a reported USD $10 million.

Weinberg created DuckDuckGo to provide a private alternative to search engines that track user behavior. Specifically, the idea behind DuckDuckGo was to offer a search service that didn’t profile its users or store their search history. This was in response to growing concerns regarding the quantity of personal data being collected by major tech companies, particularly for the purpose of targeted advertising.

DuckDuckGo key features

DuckDuckGo sets itself apart with its simple, user-friendly interface and strong commitment to user privacy. However, it also has specific features that distinguish it from traditional search engines like Google and Bing:

Privacy features

  • No tracking: Unlike many search engines, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track the browser history or behavior of its users. The fact that it doesn’t create or store profiles of users prevents any personalized ad targeting.
  • No personal data storage: DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect or share user information, including IP addresses, which other search engines use for profiling.
  • Tracking protection: Via its browser extension and mobile app, DuckDuckGo blocks third-party trackers on websites.

Search enhancements

  • !Bang commands: DuckDuckGo offers !bang commands which are shortcuts allowing the user to perform searches on other websites via the DuckDuckGo search bar. For example, searching “!reddit” or even “!r” will take a user directly to Reddit.
  • Instant answers: Through community contributions and partnerships, DuckDuckGo provides instant answers to queries at the top of search results. Answers it can provide include weather forecasts, mathematical equations, local business information, and more.
  • Privacy grade ratings: The DuckDuckGo app and extension features privacy grades, rating websites from A-F based on their privacy practices. This provides users with a quick understanding of how much a particular site respects their privacy.

User experience

  • User-friendly interface: With DuckDuckGo, users have access to a straightforward, minimalistic interface that makes navigation that much quicker and easier.
  • Customization options: Users are able to customize the look and feel of the DuckDuckGo search engine. This includes the theme, layout, and privacy settings, allowing them to adjust it to their preferences.
  • Region and language settings: The search engine supports region-specific search results and language settings. This ensures the results are more relevant as well as accessible to all users, regardless of their location.

User interface and experience

DuckDuckGo browser download

It couldn’t be simpler to use DuckDuckGo. You have the option of accessing its search engine via any browser. Alternatively, you can download the DuckDuckGo browser for the following:


  • Windows
  • MacOS


  • Android
  • iOS

Browser extension

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Edge
  • Opera
  • Safari

The download page summarizes some of the key benefits of using DuckDuckGo, such as searching privately and blocking trackers, blocking cookie pop-ups, and watching YouTube without targeted ads. Once you’ve got it downloaded and installed, you’ll find the very simple default browser page. This features the option to add favorite websites for quick access. There’s also a summary of websites visited and tracking attempts blocked on each.

The three horizontal dots in the top right corner of the DuckDuckGo browser take you to bookmarks, downloads, and settings. The only other symbol of note is a flame, also located in the top right corner, which opens a small window where you can quickly close tabs and clear data. It also lets you open a “New Fire Window” where no data is recorded (similar to a browser’s incognito mode).

DuckDuckGo’s privacy policy

DuckDuckGo privacy policy

“We don’t track you”. Looking at the very beginning of DuckDuckGo’s privacy policy, it’s clear from the outset that this search engine isn’t like Google. What’s particularly refreshing is that the privacy policy is relatively short and easy to follow.

According to this privacy policy, DuckDuckGo doesn’t save or share your search or browsing history. It doesn’t save your IP address or any other identifiers, allowing users to search and view results anonymously.

DuckDuckGo’s hosting and search providers can’t create a history of your searches either, because it requests content on your behalf and then delivers that information to you via an encrypted connection.

While DuckDuckGo can prevent others from seeing your search queries, it can’t do the same for your IP address simply because the internet works by routing information to you via your IP address. If this concerns you, you could always use a VPN for a layer of anonymity.

Of course, DuckDuckGo’s protection covers its search engine and doesn’t extend to websites and services you visit, which operate their own privacy policies. DuckDuckGo provides an example of this on Facebook, which, if you visit it, will let you know what you’re doing on its site.

How it makes money

DuckDuckGo differs from other search engines in that it doesn’t make money by tracking you. Indeed, it can’t do this because it doesn’t keep that kind of information. Instead, DuckDuckGo makes money through private ads on its search engine. The likes of Google create a profile of you based on your search, browsing, and purchase history to provide you with targeted ads.

However, DuckDuckGo ads are based on the search results you view. Viewing these ads is anonymous, even if you’re looking at localized ads. It does this by guessing your location using an IP lookup before throwing away the IP address and guessed location. This isn’t always as accurate as you might need for your search results, so you may want to opt-in to give a more accurate location.

DuckDuckGo location permission

Even if you do opt-in for more accurate search results, your searches remain anonymous, and DuckDuckGo doesn’t see your actual location because it isn’t sent to their servers, instead remaining locally on your device.

Another way in which DuckDuckGo makes money is from subscription fees from Privacy Pro, its subscription service which consists of a VPN, a personal information removal service, and an identity theft restoration service.

How does DuckDuckGo compare to other search engines?


  • DuckDuckGo: Prioritizes user privacy by not tracking search history or personal data. It also doesn’t store user information or create personalized profiles.
  • Google: Tracks user data to provide personalized search results and targeted advertising. It stores extensive user data across its ecosystem.
  • Bing and Yahoo: Bing and Yahoo collect user data for personalization and advertising purposes, albeit to a lesser extent than Google.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo: Provides non-personalized search results, aggregating results from different sources. This includes its own crawler and other search engines.
  • Google: Known for delivering highly relevant and personalized search results based on extensive data collection and algorithms.
  • Bing and Yahoo: Offers good search results though they don’t always match Google’s level of relevance and personalization.

User interface

  • DuckDuckGo: A clean and minimalistic interface that’s free from distractions from personalized ads. Unique “bang” shortcuts for more direct searches within specific sites.
  • Google: Provide a sleek and user-friendly interface with a wide range of features, including integrated services including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Drive.
  • Bing and Yahoo: Interfaces with integrated news, weather, and other content but can feel cluttered compared to the simpler interfaces of Google and DuckDuckGo.

Advanced features

  • DuckDuckGo: A focus on privacy tools and simplified settings. It’s more limited in advanced features and integrations, particularly compared to Google.
  • Google: Lots of advanced features including voice search, detailed maps, AI-powered tools, and integrations with other Google services.
  • Bing and Yahoo: A few advanced features such as image and video search enhancements, but not quite as many advanced features as Google.

Ad experience

  • DuckDuckGo: Shows ads based on keywords, not user profiles. This makes for a more private ad experience.
  • Google: Makes use of an extensive amount of user data to display ads that are highly targeted and personalized.
  • Bing and Yahoo: Also utilize user data for targeted ads though not to the same degree as Google.

Conclusion: Is DuckDuckGo legit?

Yes! DuckDuckGo is a legitimate search engine and browser that strongly emphasizes protecting user privacy. Although its search results may not always be as accurate or comprehensive as Google’s, they are improving. For many, it’s a small tradeoff when you consider DuckDuckGo doesn’t track users and is highly transparent about its privacy practices.

DuckDuckGo FAQs

Why should I use DuckDuckGo instead of Google?

Many people choose to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google because of the enhanced privacy it provides. Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your search history or personal data and ensures searches are private. You also won’t see ads tailored to your browsing history as they’re only based on your current search. Searches are not personalized, which can have the advantage of reducing bias and provide more balanced information.

Does DuckDuckGo block ads?

DuckDuckGo blocks trackers but doesn’t block ads outright. For this, you’d need a dedicated ad blocker. However, DuckDuckGo has a different approach to ads compared to search engines like Google. While you will see ads when using DuckDuckGo, they’re privacy-friendly in that they don’t track your behavior or collect personal information. This approach allows DuckDuckGo to generate revenue while still maintaining its commitment to user privacy.

How can I make DuckDuckGo even more private?

You’ll have a higher level of privacy when you use DuckDuckGo compared to many other search engines. However, there are still some additional steps you can take to further improve your privacy when using it. In particular, a VPN encrypts your connection and hides your IP address. This makes it more difficult for third parties, your ISP included, to track your online activities. Regularly clearing your browser’s cache and cookies can also minimize tracking.