DuckDuckGo traffic climbed from an average of 7.1 million daily direct searches to more than 11.2 million daily searches in year's time, and Startpage/Ixquick too reported an all-time high on November 30, 2015 when daily searches crossed the 6 million mark for the first time.
All three search engines saw a huge jump in daily searches after the surveillance revelations hit the news in mid-2013.
Startpage and Ixquick are developed and maintained by the same company, that is why only combined stats are available for them.
The search engine uses data from other search engines such as Bing to populate its results. It makes money from advertisement, but without the tracking that is usually involved.
DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search engine that does not track its users, does not collect personal information or shares them. The search engine does not store user agents or IP addresses, and does not set cookies on the searcher's device by default.
The team that built the search engine implemented other features, search leakage prevention for instance on top of that.
Search leakage blocks the used search term from being submitted to sites the user clicks on in the search results.
Another features of interest is the !bang syntax which provides searchers with access to direct commands, for instance to redirect searches to a specific site such as Amazon, Wikipedia or Ghacks, to translate text instantly, or to look up other information such as the latest weather report.
Startpage and Ixquick are owned by the same company, a fact that is hard to miss when you compare the layouts of both search engines.In fact, Startpage is powered by Ixquick and the sole reason it was created was because of its name. The company earns revenue from advertisement but carefully safeguards user privacy.
Ixquick merges results from multiple search engines and displays results based on popularity. It awards stars to results and displays the results that were awarded the most stars in the comparison.
Startpage on the other hand takes results from Google only.
The search engine does not collect or share personal information including user IP addresses or tracking cookies.
The search engine does not offer nearly as many extras as DuckDuckGo. One that needs to be mentioned is the proxy that it offers. It enables you to click through to sites listed in the search results without revealing your identity at all.
Sites receive information such as your computer's IP address or operating system on connect, and this is prevented if you use the proxy provided by the search engine.
While the rise is impressive, these search engines are still relatively small when compared to Google and even Bing, Yahoo Search or local search engines like Baidu or Yandex.
Now You: What's your preferred search engine and why?
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