DuckDuckGo, Startpage and Ixquick search engines are doing well

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 9, 2015
Updated • Dec 9, 2015
Internet, Search

The search engines DuckDuckGo, Startpage and Ixquick are doing better than ever according to statistics released by DuckDuckgo and Surfboard Holding BV.

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 / Ixquick

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.

startpage ixquick

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?

DuckDuckGo, Startpage and Ixquick search engines are doing well
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DuckDuckGo, Startpage and Ixquick search engines are doing well
The privacy-focused search engines DuckDuckGo, Startpage and Ixquick reported all-time highs in December 2015.

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  1. Timmy said on July 17, 2019 at 12:07 am

    ‘StartPage’ and ‘Search Encrypt’ are the best than search on Google, DuckDuckGo and Discconnect. But do you know that Google know where you live, eh? Ok, if you use VPN is on? Then Google will NOT see your ip address and not show on maps where you live! When you use VPN, then open Google search and type on search “Google Maps”, Then you will see that map show you that is not where you live! I just learned about Google is very clever that want to know where you live on map. So I would not use Google at all except StartPage and Search Encrypt are best to use.

  2. Mark Turrman said on July 16, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    It’s kind of frustrating to me to see all of the praise for DuckDuckGo regarding its privacy protection. While it’s better than Google because it doesn’t track you, it doesn’t do much to actually keep your search terms private.

    This article ( explains that DuckDuckGo doesn’t hide or encrypt your search terms on your device. If you share your device or are using a public computer, anyone who looks at your browsing history will be able to see the exact terms that you searched for. StartPage and Search Encrypt keep your search terms more private with better encryption.

  3. foobie said on March 13, 2016 at 8:51 am

    I’ve been using ixquick almost exclusively for the last few years, and very rarely run a search through anything else. A significant percentage of my searches are for technical subjects, and it seems to excel there. Occasionally I need to search for an obscure error message that only applies to a very specific circumstance, and a time-bounded search via startpage is much better in that case.

    I was one of the original DDG users, and was really excited about how it worked and what sort of things were changing in it early on and reveled in the back and forth with Gabriel. But things sort of slipped out of my zone of interest the more the system changed over time, though I still really like its interface (as a general rule I *hate* neverending pages — DDG is the sole exception to this). It just doesn’t do quite as good a job showing me what I want to see anymore, and the thing I liked the most was that I used to get answers to trivial questions as one-off results at the top of the page, without having to click any result links — this seems to have disappeared (or become a bang feature or something, I don’t know, and I’ve got other things to care about).

    Ixquick just announced it is merging ixquick and startpage into one service. This seems to be brand consolidation, as they claim that ixquick and startpage results will both be available. No idea how this will turn out.

  4. Lurking Again said on December 11, 2015 at 1:57 am

    I use all three, rotate through each as my default.

  5. A£t€rn@tiv€ said on December 10, 2015 at 2:18 pm
    . A privacy-respecting, hackable metasearch engine
    . Searx instances

  6. Jim said on December 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Although I’m happy it exists, I can’t stand DuckDuckGo and have never liked it. I’m surprised some people do, but that’s good they found something they like. Besides the ridiculous name, I don’t like the look/UI of DuckDuckGo, and it rarely returns what I consider to be good results. I have been amazed when I used it that what I thought would be the first or one of the first results was not even there at all, whereas on Startpage and Disconnect Search it was always the first or one of the first results.

    Ditched absolutely everything Google two years ago, and though I wasn’t entirely certain how I would live without it, I have managed just fine. Startpage classic is my default search engine and I use it most of the time, but I don’t hesitate to get a second opinion from Disconnect.

    I notice that Startpage seems to localize my results, which I rarely if ever want, while Disconnect never seems to do this. Also, Disconnect seems better for certain types of searches, and also seems more US-oriented, which I do want sometimes. Classic Startpage gives me a result count and a view-by-proxy choice, which I like, and Disconnect’s UI/look reminds me of classic Google, which I like after having used Google for so many years.

    I have to say, too, that I trust Startpage/Ixquick more as they are a European (Dutch) outfit, than I trust American ones such as DuckDuckGo. Startpage/Ixquick seems extremely committed to user privacy in everything they do. Disconnect Search is American, but they too seem very committed to privacy in many ways with all of their projects, and they must being doing something right to get banned from Google’s app store!

    1. Jim said on December 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Just noticed that Disconnect Search is giving more US-oriented search results for me, because “US” is the country selected. Realized that you can selct from a huge list and change countries, from the dropdown box in the upper right corner of the home page.

  7. b said on December 10, 2015 at 11:13 am

    hmm… apparently I can only fool facebook randomly via the search engine of disconnectme.

  8. b said on December 10, 2015 at 10:23 am

    DDG as first priority for the past year. yet it’s not that efficient in case you search for terms in other languages than english. startpage as nr. 2: it delivers more hits in my native tongue. recently i joined Disconnectme. in case I need really specified information, I search google through the private search engine of this company.I don’t recall, but this service might be accesible free of charge. highly recommendable in case you need to use google. because of the privacy features of disconnect premium version, facebook bans me from open official accounts( I don’t have a profile ). I have to fill in letters to prove, I’m not a robot, but by using the installed search engine I’m able to sneak my way through. facebook really don’t like to miss any opportunity to track.I wasn’t aware of Ixquick. i’ll check it out.

    1. Jim said on December 10, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      “this service might be accesible free of charge”

      Yes, it is accessible free of charge:

  9. Jozsef said on December 10, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Thanks to this article I’ve just installed StartPage and Ixquick. I feel better already! ;)

  10. Robert said on December 10, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Startpage is what I use 99.999999% of the time. And I also subscribe to startmail as my primary email address.

    1. Dan82 said on December 10, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      I didn’t know about StartMail, so thanks for that. Though looking at what they offer, it sounds a lot like Posteo, only more expensive. 4 Euro per Month for a single mail account (with 10GB and some aliases) is quite expensive, especially when you don’t even get your own domain name for that. Posteo offers a bit less (only 2GB by default and 2 instead of 10 aliases) but is significantly cheapter at 1 Euro/month. I’m a customer there and have never found myself in need of more storage space, so it’s the more economical choice for me.

  11. wybo said on December 10, 2015 at 1:17 am

    My SE du jour is Qwant. Which also seems to be more privacy focused.I also like the way they have set up the results page of a search. Divided in web, news and social results.

    Startpage I started using after I dumped everything Google a few years ago. One still gets Google search results but one’s privacy is a bit more respected.

    DDG is also a fine SE. I use it for my more US focused searches.

  12. Tom Hawack said on December 10, 2015 at 12:43 am

    1- DuckDuckGo
    2- StartPage ( Google results)
    3- Ixquick (other search engines, but not Google)
    4- Qwant
    2- Disconnect Search

    DuckDuckGo is my default search engine. It runs well, it’s smart, unfortunately no time filter
    StartPage when time filter required
    Ixquick occasionally, mainly to see if grass is greener elsewhere than on Google results
    Qwant, interesting for it’s original display
    Disconnect for confidential search, never use it, just in case.

    Google ( only for maps, sometimes images. Am wondering about abandoning it totally as I’m already calling it less and less. I hate having different results depending on my history, cache, whatever they can grab to lick my feet.

  13. Testuser said on December 9, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I have noticed that search engines like Startpage / Ixquick and Disconnect Search, which say that they use Google for results but anonymized, that the result aren’t really the same as if you would search directly with Google. For highly used search words it’s working great, but on more exotic words or topics, often I had to see that the results don’t really match my search terms. I thought “Oh wow, Google must be really bad”. Later when I have searched for Google to test if it’s really horrible, then I was shocked. The results actually match the topic and search terms now! It was so surprising for me, because I believed the results are the same in functionality and coverage. It feels like that Startpage and Disconnect Search have a kind of own cached search server which is incomplete (I’m not saying how it works, but it >FEELS< like that).

    So for true anonymous searches, a direct proxy or VPN to Google seems to be sadly the best option. If you don’t believe me, try it out. After a few months, you will notice a huge difference in search quality for sure!

    1. foobie said on March 13, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Google uses a lot more than just cookies and history to determine results. Geolocation, your IP, the history of searches from your IP range, user agent fingerprinting, etc. Identifying you is not very difficult for Google, even without cookies.

      You can see this effect if you do searches through several proxies and compare them.

    2. Peter said on December 10, 2015 at 1:48 am

      I’ve mostly experienced the same issue with Startpage. Once you try to dig down in the search results, Startpage appears to be some crippled Google version. Still nice though, with the added proxy and highlight features, but when it comes to relevance Duckduckgo might already have an edge over Startpage. Also Duckduckgo has a nice community where you feel invited to leave feedback, report bugs or propose features. I hope they both keep growing and improving over time.

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on December 9, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Did you make sure to run searches on Google without cookies or being logged in? It could be Google’s personalized search results that you are getting.

      1. Testuser said on December 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm

        Yes Martin. It doesn’t have anything to do with personalized search results. Recently I have seen again this huge difference in search quality. You can try to search for this in Google, Startpage and Disconnect Search as an example: android file scanner service problem

        You will very likely notice a big difference.

  14. Je suis Private said on December 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I use StartPage and Ixquick. StartPage for the Google search results sans the snooping. Ixquick for when I want to get another search view and ranking of results. LOVE the free proxy feature and these companies are in Europe instead of PRISM country. Company in United States are forced to share with the government. Cannot trust US company even if they have good hearts.

  15. jern said on December 9, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Duckduckgo’s biggest selling point is privacy. If you examine what’s running in the background, You don’t find any third-party website tracking. It’s very clean. Like DzF, I started using Duckduckgo about two years ago and have seen a constant increase in search sophistication (though it will probably be a long time before it catches up to Google).

  16. DzF said on December 9, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    DuckDuckGo user here. I’ve been using it for about 2 years now as my main search engine, on both Desktop and Mobile. For the more advanced deeper searches, filtering by specific date ranges etc I go to Google, but to be honest this isn’t actually that often. DDG’s bang feature is great. All my Wiki, Amazon, IMDB, Twitter, Reddit searches etc. go through bangs and it works great.

    The customizing of the homepage (black theme!) is neat too. I also set my location as UK to give more localised results, This works well, although the odd site still seems to trick it, whereby it prefers the .com page, when the company actually has a page. However, this is not too often and most companies who have both, DDG will show the local version.

    Apart from these odd little, shall I say glitches, DDG works great for me. The more I move away from Google services, the better I feel.

    1. Andrew said on December 9, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      +1 DDG user as well, and one reason why I will probably never switch is because of bang. it has become such a habit now that if i’m on someone else’s computer and they use google, I still do the !w if im searching for something on wikipedia.

      1. abood said on December 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        What both DzF and Andrew said. I have been using DuckDuckGo for nearly 3 years myself.
        The bang is a great feature indeed, as it enhances the entire search experience.

        Moving on, I have the DuckDuckGo Auto-Suggest feature turned off on all my computers. I fled away from G because of it, among other reasons. Now I’m sure someone will mention cookies in G’s auto-suggest preferences… oh well… I was seeking a random excuse to flee anyway.

  17. Andy said on December 9, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I find the explanation of ixquick and startpage’s relationship misleading, as the name is not the only difference. My understanding is that ixquick does indeed merge results from several search engine as the article describes, but that startpage rips its results directly from Google. A quick-and-dirty test to confirm that shows that the first 10 results on Startpage exactly match the first 10 results for the same term on Google, while ixquick has a different list of results.

    1. Herman Sherman said on December 9, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      You’re right, Andy. While you were posting, I was digging. Wikipedia offers the succinctest description:

      ixquick uses multiple search engines

      Startpage uses only google

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 9, 2015 at 7:13 pm

        You are right and I have corrected this.

  18. ozar said on December 9, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    StartPage for me, mostly, but also use DuckGo and Ixquick fairly often. It’s very rare that I use any others.

  19. not_black said on December 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I won’t tell anyone your search history. Trust me, I’m a duck.

    1. a duck said on December 10, 2015 at 5:19 am

      No, I’M a duck. I don’t trust you.

  20. Jan said on December 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    How many searches do get the biggest players ? I guess in the billions for google, but that’s a wild guess. That would help to compare.

  21. Dwight Stegall said on December 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    When they can do this I might switch to them

    1. Dan82 said on December 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Startpage/Ixquick can do *most* of that. Their service basically works as a proxy for the Google search engine; that way you can have the full might of the Google search without compromising your privacy or allowing Google to extend their already vast user profiles with even more data. When I say “most”, I mean that the operators usually work fine for regular searches (cache: doesn’t work) and there’s even the advanced search form for those users who are less comfortable using operators as a shortcut. What Startpage/Ixquick doesn’t offer is support of operators for images, or a dedicated search category for news and other sources.

    2. Dave said on December 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      I’m glad you said this. All the time everywhere people see something really basic that looks a lot like the core function of a market leader, and they think it’s a replacement.

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