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What Is an Anonymous Search Engine?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 16, 2024
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An anonymous search engine is a search engine that allows users to search the world wide web anonymously. Unlike most search engines, these do not store a user's personal information or data. Other people who use his computer are also not able to see any of his previous search terms. Anonymous search engines also usually allow individuals to visit most websites anonymously.

Almost all major search engines store some information when a person searches the web. This information is often stored as cookies. These cookies typically contain a unique code that can be linked back to a certain computer.

Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are just one piece of information that many search engines store. An anonymous search engine does not usually store a user's IP address. This numeric code is typically unique to a certain electronic device, such as a computer. Certain search terms can sometimes be traced back to a particular computer, via its IP address

The location information of a person using a regular search engine may also be stored at times. This information may be general or more specific. For instance, a person's state may be identified and stored. Other search engines may only identify and store a person's country. A reputable anonymous search engine, on the other hand, will not store this information.

Many major search engines also keep a record of what terms have been searched on a particular computer. These terms can often be found when a user starts typing in a new search term. Simple hitting the up or down arrow keys will cause a drop box to appear with previously searched terms.

Anyone who uses a computer can find several search terms that other users have searched for. An anonymous search engine will not usually store this information either. This enables users to search for anything without others finding out. Computer users who search for adult-oriented material, for instance, may find these types of search engines useful if children use those machines.

An anonymous search engine may also allow users to visit their websites without those visits showing up in the website statistics. This is typically made possible because of a proxy server. When users click on a search result, they are usually able to see a website, but their personal details and IP addresses are hidden from that website's webmaster.

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Discussion Comments
By anon953505 — On May 27, 2014

@lluviaporos - A couple of legitimate reasons for anonymous search:

1.) Search results compiled with consideration to your previous searches targets you with results related to those searches; i.e., yesterday you bought a table online, but today you want to learn how to refinish a table - and all your results are trying to sell you another table, and you have to weed through 10 pages of results to find what you're really after, because the engine assumes you're after another table.

2.) Search results targeting your specific geographic location dramatically limits search results; e.g., you enter "collie breeders" wanting sites for collie breeders worldwide, and get results of collie breeders closest to your own geographic location.

By Ana1234 — On Feb 17, 2014

@browncoat - It's not that difficult to hide your IP address and that will do for most things. If you are actually doing something illegal enough for the police or the FBI to get involved you'd better know what you're doing though, because they catch master hackers every day.

For the average citizen who is just curious about crossbows because they think they look cool in that new movie, I would just use the incognito settings on my browser and not worry too much.

By browncoat — On Feb 16, 2014

@Iluviaporos - That's nice in theory, but there are plenty of ways in which you might regret not using a private search engine when going about your daily business on the internet.

For one thing, you might be accused of a crime you didn't commit. If you happened to search for a couple of the common ingredients that can be used to make a bomb, you might end up in trouble without any intention of actually making a bomb.

Or, you might live in a country where the definition of illegal is a lot more encompassing and the slightest misstep attached to your IP address could spell prison.

Or you might just think we have a right to be anonymous because we don't live in a police state and that's one of the perks. What if you want to run for office one day and they manage to find something embarrassing, but not illegal, in your search history? That could conceivably happen.

By lluviaporos — On Feb 15, 2014

Frankly, I don't think there are all that many good reasons anyone could be legitimately wanting to hide their information from internet search engines. The only reasons I can think of off the top of my head is if they were doing something illegal or planning to do something illegal. And either way, I'd rather that information was recorded somewhere.

I don't want someone poring over my search history and I search for weird things sometimes just like anyone else. But I wouldn't expect that to ever be used against me because I don't look for illegal sites and I don't plan on using the information to do anything illegal.

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