One Very Easy Way To Browse Absolutely Anonymously on the Web

 anonymous browsing

Many people have privacy concerns about using Google but it would be hard to give up using this top search engine. Have you heard about StartPage (SP)? It’s known as the world’s most private search engine. By using Startpage you get the best of both worlds — Google search results and online privacy. Here are some details about how it works. First, when you use StartPage to search Google, your data is never passed on to Google or any third party. Google sees StartPage's information and not yours. SP never tracks your searches or saves your IP address. And if you ever choose to save your search preferences, Startpage uses only one anonymous cookie to remember those preferences. Startpage and it’s sister search engine Ixquick are the only third-party certified search engines in the world that do not record your IP address or track your searches. This video demonstrates how to use Startpage on your computer to search and browse anonymously. It also showcases special and advanced search features to help you get the most out of using SP.

Private Browsing and Advanced Search Features

Using the Proxy Link

One thing to remember about using Startpage is that while your search is anonymous, once you select a search result to view you leave Startpage and are no longer viewing and searching anonymously. However, there is a way around this so that you can browse securely also. Startpage offers a proxy service that extends the privacy protections you get from using the SP search engine. To use this option click on the "Proxy" link instead of clicking on the main search result link.

Startpage proxy link

When you do this StartPage will retrieve the page from the website and display it for you. You will be invisible to the website and will not be in direct contact with it — the website won't be able to view or store cookies on your browser. Once you're on the webpage via the proxy link, click any links on that page and StartPage will retrieve and display them for you with continued privacy protection. One downside to this is that it often takes more time for pages to load. Another thing to keep in mind is that because the proxy removes the javascript from the websites, some features on a website may not work.

Extra Security

It’s also good to know that SP uses SSL (https) for added security. Their SSL encryption score is the highest in the industry. You can read more about how the proxy works and about StartPage's privacy policy on the SP website if you want more of the nitty gritty details. If some of this seems a little overwhelming don't worry. Using StartPage is easy. Watch the video to see how you can begin searching and browsing privately with Startpage right away. StartPage also has an app for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and all Android devices.

Steps to a Cookie-Free Search

You can save your search preferences by going to Settings. Remember that if you do save any personalized settings Startpage will use one anonymous cookie to remember your preference. So if want to take your search privacy a step further, you can search completely "cookie-free" by following the instructions below. I used the Firefox browser for this demonstration so if you use another browser it may vary a little. For example, when I used Safari I found that the option for "Install Custom Plugin" was not available.

1. For your first simple step to searching cookie-free, click on the triple bar symbol in the upper right corner and select Settings.

Startpage screenshot #1

2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the green "Generate URL" button to create your own Startpage web address.

Startpage screenshot showing URL generator button

3. Now choose to either bookmark this web address or set it as your homepage.

Startpage screenshot showing bookmarking option

To make it even easier to get back to your cookie-free Startpage address there's an option for some browsers, like Firefox, that allows you to install a custom plugin after you've created your personal URL. If you use this option, a search bar plugin will be created for your browser that includes your settings. If you have saved Startpage as one of your search engine choices prior to this then you'll need to delete that version before you install the new, personalized one. Here are the additional steps for this:

4. If available in your browser, click the green button "Install Custom Plugin".

Startpage4 screenshot showing the step for installing the custom plugin in Firefox

5. Click "Add" to add the Startpage Custom Search to the list of search engines available in the search bar.

Startpage screenshot showing plugin installation process

6. The custom search is now showing in the list of search engines available in the Firefox search bar.

Startpage screenshot showing Startpage in the list of available screenshots in the Firefox search bar