The deep web is an interesting, ever-changing place. It’s a huge amount of fun to browse through and navigate around, and there are plenty of legitimate uses for the anonymous browsing that the deep web has to offer. Don’t be fooled by the newspaper articles that paint it as an unruly place for petty criminals.
One of the unique quirks of the deep web is that while the pages you’re looking for are right there at your fingertips, they’re not as obviously visible. You have to go out and hunt down the pages that you’re looking for, which makes it a much more active browsing experience than you might be used to.
When you’re using the web and you need to find some information, you use a search engine. Finding your way around the deep web is no different, but there’s huge fragmentation in the market and all sorts of search engines for different purposes. On top of that, you often need to know roughly where you’re going before you even get started.
That’s where this list comes in. We’ve scoured the deep web for the very best search engines it has to offer and identified the pros and cons of each of them. Sit back and get ready. We’re about to dive deep into the deep web.
Let’s start with the most obvious. Torch is one of the most well-known and well-loved deep web search engines there is, and it’s also one of the largest. They say that their index covers more than a million deep web page results, even if that’s only because they’ve been around the longest. It makes for a great multi-purpose search engine whatever you’re looking for.
Ahmia.fi is one of the best search engines for newbies who are just getting started. It’s super easy to pick it up and start searching, and it can search the regular web as well as the deep web. It’s not a bad idea to set it as your browser’s homepage so that it’s there and ready to go. Plus you can use it as a regular browser while you’re still new to the deep web and then take advantage of some of its more advanced functionality later on when you know your way around.
ParaZite is a little bit like the earliest incarnation of Yahoo!, back when it was more of a repository of links than an actual search engine. If you’re only searching because you’re browsing around, this is the search engine for you. You can even use it to load up a random page from the deep web, which is a great way to discover new sites without actively searching them out and looking for them.
If notEvil looks familiar then that’s because it’s designed to look like Google. The iconic tech company’s internal slogan is “don’t be evil”, which explains where this site gets its name from. It’s a decent generic search engine for navigating the deep web and does a great job of providing a clutter-free interface that just works.
In case you can’t tell, Candle is another of the deep web’s Google equivalents. It takes its name from the fact that it shines a light into the darkness that is the deep web, and it currently indexes over 100,000 .onion results. It uses the same methodology as Google to search for and index results pages, and it’s a great little engine if you only want to search for results on the deep web with none of that ‘regular web’ rubbish thrown in with it.
This one does what it says on the tin. As well as providing a decent little search engine for people to use, DeepSearch also provides updates on new pages that have been added to their index alongside lists of commonly searched terms. If nothing else, they make for an interesting read – but they also tie in with the search engine’s mission to make the deep web more open. If you like data, you’ll love DeepSearch.
7. Complete Planet
Complete Planet is a little different in that it’s a hybrid search engine directory that aims to make it easier than ever to access databases. Its massive index has picked up on over 70,000 searchable databases covering all sorts of topics from literature and sports to science and religion. It also offers many of the same filtering and sorting options that we’ve come to expect from regular search engines, but you can also use it to casually browse through by digging into a category of your choice and seeing what sites are indexed.
8. The Internet Archive
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet then you’ve probably already come across the Internet Archive. Its database includes a huge amount of information from the deep web, and you can even explore over 279 billion web pages as they appeared over time. You could literally spend hours on there just browsing through different databases and looking at the clunky UX of old websites.
Searx is a beautiful little search engine with an approachable design and all of the functionality you’re likely to need. The interesting thing about it is that it’s not a search engine for the deep web, but rather a deep web based search engine for the regular World Wide Web. It’s designed to provide absolute anonymity when people use it, which means that it’s a safe bet for when you’re worried about surveillance. For example, if you’re a horror writer and you want to learn how long a body takes to degrade, you can search for it without having a knock on the door the following day.
10. Google Books
Google Books is technically one of the biggest deep web databases out there. It has access to millions of books from all over the world – 25 million, according to one source. You can open them up and look inside and access all sorts of data that you might not be able to find anywhere else – unless you happen to have your own massive library with 25 million books in it.
Staying Safe on the Deep Web
Hold on – there’s more! Before you jump on into the deep web and start searching for new sites, you’ll need to know how to protect yourself. There are quite a few different elements to this, ranging from the obvious to the obscure.
First up, you’ll want to make sure that you’re running up-to-date anti-virus software. This applies no matter what device you’re accessing the deep web from, so make sure that it’s installed and up-to-date.
Next, you’ll want to use a tool like NordVPN to access the deep web through a virtual private network. This provides an extra layer of anonymity, effectively bouncing your browsing activity through various locations around the world so that it’s harder for people – and companies – to snoop on what you’re doing.
Finally, remember that you’re your own biggest enemy. Pay attention to the data that you share and be careful not to use your real name or email address. If you’re making purchases, use crypto currencies so that the transactions can’t be tracked. Don’t reveal any personal information so that you maintain your anonymity at all times. After all, that’s why most people use the deep web in the first place.
The deep web is an exciting place to be, and it brings back memories of the early days of the internet when people were getting to grips with IRC and using AIM. Back then, there was no Google and no Facebook. Amazon was just starting out, but most people were cynical about their business model and unsure of whether the internet had the potential to sustain a real business.
We know better now of course, but the deep web still retains much of the mystery of the early internet, which is why it’s so important to find a suite of search engines that you can rely on. With no Google, you’ll find yourself relying on different search engines for different purposes.
That’s why the best thing to do is to test out each of the different search engines on this list and to bookmark a bunch of your favorites. Bookmarks will be your best friend in general as you browse the deep web because even though the search engines in this list are designed to help you to find stuff, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find it again.
Still, search engines are the key to penetrating the deep web and to unlocking the secrets that it has to offer. After all, it’s not like you can just key in a web address. Hopefully these search engines help you to get started, but if none of them are for you then don’t worry – there are plenty more of them out there.
All you have to do is to search for them.