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Is DuckDuckGo a VPN? Is it Safe?

Last updated: April 22, 2022

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It’s possible that you might have heard of DuckDuckGo, but you might also be wondering about the answers to the questions above.

But first, what is DuckDuckGo?

In the modern world, it is vital that you protect yourself at all times online. This is an age when online threats are lurking around every corner and waiting to steal your personal information, track your activity, and compromise your privacy.

Using DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused online search engine, is part of the answer to the concerns over online privacy and keeping search results away from prying eyes.

But, is DuckDuckGo the same as a virtual private network (VPN)?

To find out more, keep reading!

What is DuckDuckGo? 

Do you want to know what this DuckDuckGo is?

DuckDuckGo is a private search engine that is a hit among users who want to search the web privately with no user tracking.

Per this search engine, it does not track users with cookies, and your personal information is never collected. Unlike other search engines, DuckDuckGo keeps search results and your IP address (and whereabouts) hidden from third parties and advertisers.

Is DuckDuckGo a VPN?

While some might think this search engine is interchangeable with a VPN, it is not a VPN.

Even though DuckDuckGo and a VPN both serve the function of protecting your online privacy and anonymity, a VPN helps send your online traffic through a secure, encrypted tunnel while DuckDuckGo is, in fact, a search engine.

Here are some of the features that DuckDuckGo has that are similar to that of a VPN:

☑️ Online Privacy Transparency: This DDG feature will reveal how safe a site is to help you avoid unsecured websites.

☑️ Private Searches: The DuckDuckGo app and browser extension will not log your search history. (Google does, in fact, track your search history.)

☑️ Encryption: This search engine uses an encrypted connection when possible to secure your online privacy and safeguard your data.

☑️ Blocking Ads: DDG has an ad-blocking feature that will prevent trackers from accessing your data.

Even though you can use both DuckDuckGo and a reputable VPN to help surf the web more securely, they are not interchangeable. It’s a great asset, though, that DuckDuckGo is more secure than other search engines, like Google.

Is DuckDuckGo Safe and Private?

DuckDuckGo is safe but it will not protect your whole device. This search engine will only protect your search engine traffic, so if you want to safeguard your entire device, a VPN is a much better option.

Does DuckDuckGo Hide Your IP Address?

Google, Firefox, Chrome, Bing, and other popular browsers are very user-friendly, but they are not secure. If you want to want to make sure you are not being tracked online, you can opt instead for using DuckDuckGo.

This search engine prevents leaks and conceals your search keywords, keeping your requests and interests hidden from the sites you are accessing online. This means that website owners won’t be able to ID you based on your private info, and your IP address will be hidden from access.

Even though Bing and Google do have a private mode, any of your keywords you type can be sent to the site you are trying to reach. Your device also shares your IP address with the website you are visiting, letting it identify your location. This leakage does not occur with DuckDuckGo.

Main Differences Between DuckDuckGo and a VPN 

Again, the DuckDuckGo search engine is not a VPN. With a VPN, your entire device is protected, while the search engine does a fraction of this.

Here are some ways in which the search engine (DuckDuckGo) protects you:

☑️ Encrypts your Search Data: If there are encrypted websites available, DuckDuckGo will direct you to these secure sites to help keep your personal info safe.

☑️ No trackers: The search engine blocks ads and third-party tracking so you won’t have to worry about being bombarded by pop-ups.

☑️ No Logging your Info: The search engine will not store your search history or information, so no one will be able to access your previous searches from the DuckDuckGo servers.

If you are really worried about securing your personal information online, you can opt to use DuckDuckGo along with a secure VPN, like ExpressVPN, which will make it even more likely that no threats will slip through the cracks.

A VPN, for instance, has some trouble blocking trackers/cookies at times, but DuckDuckGo does not have trouble with this. A VPN with DuckDuckGo will also ensure that your entire device is protected, which DuckDuckGo will not do on its own.

Should I Use a VPN with DuckDuckGo?

While DuckDuckGo is considered a search engine you can rely on to protect your privacy on the internet, you can also increase your security and privacy by using a VPN alongside DuckDuckGo.

Here are a couple of reasons why using a good VPN with DuckDuckGo is a good choice:

☑️ Bypassing geographic blocks: If you’re located in a heavily censored country, like China, DuckDuckGo may be inaccessible. If you use a VPN, you’ll be able to hide your Chinese IP address and get access to DuckDuckGo search results as if you’re browsing the web from your VPN’s server location instead.

☑️ Enhanced privacy: When you use DuckDuckGo, you are protected when connected to DuckDuckGo, but what if you happen to need to access search results on another search engine? In this case, it doesn’t protect you at all. You need a VPN for the same protection on your other search engines.

☑️ Encrypt your traffic: There is some risk that with DuckDuckGo a hacker could intercept some of this search traffic. This means that, since it’s not encrypted, your IP can be visible. Using a VPN will encrypt it so that you’re more protected against these risks.

☑️ Avoid threats: The reality is that, while DuckDuckGo is safe, it doesn’t protect you from all threats. It doesn’t protect you if you’re on social media or other browsers, so these platforms can log and track your private data. To be fully protected, you need the protection of DuckDuckGo alongside a VPN.

3 Best VPNs you can use with DuckDuckGo

To keep search results and browsing privately in the world today, it’s best to be extra safe. This means that the best option is to opt for a reputable VPN in addition to the DuckDuckGo engine.

For a closer view of the VPNs we recommend, here is an in-depth look:

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN

To ensure your privacy and secure your personal information when you use DuckDuckGo, ExpressVPN is an impressive VPN option.

ExpressVPN is one of the most reliable VPNs, which delivers the fastest speeds and the broadest network of servers, spanning almost 100 countries worldwide.

This VPN will not log any of the search history or traffic and will protect you on the internet with 256bit encryption, and a Kill Switch that will kill the internet if your encrypted VPN connection cuts out unexpectedly. There is an option for split tunneling also, which will allow you to send some of your data through your protected VPN tunnel and send other traffic through your normal online connection.


  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Fastest speeds
  • No-logs
  • Military-grade encryption


  • A bit pricier

2. NordVPN

Devices compatible with NordVPN

For using DuckDuckGo with a VPN, NordVPN is another great option to enhance your online privacy.

NordVPN has AES 256-bit encryption, a no-logs policy, a Kill Switch, and a double VPN option.

You can use NordVPN on your Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, or other devices, and, if you need, NordVPN allows up to 6 devices simultaneously on one account.


  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 live-chat support
  • Military-grade encryption
  • No-logging policy


  • Desktop app inconsistent

Devices compatible with Surfshark

To ensure your privacy using DuckDuckGo while ensuring you’re not breaking the bank, Surfshark is a great option.

One of this VPN’s best features is that there is no limit to the number of devices you can connect simultaneously to one account. This lets you use the same VPN account to connect to DuckDuckGo for your online searches on your device while your family members use the same VPN account on the devices of their choice for streaming, torrenting, gaming, or browsing.


  • Military-grade encryption
  • Affordable price
  • Unlimited device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee


  • Speeds can be slower
  • Some buffering
  • Some server inconsistencies

Can I Use a Free DuckDuckGo VPN with the Search Engine?

It’s important to note that not all VPNs are the same, and some can even put you at risk. It doesn’t help your online protection at all by using VPNs that are not reputable, safe, and effective.

It’s not the best option to use a free VPN with a search engine if you’re truly looking to secure your online privacy and safeguard your personal information.

A free VPN can be risky as they do not invest in their privacy and security features, like the best premium VPNs, and they sometimes use shady methods of making a profit, like selling your activity to third parties and advertisers instead of keeping it anonymous.

For the best protection, guaranteed, our advice is to choose a premium VPN provider from our list and take advantage of the money-back guarantee, which is essentially like getting a top VPN and using it for free for the first month.

Best DuckDuckGo Alternatives 

DuckDuckGo is the search engine we recommend when you want to ensure your privacy and secure your data, but if you cannot use DuckDuckGo, here are the best search engines that are good runners up:


Based in France, Qwant is an alternative private search engine option that is a good substitute for DuckDuckGo.

Qwant won’t track searches or log your information, and it guarantees that it will protect its users’ online privacy.

One of the cool things about Qwant is that it has a range of filters that can be used to help you find search results even faster, which makes browsing smoother.


This is one of the top DuckDuckGo alternatives and is based in the Netherlands, and this search engine keeps searches private with these features and promises:

☑️ Never sharing user info with any third parties
☑️ No information stored
☑️ URL generator for users to do away with cookies
☑️ Has a proxy that keeps your IP address and your location hidden.

Search Encrypt: 

If you want a reliable alternative to DuckDuckGo, Search Encrypt is both reputable and fast.
This search engine will protect your privacy by keeping your searches encrypted with Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFC).

It encrypts online searches first locally and then sends them to Search Encrypt secure browsers. After your search is complete, your particular encryption key just disappears.


Is DuckDuckGo part of the dark web?

DuckDuckGo is not part of the dark web, but it is the main search engine used for the Tor browser. The reason it is so widely used with Tor is because of its top privacy, ensuring that users are not tracked and that they can access the dark web freely and anonymously.

Is DuckDuckGo owned by China?

No. DuckDuckGo is a US-founded and owned company.

Can DuckDuckGo be trusted?

The primary appeal of DuckDuckGo is its attention to online privacy, ensuring users that it won’t track your data or search history. In fact, when using the dark web, this is the search engine that is preferred, and it’s the search engine that is Tor’s default.


While other search engines share search results and keywords, DuckDuckGo allows you the luxury of private search on which you can rely. You can also improve this level of privacy by using a virtual private network with DDG.

Do you want to try out a reliable, fast, and effective VPN?

ExpressVPN offers users a 30day moneyback guarantee. This means that you’re able to test it in the real world for a full month and if it doesn’t suit you, all you have to do is contact the ExpressVPN live-chat support to ask for a refund within 30 days.

What is there to lose?

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