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So, you’ve decided to explore the dark web. First, you need to know how to access the dark web, and once you’re in, you can’t just perform a normal Google search. You’ll need a dark web search engine, and we’ve compiled the best ones for you to try.
Before we get into dark web search engines, let’s get into what the dark web is. The dark web is a hidden collective of sites that you can only access through special browsers, most commonly the Tor Browser. Data sent through the dark Onion Search Engine web is encrypted and relayed through multiple nodes hosted by a global network of volunteers. This setup ensures users and website operators are able to remain anonymous.
The dark web has a reputation for being a shady marketplace, but it has legitimate uses, too. For example, journalists and informants can securely communicate and share sensitive information over the dark web wherever they are and without risk of interception. Several news and information sites like The New York Times and the BBC also have Tor versions, which can provide the news to places where their normal sites are censored.
But the dark web is not the easiest place to navigate; dark web links are long, and the sites are generally not household names. Websites on the dark web are hosted and accessed on the Tor network; you can identify them by their use of Tor’s top-level domain “.onion.” Dark web links aren’t listed on regular search engines, so a Google search will not be of any help. To search the dark web, you’ll need to first head to a dark web search engine.
Ready to explore and tap into the resources of the dark web? Here are the best dark web search engines to use.
Torch (onion link here) is probably the most well-known dark web search engine, and it is also one of the oldest. The search engine crawls and indexes onion sites every day, and it has one of the largest numbers of onion search results. It also loads pretty fast, and the interface is reminiscent of Google’s, making it feel familiar. Owing to its large search library, Torch is probably the best search engine for exploring the dark web. A familiar interface and fast loading speeds are the icing on the cake.
One thing to be wary about is that, like most dark web search engines, Torch doesn’t filter websites. This increases the likelihood of stumbling onto a malicious webpage or harmful material.
Ahmia (onion link here) is a robust dark web search engine. Aside from serving you search results, the search engine can be used to view statistics, insights, and news about the Tor network, making it an incredibly useful tool for anyone looking to explore the dark web. Unlike other dark web search engines, Ahmia has a policy against “abuse material” and blocks them.
It might be the most recognizable name on the list, and we’ve championed its use as a regular search engine for a while now. DuckDuckGo (onion link here) is a privacy-friendly search engine that works across all major browsers like Chrome and Firefox, but did you know that it’s also the default search engine for the Tor Browser?
DuckDuckGo doesn’t log your activity, so your search habits, dark web or not, remain private to you. The only downside to DuckDuckGo is that it might show you fewer dark web search results compared with the other search engines on this list.
Haystack (onion link here) just might have the most indexed dark website on any dark web search engine at over 1.5 billion indexed pages. It runs on a freemium model, however, so you will have to pony up some cash to go ad-free and for features like access to historical versions of websites. Like DuckDuckGo, Haystack is a privacy-friendly choice, promising not to track your data or compromise your privacy for profit.
While technically not a search engine, we’re including The Hidden Wiki (onion link here) for its helpfulness in exploring the dark web. Working more like a directory, it makes it easy to navigate the dark web by providing a categorized directory of indexed links. The Hidden Wiki also blocks many malicious sites on the dark web from appearing on its directory, but as with all dark web search engines, some shady sites still make it to the list.
You can’t really go wrong with the above five dark web search engines, but there are others out there that have entered the fray—with varying success. Here are five on our radar that, unfortunately, seem to experience a lot of downtime:
The dark web is unregulated, which is why it is important to protect yourself while browsing. Here are some things you should do when accessing the dark web.
A dark web search engine is an online tool designed to find websites on the unindexed part of the internet known as the dark web. Dark web websites are not listed on regular search engines, but dark web search engines can help you find them.
Search engines are integral to the web browsing experience, but only about 10% of all websites are indexed on a typical search engine. The remaining sites, including those on the dark web, won’t show up when you search Google — they can be accessed only with a direct URL, IP address, or deep web search application.
The internet consists of two parts:
While classified government data and sensitive health records sit in the deep web, many of the sites we use everyday are also part of the deep web, such as our email accounts and personal banking portals.
The dark web is a subset of the deep web. One way to understand the difference between the dark web and the deep web is to think of the dark web as a small part of the deep web that sits on a special network accessible only via special software tools like Tor browser. Most dark websites are hosted and accessed on the Tor network and can be identified with the use of Tor’s own top-level domain: “.onion.”