The deep web, also known as the invisible web or hidden web, refers to internet content that is not indexed by standard search engines like Google. While the deep web contains a lot of mundane content that is behind paywalls or password-protected, it has also become associated with more illicit and illegal activities due to the anonymity it provides.
If you want to access deep web content, you’ll need to use specialized search engines that are designed to crawl and index these hard-to-reach parts of the internet. Here are 19 of the best deep web search engines to help you find what Google can’t.
1. TOR Search Engines
TOR, short for The Onion Router, is an anonymity network that allows for anonymous communication online by masking IP addresses and routing traffic through multiple layers of encryption. The TOR network has become the main way to access the deep web.
There are a few search engines designed specifically for finding content on the TOR network:
Torch is one of the largest and most popular TOR search engines. It indexes around 6 million TOR onion services and displays results from various categories like social media, finance, email, and more.
- Pros: Huge index of TOR sites, easy to use, frequently updated
- Cons: Results aren’t as relevant or refined as a standard search engine
Ahima is focused solely on searching onion pages and indexes around 1.4 million TOR sites. It offers Google-style precise searches for finding exactly what you need.
- Pros: Specialized for TOR, fast and accurate results, minimal tracking
- Cons: Smaller index than other TOR search engines
III. OnionLand Search
OnionLand claims to index more than 2 million TOR pages. It offers search by domain extension and lets you browse by categories.
- Pros: Extensive index, categorized browsing
- Cons: Dated interface, search relevance could be better
Grams is one of the more popular engines for searching darknet markets on TOR. It indexes hundreds of thousands of listings from various darknet marketplaces.
- Pros: Specialized for finding products on darknet markets
- Cons: Only useful if you plan to make darknet purchases
2. I2P Search Engines
I2P is another anonymity network with functionality similar to TOR that allows accessing the deep web and hidden services. Here are some key I2P search engines:
Searx is an open source metasearch engine that can search both surface web and dark web sites including I2P and TOR. It has a .onion domain and doesn’t track searches.
- Pros: Searches multiple sources, open source and private
- Cons: Results not as refined as other engines
Visi offers a simple search interface focused exclusively on I2P websites and services. It claims to index around 50,000 eepsites on the I2P network.
- Pros: Specialized for I2P, simple and easy to use
- Cons: Much smaller index than surface web search engines
VII. I2P Search
I2P Search provides keyword searches across I2P websites as well as browsing by categories like forums, trackers, blogs, and more.
- Pros: Focused on I2P, broad category browsing
- Cons: Searches limited to keyword/topic
3. General Hidden Search Engines
These search engines allow you to search both the deep web as well as the regular surface web:
DuckDuckGo is a popular privacy-focused search engine that doesn’t track users. While not exclusively a deep web engine, DuckDuckGo does crawl and index some deep web content.
- Pros: Emphasizes privacy protection, clean interface
- Cons: Deep web results limited compared to specialized engines
Qwant is a private search engine based in France that also avoids tracking and profiling. It can reach some deep web content not indexed by Google.
- Pros: Privacy-focused, minimal ads
- Cons: Relatively small index of deep web content
Swisscows is private search engine based in Switzerland that claims to be the most anonymous search engine. It offers deep web results in addition to surface web.
- Pros: Strong privacy protection, deep web access
- Cons: Smaller index than competitors
MetaGer is a metasearch engine that compiles results from over 50 sources including TOR, I2P, DuckDuckGo, and Qwant. It emphasizes finding deep web resources other engines miss.
- Pros: Aggregates many deep web search sources
- Cons: Cluttered interface, mixed search relevance
Peekier provides an index of hidden services across TOR, I2P, and Freenet. It focuses on uncensored information from anonymous networks.
- Pros: Specialized on hidden services, clearnet and darknet info
- Cons: Smaller index than larger anonymizing networks
4. Private Search Engines
These search engines emphasize user privacy by avoiding tracking and profiling. While not exclusively focused on the deep web, they can provide some uncensored and anonymous results.
Startpage acts as an anonymous proxy to Google Search while stripping away identifying info and not tracking users. It provides access to some deep web links while avoiding being tracked by Google.
- Pros: Anonymizes Google results, strong privacy features
- Cons: Relies on Google so deep web limited
Mojeek is an independent search engine focused on protecting privacy. It claims to be the only mainstream engine not based on Bing or Google. Can provide some alternative deep web results.
- Pros: Unbiased search index separate from giants
- Cons: Much smaller index than competitors
Oscobo is a small independent search engine committed to neutral search results. It avoids filters and algorithms of major engines and may show some deep web content.
- Pros: Simple unfiltered search, good privacy
- Cons: Very small market share and index
5. Offbeat Search Engines
These lesser-known search engines take unique approaches that can sometimes surface hard-to-find deep web content:
XVI. Million Short
Million Short uses a custom built web crawler to index niche content overlooked by mainstream search engines, including some deep web links.
- Pros: Obscure content not found in top results
- Cons: Quirky uncensored results require vetting
Yippy serves as a portal for retrieving results from over 1,000 search sources. By aggregating many engines, it can provide deep web links other engines miss.
- Pros: Massive network of search sources
- Cons: Dated interface, information overload
Presearch is a decentralized blockchain-based search engine powered by crypto tokens. Users can earn tokens by searching. May provide alternative deep web results.
- Pros: Innovative crypto model, uncensored
- Cons: Crypto orientation, small index
Unbubble aims to provide search results outside user bubbles and filters. It may provide controversial deep web content screened out by other engines.
- Pros: Escapes search engine bubbles
- Cons: Fringe results need vetting
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Choose the Right Search Engine for Your Needs
When looking for deep web content blocked on the surface web, using a dedicated anonymizing network like TOR or I2P is your best bet. Search engines like Torch, Ahima, Searx and Visi specialize in finding this hidden content.
General private search engines like DuckDuckGo, Startpage, and Qwant can also sometimes surface deep web links in a more familiar search setting. And unconventional niche engines like Million Short and Yippy may reveal unique uncensored deep web results.
The deep web opens access to information and resources not searchable on Google. But it also has risks around illegal activity, false information, and scams. Use caution when exploring deep web content and evaluate any search engine results carefully. With the right tools and skepticism, you can tap into the massive trove of obscure information hidden beneath the surface.