Best dark web search engines in 2023

Mikaela Bray
Mikaela Bray | Contributing Writer
Last updated: January 9, 2023
best dark web search engines
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The Dark Web (DW) is called dark for a reason. Like a cavernous dungeon, it’s almost impossible to navigate without a torch or beacon – and the information it contains can be very difficult to discover. Therefore, you need the best dark web search engine to explore the hidden plains of the internet.

However, if you think that you’ll be instantly incognito when entering the dark web, think again. Firstly, your ISP can see when you’re entering and leaving the dark web, which might raise some concerns. Moreover, it’s been proven that the CIA owns some of the Tor relays.

So, if you don’t want anyone to know that you’re using DuckDuckGo and browse from Germany, for example, you’ll need a reliable VPN. It will spoof your whereabouts and hide your IP address instantly. And if you pair it with Tor and a top-tier dark web search engine, you’ll have the smoothest, anonymous experience online.

Stay safe with the best dark web VPN

Being one of the top VPN choices, NordVPN will guarantee your safety while venturing through the dark web. Not to mention, it offers loads of feautures and phenomenal speeds.

9.6 /10
Unbreakable encryption
Top-tier speeds
Total privacy

What is the Dark Web?

You’ve probably heard stories about the legendary Silk Road, hitmen services, gun shops, and other wacky sites. While some of it is true, in reality, the dark web is simply a place full of non-indexed and actively hidden content. Moreover, journalists, activists, and other curious people use the dark web as a safe place for free speech.

Dark Web Search Engines DDG

And while it’s exciting to rummage through heaps of pages, the dark web is not the safest place on earth. Users should exercise extreme caution when downloading files, as they are often malicious. Plus, if you don’t encrypt your data and hide IP address, malicious actors might take advantage of you and your data. Therefore, getting a dark web VPN is a must, as it will add an extra layer of safety and privacy.

Additionally, unlike regular sites that you can access through Google, Bing, or Yahoo, you’ll need a special browser and search engine to access DW. The most famous and trusted browser is undoubtedly Tor. And when it comes to search engines, it’s a matter of what you prefer and what you need.

How to get on the dark web securely

It doesn’t matter what you’re up to on the web. The point is, you always need some extra protection when exploring the dankest corners of internet. Thus, here’s what you have to do to stay safe:

  1. Download a security-oriented VPN. Our #1 choice is NordVPN, now with 57% discount
  2. Install the VPN on a device that you will use for dark web browsing
  3. Pick a server nearby for best performance
  4. Launch Tor and pick a reliable search engine, such as Torch
  5. Now you can explore the darkest corners of the dark web!

Browse Dark Web with NordVPN

Best Dark Web search engines in 2023

Below you’ll find reliable dark web search engines that will help you access spooky yet intriguing content. However, while they have a proven track record of serving Tor users, there’s always a slight chance that they may harbor malware or other surprises. Therefore, before venturing into the dark, take the best VPN to give you peace of mind.

So, get the best dark web search engine links and surf securely.

1. Torch – the best dark web search engine

✔️ Offers the biggest archive
✔️ Doesn’t restrict web pages
✔️ One of the first dark web browsers
❌ Might contain malicious content

Torch is one of the oldest and most-known dark web search engines. With an archive of over 400,000 pages, Torch does a pretty good job of sifting through the Dark Web’s content and returns a batch of relevant results for almost any search query.

It’s simple to use and offers uncensored and unrestricted web search results. But that also means that you might stumble across malicious websites. Furthermore, it’s quite fast, so you won’t have to wait long for pages to load. The only annoying thing is the obnoxious ads on the front page. However, the profit from these advertisements goes into the support and maintenance of the servers.

Not to mention, the people behind this search engine take your privacy seriously, as they try to prevent any web tracking. So, if you’re ready, venture into the unknown with the Torch search engine.

Find Torch here

2. Ahmia – dark web search engine that works on regular web

✔️ Works on popular browsers
✔️ User-friendly
✔️ Blocks malicious sites
❌ A bit slow

Another handy portal to the recesses of the dark web, Ahmia, was developed with the support of the Tor project back in 2014. Ahmia has the best filters around. It explicitly sets out to sanitize search results from Tor. So don’t expect to have your searches contaminated with illegal NSFW content.

Additionally, we highly recommend using it with the TOR browser, but it also works on popular options such as Chrome, Brave, Firefox, or Edge. Plus, Ahmia aims to make dark web adventures more accessible and safe, so it’s a fantastic beginner-friendly option.

Ahmia’s biggest advantage is its servers, unlike other competitors, are always up. Thus, if you want to take it for a spin, use the link below.

Find Ahmia here

3. Haystak – dark web search engine with over 1 billion indexed pages

✔️ Heaps of websites to explore
✔️ Fairly fast
✔️ Doesn’t track your data
❌ Not as reliable as other search engines

Few search engines have penetrated as far into the Dark Web as Haystak, which claims to use an archive of over 1.5 billion pages. That probably features a broad overlap with the more conventional Deep Web, but there’s no doubt that Haystak reaches the part of the Tor network that other searches can’t.

However, Haystak’s search infrastructure is a little less reliable than alternatives like Not Evil or Torch, so you may find yourself fiddling around with keywords to find relevant content.
Even so, the archive size means that it’s a Tor search engine that needs to be taken into account.

Not to mention, the creators of this search engine take your privacy and security seriously, as they don’t track your data. So, you can try it out by copying the link below.

Find Haystack here

4. DuckDuckGo – default Tor dark web search engine

✔️ Doesn’t collect logs
✔️ Works on regular browsers
✔️ User-friendly
❌ Less results than other search engines

DuckDuckGo (DDG) is one of the most privacy-friendly search engines in 2023. Additionally, it’s a default option for Tor, so you know it’s a reliable choice. You can also use it for the most popular browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, but it won’t show you .onion sites.

DDG offers a familiar and simple interface, so you shouldn’t have any problems utilizing it. Not to mention, it offers a no-logs policy, so the team behind the platform won’t gather any information about you.

Nevertheless, it might show fewer dark web results compared to other specialized search engines. But it’s truly a worthy contender. You can test it out by following the link below.

Find DuckDuckGo here

5. Not Evil – versatile dark web search engine

✔️ Simple to use
✔️ Database includes over 32 million websites
✔️ Results are monitored by users
❌ The servers are often down

Taking the form of a very stripped-down form of Google (hence the humorous name which riffs on the search giant’s questionable ethics), not Evil is usually the place to start when searching the Dark Web.

It simply features a search field and a list of results that have been harvested from Tor servers. But there’s a bit more going on here than you might think.

Search results are monitored by users, who can report incorrect and misleading results or log sites as “abusive.” And the search engine actively tries to combat content like child pornography, which is good to see (and suggests that it lives up to its name).

Sadly, getting it to work is a bit iffy, as not Evil servers are usually down. Nevertheless, you can try and access it with the link below.

Find not Evil here

Should you use services like Web2Tor?

When you surf the web looking for ways to get the most out of Tor, you may well run into services with names like “Web2Tor” or “Tor2Web.” These sites seem really useful on the surface, promising to create an interface between the ordinary web and Tor nodes.

In theory, this would let you use search engines like DuckDuckGo to search Tor, and it would do away with the need for the standalone Tor browser.

However, don’t be fooled. These tools (when they work) are inherently insecure. Users run the risk of betraying their DNS and IP information when they create a bridge between the surface web and Tor, giving away plenty of data about the sites they are visiting.

So when you navigate the Dark Web, search engine tools are your friend. Just stick to specialist Tor-based services instead of apps and sites which promise more than they can deliver. And finally, don’t forget to turn on a secure VPN for your own safety.

Is DuckDuckGo a true dark web search engine?

DuckDuckGo is one of the well-known Clearnet sites, for sure, but it also is available in the Tor network.

However, it’s not actually a dark web search engine, per se, and it doesn’t list .onion pages and essentially functions like Google. Its advantage is concluded in its anonymity and privacy features. Using DuckDuckGo, you can rest assured that your data isn’t tracked or collected. All the cookies, history, and other web activities performed through the site are kept off the charts.

All in all, DDG is not a dark web search engine as it won’t list dark web pages. Therefore, you are better off getting a different search engine, such as Torch or Ahmia.

Best dark web search engines according to Reddit

Reddit has answers to all of your questions, including the ones about dark web search engines. To save you time, we dug through heaps of threads to find the most reliable options. In most cases, Redditors had similar opinions to ours. So, here are the best dark web search engines in 2023 according to Reddit:

Search EngineWhy you should use it
TorchOldest and the best, also no censorship
HaystackBiggest archive
PhobosExtremely fast & ads-free
DuckDuckGoFor Android users
CandleQuick, convenient & always working

We recommend trying a few of these search engines before picking your one and only. And remember, no matter how private these search engines claim to be, you need some extra protection before any digital disasters happen. Therefore, we recommend checking out the best VPNs according to Reddit, which will also work perfectly while exploring DW.

Why do you need a VPN on the dark web?

We talked about it before, the dark web is far from being the safest place to explore. While you won’t have FBI guys or hitmen banging on your door, you can stumble across malware-infected sites. That might lead to financial losses, identity thefts, or other digital calamities.

But that can only happen if you don’t encrypt your data, hide your IP and whereabouts. Luckily, you can easily keep yourself safe by using a reliable virtual private network. And, if you’re wondering which VPN to use for the dark web, here are the best options:

  1. NordVPN. Overall the best option. It’s a versatile service that will keep you safe and anonymous online. It’s also the fastest VPN, so it won’t slow you down while on the dark web.
  2. Surfshark VPN. The top option for multiple gadgets, as this service has no device limit. Moreover, it provides top-tier security features, guaranteed confidentiality, and swift connectivity globally.

Get the best VPN on the market

How to stay safe on the dark web?

We get it, you want to dive into the exciting world of the dark web as soon as possible. Nevertheless, you should be extra careful. One wrong click, and you might be in some big trouble. Therefore, here are a few things you can do to stay safe on the dark web:

  • Avoid downloading files on the dark web as they might actually be malware.
  • Have your VPN on while browsing to protect your data and hide your IP address & whereabouts.
  • Never use your personal information like email, name, address, or social security number, as they might be used against you.
  • Don’t buy anything, but if you do, make sure it’s from a reliable source and use cryptocurrencies.
  • Use antivirus software, as it will protect you against malware if something goes awry.

Best dark web websites

Now that you know about the best search engines for the dark web, it’s time to do a bit of digging! Of course, don’t forget to turn on your VPN to keep your devices safe and sound.

Hidden Wiki
And if you don’t know where to start, we found some interesting dark web sites that are worth visiting. Just copy the link and paste it into your dark web search engine.

  • The Hidden Wiki – your gateway to the dark web. It offers loads of useful links to secure sites.
  • SecureDrop – best dark web platform for file sharing.
  • ProRepublica – unbiased investigative journalism and news.
  • Galaxy3 – social networking experience for dark web.
  • FlashLight Deepweb Live – popular news site about dark web matters.

Wrap up

DW is an exciting place to look for hidden information. And to access these sites, you’ll need a reliable dark web search engine. While our top choices are Torch and Ahmia, you might want to try other options to see which one fits your needs the best.

And, of course, to avoid digital catastrophes, we strongly recommend getting a top-notch VPN such as NordVPN. It will add an extra layer of security by encrypting your data and hiding your IP address. That way, you won’t have to worry about online dangers as much.

What search engine do you use for browsing the dark web? Let us know in the comments!

You may also like to read:
Most secure browsers
Best VPN for Tor browser
Best VPN browser extensions
How to bypass VPN blocks
Is torrenting illegal in your country?
How to unblock websites from anywhere


What is the best dark web search engine?

The finest search engine for the dark web is Torch. It doesn’t censor search results and won’t track your search history. Plus, for the sake of privacy, Torch doesn’t use any tracking or analytics code.

Is DuckDuckGo a dark web search engine?

Yes, you can use DuckDuckGo to explore the dark web, but only the surface pages. However, you’ll still need the Tor browser to access non-indexed and actively hidden content. Plus, it would be wise to use a reliable VPN, such as NordVPN, for maximum security.

Is it legal to use the dark web?

Technically, it’s absolutely legal to browse on the dark web. Nevertheless, it depends on what you use it for. If you use it for illicit and illegal purposes, then undoubtedly, you’ll get in trouble.

Can you be tracked on the dark web?

While extremely difficult, yes, you can be tracked on the dark web. For that reason, you need to use a tool that would hide your location and swap your IP address with a different one. The best option is to grab an industry-leading VPN like Surfshark VPN or NordVPN and avoid major risks while browsing the deep web.

Should I use a VPN when on the dark web?

Yes, using a VPN while surfing the dark web is highly recommended. A service such as NordVPN will secure your information with an uncrackable cipher. Also, the twice-audited zero-logs policy guarantees your privacy while online.

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  1. Sammy

    Funny all the propaganda comments about how bad the dark web is. You really think the people making money from it would allow thieves to give it a bad name

  2. HunterB

    None of these links work…

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hi, Hunter. Thanks for letting us know, we’ll update the article as soon as we can.

  3. [email protected]

    Honestly, I don’t think there’s ever a good reason to go on the dark web unless someone forces you to by putting your information on it. Why in the world would you risk it when it’s supposed to be such a terrible place in the first place? I don’t think it’s safe or smart to even think about going on it.

    1. newguy

      If thinking is neither save or smart, life must be pretty simple

      1. uwu


  4. tyahw751

    It doesn’t like a safe browsing to me but you may never know. I will keep these tips with me if I ever need to use them in the future

  5. RC Jasta

    Gah, why would you even link to those? I feel like it’s dangerous even going anywhere NEAR that place. It’s really dangerous giving people who may not have the right protection access to the dark web. Terrifying…

  6. Dave T

    Thanks for the article, I’m completely new to the dark web and I wasn’t sure how to browse anything in it. Now I know better and how to stay safe. Thanks again, so much great content here !

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