Is DuckDuckGo Good Enough for Protecting Online Privacy?

Kate Hawkins Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on September 20, 2020

You probably use DuckDuckGo because you care about your privacy. The thing is, although this browser is better than Chrome in terms of securing your data, it won’t give you the full coverage you want.

If you want to protect your data while browsing, keep your privacy, and mask your search result, the ultimate way to do it is to use DuckDuckGo with a VPN.

I tested over a dozen VPNs to help you find the best services to use with DuckDuckGo. Each of my recommended VPNs offer a money-back guarantee, so you can try every feature for yourself before you commit.

Stay anonymous online with NordVPN

3 Best VPNs to Use With DuckDuckGo

1. NordVPN — Top-Grade Security Features to Keep You Anonymous While Browsing

Key Features:

  • 5,500+ servers in 59 countries
  • Military-grade encryption and DNS leak protection
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Secures up to 6 devices on a single account
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

NordVPN’s military-grade encryption works with DuckDuckGo’s features to ensure your data is protected at every stage. DuckDuckGo saves your search history, although it cannot be linked back to you — NordVPN guarantees zero logs for browsing anonymity. This means every time you click on a DuckDuckGo search result, you’re still protected.

Although NordVPN offers numerous security features, I especially like its CyberSec feature. While you search with DuckDuckGo, CyberSec adds an extra layer of protection from suspicious sites, phishing scams, and annoying pop-up ads. You can easily apply this feature to every connection by turning it on in app settings.

Screenshot of NordVPN CyberSec feature under app settings.
Adding another layer of protection is easy with NordVPN’s CyberSec feature

During my tests, I found I could connect to NordVPN’s servers quickly and easily. With thousands of servers to choose from (more than any other VPN on this list), I could always find a fast connection in my desired location. When I was connected to DuckDuckGo, it loaded and produced search results instantly, just like it did with my regular ISP.

NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try out all of its security features completely risk-free. Requesting a refund is easy — simply contact customer service through the live chat. I did it myself and got my money back, no questions asked.

Try NordVPN for free!

2. ExpressVPN — TrustedServer Technology Guarantees Zero Logs

Key Features:

  • 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
  • Best-in-class encryption
  • TrustedServer technology guarantees strict zero-log policy
  • Protects up to 5 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

With ExpressVPN, zero-logs really means no logs at all. Its TrustedServer technology runs the VPN on RAM, which wipes all data with every reboot. When browsing with DuckDuckGo and ExpressVPN, you can be confident that your online activity is completely anonymous.

Combined with best-in-class encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch, ExpressVPN prioritizes your data security whenever you’re online.

In apps settings under the protocol tab, you’ll see that you can choose from 3 different protocols for extra security: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP), and OpenVPN (UDP and TCP). Every time you connect to a server, ExpressVPN automatically connects you to the protocol best for your network, but you can also choose manually.

Screenshot of protocol tab under preferences in the ExpressVPN app.
ExpressVPN offers 3 different protocol options for an extra secure connection

ExpressVPN’s security features won’t compromise server speeds either. When I tested some of its servers, my speeds dropped a little — it didn’t affect my browsing experience. My average download speed was still over 44.16Mbps, only about 5Mbps slower than my base speed.

ExpressVPN gives you 30 days to try its service. You can request a full refund over live chat with its “no questions asked” return policy.

Try ExpressVPN today!

3. CyberGhost — NoSpy Servers Keep Your Data Secure at All Times

Key Features:

  • 5,800+ servers in 90 countries
  • 256-bit encryption and NoSpy servers
  • Zero-logs policy
  • Connect up to 7 devices simultaneously
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers in Romania make it a great option to use with DuckDuckGo. Romania is outside the 14 Eyes Alliances — groups of countries that share intelligence and access your online activity. This means CyberGhost is not required to keep any logs. With NoSpy servers owned and managed only by CyberGhost, you can make truly anonymous connections.

CyberGhost also offers extra security features to keep your personal data safe. DNS and IP leak protection prevent your data from being seen by websites or prying eyes, and an automatic kill switch protects you if the connection drops.

Screenshot of DNS leak test results.
During my DNS leak test, CyberGhost kept my location anonymous

When I tested CyberGhost’s server performance, I could always find a reliable connection for downloading, streaming, or torrenting. Some servers were slower than my usual ISP connection, but the drop didn’t make a noticeable difference to my DuckDuckGo searches.

CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which gives you more than a month to try every feature before you commit to a subscription.

Try CyberGhost for free today

Common FAQs About DuckDuckGo

🤓 Should I use DuckDuckGo with a VPN?

DuckDuckGo is great for keeping your search data secure, but it doesn’t give you the full coverage you need. While it doesn’t track your online activity, you’re only protected when you’re on DuckDuckGo — not when you’re browsing a new site. When you use a VPN, everything you do online is encrypted. As soon as you connect to a VPN server, your personal data is secure.

A VPN will even let you bypass location restrictions and access blocked content like Netflix US — something DuckDuckGo can’t do even though it hides your IP address.

If you want to guarantee your data security and access the internet freely, you should use a VPN. Although premium VPNs are the most trustworthy, there are a few good free VPNs available — but they come with data restrictions.

Stay secure with a premium VPN

😇 Is DuckDuckGo legal to use?

Important! If you use DuckDuckGo in a country with heavy internet censorship and surveillance, be careful. While you probably won’t face legal issues, you could be fined if you’re found using a censored search engine.

DuckDuckGo is legal in countries with internet freedom — but it’s blocked in countries with strict censorship. This search engine is fully GDPR compliant as of May 2018. GDPR compliance ensures data protection and online privacy for people in the European Union. However, in places like China, you could face fines if it’s discovered that you’re using a censored search engine.

If you’re in a country with limited internet freedom, the only way you’ll be able to use the search engine is if you also use a VPN.

Bypass internet restrictions with NordVPN!

What does DuckDuckGo do? 

Screenshot of the DuckDuckGo browser page.
DuckDuckGo go claims to keep you anonymous

DuckDuckGo doesn’t use cookies to follow you (or target you for ads), and it doesn’t collect any personal information. It hides your IP address from both the search engine and any spying eyes.

Unlike other search engines, DuckDuckGo prioritizes your anonymity when you’re using its private mode. With a normal search engine like Google, when you click a link (even in “incognito mode”) your search terms are sent to the site you visit in the HTTP referer header. Your computer automatically shares the information, including data like your IP address — which is then used to identify you.

With DuckDuckGo, when you’re redirected, your search terms are kept hidden. The site associated with the search result you clicked on knows you’ve visited it, but not the search you used to get there or any other identifying information.

Get VPN for DuckDuckGo today

Prioritize Your Data Security With DuckDuckGo and a VPN

You may think your data is secure when you use DuckDuckGo — but it’s not. You’re only truly secure when you use a VPN alongside DuckDuckGo.

A VPN will do a lot more than help you stay anonymous online. With a service like NordVPN you can access restricted content like Netflix and stream tv shows and movies, and much more!

I handpicked the best VPNs to use with DuckDuckGo and they all have comprehensive money-back guarantees. You can try them for yourself risk-free to make sure they’re right for you, all while keeping your personal data safe.

Stay secure with NordVPN

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Kate Hawkins
Kate Hawkins is a tech-focused writer and web expert with a keen interest in online security and privacy. She enjoys getting stuck into new technology and researching the latest cybersecurity trends to keep readers informed and safe online.