The Top 7 Dark Web Search Engines in 2022
When online users think of the web, they usually think about the open web, sites that are indexed by mainstream search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But most of the web is not indexed by these search engines. None of the deep and dark web sites are indexed by DuckDuckGo, the official search engine of the Tor browser.
This part of the web is known as the dark web or the darknet. And the main factor that separates it from the open web is the need for anonymity. It has been widely used by the military, government, and even journalists who looked for a private, safe space to communicate (even before end-to-end encrypted instant messaging platforms, such as Signal and Telegram, had emerged). But it has also attracted a wide range of criminals.
How can you access the dark web?
The most common way today to access dark web (onion) sites is to obtain links to their domains through directories and forums, where users and admins share links to the sites.
But often these directories are not up-to-date because dark web sites constantly change their URLs. Searching through forums for these links is a real challenge, as the information is scattered between different forums that can be difficult to access.
Another way to find dark web sites is by using dark web search engines. We have carried out extensive research to find valid and updated search engines that are active. This wasn’t an easy task because most of them are outdated and only index few sites.
But we found 7 search engines with relevant results. Let’s take a closer look at them.
What are the top 7 dark web search engines?
Let’s first have a quick overview (see the table below) for a quick comparison between all the different search engines we examined. The comparison is based on different features and capabilities. For short reviews of each of the search engines , scroll down.
A quick overview of the top dark web search engines
|Search engine||Index marketplaces||Index forums||Index login blocked content||Paywall blocked content||Indexed pages (estimate)||Response time (sec)||Granular filtering||Linked directory||I2P search engine|
Now let’s review each of the top 7 dark web search engines.
Top dark search engines – reviewed
Torch and Ahmia are two separate search engines – both are considered popular, established search engines in the dark web community that provides access to valuable content. Although they are two separate sites, we list them together because while we examined them, we discovered their onion database is identical – in other words, each query we ran retrieved the same numbers of results – featuring the exact same content.
Ahmia was founded by cybersecurity researcher Juha Nurmi who has experience in working with the private sector and government projects. The mission of this site is to create a search engine for services on the Tor network and share meaningful statistics, insights, and news about the Tor network and the Tor project. Ahmia also provides a search engine for the I2P network, a different dark web network from the Tor network.
Torch claims to index more than 6 million darknet platforms on their database, a number which they say keeps rising. We’d take this figure with a pinch of salt but if it’s true, it makes this site one of the biggest dark web search engines.
Torch is not censored, and contains all existing onion sites, including malicious links. The platform describes its approach as “non-compliant” with legal requirements to block specific searches.
According to the Subdread, a section on the dark web forum Dread, Deep Search was created a year ago by a young group of students. They claim to have developed a new onion crawler with a unique ranking system and a filter that blocks child porn.
The search engine enables registration, which allows registered users to request the site to add new onion sites they would like to be indexed. It also allows members to send feedback on the site.
Although the admins stated in the past that they don’t accept advertising as most of them are scams, we have since been able to see advertising on the site.
The OnionLand offers a simple user interface that includes search suggestions. Users can look for old V2 onion addresses, images, and content on I2P. On the site, users can search for the most popular terms on the dark web. Another feature the site offers is their directories. The site also has a hosting platform – which allows users to set up new onion sites.
Phobos has a very simple user interface that only includes a search bar. This makes it very easy to use. It is also the fastest one out of all the search engines we cover in this post.
Very little is known about the people behind Phobos and their motivation behind establishing this site as there is neither an About Us nor Contact Us page. We did, however, discover that the creator of this search engine had a user on Reddit, where he publicized the site a few times. When asked about his long-term plans for the site, he said that he will keep the site because it’s “cheap to maintain and interesting to improve.”
The goal of Tor66 is to offer a quality search that includes as many onion websites as possible. This dark web search engine indexes new sites by crawling the dark web, and by allowing users to anonymously submit new URLs. The default search results are sorted according to popularity.
The site also offers the option to sort the lists of sites according to several categories including top, newest, and languages, and create a random list. Like other search engines on this list, Tor66 also runs paid search ads.
Visitor is a dark web search engine and a directory of onion (Tor network) sites. It offers both a search option and lists by topics: all sites, best sites, and site by categories. The site also offers users the ability to anonymously submit new URLs. Visitor also flags sites they consider as “evil” (no definition was given to this type of content) and removes them from the search results.
The search engine mission is “to create tools for those looking for onion sites and for onion sites to be found.” The site started under the previously mentioned Ahmia search engine. But today, it has expanded to lists and directories. The manager of the site is working alone and set it up as a hobby. He has already announced his plans to expand the site further. At the moment, the site is working on creating a new directory.
The Hoodle dark web search engine uses a crawler to automatically index pages from the dark web. The site admins claim that they keep growing the Hoodle database on a daily basis. They also offer users the ability to add links to its database.
In terms of its interface, the search engine has a basic design which makes it easy to use. Like other sites, it features ads and paid search placements.
The future of dark web search engines
Dark web search engines have made some improvements in the number and quality of the results they generate. What used to be simple dark web links to different marketplaces have over the years evolved into search engines that cover a wide range of dark web marketplaces and forums. But despite this progress, today’s dark web search engines still only offer a glimpse of the wide world of information that exists on the dark web.
The only way to be able to access a wide range of hidden and elusive content on the dark web is by using an advanced dark web monitoring API that automatically discovers new marketplaces, forums, and other sites on the darknets. Webz.io’s Dark Web API crawls illicit content from the dark web that is blocked by login or a paywall which is crucial for continuous monitoring. Dark web monitoring can help brands find early signs of future attacks, and help government and law enforcement agencies track illicit activities in near real-time.