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Update: disconnect.me Search Engine 2016-05-06


For the last couple of days I have been seeing a message at the top of my disconnect.me searches that says "Google is currently unavailable in Disconnect Search." - and my searches get redirected to Bing or Yahoo!. Part of the reason I started using disconnect.me is because I wanted to get the results of Google without the privacy issues.

image The error message currently displayed at disconnect.me search page.

I was hoping this would just be a temporary problem, but it seems to be hanging around. I am not really sure how long it has been there but I do think it might be a deal-breaker for me. If this isn't going to work then I would probably be better off just going back to DDG. I guess I'll probably give it a couple more days but I must admit that getting Bing and Yahoo! results is already bugging me. :-(


disconnect.me Search Engine 2016-04-25


I don't like Google. Well, I like their search results, but I don't like the way they treat Internet users at large like a commodity to be pimped out in fishnet stockings and a tube top. In early 2010 I started using DuckDuckGo because I liked their policies and their !Bang quick searches. The bad news is that I found myself struggling with their search syntax (exclusions specifically) and some minor oddities with their location preferences. So I tried IxQuick and StartPage for a while. The trouble with both of these is that they seem to miss a lot of low profile sites. If I do the same search on StartPage and Google I will very often find that Google has better [and more] results. Ultimately, even though StartPage uses Google as a source for its results, it frequently does not include all of the results that direct Googling would.

So recently I had a look at disconnect.me which is really more of a search query aggregator than an actual search engine. Their site acts as a sort of proxy to Google... which means that, as far as Google is concerned, the searches of all disconnect.me users is a single person. The benefit of this is that you are still using Google but your search habits can't be profiled because they are hidden behind disconnect.me. The downside is that Google is probably still trying to profile all users, which means when you use disconnect.me you are being bubbled based on the search queries of all disconnect.me users.

image Screenshot of the disconnect.me web search page.

I have noticed that disconnect.me searches seem to be slower than direct Google searches but that would make sense based on the logistics of how it works. The difference is barely perceivable and frankly, may only exist in my imagination. Besides, I am willing to put up with milliseconds of delay in return for better privacy from metadataholics. disconnect.me also offers other services which apparently block malware, block trackers, and hide your IP address behind a VPN. I don't feel like I have much need for those yet, but certainly plan to have a closer look at their search site in the coming weeks.

There is a disconnect.me search addon for Firefox but you'll notice that the reviews are pretty harsh. I think it is mostly because they spent their efforts on their "pro" services as opposed to their search site. I also didn't like the way it added its own search bar to Firefox because I try to keep my browser as minimalistic looking as I can. So I made a little searchplugin for disconnect.me that you can see here. If you save this .xml file in your searchplugins directory and restart Firefox you'll be able to select it as your preferred search engine in your Firefox preferences (which can be accessed via your search box or just the URL bar if you so desire). I noticed that if you are running Linux, your searchplugins directory may not exist and you may have to create it at

~./mozilla/firefox/profile.default/searchplugins

I should note that my searchplugin for disconnect.me only uses Google as the search source and does not include the other goodies that the official addon does. I got most of the information needed to make this from Jeffrey Friedl's Blog and Kevin Deldycke. Hopefully the folks at disconnect.me won't mind that I used a screenshot of their logo to make the icon for that .xml file.

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