The deep web is exactly what it sounds like: the underground internet, the portion that’s not indexed by traditional search engines like Google or Bing—and it’s much bigger than you might realize. In fact, major sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, and everything else you find through a search engine make up less than 1% of the internet.
Although it often has negative connotations, the deep web is a tool just like anything else on the internet. But sometimes, you need tools to help use them properly.
While there are a number of options, the best deep web search engines will help you more easily navigate the morass.
Best deep web search engines: What to know
The most secretive section in the deep web is known as the dark web, and you’ll need to download Tor to access it (here’s more on that process). Many people search the deep web to find drugs, illegal porn, or stolen credit cards. But deep web search engines also provide a lot of educational archives, hidden articles from academic journals, and intel on news around the world.
Finding all the untapped information is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. With these user-friendly, deep web search engines, hidden information is just a few clicks away. But be warned: The deep web is like a black hole. If you aren’t too careful, you may get sucked into the internet so far gone that things may never be the same.
The best deep web search engines for beginners
TorLinks bills itself as the most trustworthy search engine on the dark web, “a precarious ecosystem riddled with scams, phishing, and foul play.” TorLinks includes a feature for users to report scams and claims to use machine learning to keep your computer free from any malevolent actions while you brows the dark web.
Torch had one of the largest search engines on the deep web, as they claim to have an index of more than a million hidden page results. However, the browser was discontinued in 2022, and is no longer available to download. But it still lives on as an extension you can use on Google Chrome. —Kristen Hubby
This deep web search engine—which, like some other deep web search engines on this list, also lets you search the regular web—has a clean and easy-to-use interface and doesn’t track your discoveries. The options for topics to search are endless, and you can even customize it to enhance your experience.
It’s also become increasingly popular as criticism of sites like Google and Bing and their tracking and ads has grown. —K.H.
4) Onion URL
The Onion URL repository has a massive index of over a million page results and does not set limits on what information it holds close. While it does not endorse the results it hosts, it can be used to navigate to certain markets. —K.H.
5) Uncensored Hidden Wiki
When you search the deep web occasionally, you’ll discover useful places where you need to be careful. The Uncensored Hidden Wiki is very much one of those locations, an uncensored collection of links and articles that, over the site’s history, have included links to information on criminal activities from drugs to child pornography. The site has cleaned up its act considerably. However, there are still links to graphic content and possibly illegal sites to be found. If you can look past those elements, Uncensored Hidden Wiki is a treasure trove of deep web information. Inside you’ll discover blogs about Tor, links to deep web email services, and even social networks. Just be careful what you search. —John-Michael Bond
6) The WWW Virtual Library
Considered one of the oldest archives in the whole World Wide Web, the WWW Virtual Library has an index with results pertaining to everything from agriculture to social and behavioral sciences. The search engine is the brainchild of the same man who created the foundations of the web itself: the legend, Tim Berners-Lee. So you know it’s the real deal. —K.H.
Looking for drugs? This is the search engine to end all drug hunts. Down in the depths, users are able to search effectively for the dark net drugs that are available for purchase on the majority of web page results. (Reminder: Buying illegal drugs on the internet is still really, really illegal. Don’t do it.) —K.H.
Touchgraph gets visual with the deep web scavenger hunt. The algorithm it uses is designed to cluster your search results to create a visual result. It’s a creative touch to make searching more exciting. —K.H.
9) Start Page
Worried about privacy? Ixquick’s Start Page is one the best search engines available. Yes, even if you’re not using Tor. Unlike other search engines, Start Page doesn’t record your IP address, allowing you to keep your search history secret. It’s bothersome that Google knows everything about you. Start Page is a way to do some research without sharing your information with someone else. —J.M.B.
Ahmia.fi is a great search engine for beginners who are new to the deep web. It takes about five seconds to figure out how the search engine works. Once cracked, scouring the deep web becomes a breeze. —K.H.
Yippy was recently purchased by DuckDuckGo.
Editor’s note: This article is routinely updated for relevance.