Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Search Engines & Databases

| Phone/Postal Code/Email | Effective Searches | Privacy Issues

Search Engines

Helping You to Find it on the Web

There are millions and millions of websites on the Internet. Search engines evolved to help you locate the information you want.




Startpage offers you Web search results from Google in complete privacy!


DuckDuckGo is a search engine driven by community and does not collect or share personal information. More…

Other Search Engines

Google offers Search Features which might help narrow your search.

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Other Information Indexes

Phone Numbers

When looking for information you can use one of the following listings:

but you might find it easier to simply search for the phone number.


You can register your phone numbers with Canada's National Do Not Call List. Excepted callers include:

  • Canadian registered charities;
  • Political parties, riding associations and candidates; and
  • Newspapers of general circulation for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions.

Telemarketing calls from organizations with whom you have an existing business relationship are also exempt. Other exceptions.

Directory of unknown callers. Phone fraud: Report it! Stop it!


These sites have some free information searches and some that you need to pay for. The rise in concerns about privacy are having an effect on what is available for free.

Postal/Zip Codes

Miscellaneous Information Sites

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Effective Searches

Times Have Changed

At one time information was published only by authoritative organizations. While one might question the bias of such organizations, it did effectively make trusting the information easier.

Today, anyone can publish information on the web, via blogs and self-publishing has removed the vetting process for printed publications.

Verifying Information

This puts the onus on the reader to verify and qualify both the content and the “publisher” of such information.

One of the best ways to do this is to compare various sources to see how they agree and disagree on the main points.

  • Widespread agreement doesn't necessarily mean that the information is true.
  • Conspiracy theories aside, common educational backgrounds and sources of information can lead different researchers to come to the same conclusions, even if those are incorrect.
  • Think things through for yourself using the information you find. Do your conclusions match what you've read?

Accurate Search Results

Many search engines now alter search results based upon past search patterns (i.e. you may not get the results you're looking for). Using a search engine like StartPage can help prevent this because the search is passed onto Google without your IP address and other private information.

Why we fear Google reveals how powerful Google has become and that it now threatens the digital economy:

Google is a prime example of a market-dominating company. With a seventy-percent global market share, Google defines the infrastructure on the Internet. The next largest search engine is Baidu in China with 16.4 per cent — and that's because China is a dictatorship which prohibits free access to Google. Then there are search engines with market shares of up to 6 percent. These are pseudo-competitors. The market belongs to a single company. — Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE

Google established itself as dominant by providing search results that were in the best interest of the person doing the search. The Döpfner article explains how Google now uses its dominance to shape the market. Changes in search algorithms have cost many companies almost their entire digital revenue — changes that are ignored for Googles' own products.

Use Multiple Tools

The “best” search engine depends upon the type of search you are conducting. Various search engines use different criteria to determine search results as well as the order they are displayed.

Use Advanced and Simple Search Modes

Simple searches provide you with the quickest result, but advanced searches can provide more accurate results.

  • Be aware that both you and the sites listing the information can misspell words, names and titles. Search engines now often ask you if you meant to search for a close but slightly different term (e.g. the correct spelling).
  • You can use quotation marks to specify phrases (e.g. “time travel”).
  • When you get more general results than you expected, you can narrow the search with advanced options or use a more specific search term (e.g. “labrador retriever” instead of “dog”).
  • You can specify images, video, news and other categories for your search results.
  • Search results can be narrowed to a specific domain (e.g. or a specific region or country.

Check each search engine for the information on how to refine your search.

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Updated: December 23, 2016

Search engines and databases help you find information.

Privacy Issues

Search engines retain a log of your search terms combined with your IP address (your computer's address on the Internet) to gather useful and marketable information about you.

Filter Bubbles

Many search engines now to alter search results based upon past search patterns (i.e. you may not get the results you're looking for).

Search engines retain a log of your search terms. Combined with your IP address (your computer's address on the Internet) this provides useful and marketable information about you.

Search Privacy

This is why I recommend a search service like StartPage or DuckToGo which don't record search requests.

Email Sniffing

The major search engines also offer free email services which are mined for “targeted advertising” (the data could also be used to affect search results).

This information is valuable and is changing the way the Internet works — and not necessarily for the better.


Toolbars work as part of your browser's interface.

While convenient, you might want to consider what privacy information you are giving up in exchange for the use of these tools. What you search for and what you do with it is being monitored.

Most search engines provide toolbars and tell you how to make their site the default for your browser. Check the search engine sites and look for toolbars, tools or more for toolbars and other tools.

Multi-Search Software

Copernic Agent is Windows software that requires installation, but searches multiple search engines simultaneously for results.

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Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

or check the resources index.

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