Search Engines & Databases
Helping You to Find it on the Web
Search engines evolved to help you locate information found within the millions and millions of websites, blogs, social media and other Internet resources.
Databases & Indexes
Translation & Writing Tools
When looking for information you can use one of the following listings:
You might find it easier to simply search for the phone number in your favourite search engine.
Tracing Unwanted Calls
Unwanted calls have become a common nuisance.
- 800notes.com is a free reverse phone number lookup database.
- Telemarketing and unwanted calls — CRTC.
- Canada's National Do Not Call List | DNC exemptions.
- Canadian registered charities.
Watch for fees when using these services.
- Black Book Online the free (US) public records search site.
- WhoWhere people search and yellow pages search engine.
- Zaba Search free people search. Find People in the USA.
The rise in concerns about privacy are having an effect on what is available for free.
You want your searches to be effective.
The more precise your search, the more likely you'll find what you're looking for.
For example, when searching for cats, you could be searching for
- a particular breed of cats; or
- Cats (the 2019 film); or
- Cats (the 1981 stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber).
Try specifying “Cats the movie” or “Cats the musical” or “Persian cats” as search terms.
Avoid Malicious Searches
Sophos recommends these steps to avoid malicious search results:
- Stop. Think. Connect. Be wary of a perfect fit to your search criteria.
- Use an anti-virus with a built-in web filtering.
- Use an anti-virus with in-memory exploit protection features.
- Tell Windows to show file extensions.
Using Advanced Searches
Simple searches provide you with the quickest result, but advanced searches can provide more accurate results.
- 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., Wikipedia.org) or a specific region or country.
Each search engine has information on how to refine your search.
Watch for Spelling Errors
Both the searcher and the site can misspell words, names and titles.
Variations can also be used by malicious sites to mislead you.
Search suggestions offer alternatives.
Reverse Image Searches
One very useful tool is a reverse image search. This can be used to verify ownership of an image as well as to locate content being used without permission.
However, the process varies by browser and device. Google is probably your best choice.
Organic or Artificial?
Organic search results are what people are really looking for when they enter specific search terms.
Google's reputation was built by providing accurate organic search results.
Ignore “Sponsored” Results
Sponsored results may be marked differently, but not always.
The link sponsors have paid the search engine for high positioning.
Overriding Organic Results
Sponsored results skew the search and seldom provides anything useful or trustworthy.
Most are designed to take you away from your intended search results.
Malware in Search Results
The first Google search result often leads to a virus. Why is only Google affected?
It's unacceptable that a handful of hackers can ever get Google to display malware in the top 10 results, much less the No. 1 result, on any type of search. Stop using Google.
— Brian Livingston
When searching for computer software and hardware information (especially drivers), choose only the original vendor where possible.
- Choose the manufacturer's site (e.g., HP or nVidia) from within the search results rather than any third-party listings (e.g., driverupdates.com).
- Ensure that you're seeing information specific to your computer's hardware and operating system or software version.
Windows Searches Not Private
Microsoft Windows 10 uses Bing for ALL searches, including those for your own files on your computer. This presents a serious privacy issue.
Unscrupulous software repositories have misleading “download” links that have nothing to do with the software you searched for. These point to malware or software containing PUPs.
Use Only Vendor-supplied Drivers
Unless drivers are provided by your computer's manufacturer and are designed for your specific hardware, they can corrupt your computer.
Your computer's vendor may provide update software designed for your computer. This is the only safe option.
Avoid Driver Update Software
Generic “driver update” software is not recommended.
These can load potentially-unwanted programs (PUPs) or malware.
Choosing a Search Engine
The search engine you use can affect the search results you see. Search results may be affected (or “personalized”) by search engine algorithms, the browser you use, your browsing history, your search history and many other factors.
The widespread collection of personal data forms the business models of so many online services, including many search engines.
Google Threatens Your Privacy
Google is now a monopoly, so powerful that no business can afford to ignore its influence.
Google is the world's most popular search engine. In fact, Google has 4.3 billion users worldwide meaning the platform receives roughly 92.2% of all search traffic online.
Google effectiveness as a search engine has come as a cost to your privacy.
Some experts have begun to question Google's effectiveness, particularly with health and recipe searches. There seems to be more emphasis on sales than information. Google has been accused of redirecting traffic to favoured online shopping sites in Europe.
The emergence of snippets at the top of Google searches which provide a brief (if sometimes misleading) quote is more like fact checking than providing sources for someone to learn for themselves.
Privacy-based Search Engines
I strongly recommend a search engine that respects your privacy. Because search requests are not logged, there is no way a court order or hacking can reveal your search history.
Tracking Searches Erodes Privacy
Because search engines like Google track and record every search you make, the information collected and how it is used needs to be as important a consideration as the accuracy of the data.
Search results need to be accurate but if your privacy is compromised, you have paid too high a price.
Search Engines that Respect Privacy
Learn more about each of these privacy-protecting search engines and how they protect your privacy:
Startpage is the world's most private search engine, offering you best-in-class search results without fear of having to surrender your search information or other personal data.
Make StartPage Default
I recommend making Startpage.com your default search engine. The methods vary by browser. There is a Firefox addon.
Learn more about Startpage on these YouTube videos:
- Startpage — the world's most private search engine (introduction).
- The dark secret of non-private search engines.
- Stop paying with your privacy.
It's actually a big myth that search engines need to track your personal search history to make money or deliver quality search results.
Almost all of the money search engines make (including Google) is based on the keywords you type in, without knowing anything about you, including your search history or the seemingly endless amounts of additional data points they have collected about registered and non-registered users alike.
In fact, search advertisers buy search ads by bidding on keywords, not people…. This keyword-based advertising is our primary business model.
— DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg
Microsoft Partnership Weakens DuckDuckGo
Apparently, Microsoft has a special deal with DuckDuckGo:
DuckDuckGo, the self-styled “internet privacy company” — which, for years, has built a brand around a claim of non-tracking web search and, more recently, launched its own ‘private’ browser with built-in tracker blocking — has found itself in hot water after a researcher found hidden limits on its tracking protection that create a carve-out for certain advertising data requests by its search syndication partner, Microsoft.
- DuckDuckGo Firefox Addon.
- What is the business model for DuckDuckGo?
- How DuckDuckGo makes money selling search, not privacy.
Our mission is to augment the browsing experience to make the web transparent, fast and private for everyone.
Ghostery Glow is a privacy-focused search engine that doesn't log your search history but does provide insights into the trackers you'll encounter on the web pages search results will send you to.
Ghostery Glow comes in both a paid version (ad-free) and a free version as well as built into the Ghostery Dawn browser.
Ads in a Privacy Browser?
Someone has to pay the bills and advertising is a transparent alternative to sneakily collecting personal data for resale.
Ghostery Glow's ads are in context with relevant search results and are NOT personalized.
Learn more about Ghostery Glow and the Ghostery series of privacy projects: