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 percent of the internet.
The most secretive section in the deep web is known as the dark net, 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
Torch has one of the largest search engines in the deep web, as they claim to have an index of more than a million hidden page results. It is one of the oldest search engines, but is still around for a good reason. —Kristen Hubby
This deep web search engine—which, like many 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. —K.H.
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. —K.H.
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, but there are still links to graphic content and possibly illegal sites to be found. If you can look past those elements, however, 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
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 was created by the same man who created the foundations of web itself, Tim Berners-Lee, so you know it’s the real deal. —K.H.
This search engine is great because users can skip all the clutter and distraction from surfing the web with no ads. It’s clean and mimics the look of Google. —K.H.
The deep web can seem like a terrifying place, but part of the fun of discovery is opening doors and not knowing what’s behind them. ParaZite is a search engine that gamified the deep web. Beyond its basic, and useful, search features, it also offers up the chance to gamble by taking you to a random site on the deep web. It’s basically the deep equivalent of Google’s “Feeling Lucky” feature—except using it I was taken to a new email client, a black market site, and an essay on why children are jerks. Make sure you’re using a firewall and VPN before you fire up ParaZite. —J.M.B.
The directory in TorLinks has a wide range of intellectual results, with the most notable being the literary section. —K.H.
Looking for drugs? This is the search engine to end all drug-related 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 specifically designed to cluster the relationship between your search results to create a visual result—a creative touch to make searching more exciting. —K.H.
11) Start Page
If you’re worried about privacy, Ixquick’s Start Page is one the best search engines available, 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.
Like Touchgraph, this search engine also collects your searches to make a common result or pattern, but without the visual aspect. Instead, it’s simple like Google. —K.H.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.