The Top 5 Dark Web Search Engines
From the beginning of the TOR network in 2002, users of the dark and deep web have looked to different solutions for navigating their way around the deep and dark web. Dark web market links quickly emerged via directory sites or wiki sites with lists of onion sites such as marketplaces, shops and forums. These lists weren’t always up-to-date and many of the links were broken, but it was a start. Later on, dark web search engines were able to collect more recent search results from multiple marketplaces and forums.
However, two major challenges still exist for dark web search engine users. First, most dark web search engines are limited to searching the TOR network and don’t cover other networks like Zeronet, I2P and others that exist. Secondly, there are very few dark web search engines that continuously discover new sources. Since the dark networks sites and channels want to offer maximum anonymity, they are intentionally not connected to one another. So discovering new channels is a complex task.
Without these two abilities, dark web search engines won’t offer robust enough coverage and the capability to continually deliver accurate data or comprehensive search results.
To shed a bit more light on these challenges, we decided to take a look at the current top 5 dark web search engines that cover the TOR and openweb networks and compare a few of the pros and cons of each.
|Search engine||Marketplaces content|
|Search engine||Login blocked sites content|
|Search engine||Paywall blocked content|
|Search engine||Indexed pages (estimate)|
|Torch||2 million sites|
|AHMIA||3,000 web pages|
|Tor66||100,000 web pages|
|Search engine||Response time (sec)***|
|Search engine||Granular filtering|
|Search engine||Marketplaces content||Forums content coverage||Login blocked sites content||Paywall blocked content||Indexed pages (estimate)||Response time (sec)***||Granular filtering|
|Torch||partial*||partial*||no||no||2 million sites||3||no|
|AHMIA||yes||yes||no||no||3,000 web pages||3||no|
|Tor66||yes||partial*||no||no||100,000 web pages||4||no|
*The search engine indexes the first web page of the site only.
**The site declares it indexes forums. Webhose’s research, however, did not reveal forums in the results.
***Average time – dependent on the type of search.
As its name suggests, Candle brings light to the dark web with simple search queries. With 100,000 web pages of search results that include coverage of the deep web and darknet marketplaces and forums, it is a very popular search engine used by cybercriminals.
- Includes coverage of content from marketplaces
- Includes partial coverage of content from forums
- Response time of 5 seconds
- The search feature does not allow parentheses, boolean operators or quotes
Developed in 1996, Torch prides itself on being the first-ever dark web search engine publicly available. The name is a play on the term “TOR search.”
- Response time of 3 seconds
- 2 million indexed websites
- Popular forums and marketplaces don’t always appear in the first page of search results
- Many of its indexed websites are no longer working
Developed in 2019, Kilos is one of the later dark web search engines to spring up. As its name suggests, the dark web search engine is focused mainly on the buying and selling of illegal drugs.
Offers granular filtering which include searching for items according to price range, type of currency, shipping sources and destination and payment options
Returns searches from 10 marketplaces
Includes content from sites blocked by login
30 second response time
Only 16 indexed websites
Developed in 2014, Ahmia is another open source clearnet search engine that was developed with support from the Tor Project. Ahmia’s advantage is that it delivers a deep and dark web search engine for those who don’t have access to Tor by integrating with Tor2Web and providing access to onion sites. Since it collects these public onion addresses and indexes them for easier navigation, onion site operators frequently register their site using Ahmia.
Includes coverage of content from both marketplaces and forums
Response time of 3 seconds
Only 3,000 indexed web pages
Tor66 is a dark web search engine with the goal of providing high-quality search results for onion websites. Submissions of onion websites are open to the public. The search engine makes money through different paid search ads and advertisements.
Includes coverage of content from marketplaces
Includes only 100,000 indexed webpages
Search response time of 4 seconds
The Future of Dark Web Search Engines
Dark web engines have made great strides in the results they are able to deliver to users. What were once simple dark web links to different marketplaces have evolved into dark web search engines that cover a wide range of marketplaces and forums. Even so, the current dark web search engines still only offer a glimpse of the type of information being searched on the entire dark web. Advanced dark web monitoring can provide access to a larger picture that includes more robust coverage of completely new marketplaces and forums, which are constantly being created. As dark web search engines continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see how much more coverage they bring of the current – and latest – deep and dark web marketplaces and forums with even faster search results.
Want to learn more about Webhose’s robust and up-to-the-minute dark web data coverage? Get in touch with our dark web data experts today!