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Scroogle seems to be in trouble, here are some alternatives

I noticed this morning in the stats someone arriving here looking for “scroogle got shut down 2012” (btw, thanks for not masking your DDG query, see it can be useful ;)). Indeed Scroogle already had some scraping issues in the past (hence the 2012 in the query), regularly being blocked for short periods of time. But this time, it seems more serious: it has really frequently been displaying a message about not being able to search Google during the last weeks, and today it even seems totally offline.

Edit: if you’re just here wondering what happened to Scroogle, feel free to join the fun.
Update (2012-02-21): just found this post, “Scroogle May Have Been a Victim of Hackers, Not Google”, about what might have happened to Scroogle (see also a post by Daniel Brandt about that). Apparently, they were DDoSed in December 2011, and as a result one of their 2 hosts terminated 4 of their servers, leaving them only 2 servers at their other host, which is why they were often blocked by Google in January/early February (too many queries from same IP = auto-block by Google anti-bot protection). I guess it’s a possibility that those remaining 2 servers were DDoSed too recently, although at the moment that’s only pure speculation.

So without further ado, “the kind is dead, long live the king”. Here are 4 other options:

  • Duckduckgo. It’s not an equivalent to Scroogle, but I put it at the top of the list precisely for this reason: with this one you don’t use Google at all. I posted a bit more details about its strengths and weaknesses in a previous post.
  • Privatelee. This one seems even like a superior equivalent to Scroogle. It scrapes results from both Google and Bing, plus has a big missing feature in Scroogle: image search, yay! 🙂 The only downside is that I didn’t find a way to configure it to search only on Google or only on Bing. There are checkboxes that seem to allow configuring that, but they are disabled… Still, that seems like a neat alternative.
  • GoogleSharing. This one seems a bit more complicated/intrusive, and seems to be Firefox-only (but anyway, you don’t use Scroogle with Chrome, do you?). I didn’t try it yet (I’m rather on DDG, actually), but I really like their motto :D: “Who knows more about the citizens in their own country, Kim Jong-Il or Google?”. Basically, they provide a Firefox extension that will then redirect your Google traffic through their proxies (NB: they also provide the proxy’s source code, so that anyone can run a proxy). The Google services proxied by the extension are configurable, however the following services can’t be proxied (for privacy reasons I guess): Mail, Checkout, Health, Sites, Docs, and Reader.
  • Startpage. Weird name for a search engine (or rather a search proxy). But it seems to do the same as Privatelee. Except for the image results, which completely differed from the Google Image results on the query I tested. Note that Startpage and Ixquick seem to be 2 aliases of the very same service.

That’s it. My main source is this thread, Google is Blocking Scroogle – says they are a Bot, which was started a month ago, about the time when Scroogle indeed became regularly blocked by Google. I mainly compiled the suggestions posted there.

Edit (2012-03-27): I also just found out about another alternative: Stealth (usestealth.com), which claim to scrape from Google, Bing and Yahoo + also do some crawling of their own.
Update (2013-06-13): Looks like Stealth has been discontinued already, the domain is parked and for sale now :/ GoogleSharing is down too.

Posted in Google, privacy.


12 Responses

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  1. Anonymous says

    Thank you very much. It is very appreciated.

  2. Anonymous says

    I tested Privatelee by typing in “lucid dreaming” and the search results came back with nothing. So it appears, as of this time, they are just as broke as Scroogle.

  3. David Dernoncourt says

    That’s weird, it works for me ATM. Maybe some temporary downtime?

  4. Anonymous says

    under Privatelee, did you mean ‘scrapes’ or ‘scraps’ ?!

  5. David Dernoncourt says

    Scrape indeed. Sorry English isn’t my native language and I’ve been a little ill these days, so… not very accurate in my words ^^

  6. michael z says

    thank you for providing this info

  7. gram says

    thanks for this… i’m not a geek… just a gramma… but have used and supported scroogle for yrs. very sad it’s gone.

    i’ve been using ixquick… but not really sure what proxy actually means or does.

    claims to not record your searches, but you don’t mention ixquick… does that mean you don’t approve of it? doesn’t seem to have lots of helpful info, anyway.

    appreciate you giving other options. i’ll try them out.

    thanks again! 😀

  8. David Dernoncourt says

    Actually, Ixquick.com and Startpage.com seem to be the very same service with different names. If you look here https://startpage.com/eng/protect-privacy.html , you’ll see “Start Page by Ixquick” 😉

    I just had a look at the Start page/Ixquick FAQ, I wasn’t aware they were offering a proxy service. To put things simply (quite oversimplified, but those are the main ideas), proxy means there’s a computer that acts as man-in-the-middle between your own computer and the website you are loading. So this prevents the website you are visiting from identifying you.

  9. gram says

    okay… thanks!

    i didn’t know ixquick was anything but a proxy service.

    appreciate your clearing things up on that.

    so DDQ is not a proxy… correct?

    i have a lot to learn!!

  10. David Dernoncourt says

    Yup, DDG is not a proxy but just a “proper” search engine. Although, as far as I know, they do use some results from other search engines (not really sure which ones), they also provide results of their own. That’s a real alternative to Google or Bing, but unlike those they don’t track you and don’t put you in a bubble.

  11. Anonymous says

    What’s the difference between ‘privatelee.com’ and ‘qrobe.it’?

    When I tried a search on ‘privatelee.com’, the results come back on URL ‘privatelee.qrobe.it’.

    So that means ‘privatelee.com’ is a subdomain of ‘qrobe.it’. Why not just use ‘qrobe.it’ directly? Is there an advantage of using ‘privatelee.com’ over ‘qrobe.it’?

  12. David Dernoncourt says

    Although I did notice the redirection (it’s a bit of a pain with NoScript), I never really bothered to check what was on qrobe.it until now. Seems indeed that privatelee and qrobe are just 2 aliases of the very same service, like Startpage and Ixquick…



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