What options are out there for users looking for a good search engine?

For a short time in the morning on Tuesday, Google was down.

While people in Europe may have barely noticed its temporary absence (unless they were wide awake, asking Google one of those existential questions that only come to mind in the middle of the night), the outage occurred mid-afternoon in the US, where thousands of users were suddenly left in the dark.

People in more than 40 countries around the world, including Kenya, Australia, Israel, Japan, South Africa, China and parts of Latin America, were also affected by the Google outage, according to network intelligence firm ThousandEyes Inc.

Interruptions are not something that happens often with Google, the world’s dominant search engine that has become synonymous with searching for information on the Internet.

And it is not accidental. It is by avoiding continuous disruptions and power outages that Google sank Internet Explorer and established a quasi-monopoly in the search engine sector.

The company has been quite open about its focus on system administration and site reliability, which they even published a book titled ‘Site Reliability Engineering’.

But the billions who use Google every day give little thought to why and how the search engine works; they simply take its constant availability and omnipresence for granted.

So it’s no surprise that many were surprised yesterday when the site suddenly became unavailable.

While most people flocked to Twitter to see what was going on and complain about the problem, others debated which other browser to use in Google’s absence.

Bing to the rescue

For many — especially those who don’t use an Apple device and aren’t familiar with alternative browsers and search engines like Safari — Google’s outage is a time of reckoning where they realize that there are actually several other alternatives to Google.

“Every generation finds out there’s a search engine besides Google rn #Bing,” someone wrote on Twitterjoked about how young users – who mainly use Google for their searches – suddenly “discovered” Microsoft’s signature search engine.

BingMicrosoft’s search engine, is undoubtedly the winner of every Google breach, with traffic on the page.

“THE END IS NEAR!!,” wrote one Twitter user. “I just had to Bing ‘is Google down’…”.

“Google doesn’t work on any of my devices. Is @Google down? Guess Bing rules,” tweeted another.

“Google is down and I refuse to use Bing…What the hell am I supposed to do?” wrote one user on Twitter.

Available in 40 languages ​​and operated by Microsoft since 2006 (when it was still called Windows Live Search), Bing is generally considered a safer and more private search engine than Google. It is even said to be better for video search.

But despite this, the site has always struggled to keep up with the older search engine giant with Google being more familiar to many around the world (it is estimated to be used by 70 percent of the population), and this favors the algorithm, which is completely different from Bing’s.

According to digital marketing agency Reliable Soft, Bing is the second most popular search engine in the world, although it is much further behind Google, followed by Baidu (China’s search engine), Yahoo, Yandex (Russia’s search engine) and DuckDuckGo.

What other browser engines are there?

Although revered as the largest search engine in the world (to the point that the browser is referred to in Japan as “Google sensei”, or “Google teacher”), Google is far from the only search engine available in the world.

Millions of people have already ditched Google for less popular, more niche search engines that offer what the biggest search engine in the world doesn’t.

Those looking for stricter privacy choose DuckDuckGo which does not track users’ activity and whose interface is not loaded with ads, or Qwantwhich uses local storage on your computer to store data and settings, and promises to delete them if you close your account.

Screenshot from DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is considered one of the best search engines with a focus on user privacy. – Screenshot from DuckDuckGo

The climate warriors can use Ecosiaa Berlin-based search engine powered by Bing that raises money to support the planting of new trees in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Indonesia and Peru every time someone clicks on an ad on the site.

Screenshot from Ecosia

Ecosia uses advertisements to raise funds to plant new trees around the world. – Screenshot from Ecosia

These are some of the most popular options after Yahoo and Bing, which still attract the most users after Google.

But beyond the search engine giant, there is so much more out there.

While Google is arguably the only place where you can find everything, anywhere, at once, there are specialized sites available to offer small portions of what Google does for you.

If Google Translate is down, you can use Ludwig. If Gmail doesn’t work, there’s Outlook, Yahoo, GMX, and more. Should Google Drive fail you, you can trust that Dropbox is still there for you.

This latest outage is unlikely to have dented Google’s dominance in the sector, or its popularity. If anything, it has shown how much people trust it.

But it’s good to know that when the lights go out on the search engine giant, there are still many, many ways we can ask the Internet to answer our burning questions.

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