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10 Best In-Depth Search Engines to Crawl the Dark Web

In this article, you’ll learn about some of the biggest ones and what kind of information you can find there.

If you’re like most people, you probably think the gateway to the entire web is Google. However, Google uses a web crawler to find content on the site to offer you when you search for certain topics. This web crawler can only find web pages. It cannot find the invisible web – the collection of data and information behind deep web search engines and database query forms.

What is the Dark Web?

The web is like an onion. There are several layers, almost like the Earth. The upper “surface” level of this great “Internet” planet is made up of all the sites that search engines crawl and index. This is what you usually find in normal search results. However, there are deeper layers of the web, accessible through sites other than normal search engines.

  • deep web: Databases and programs with which users must interact to extract content and other information from the underlying databases.
  • dark web: Requires a specialized web browser that directly accesses websites on an “alternate” Internet, using direct addressing of servers and sites. Generally used for illicit or illegal content.
  • invisible canvas: The Invisible Web is an alternate name for the Deep Web. This is called “invisible” because search engines cannot access this information.

How to explore the “invisible web”? The truth is, you need to know which sites contain the query engine for those underlying databases. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the biggest ones and what kind of information you can find there.

The Best Deep Web Search Engines

Here is a quick list of the best deep web search engines which we will discuss in more detail in this article. Also, unlike other articles you will find on this topic, this list is true for the deep web (the invisible web), not the dark web. Additionally, these services are everything free.

Do you remember visiting a website years ago that you loved, but which disappeared from the internet? Well, you can still enjoy all the content you enjoyed on this website using the Wayback Machine.

Simply type the URL address of this website in the search box and select Browse history.

return machine

You’ll see results from Wayback Machine’s database with snapshots the site has captured over time, as far back as the website’s first existence.

return machine

Select one of the green (successful) snapshots and you will be taken to that website’s version on that date. Remember Yahoo GeoCities?

return geocities

The Wayback Machine is one of the most entertaining websites to fully explore the long and fun history of the internet.

Do you like to expand your mind by reading academic journals and articles? The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the site for you.

Simply type the topic you are interested in in the search box and select Research.

doaj search

The search results include links to access the free newspaper or website, the majority of which are absolutely free to read.

doaj results

It’s a great first stop if you’re doing academic research or want something educational to read about topics that interest you.

If you like history, you will love Elephind. You can search any topic you are interested in and find newspaper scans dating as far back as the 1700s.

elephant search

Select one of the links in the results to see the actual scans of the original newspaper.

elephant cut

You can go back and read articles covering some of the most famous historical events from the perspective of journalists who lived through that era.

Libraries are still the world’s largest collections of information that you can store and browse. If you want to see if something is available at a nearby library without having to drive there, you can use the WorldCat library search page to check.

global chat search

The results you will see are a combination of printed books and resources and electronic information sources.

worldcat results

In many cases, if you have a library card, you can use the link to get a copy of your library without even having to go there.

If you are a researcher seeking a government grant, interested in learning more about government services for people with disabilities, or simply looking for more information about the government’s response to emergencies, USA.gov is a good first stop.

united states government

For US citizens, this is the best place to go if you don’t know where to start looking for government resources. Simply use the search box at the top to search for the topic you are interested in.

Although many results are also searchable through Google, USA.gov focuses on government resources. This means that information that may not show up as easily on Google, you will find much more easily here.

If you love e-books, you really need to start using Project Gutenberg. The site has around 60,000 free e-books that you will never find if you use Google to search for them.

Use the Project Gutenberg search box to search by topic, title, or author.


You will find surprisingly popular e-books and well-known authors.

project gutenberg

You’ll also find plenty of more obscure e-books that you’ll be glad you discovered. It really is a treasure trove of great reading.

You’ve probably heard of Google Books. This is where you can search for digitized versions of books and buy them to read. However, did you know that there is an entire section of Google Books dedicated to free books?

From the Google Free Books page, you can search the entire collection by subject, title, or author.

search google books

When you find and select a title, you can use the Google Books e-reader to scroll through the pages as you read.

read a google book

They’re not exactly NY Times bestselling novels, but many of the free digitized titles you’ll find here are interesting. The focus here is mainly on old or vintage books that are no longer in circulation. However, you may also come across a more modern title from time to time.

If you’re a student or researcher, Google Scholar is a great resource for finding citations and references. This search tool will display various academic articles, books, white papers, and even court opinions that are freely available to the public.

google scholar results

You will see links to the right of each synopsis to read the content. It is usually in HTML or PDF format.

ibiblio is probably one of the most useful sites for anyone interested in free digital content. You can browse or search for open source software, music, literature, and more on this site.

ibiblio results

If you don’t know where to start, it is highly recommended to use the Browse by categorized tags section. The list of categories will give you a good indication of the type of free digital content you will find in this vast collection.

We have already mentioned the Wayback Machine in this article. However, the site that hosts this tool also contains another great collection of free digital content for the public – Internet Archive.

internet archive

Just use the search box on the main page to find freeware, articles, books, movies, audio, and more. If you’re not sure what you want, select one of the icons representing the type of content you’re interested in.

As you can see from the numbers under each icon, the digital collection is vast and full of very cool and free stuff.