This beginner’s guide to Tor Browser will provide you with everything you need to know about How to set up and download Tor Browser to explore the Dark Web.
The Tor browser is easy to use and is essentially a modified version of the Firefox web browser. The main difference between the Tor Browser and your standard browser (like Chrome) is that it connects you through the Tor Network. This means that you are directed through a network of servers so that your location and identity are protected.
So, let’s jump into our beginner’s guide to Tor to help you start using Tor safely and exploring the Dark Web.
How to Download Tor Browser
What is the Tor Browser?
Tor Browser (short for “The Onion Router”) is free and open-source software that protects your data by wrapping it in multiple layers of encryption, like an onion. Encrypting your data protects your privacy and identity on the internet, allowing you to browse the web anonymously.
The development of the Tor Browser began in 2008. However, the project was initially created to help safeguard U.S. Intelligence online communication in the 1990s. But all the people involved in Tor are united by a common belief that internet users should have private access to an uncensored web. Tor Project history
The Tor Project is a non-profit and a labour of love produced by an international community of people devoted to human rights. The Tor Project is deeply committed to transparency and the safety of its users.
How Does Tor Browser Work?
The back-end system is pretty technical, but I’ll try to break it down. Your personal data is bundled into layers of encrypted packets before it enters the Tor network. It is then routed through a series of volunteer-operated servers (called nodes or relays) to disguise where you are coming from before you reach your final destination. When you finish your session, the browser will instantly delete cookies, browsing history, and other data.
The Tor network is designed so no server can know who you are or what you do.
Why You Should Use Tor Browser?
Many people think that the Tor Browser is just for those trying to access the “Dark Web”, such as hackers, criminals, and people who are essentially up to no good. This is because Tor is great for users who want to hide their activity online from websites, ISPs, and advertisers or for those who don’t want their browsing habits linked to them, but it doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
Tor users also include people with censorship restrictions within their country, journalists, or police officers hiding their IP addresses.
Is Tor Browser Safe?
While Tor is a powerful tool for privacy, it isn’t without security vulnerabilities. Users must exercise caution, especially when downloading files or visiting untrusted websites, as these actions can compromise their anonymity and security.
The browser’s association with the dark web raises legal and ethical concerns. Although accessing the dark web isn’t illegal, many activities conducted there are, and users must navigate this space with awareness of the associated legal implications.
Is Tor Browser Secure?
Regarding tracking and hiding your location, the Tor Browser is great! However, this does not automatically mean it’s secure as such. You are still vulnerable to the same attacks as you might get in any browser. If you’re using Tor, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re 100% anonymous, either. Intelligence services may see that you’re a Tor user, which means you’re more likely to be a target, too.
Tor With VPN
Now, whether you should use a VPN or not causes a lot of controversies. Some state that using a VPN in addition to Tor will not make you more anonymous and could harm your anonymity. Some others claim that Onion over Tor (i.e. connecting to a VPN first is fine).
However, if you check on the Tor Project, they state, “Generally speaking, we don’t recommend using a VPN with Tor unless you’re an advanced user who knows how to configure both in a way that doesn’t compromise your privacy.”
How to Download Tor Browser (32-bit & 64-bit)
Downloading Tor Browser is simple and available for multiple operating systems and languages, including Windows 32-bit/64-bit, Mac, Linux, and Android.
Here is how to download the Tor Browser;
- Navigate to https://www.torproject.org/ and click the “Download Tor Browser” option.
- Select the correct operating system you are running and allow the file to download.
- Follow the installation process and ensure that you verify your download to ensure that it is the original copy and has not been altered/hacked.
How To Check Your Tor Browser Connection
Once you have installed the browser, double-check your connection by navigating to https://check.torproject.org/. You will also find that your IP address differs from your standard address.
How to Set up Tor Browser Settings
Create a New Identity with Tor
Within Tor, you can create a new identity that will provide you with a new IP address. This is useful if you want to prevent your subsequent browser activity from being linkable to what you were doing before. To create a new identity, click on the onion icon on the top right-hand side of your Tor Browser and select “New Identity“.
Tor Security Settings
You can amend your security settings in your browser to disable certain features that can be used to attack your security and anonymity. To amend your current settings, click on the shield icon next to your onion icon in the top right of your browser and choose “Advanced Security Settings.“
You can then amend your chosen level of security.
How to Update Tor Browser
It’s really important to keep your browser up to date as you may otherwise be vulnerable to serious security flaws that may compromise your privacy. To check you are running the latest version, click on your onion icon in the top right-hand corner of your browser.
Select “Check for Tor Browser Update“.
Tor will then check for any available updates and update accordingly.
Tor Browser for Android – Download .apk
Android users can use the Tor Browser with Orbot, which is available from Google Play, F-Droid or Direct Download (.apk). Orbot creates a private mobile connection by using Tor to encrypt your Internet traffic. This is then hidden by bouncing through a series of computers worldwide.
How to Download Tor Browser for Mac iOS
Although the Tor Browser supports many platforms, including Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android, it does not support iOS. So, you will find many options if you’re scrolling through your iPhone on the AppStore searching for a Tor Browser. Some of these Tor Browser apps also include the added extra of combining VPNs. However, the Tor Project only recommends one iOS browser, the Onion Browser.
Onion Browser is a free and open-source Tor-Powered web browser for iOS that helps you access the internet with more safety and privacy. It protects your privacy with website tracking, secures your traffic from insecure wireless networks and ISPs, and supports HTTPS anywhere. Plus, it allows you to access .onion sites that are only available over Tor.
Some of the settings are a little limited, and the browser itself is quite basic. However, you can make some customization in terms of content policies, security settings, look and feel, etc.
Fake Tor Browsers
It’s been reported cybercriminals have been distributing a compromised version of the official Tor Browser. Hackers have been targeting Russian-speaking users in an attempt to spy on users and steal their Bitcoin. Please be careful when downloading anything from the web.
How to Uninstall Tor Browser
While Tor does provide enhanced privacy, it can sometimes come at the cost of browsing speed. If you find that the Tor Browser isn’t meeting your needs or you want to revert to a more traditional browsing experience, uninstalling it is a straightforward process.
Below, we outline the steps to uninstall the Tor Browser from Mac and PC.
Uninstalling Tor Browser on Mac
Uninstalling the Tor Browser on a Mac involves removing the application and any associated files to ensure a complete uninstallation. Follow these steps:
- Quit Tor Browser: Ensure that the Tor Browser is not running.
- Open Finder: Navigate to Applications.
- Locate Tor Browser: Right-click on the Tor Browser icon and choose Move to Trash.
- Access Library Folder: Press Shift + Command + G keys in the Finder window to open the Go to Folder window. Type in
~/Libraryand press the Return key.
- Delete Associated Files: Navigate to the following subfolders and move all files related to Tor Browser to the Trash:
~/Library/Saved Application State/org.mozilla.tor browser.savedState
~/Library/Saved Application State/org.torproject.torbrowser.savedState
- Empty Trash: To finalize the uninstallation, empty your Trash.
Alternatively, Mac users can utilize BuhoCleaner, a free app remover and cache cleaner for Mac, to uninstall Tor Browser quickly and efficiently.
Uninstalling Tor Browser on PC
The uninstallation process is even simpler for PC users, especially those using Windows 10. Follow these steps:
- Locate Tor Browser on Desktop: The Tor Browser is typically installed on the desktop. Locate the Tor Browser application and folder.
- Delete: Delete both the application and folder. If you changed the default installation address during installation, follow the next steps.
- Open File Location: Right-click the Tor Browser icon and select Open File Location.
- Delete All Files: Follow the on-screen instructions to delete all files in the Tor Browser folder.
Exploring the Dark Web with Tor
The dark web remains one of the internet’s most enigmatic and misunderstood parts. Nestled deep beyond the reach of traditional search engines, this hidden cyberspace is accessible only through specialized browsers like Tor, which anonymizes users’ internet traffic by routing it through a complex network of servers.
What is the Dark Web?
The dark web is a subset of the deep web, a vast digital space housing content not indexed by standard search engines. While the deep web includes benign content like private databases, subscription websites, and members-only platforms, the dark web is notorious for hosting many illegal activities.
Dark Web Websites
One of the most notorious chapters in the dark web’s history is the rise and fall of the Silk Road, an online black market that facilitated the anonymous purchase of illegal goods, predominantly drugs. Transactions on the Silk Road were conducted in Bitcoin, further ensuring the anonymity of buyers and sellers. The marketplace became a symbol of the dark web’s lawlessness before law enforcement agencies shut it down.
If you fancy checking out the dark web but are unsure where to start. Check out our guide on the 13 Best Dark Web Websites to Explore, which takes you through some handy dark websites to get you started.
Tor & Dark Web Reddit Communities
- Reddit Communities to Check-Out:
- Deep Web – https://www.reddit.com/r/deepweb/ Onions
- Onions – https://www.reddit.com/r/onions/
- TOR – https://www.reddit.com/r/TOR/
Why is the Tor browser slow?
The Tor Browser is notably slower than other browsers due to its intricate process to ensure user anonymity and privacy. Tor routes internet traffic through a volunteer-run network of thousands of relays spread globally. While essential for securing user data and masking IP addresses, this multi-layered encryption and routing process adds latency, leading to a slower browsing experience.
How much does Tor Browser cost?
Tor Browser is free to download and use. It’s an open-source software developed and maintained by a community of volunteers worldwide, dedicated to providing internet users anonymity and privacy. No costs are associated with downloading, installing, or using the Tor Browser.
Is it Safe to Use Tor Without a VPN?
Using Tor without a VPN can still provide a significant level of anonymity and privacy. Tor encrypts and routes internet traffic through multiple nodes, making user identification and online tracking highly challenging. However, using a VPN with Tor can enhance privacy and security further, although it’s not a strict necessity.
Is DuckDuckGo a Tor Browser?
No, DuckDuckGo is not a Tor Browser. DuckDuckGo is a search engine focused on user privacy, ensuring user searches are not tracked or profiled. However, it can be accessed via the Tor Browser for an extra layer of anonymity, combining the privacy features of both.
Is Tor Browser legal?
Yes, using the Tor Browser is entirely legal in most countries. It’s a tool for privacy and anonymity online, widely used for legitimate purposes like protecting user privacy, securing communications, and bypassing censorship. However, while the browser itself is legal, engaging in illegal activities while using it remains against the law.