Tor – ever heard of this word? It is the invisible cloak that can help you to surf anonymously. Staying anonymous is a real challenge and people prefer it for lot of reasons.

When you browse, your privacy is gone in every nook and corner of the web. People can find your location, your interests, what websites you visit, what products you viewed and a lot more about you. We all need a little privacy every now and then which is guaranteed by Tor. Learn how to use tor and browse the web like a shadow.

What is Tor?

Tor (The Onion Router) is an online network that helps to hide your internet activities and keeps you completely anonymous.

How Tor Works?

Tor mainly relies on relays. A relay is nothing but a computer that shares it internet bandwidth to support Tor. Confused? Take a look at the below image,

Tor Relays and Circuits

In the above image a user tries to access www.articpost.com from her system using a Tor Browser, but the request is not directly sent to articpost website, instead the request is passed on to different machines which then reaches the website.

The different machines are called relays and the path in which it is connected is called a circuit. A circuit when established stays connected for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes a new circuit is formed which again connects to different set of systems. This way no one can trace your IP address hence your origination is also not revealed.

The relays are formed by volunteers who donate their internet bandwidth to support Tor network.

To visually see what data is leaked when you use internet with or without TOR, head over to EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) website.

Who should use Tor?

Tor is the right choice for anyone who just wants to surf the web anonymously. When using Tor, do not leave your details (name, email id, etc.) explicitly on any online forms or websites which totally defeats the purpose of staying anonymous.

Who uses Tor?

  • Individuals use it to keep websites off from tracking them or to visit websites that are blocked by their ISP’s.
  • Journalists use it as a medium to communicate with whistle blowers.
  • It is used by a branch of the U.S. Navy for open source intelligence gathering.
  • Law enforcement officers use Tor for website surveillances.

You can also check Tor Metric Portal for more statistical data on its users.

How to get the Tor Browser Bundle

Send an email to “GetTor” robot using the email address gettor@torproject.org and you will get a reply back asking for the right package that you need. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux so reply back to the email mentioning the package that you require. If your email provider accepts larger attachments then the package would be emailed to you else you have to download it from one of the mirror sites.

You can also download the installer (22.8 MB) directly from here.

Installed Tor, what’s next?

Run the Start Tor Browser.exe from the installed path (Ex: C:\TBrowser). Depending on your internet speed it may take some time to connect to the Tor Network.

Tor Connecting to its network

Once you are connected to the Network, Tor Browser will be launched automatically. All the websites that you visit using that Browser cannot identify who you are or where you are from.

How to check if you are really invisible?

You can test it yourself. Try the below websites to see if you are really anonymous:

https://check.torproject.org/ – You should see a message that confirms your browser is configured to use Tor.

http://www.iplocation.net/ – You should see a different IP Address and Geographic Location.

You can also click on the Tor Button to generate a new identity if you don’t like your current location :-)

Generate new identity in Tor

What’s different in Tor?

  • You can only use encrypted Google in Tor. Encrypted Google can be accessed in normal browser too.
  • Tor Websites (often called as Deep Web) end with .onion extension and it cannot be accessed in a normal browser outside Tor network.

Disadvantages

  • You cannot expect the network to serve YouTube videos or any other media streaming since you are accessing websites via relays.
  • Your ISP may block Tor relays.
  • File sharing is blocked.

Uninstalling the Program

Simply delete the folder (Ex: C:\TBrowser) where you have extracted the files and you have uninstalled it.

Disclaimer

All the above information is for learning and fair usage only. Do not attempt to use Tor or any of the information in the above article for illegal activities. I am neither responsible for what you do with this information nor I am affiliated with Tor in any way, shape or form.

Got anything to say about Tor? Feel free to use the comments section.