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What Is Tor Browser & Ways To Use It (2021 guide)
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What Is Tor Browser & Ways To Use It (2021 guide)

Today we're going to discuss how to work in Tor internet browser.

There are a number of important points to keep in mind if you plan to use Tor Browser to protect your online privacy. Yes, this is one of the best ways to ensure your digital anonymity, but it is not ideal - and therefore you should be clear about what to expect.

Firstly, if you are going to work in the Darkweb from region where it is prohibited anonymously at the most secure and private level, then you will need to access Tor through a VPN connection. Of course, Tor will perfectly protect your anonymity, but this network has a number of vulnerabilities that only a VPN can save from.

Here you can read which VPN services we recommend to use for surfing DeepWeb.

What is Tor Browser?

Tor Browser is a free and open source browser that helps you stay anonymous when you are online. At first glance, it might seem that it works just like any other browser. However, the first impression is deceiving - Tor will randomly redirect all your traffic through a network of servers located in various parts of the world and protect it with several levels of encryption.

Encryption is somewhat reminiscent of an onion - more precisely, its layers; In fact, the Tor network is named after this similarity: “The Onion Router”, or “onion router”. You can access this network only through the Tor Browser, which allows you to keep your actions, personal data and location safe from everyone while you are surfing the Web - but, of course, with some stipulations.

You can download Tor for your operating system Which is Windows, OS X, Linux or Android. If you're going to use specific OS - here is our guide how to install it.

The Tor Browser can only be downloaded from the official Tor website!

Tor Browser does not have an iOS version, however, the browser developers recommend that iOS users pay attention to the Onion Browser, which works in slightly different ways.

Is Tor Browser a VPN?

No, Tor Browser is not a VPN. First, Tor's primary focus is on maintaining user anonymity, while VPNs' primary focus is on protecting user privacy. Sounds similar, but there is a difference. Of course, both Tor and VPNs are designed to protect users when they browse the web, but they do it in different ways. When you use a VPN, all your traffic is protected with end-to-end encryption. After that, it is redirected through a secure channel to a remote server, which connects to the site you need.

If you are using a VPN with Tor, then even your own ISP will not be able to know that you are connected to the Tor network. This is extremely important, especially for residents of countries where there is strict online censorship (for example, China). Of course, the Tor network itself is not prohibited, but the very fact of working in it may be considered suspicious and, as a result, take you on a pencil.

In its turn, Tor Browser works in a completely different way, which makes it different from a VPN. You can even say that this is a unique solution.

How does Tor Browser work?

Tor Browser uses several complex steps to protect your traffic. First, the data is encrypted. Then they are transmitted through a randomly selected server (so-called "relay") and encrypted again - so that only the next randomly selected server can decrypt them. When passing through each node of this decentralized network, the traffic encryption process is repeated.

At each transition between the nodes of the network, one of the encryption layers is removed to determine the address of the next relay. When the traffic reaches the final relay, also known as the exit node, the last layer of encryption will be removed and your data will be sent to the server you originally accessed.

Each relay only decodes data related to the addresses of the previous and next relays in the chain. All traffic routes are generated randomly, and the relays themselves do not record. After each session, the Tor browser will also delete your browsing history and cookies.

As a result, it will be almost impossible to track your actions and correlate them personally with you - and this is already complete anonymity, isn't it? Almost. There are several vulnerabilities in this system, but you can protect against them if you start using a VPN with Tor. And this will allow you to work on the web without any problems from anywhere in the world.

How secure is Tor Browser?

While Tor provides a much higher level of anonymity than a regular web browser, Tor is not a 100% secure solution. Your location will be hidden, your traffic will not be tracked, but someone can still, even partially, access your browsing history.

The volunteers who maintain the host servers through which traffic passes are anonymous. In other words, you will never know who actually owns such a server. In general, this is not a problem, since all these servers only see the location of the past and the next relays in chains ... everything except the last, output node.

It is the exit node that removes the last layer of encryption from the traffic. Of course, no one will know your real location or your original IP address, but exit site administrators can track the activity of users accessing unsecured sites. To protect against this, you need to use a VPN connection over Tor.

Remember: even when using the Tor Browser, you need to be careful not to accidentally provide your personal information (name, mailing address, other data) to strangers.

What are the disadvantages of Tor Browser?

In addition to a number of security issues, Tor has another disadvantage, which for many is even more critical - it is a very slow network. Of course, it could not be otherwise, because your traffic is redirected through several nodes - this is, if you will, the price you have to pay for anonymity.

As a consequence, We do not recommend using the Tor Browser for streaming or downloading files. In addition, the service developers themselves strongly do not recommend using Tor to download torrents - and not only because of the connection speed, but also because it will leave your IP address unprotected, which will clearly negatively affect your privacy.

Another disadvantage of working with the Tor network is the fact that it will draw unwanted attention to you. Of course, the ISP will not be able to see your actions, but it will easily reveal the fact of connecting to Tor. This alone will be enough to start monitoring you more closely!

In addition, it is extremely important not to forget that Tor Browser is still a browser. Accordingly, it can only protect its own traffic, but all your other applications will remain unprotected. This is why I recommend using Tor in conjunction with VPNs for comprehensive protection.

Tor-over-VPN connection

Also known as “Onion-over-VPN”, this method is based on the fact that you first connect to the VPN and then go to the Tor network. This is the easiest way to use these two services at once; all you have to do is launch the Tor browser - just like you would launch any other browser. This method guarantees a level of protection and confidentiality that will be sufficient for most people.

When you use a Tor-over-VPN connection, the VPN service encrypts all your traffic and hides your IP address by redirecting it through one of its own secure network servers and then connecting you to the Tor network. This means that all your traffic, and not just browser traffic, will be reliably protected, and the Tor nodes run by volunteers will not be able to find out your IP address.

Another advantage of this method is the fact that your ISP will not be able to detect if you are using the Tor network, as the VPN service will hide it from them. Using a VPN in conjunction with Tor Browser will hide both the IP address and Internet activity. In addition, your VPN will not be able to know that you are connected to the Tor network and are doing something on it.

However, if the VPN service of your choice keeps connection logs, then its administrators will find out both your IP address and the fact of connecting to Tor. If you'd like to avoid this, be sure to choose a VPN with a strict no-log policy, like ExpressVPN.

A Tor-over-VPN connection has one drawback: it is not able to protect you from dangerous exit nodes, since by the time your traffic passes through them, it will already be unencrypted.

VPN-over-Tor connection

The second method, which allows you to use Tor with a VPN, is a little more complicated. Here you will need to connect to the Tor network first, and then to the VPN. To do this, you will most likely have to manually change some settings of the VPN application.

But on the other hand, this method will completely protect you from threats associated with dangerous exit nodes! After all, instead of going after the exit node to the desired site, your traffic will be redirected through a secure VPN server. Accordingly, site administrators will not be able to find out either your IP address or other data.

As a consequence, a VPN-over-Tor connection is ideal for transferring sensitive data.

In addition, it will hide your IP address from the VPN service, even if the latter does not adhere to a no-log policy. Fortunately, with the best VPNs for Tor, this shouldn't be a problem at all.

Of course, there is also a downside to the coin: your ISP, as well as all interested parties (for example, government agencies), will easily reveal the fact of connecting to Tor, although they will not be able to find out what exactly you were doing on this network.

Note: The Tor developers themselves do not recommend using a VPN-over-Tor connection. If you are unsure of your choice, I recommend using the Tor-over-VPN method.


Despite all its flaws, Tor Browser is a powerful and effective online privacy protection tool. By combining Tor's anonymity with VPN protection, you can take advantage of these two worlds and surround yourself with the ultimate in online security.

If you're looking for a reliable VPN with a good reputation to help protect your online privacy even better, ExpressVPN is our top recommendation. This service is very fast, incredibly reliable, and even has its own .onion site, which makes installation even faster and easier.

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