How to Use Tor

For some, personal online anonymity is a protective tool. Tor can offer a great degree of privacy if you need it. While nothing can guarantee 100% anonymity, using Tor can go a long way in helping you stay anonymous. Just know that there is a cost to using this. Web pages may take a little longer to load because your traffic is being routed through numerous nodes in the Tor network. You may also notice certain browsing featured disabled as well (in an effort to help protect your privacy). Still, if you are, say, a journalist trying to protect your sources, this can be a very small price to pay.

Download and Unpack the Tor Package

If you can, go to the official Tor website and click on the download page. You will see a whole bunch of information about using Tor. I would recommend reading through this stuff as it’s important stuff to keep in mind if you intend on using the browser effectively. When you are done, download and double click on the installer to begin.

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Select your language preference.

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Select the location you want to install Tor to.

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When done, you can click finish to start using Tor. If you don’t want to start right away, you can untick the tickbox in this screen before clicking finish.

Connecting to Tor

When starting Tor, you’ll see the following screen:

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This screen is quite straight forward. Assess your situation and connect accordingly.

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If you are successful, you should see a screen like this pop up. You can now browse the web with a thick layer of privacy.

FAQ

I’ve read a little bit about how Tor works. Is Tor impervious to tracking and snooping?
For me, this goes back to basic wisdom of security: no system of security is perfect. The strength of Tor has been discussed at length throughout the years. There have been instances where people using Tor have been caught anyway such as the Harvard Bomb hoax. In that case, it would be the use of a specific wireless connection that allowed authorities to find this individual in spite of using Tor. Another interesting read is the discussion surrounding the Edward Snowden NSA leak surrounding Tor back in 2013 which can be interpreted as the possibility of attacking a single individual, but when it comes to de-anonymizing the entire network, that’s a whole different thing altogether. One additional bit of reading would be a study conducted in 2014 which tested the security strengths and weaknesses of Tor Browser.

Bottom line, though, is that the effectiveness of Tor depends partly on how it is used by you. Tor is easily better than simply using nothing at all, but it is by no means perfect. It depends on how much someone wants to go after you and if it is worth it for others to expend considerable resources to go after you.

I noticed that a certain feature is disabled in the browser. Can I change this?

It is strongly advised you don’t change the setting of Tor Browser. Things like Flash may open you to new vulnerabilities if you want to privately browse the web.

Can I use P2P filesharing on Tor?

It is strongly discouraged because file-sharing uses considerable bandwidth compared to simply browsing the web. If you see something you want to download, find a way to download it without using the Tor network if you can.

Who actually uses Tor anyway?

Tor can be used by government dissidents, journalists, whistleblowers, and those who feel they need an extra level of privacy while browsing.

The official site is blocked in my country. How can I get it?

It may be possible to download Tor through trusted mirrors. The EFF provides information and resources on this. Be aware that it is possible that compromised versions exist out there as well, so be careful when using a mirror.

I found a mistake on this guide. How can I tell you about it?

We welcome feedback and you can help improve this guide in the comment section below.


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