What is Tor? The Onion Router Explained

What is the Tor Browser? How does it work? Tor, short for ‘The Onion Router, is a global server network initially developed by the US Navy. Nowadays, Tor has become a non-profit project that basically allows Internet users to browse the web anonymously i.e. without exposing their real IP address. In the following guide, you can find more information about the following points: What is Tor, how does it work, its alternatives and why you should care about your online anonymity.

What is Tor? Surf the Web Anonymously

What is Tor? Surf the Web Anonymously

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What is Tor – How Does Tor Work?

Tor is able to spoof your online identity by distributing your traffic among different Tor servers. Additionally, Tor encrypts your traffic. These two processes ensure that it becomes nigh impossible to trace your browsing activity.

What is Tor – How to Set It Up?

All you have to do is download and install the Tor Browser. Everything you do while using that browser will be encrypted i.e. no ISP or government agencies will be able to spy on you. Tor can also be used to bypass geo-restrictions and unblock channels like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, and the likes.

How Does Tor Protect My Online Privacy

To get a better idea of how the Tor Browser works, watch the video tutorial below:

What is Tor – Advantages

  • When using the Tor Browser, you can access the Dark Web.
  • Your IP address is hidden from sites you visit.
  • You can access websites that your local government has blocked.
  • Tor is free to use.

What is Tor – Disadvantages

Now the question is: “Should I use Tor?” In my personal opinion, its benefits do not outweigh its risks and disadvantages.

  • Government agencies like the NSA are more likely to target you if you’re using a Tor browser.
  • Your Internet speed might drop significantly, making streaming videos and browsing websites sluggish.
  • The Tor Browser itself had security-related flaws in the past.
  • It can only be used on PC and Mac devices. Android, iOS, Apple TV, PS3, PS4, Xbox, Smart TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV are not compatible.
  • Some ISPs do block Tor relays.

Tor Alternatives – VPN

If you are looking for a way to protect your privacy online as well as bypass censorship and geo-restrictions, use VPN instead of Tor. VPN stands for ‘virtual private network’. When using VPN, all your traffic is re-routed through a secure VPN server. This process also masks your IP address and encrypts all of your traffic.

  • VPN apps are available for Android, iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac.
  • If you have a compatible router, you can set up a VPN connection on router-level.
  • VPN offers a much better solution regarding online privacy.
  • When using VPN, you get to choose the VPN server you wish to connect to. In other words, you can change your online location to virtually any country/city around the world. This is beneficial if you are looking into unblocking certain streaming channels.
  • Your traffic is rerouted through the VPN server you are connected to. This does slightly slow down your Internet speed. However, using Tor can result in an even slower Internet speed given that your traffic is being bounced through random computers around the world.
  • Top VPN providers offer 24/7 support.

Here’s a list of the top four Tor alternatives.

VPN Provider
Best VPN
  • Best for streaming and privacy
  • High speed servers in 160 VPN locations
  • Works for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu
  • 24/7/ live chat support
  • 3 extra months free on annual plan
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Second Best VPN
  • UltraHD streaming
  • Free Smart DNS proxy
  • Unblocks all major streaming services
  • Limited Time 72% Discount
Third Best VPN
  • Unlimited VPN connections
  • Over 1000 servers
  • Ad-blocking feature available
  • User-friendly application
  • Exclusive Smart VPN feature
  • Standalone Smart DNS subscription available
  • Extra security features
  • Extensions for Firefox and Chrome
  • Split-tunneling available

What is Tor – Conclusion

While Tor is not ‘bad’ by any means, more reliable alternatives like the VPN providers listed above do make you question whether it is worth it. If you are looking for a way to achieve anonymity while browsing the web, I’d suggest using VPN. Given that Tor is free, you can also try it out too.

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