Tor Browser review

tor-browser-macbook-450x

Is Tor Safe?

Are you thinking about trying out an alternative browser?

Whether you are looking for speed or support for highly customized add-ons, you have plenty of options.

But what if you want to use the Tor browser so that you can access the Dark Web and remain anonymous while browsing your favorite sites? It’s certainly an attractive option, especially if you want to avoid corporations using your browsing history to sell you their products and services.

But is it safe to browse the internet using Tor?

Some countries around the world have banned Tor from use. So should you be worried if you start using it on your laptop?

Here’s everything you need to know if you plan on using Tor as your default browser.

What is the Tor Browser?

The Tor Browser was designed to ensure that your internet history and your identity remain anonymous when you’re online. Tor hides your location by concealing your IP address, which also prevents any of your information from getting tracked.

Tor is available on laptops and PCs and has recently been made available for Android phones. However, due to restrictions on iOS, the browser is not accessible on the iPhone or iPad. The makers of Tor have endorsed a competitor, OnionBrowser, which provides similar security features.

What Can You Use the Tor Browser For?

Tor can be used to access most websites online. However, there are some places that block access if it detects you’re using it. But it’s perfect if you want to keep your history away from the eyes of your internet service provider or advertisers who will sell your information. Tor is also beneficial if there are any censorship restrictions in your country or geo-blocking on certain websites.

The best use of the Tor Browser is to access the Dark Web links. While it’s got a reputation as a haven for illegal activity, there are other benefits of perusing this part of the internet. Here you’ll find secure mail servers, private data transfers, and countless resources available for free that are available no matter what country you reside in.

Access to the Dark Web can only occur through a Tor Browser. Still, due to the nature of the environment and the high risk of contracting malicious materials on your device, you should only do so with a VPN and antivirus software installed. This will ensure complete anonymity from your ISP before you even execute the Tor Browser to start exploring the Dark Web.

The Benefits of Using Tor

All web browsers have their advantages, including Tor. While it’s the only internet explorer that provides you access to the Dark Web, there are some other good reasons as to why you should consider downloading Tor and relying on it for all of your web browsings.

+ Free to Download

Like most web browsers, there’s no charge to use Tor. You can choose to donate money to help support the developers, but this is not necessary to access the software.

While being free might seem like it’s no different to Chrome, Edge, or Safari, the additional features you get from Tor are what sets it apart. In order to be anonymous on these other internet explorers, you would need to use a VPN in conjunction with the browser to conceal your identity from the company site you’re visiting and your internet service provider.

So Tor saves you some money by providing some of the features that a VPN offers. However, for a more secure experience, you’re best to pair Tor with a virtual private network provider.

+ Easy to Use

Despite allowing you to browse parts of the internet that’s not possible on other platforms, Tor is just as simple and easy to use as any other web software. When you load it up, you’ll see your address bar and bookmarks available for easy access.

You won’t even realize you’re accessing the dark web unless you spot the .onion on the end of the web address. It’s a completely seamless experience and Tor doesn’t require you to learn anything new to use it.

+ Gets Around Geo-Blocking

One of the most frustrating statements on the internet is, “this content is not available in your country.” This is a sentence that you will never read on Tor, as it doesn’t restrict your browsing experience no matter where you live.

If you want to check out a Netflix library from another country, then you can do so on Tor. You can even access news websites that are blocked by some communist nations. Any website that features restrictions gets removed when you access it through the Tor Browser.

+ Managed by Volunteers

The team behind Tor is not scheming for ways to get a hold of your money. They believe that the internet should be open and free for all. It’s run by a group of volunteers who support the platform in their spare time.

While this might mean the development of new features is a little slower than other web browsers, you can feel confident in knowing that what the Tor team is creating is something that’s safe to use and not mining your information for sinister purposes.

+ Can’t Be Shut Down by the Authority

Thanks to the large number of volunteers based around the world and the setup of the network, it’s not possible for the government to interfere with the Tor Browser or the Dark Web. There are a number of contingencies in place that if something was compromised, the network could still remain operational, and Tor users would not experience any disruption.

Even if one of the relay or exit nodes were disabled, it would not make a difference. Tor uses a distributed network to spread out the processing load. The other advantage of this use of relay and exit nodes is that it makes it difficult to track users accessing the internet, which helps in keeping you anonymous.

+ Protects Your Privacy

Anonymity and privacy are two of the key reasons users choose to use Tor as their browser of choice. The individual data packets and relay and exit nodes that are used for surveillance get bounced via multiple nodes making it extremely difficult to track. The team behind Tor has also made it impossible for anyone to trace IP addresses.

As Tor is an open-source platform, it’s hard to infect it with malware. This means you’re unlikely to get hacked while using Tor when you’re online. However, it’s still possible to download malicious content, so you still need to be vigilant when clicking on places you’re not familiar with. But this shouldn’t let you question how safe is Tor.

+ It Enables Democracy

Due to the secure nature of the browser and its ability to disguise users from governments and corporations, Tor allows citizens, journalists, and whistle-blowers to safely communicate without fear of prosecution or repercussion.

The browser played a vital role in the Arab Spring as it allowed many Tor users to communicate with one another without fearing retaliation for the repressive regimes that were in control.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using Tor?

There are plenty of reasons to use the Tor Browser, particularly if you want to remain anonymous and not have any of your web history tracked. However, you do also need to realize that you’ll be making some sacrifices to disguise yourself and that your internet experience might feel very different from other software options.

– Starting Up Takes Time

If you’re a regular user of Chrome or Safari, you’ll be conditioned to the home page loading up in the blink of an eye. So it can take some adjusting to the startup times with Tor and send your mind into troubleshooting mode.

However, you don’t need to reset your modem or do an internet speed test. All you need is some patience. Approximately sixty seconds worth. This is just to get to the home page.

– Browsing is Slower

To best protect your privacy and provide you with a secure experience, the network requires your connection to interact with multiple nodes at once. This keeps you anonymous but at the cost of loading up web pages.

If you’re planning on streaming media or downloading large files, you can expect the load times to feel like the early days of broadband internet. Even if you’re on one of the fastest plans on the planet.

– Some Services Block Tor Browsers

While you might not get a message saying “this content is not available in your country,” you may receive statements around your browser not being supported on certain websites. Sadly, this is due to the Tor Browser being used to launch cyberattacks.

In retaliation, some websites and services use algorithms to detect when the browser is in use. Akamai, Craigslist, and Yelp are just a few sites that have created methods to see if you’re using a Tor Browser and limiting your experience. Google and Yahoo are also aware of Tor users. However, they don’t block you from accessing the search engine. But some of the results may differ, and other functions might not be available.

– It’s Not 100% Secure

Nothing on the internet is ever 100% secure, but the Tor Browser comes pretty close. But even the software isn’t completely perfect. While any information transmitted through the browser is delivered anonymously, it still has vulnerabilities when it comes to viewing any sites in HTTP. However, HTTPS sites are completely encrypted.

Data also isn’t encrypted. As it’s already anonymous, the browser doesn’t make any attempt to cipher the code. If you need this encrypted as well, then you’ll need to invest in a virtual private network. You just need to be aware that this extra layer of protection may impact your browsing speeds further.

What is the Safest Way to Use Tor?

Even though using the Tor Browser can hide your IP address, keep you anonymous, and protect your privacy, it’s not going to give you a complete sense of security on its own. Especially if you’re browsing the Dark Web or surfing the Tor Network. Without adequate protection or security, your device can still end up with malicious malware or viruses that can leave your sensitive information vulnerable to hackers.

You should always access the Dark Web or Tor Network with an antivirus program installed and activated. This will provide you with the adequate level of protection that you need in the instance that you accidentally click on the wrong site or download code or files that could be harmful to your device.

If you want to ensure complete anonymity online, then you should also ensure that you have a VPN. Like the Tor Browser, a VPN will also disguise your IP address and give sites the impression you’re accessing the internet from another country. This helps get around any geo-blocking restrictions and reduces the risk of any activity getting traced back to you.

If you do plan on accessing the Tor Network or the Dark Web, then you’ll need to ensure that you activate your VPN before opening the browser. Some internet service providers can detect the software you’re using to access websites. If your internet service provider sees that you’re using the Tor Browser, then they may become suspicious of your activity and contact the authorities. However, if you connect to a VPN before opening the browser, that won’t be able to determine the software you’re using, and you can access any website safely.

Which VPN Should You Use With Tor?

If you’re still asking yourself, “is Tor safe to use,” then the simple answer is yes. It provides its users with anonymity, conceals their IP address, and allows them to access the Dark Web.

While there are many advantages to using Tor for all of your internet experiences, there are some disadvantages that you need to weigh up as well. Speed is the most significant sacrifice as loading up the Tor Browser and accessing websites takes a lot longer compared to other browsers. There are also some websites that can detect if Tor is getting used and block your access or restrict the use of some of the features on the site. There are also some encryption and small security access issues for sites that don’t use HTTPS. But how safe is Tor? Completely, as long as you’re not using it on its own.

If you want to feel completely secure while using the Tor Browser and accessing the world of the Dark Web, then you should ensure that your antivirus software is up to date and you have your VPN turn on before you open up the software.

Choosing the right VPN for your browsing needs is no easy task. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Chrome or Tor. You want to make sure that your VPN provides you with the best level of security for all your browsing needs. You also want to make sure that it’s not going to impact your speeds, especially when using Tor is going to slow life down for you already. That’s why you should go to and check out our independent test results so you can have detailed information on any virtual private network.

According to the results, currently the best VPN for Tor is ExpressVPN – Read ExpressVPN review here.

Was this page helpful?
YesNo

Subscribe to our alerts

Join the Privacy Club and receive alerts about VPN deals.

You can unsubscribe at any time

Subscribe to VPN alerts