To browse the Internet we have many options available, but not all of them are the same. There are many browsers for both desktop and mobile, but we can find differences in terms of security and privacy, as well as performance. In this article we are going to talk about how to use the tor browser. We are going to explain what it consists of, why it is useful and what steps must be taken to start using it both on the computer and on the mobile.
What is Tor Browser
The Tor browser is one of the many options we have to be able to browse the Internet. It is based on Firefox and offers greater anonymity on the web. In fact it is an option to be able to enter the deep webin places that we could not access from Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
It is a project that uses the TOR network or red onion. Basically our connection will travel through multiple nodes until it reaches the destination, which for example would be the web page we are visiting. In this way, it creates a network superimposed on what would be the conventional Internet, which occurs when we navigate from another browser and enter a website.
So what you do is use multiple layers to hide the information we are sending. This is going to improve our privacy. If we enter from a computer to a web page in a conventional way, for example from Chrome, that website will obtain information such as our IP address, they will know what operator we have, what our operating system is, the time zone, etc.
Instead, browsing TOR changes all that. We are leaving through a node that will have an IP that is not ours, so we will be hiding our real location. This is very useful for people who, for example, live in a country where the Internet is not free and cannot access many services. By using the Tor browser they will enter anonymously, without using your original IP.
You must bear in mind that the Tor browser is totally legal, safe and does not pose any danger to your computer. However, you will be able to access all kinds of onion sites through this program. That means that many of them are not going to be legal, as they may contain forums for creating malware, selling illegal products, etc.
Steps to use it
The Tor browser is available for both desktop operating systems, such as Windows, Linux or macOS, as well as for Android, in the case of mobile devices. It is a totally free program and Open Source. Using it is simple and we are going to show the steps that must be carried out to install it and start it up.
The first thing to do is download the program. For this you have to go to the Web page of the TOR project. There you will find the download section and the different options available to you. You will only have to choose the one you need, for example the application for Windows or for Android.
Once you hit Download, it will automatically start download the file. You will also see the buttons to download the Alpha version, which is for testing, as well as the source code of the program, in case you want to analyze it. In addition, you can download the browser in another language if you need it.
It is important that whenever you install a program, even more so if it is a browser or a tool that connects to the network, it is from official sources. Therefore, we advise you to only download Tor Browser from its official website and avoid any third-party platform, as you could come across a file that has been maliciously modified.
The next step, once you have downloaded the file, is install it. In the case of Windows, the installation file is about 75 MB. You will have to choose where you want to install it and continue the process. It’s really simple and it won’t take long to have it ready to start using it on your Windows device. The process for macOS or Linux is very similar.
If you are going to use it on Android, you can also download it from Google Play. To do this you just have to go to the Google platform, search for Tor Browser and install it. It’s quick and easy. An alternative to downloading the file from the web page and installing it manually on this operating system.
Once you have installed it, the following is start using it. You will find a first screen like the one you see in the image below. At first it will not be connected. That means that you are going to navigate the same as if you were using any other browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.
The thing changes when you hit the button Connect. From there it will start routing traffic through the TOR network. That means that you will start browsing anonymously and your data will be hidden. This will take just a few seconds and you will see that it has quickly connected.
From there you can access onion sites that are only available through TOR. An example is The Hidden Wiki. You can try to access that link from a conventional browser, such as Chrome or Firefox. You will see that it throws you an error of the type DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN and it is not shown. On the other hand, if you access from the Tor browser, you will be able to enter without problems.
what is it useful for
Now, what is the use of using the Tor browser really? We are going to talk about the main uses that we can give it. Beyond serving as a browser, like any other, it has certain peculiarities that can be decisive for many users to decide to start using it.
Hide IP address
The first utility is that it allows hide real ip address. If we enter a web page, such as RedesZone, Google or any online service, we are exposing the IP address. Our connection is going to use an IP to be able to connect to servers on the network. What the Tor browser allows is to hide that address.
In this way we will be able to enter any online service without showing our identity. They will not know where that visit comes from and it would be very difficult to trace it, unless there is a vulnerability in some node. We are going to arrive with a different IP from our real one, so they could not know our location either.
Precisely the latter that we mentioned is another important utility. let’s avoid geoblocks that there may be Think, for example, of a social network that is restricted in a certain country. If you enter with an IP from that territory, you will not be able to access. Instead, if you connect through nodes on the TOR network, you will be able to bypass that lock.
In part this works in a similar way to a VPN, where you will also be able to hide the IP address and bypass any geographical blocking that may exist. However, it has differences and the mode of operation is not really the same, although in this sense it seems similar.
Access onion sites
Of course, another use that you will be able to give the Tor browser is to be able to enter onion websites. They are pages that are not accessible through search engines such as Google and you will not be able to put the URL directly in the browser and it will show you that website. For example, you can find onion versions of social networks like Twitter, as well as many other web pages.
Although an onion website does not mean that it is dangerous or illegal, it is true that a part of the Deep Web or deep Internet is what is known as the Dark Web. That is where you will find pages and forums with illegal, dangerous content and where you can have certain problems.
What to keep in mind when using this browser
You must take into account certain aspects if you are going to use the Tor browser. It is a good option in many occasions, but it has certain features that may not be ideal for many users. We are going to explain the main points to take into account if you are going to start using it and you do not want problems.
The first thing is that the speed it will decrease quite a bit. You may have problems, for example, watching streaming videos, downloading large files, using the cloud… All this requires a good bandwidth and when using Tor the speed will decrease a lot and you will find limitations.
Therefore, it is not the best option if you are going to use it to navigate normally in your day to day. It is rather an application to use at certain specific times. If you need speed, it is not the best program.
Does not help improve security
This point is important. The security It is a determining factor and we must take care of it at all times. We can think that by using a privacy-based browser such as Tor we can be more protected. However, the reality is that we can also suffer computer attacks.
Why do we say this? Tor Browser will not protect you from clicking on a link that takes you to a fake website, nor will it prevent you from downloading a file that actually contains malware. Nor will it tell us if the program we are installing has a virus. It does not act as an antivirus.
Privacy enhancement is limited
Although in a certain way it is evident that it improves the privacy when browsing, keep in mind that this is limited. Tor will hide the real IP address and improve our privacy when we use the browser to enter a web page or use some online service through this application.
However, it will not improve privacy if we use any other program connected to the network. In that case, what you would have to use is a VPN, which does encrypt the entire connection and not just what passes through the browser.
In short, as you have seen, the Tor browser is very useful for surfing the net, hiding the IP address and being able to access Onion sites. It has limitations and it is not the best option if you are looking for speed, but it does have peculiarities that make it an interesting option in many cases.