If you have ever heard of the “dark web,” you have heard of Tor. It’s named after the acronym of the project that started it – the “The Onion Router.” That’s because the security that makes Tor so anonymous resembles the layers of an onion. Fittingly, Tor websites aren’t as publicized – they’re not even accessible via normal internet use. So what do you do if you want to experience the dark web?
First off, you need a Tor browser. Luckily for you, The Tor Project (they maintain the technological base of the network) has one ready for download.
Have in mind that the anonymity of the Tor network makes it a haven for criminals and hackers. A piece of advice before entering the Tor network is to shut down most other programs. You should also download and use a VPN for added security.
Surfing Tor isn’t easy. Aside from being isolated from everyday internet, most of Tor network isn’t indexed, rendering it invisible to search engines. In essence, they’re hidden websites. Yes, search engines exist on Tor, but their reliability is questionable. DataProt, a website dedicated to advising on cybersecurity, has a great looking infographic that explains how Tor works. To find the best .onion websites, you have to use a website list – just like the one below.
Here are 10 cool Tor websites you can visit today!
The Hidden Wiki is usually presented as your one-click-access to the world of Tor. That’s not the case. Many of the links present in The Hidden Wiki are of dubious (if not criminal) nature. Many more don’t work. As far as resources go, it’s somewhat useless.
Daniel’s website lists 7,000 .onion addresses. They are separated into several categories to make browsing easier. More than that, Daniel’s site has an in-built test functionality. This means you can have the website check if any given Tor website is online. The list shows the last time a website was checked and whether it was online.
This makes Daniel’s website an excellent first step in exploring Tor. Browsing random addresses, you will experience the early days of the internet. Many Tor websites are ugly and only have bare-bones features. Some of them exist as one-page jokes. This is the kind of raw content you would have seen more than 20 years ago.
ProPublica is an investigative journalism outlet. Their 2016 reporting on sexual abuse won the Pulitzer Prize that year. ProPublica is accessible on the “clearnet” – that is, the regular internet you’re using right now. Yet it also maintains a Tor website.
ProPublica’s work is legal, so the .onion website is not very different from what you would find on the internet. Accessing it via a Tor browser gives you a layer of anonymity and security. You couldn’t have that on the clearnet site (unless you’re on a VPN, of course).
As a bonus, ProPublica is one of the most polished web experiences you’ll have on the dark web. The rest is decisively less so.
3. Deep Web Radio
Everyone and their mom can use Spotify (plus, your mom is probably on your family plan anyway). But if you want to use some of the most complex privacy and security out there to listen to some tunes, there’s Deep Web Radio.
It’s a website run and curated by a guy that calls himself “zoidberg” (probably not his real name) that streams several web radio stations. Granted, it’s “radio” in the sense that it plays music, and you don’t get to choose the tracks. So get on your favorite channel and chill out with probably the only streaming experience that Tor can really support.
But wait, there’s more! Deep Web Radio allows users to submit song requests – and even to upload their own tracks or host their own stations. Did you ever want to introduce the deep web to the wonders of Bulgarian Chalka? Go ahead, drop a line to zoidberg and see if you can figure something out.
You can hardly find a more secure way to inflict your fire mixtape upon unsuspecting people!
Google collects a lot of your information. Its search results tend to be biased. DuckDuckGo, however, was built on the idea of not collecting user data. The results that this search engine shows you are always neutral. It’s similar to the BlindSearch feature offered by Surfshark.
You’re most likely to find DuckDuckGo useful outside of the dark web. Indeed, it doesn’t search for Tor websites. This is a bit of a bummer since the popular Tor search engines are all ugly and uncomfortable to use. DuckDuckGo has a presentation similar to Google. And unlike the Tor search engines, it won’t lead you to quite so many illegal websites after a simple search.
Tor is great for anonymity. This security is something that activists around the world need. That is why Riseup exists. It provides email and chat services that keep no records of your activity. It is protected from malicious attacks. Riseup also has no intention of cooperating with any government – unlike, say, Google.
Riseup supports the causes of “human liberation, the ethical treatment of animals, and ecological sustainability.” It does it by empowering “organizations and individuals to use technology in struggles for liberation.” That’s why Riseup also provides organizational tools, mailing lists, and more.
However, you need an invitation code to create a Riseup account. This means that the most enticing feature is likely unavailable to you. But you can still browse the security section! It has excellent tips on how to increase the information security of your daily life.
6. Hidden Answers
Hidden Answers is one of those Tor websites that keep making their way onto these lists. The reason for that is simple. Hidden Answers is the dark web version of Quora, Yahoo Answers, and Reddit. But since it’s a Tor website, it sees a lot less traffic, which is the reason why it might look a bit abandoned.
Once you access the site, you’ll soon notice that the questions on Hidden Answers touch upon a variety of topics. When people have the ultimate anonymity the internet can offer, they still ask where your nickname comes from – or would you have your head cryo-frozen after death. There are some shadier questions as well. They range from inquiries about torrenting websites to help with cheating on drug tests to hiring a hitman.
That’s Tor websites for you: someone is always looking either for drugs or hired assassins.
7. Tor Metrics
The dark web is a curious subject: it’s not that easy to use, and it seems to be popular among shady people. But what if we put it into stats?
Tor Metrics is the website that measures who and where uses the network. Surprisingly enough, about 20% of daily users come from Russia. The US is in second place, with around 18% of the share.
Aside from revealing just how widely not-used Tor is (data suggests barely more 1.5 million daily users), you can also see the scope of the network. Metrics records slightly more than 60,000 unique .onion addresses.
We already established that many of the links you find on link aggregators are offline. Thus, it paints a picture of the very small world of Tor websites.
Just like clearnet, Tor has its utility websites. ZeroBin is one of them. If you use the Tor network on the regular, you will want a way to share stuff with your dark web friends. ZeroBin allows you to do that with complete safety and anonymity.
One of its selling points is that even ZeroBin servers don’t know what you pasted. The data encryption takes place on your browser before it goes to the server. Options for sharing include password protection. And of course, the pastes will be deleted sometime later.
9a. Imperial Library
9b. Comic Book Library
Tor website lists like to harp about Sci-Hub. They miss two vital points: it’s down (at the time of writing), and a clearnet version exists – you don’t need Tor to use it.
Sci-Hub is mostly useful for academic types who know the PMID, DOI, or URLs of papers they want to access. At the same time, websites like the Imperial Library of Trantor store stuff that’s interesting to the broader public.
Imperial Library is a public depository of scanned books. As a bonus, it’s administered by a guy with a Riseup email address. To date, nearly four hundred thousand books have been uploaded.
Interested in comic books instead? There’s also the Comic Book Library, with entries dating back to the 1930s. Of course, like any such effort, the scans are of dubious legality.
And for the end, a slice of something completely different. Some of the more famous Tor websites are about exploring the tunnels in American universities.
Infrastructure like that is both dangerous and illegal to access. That’s why urban explorers hosted their blogs on Tor. It also helps that said universities are heavily tech-related.
IIT Underground – focused on Illinois Tech – is the smaller of the blogs. Beneath VT – that’s Virginia Tech – is more prominent. It provides more details on the tunnels as well as the dangers associated with them.
The websites are a step above the usual Tor website design, too. They still look like something from the early aughts, though.
Beef up your internet privacy even more
So if you want to experience the dark web, these Tor websites are a good starting point. But you should be aware of the security dangers involved in using the network.