Many individuals have heard of TOR browser, or have heard of ‘The Onion Router’ or ‘The Tor Network.’
It is often linked with the Dark Web as it is one of the few browsers that can access these onion sites compared to a conventional browser.
It is, however, used by millions of individuals each day because it is highly secure. Unlike most other systems across the internet, TOR is run by volunteers, and it is this that helps the browser and the network maintain a high degree of anonymity for its users.
One major downside is the browser appears slow compared to everyday browsers. Here, you can find out why are my browsers so slow and how to make TOR faster to use.
You will also learn if TOR is legal to use and if it is as safe as they claim.
Is It Illegal To Have a Tor Browser?
Tor was a network of servers or relays scattered across the globe and developed alongside the U.S. Navy. Nowadays, it’s a non-profit organization whose goal is research and development of online privacy tools.
The Tor network masks user identity by moving traffic across several Tor servers and using encryption to be traced back to the user. Anyone watching would see traffic coming from random nodes across the Tor network, rather than an individual computer.
Using TOR isn’t illegal in any way, and masking your IP address while browsing with TOR isn’t either. (Read Best Free VPN For Dark Web)
However, users who use TOR for illegal activities can attract government agencies such as the FBI and NSA. This means that it isn’t as secure or as good at hiding user identity as first appears. Some ISPs also don’t like users using TOR for internet access.
Why Do Onion Websites Take So Long to Load?
Using Tor Browser is sometimes slower than other web browsers. The Tor network has over one million users daily and a little over 6000 relays to route all their traffic. The load on each server can occasionally lead to latency and a network slowdown.
By design, user traffic is hopping across volunteers’ relays in many places across the world. Because of this, some network bottlenecks and latencies are always in effect.
It is a question often asked, and why is TOR so slow? You will with browsing on TOR isn’t the speed bottleneck, and it is the network it operates on that is slow.
Does TOR Slow Down the Internet?
When you are TOR browsing, you do have lots of contention with other users, and thus there is a slowdown of speed as you see traffic cross a TOR relay on the network.
Any browse TOR does, data will bounce across a minimum of three nodes or relay on its way to get to the destination.
This alone will slow down any browsing you are doing. Besides this, you also have encryption to add, which also adds another element of the slowdown. The Tor Project implements many changes and updates to resolve this, although, on the whole, the internet doesn’t slow down because of TOR. The network is separate in terms of the way data can flow.
Regular traffic won’t pass around the network of the TOR Project and vice versa. This network uses the volunteers’ relay rather than large corporate data centers to forward information on the internet.
In many cases, there is a degree of security when browsing TOR; however, it isn’t as secure as a dedicated application such as a VPN.
Your IP does get lost as your data may use countless relays to reach its destination. However, if the exit node isn’t honest, this node’s operator can view user information and track activity. In many cases, these would be HTTP sites and not HTTPS, although you as a user wouldn’t know if the site was safe or not.
Your ISP can also see you are using TOR, although they have no idea what you like to get as you browse.
How Do I Speed Up My Tor Browser?
You have a couple of ways you can speed up the connection of your TOR browser. The first is to optimize your device for using TOR.
When using TOR, it is recommended to disable specific antivirus software, which interferes with TOR temporarily.
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Webroot Secure Anywhere
- Kaspersky Internet Security 2012
- Sophos Antivirus (On Mac)
Also, they recommend disabling your system firewall. In addition to this, if you have updated your TOR browser, it is best to uninstall the old version first.
In the browser, you can isolate any cookies and always delete browsing history. To do this, head to the settings about:preferences#privacy and enable the privacy settings to do so.
The next way is to edit your torrc file so your exiting nodes are close to your geographic location.
You find this by a right-click on the Tor browser menu icon and selecting “Properties.”
Next, select “Tor Browser – Browser – Data – Tor”
Use this site to determine which relays are close to you: https://metrics.torproject.org/
Save around ten nodes (in notepad) close by, and then add these to your Torrc file.
It may be a bit technical for many users, and they may like the easier option of overcoming ISP restrictions that may be slowing your connection.
Adding a VPN to your system will get you passed any automatic system an ISP uses to throttle connections. If you like the easy way, your TOR browser can connect to the nearest bridge relays on the TOR network without your ISP seeing you are using the TOR browser.
A VPN will also add more layers of protection, and you can even skip TOR altogether if you are only after anonymity. Such VPN’s will secure all your system and not only your browser.
Either way, you can get back the browsing speeds you are used to. If you visit the dark web, then a VPN is highly recommended. They offer additional ways to keep you safe and anonymous, without the need to disable antivirus or firewalls. (Read Best VPN Services)