Want to know how to access onion sites? Or maybe you’re searching for step by step tutorials? If your answer is yes, you’ll love this guide.
In this guide, I am going to tell what .onion sites are, and the major points security precautions you should be taking care of when browsing Tor Network with Tor Browser and how to access onion websites.
Let’s start then?
What is .Onion site?
.onion sites are those websites on the dark web which are designed to offer anonymous hidden services over the Tor network and are only accessible with dark web browsers such as the Tor Browser. These tor websites are not like normal sites so you can’t access them with regular browsers, neither can you Google them.
You can find deep web sites only with deep web search engines, deep web link directories, Reddit, or random comments on social medai and other platforms.
.onion is a particular top level domain suffix that indicates an anonymous hidden service on the Tor Network. Onion addresses don’t have actual DNS names. Moreover, the .onion TLD doesn’t exist in Internet DNS root. But specially designed proxy software (Tor browser is most widely used) applications like web browsers can access .onion websites by requesting through Tor Network.
The primary purpose of designing such a system is to ensure that the information provider (ISP/Websites/Website owner) can’t trace the people browsing the deep web, by an ISP provider or any other third-party. Or in the least, it sure makes tracing user activities much harder if not completely impossible.
Onion addresses are 16 character alpha-semi-numeric hashes that are generated automatically based on the Public key. These 16 character hashes consist of any letter of the alphabet and decimal digits for 2 -7. So it represents an 80-bit number.
Setting up memorable .onion addresses is possible by generating vast numbers of key pairs but it’s an extensively time-consuming process. Hence, most .onion websites stick to 4-5 recognizable characters initially and then randomize it.
For Example, Facebook onion address is https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/.
I hope now you understand what onion websites are. It’s time to move to next section of the article.
How to Access Onion Sites?
Here is step by step tutorial which you need to follow to access. Onion websites on dark web/deep web.
1). Close all the active programs and applications which are using the Internet.
2). Start Your VPN (Recommended NordVPN)
When we talk about deep web/dark web, our anonymity and privacy become a major concern which you can’t put at risk in any way. VPN services help make tracing virtually. It adds an extra layer of encryption and anonymity creating an untraceable connection and environment.
I have tested many VPN services in the past, And I found NordVPN best as compared to other VPN Software in many features. Even they provide Onion over Server. That’s why NordVPN is my first choice always.
Once you start NordVPN, Click on the Countries option, now you will see three options, countries, my Favourites, and Speciality Servers.
Click on Speciality Servers, here you will find Onion Over VPN. They offer three Onion over VPN Servers. Now select server which is least loaded. Here I selected Lativa Onion #1. After clicking on server, It will take one or less minute to establish a connection. Once you see the connection is established, follow next step.
3). Visit https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en and click on the Download Tor Browser button. Once you hit download tor browser button, you will redirect to download page; here you will see many options for download. Go with your understandable language and device (Windows, Mac, and Linux).
Here I am going with the English language and Windows version. Once you hit your desired option, downloading will start.
Now click on Exe file to install this tor browser software. Installing process is same as like we install other software. In case you are non-techy, then follow instructions.
Click on Run and select your preferred language. Click Ok button. Now select the desired location and click on the Install button.It will take one minute to finish installing process. And you will get a new window. Now hit the finish button. Installing has been done.
4). Now start Tor Browser, and it will establish Tor circuit and connect you to Tor Network. Sometimes it asks for a confirmation, directly hit okay button. Now you will see a screen like this.
Advanced Setting for Tor to Create More Secure Environment
For the advanced setting, you need to click Onion Button which is the second button on the top left corner of Browser.
Here you will find following options.
- New Identity
- New Tor Circuit for This Website
- Security Settings
- Tor Network Settings
- Check for Tor Browser Update
New Identity: New identity helps you in preventing your subsequent activity from being linkable. Since when you click on New Identity, it will close all active windows and tabs in tor Browser. All dark web sites session will be lost means it will clear all cookies and browsing history. And set up a new tor circuit means it assigns a new temporary IP address. Short Cut Key is Ctrl+shift+U.
New Tor Circuit for this Website: it setups New Tor circuit for active Tab only not for the whole browser. To take this action, you don’t need to restart the browser. You can use this option when a website is not loading to reload the tab over a new circuit. Short Cut Key is Ctrl+Shift+L.
Tor Network Settings: Going through Tor Network Settings option, you can set your proxy server if you are using. And If Tor is censored in your country, and then you can add bridge info also here.
Check for Tor Browser Update: It is always recommended to use the latest version of Tor. You can use this option to check if the new version is available. You can also check this by visiting Tor official website.
6). Now all is done. You can access your desired .onion sites/tor sites. Enter onion site URL in the address bar of Tor Browser and enter. That’s it. For ex: Here I am pasting Dream market alternative URL in Tor Browser.
Result after pasting URL and pressing enter button. Now you are into the deep web. I think now you know how to get into the deep web/dark web and how to access onion sites.
Now you need a list of onion urls of hidden service on the dark web. Don’t worry; I have a grand list.
To access this deep web links list, visit https://www.thedarkweblinks.com/. Here all dark web sites are categorized for your ease. And I always keep updated this list with working .onion sites.
All hidden service is listed with dark web link and a short description so that you can understand what they are offering to their readers before browsing.
Now, I have reached at the end of the article. If you have any query or still facing any issue in accessing onion websites, then feel free to ask in comments. I will happy to help you.
How to be safe on Onion sites
Tor and the VPN will only protect you “technically”. They still can’t protect you make a human error. To avoid the same, here are a few tips you can follow.
First, get yourself an anonymous e-mail ID. Use this ID to register (if and when required) on these onion sites. Never use your Gmail/Yahoo or other clearnet email IDs.
Secondly, do not enter your real name in the username field, similarly, do not share your D.O.B, address or other personal information either.
When you’re accessing darknet forums, or messaging boards make sure you do not share real-life information about yourself such as what you like to eat, drink, visit and so on.
Most importantly, always believe that the website may be a fraud/scam. Most darkweb sites are. Hence, either do not engage in financial transactions, if and when you do, send smaller transactions first to test the waters.
Is it illegal to access onion sites?
Not at all. Onion sites are just on the Tor network. That doesn’t make them illegal. It’s illegal to buy/sell or share illegal content on onion sites, primarily on onion marketplaces.
However, onion sites by themselves are completely legal. In fact, here are some of legal .onion sites to prove our point.
As long as you aren’t doing anything illegal, accessing any site on the planet isn’t illegal (except for sites promoting illegal porn.)