What is Tor?

Tor (originally called The Onion Router because it layers your traffic like an onion) is a free network of servers, or ‘nodes’, that randomly route internet traffic between each other in order to obfuscate the origin of the data. The Tor Browser can significantly increase a user’s privacy and anonymity online. In internal documents, the NSA even refers to Tor as “the king of high-secure, low latency internet anonymity.”

photo of a red onion cut in half

Tor is short for “The Onion Router”.

Tor is often viewed negatively by the press and law enforcement agencies, but it has many positive benefits. Journalists and their sources rely on it to communicate securely and anonymously, without fear of government interference. Secure communication is essential in whistleblowing cases, like the Edward Snowden revelations. Similarly, Tor is important for law enforcement as it allows for covert operations and investigations online. Tor currently has about two million daily users worldwide, most of them originating from the United States, Germany, and Russia.

You can use Tor to hide your IP address, browse the dark web, and run a server anonymously.

Tor does not replace your VPN, as it only anonymizes your browsing and a few other select services (which need to be specifically configured).

Connecting to Tor through VPN connection is a great way to maintain your internet privacy and security. Not only will it hide your browsing data from your VPN company, it will also hide your home IP address from the Tor entry node.


Learn More About Tor

the scales of justice

The unlikely history of Tor

The Onion Router started in the last place you’d expect. How did Tor become the popular internet anonymity tool it is today? Read up on Tor’s history.

how tor works

How Tor really works

Tor for beginners! A clear and simple explanation of how Tor reroutes your traffic through a network of nodes to protect your privacy. Find out how Tor works.

how to use tor

How to use Tor to protect your privacy

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about using Tor, including setting up a proxy, sharing files, and more. Learn how to use Tor now.


Quick start to Tor

Getting started with Tor is as easy as 1-2-3. Follow this quick start guide and get set up now.

read more on tor

Read more about Tor

Want to learn even more about Tor? Read ExpressVPN’s collection of articles here.

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24 thoughts on “A beginner’s guide to Tor

  1. In my workplace the IP`s are set to Static. (Internet up-down link by INMARSAT – Vsat)
    We have Wireless connections but these have become so slow.
    Before I had little problems connecting up to internet on PC via ExpressVPN somewhat more difficult to connect with iPhone & Android. Lately this have reversed.
    Is there any special recommended settings to use in ExpressVPN (And later Tor Browser {If / When I get it Downloaded and Installed})

    1. Hi Bjornar,
      Sorry to hear your speeds decreased. Are you able to measure whether the overall speeds of the networks changed, or is it just the VPN? Generally it’s important to always keep your VPN app up to date.

    1. Hi! If you cannot connect, you may try to create a new circuit. In the menu, simply click on the Onion symbol and select ‘New Identity’, then try again!

  2. Start your VPN first, then start browsing with your Tor Browser. If you’re really paranoid, don’t do it from your home but do it from a public wifi hotspot.

      1. Hi, i read the article but how can i set up vpn express to the option You-Tor-Vpn?
        Vpn express is able to do it?
        Thanks a lot

        1. Routing your traffic through Tor first, and exiting through the VPN offers no advantages in terms of privacy or security. We do not support this method, instead, we recommend to route traffic through the VPN first, and exist through the Tor network. See this blog post for a more detailed explanation.

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