5 Good Reasons to Give Tor a Try
The anonymous Internet is not as scary as you think.
What is being "anonymous" online? It doesn't mean that you don't have an identity online. For the everyday computer user, it simply means a few things:
- That you can go online to any website and you won't be blocked because of your IP address.
- That you can visit any website without your Internet Service Provider or any other entity (even the Website itself) knowing that it came from the computer you're using.
- You may be able to visit Websites that your company, browser, Internet filter or your government prevents you from visiting. (That is, you can get around censorship blocks).
An anonymous Internet experience would mean no one would know that YOU were behind the computer...because they wouldn't have any way of linking your activity (whatever it is) to your computer though its IP address—whether you're researching how to make a scrapbook or how to prevent your kids from underage drinking. It would stay private.
That's what Tor—the anonymous Internet—offers you. (Read our overview article on Tor here.)
Here are five things you should know about Tor that may encourage you to give it a closer look:
1. Tor is very easy to set up.
Tor is simply a special browser that gives you a unique Internet connection. To set up your connection, you simply go to the official Tor website and download the Tor Browser Bundle.
It's that simple. It's simple, fast, and it doesn't do anything harmful to your computer.
It's safe. And no one but you will know you downloaded it.
2. Tor is used by regular folks every day.
There is NOTHING inherently dangerous or evil about Tor. It is simply a different delivery method for your Internet traffic. Tor all but virtually guarantees that you can have an anonymous Internet experience if you use it correctly. Your Internet Service Provider cannot and does not offer that anonymity. You can use the Internet exactly the way you use it today...millions of people already do.
Tor is not scary and does not open the door to danger and crime. Like anything else in life, if you search hard enough (and desire to seek it out), you can find dark corners in every aspect of everyday living.
3. Tor is NOT illegal.
Tor has a reputation in many circles that is not positive, and there is a reason for it: Many people have used Tor for criminal activities because they felt protected, safe and very bold with the freedom (anonymity) that Tor provided.
That's not necessarily Tor's fault; however, Tor does little to curtail that kind of activity. With access to a totally free and anonymous Internet, it didn't take long for a criminal and unsavory element of society to take advantage of Tor. The news is full of websites that can only be accessed through Tor...and for good reasons.
To use an analogy, consider any city in the world where gambling is legal (such as Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States). Oftentimes, it's common find either illegal, suspicious or sneaky behavior also lurking nearby. Visit Las Vegas and you'll see for yourself. Consider the common expression, "it comes with the territory." For that reason, Las Vegas is known as "Sin City."
However, Las Vegas is a vibrant city with hundreds of thousands of law-abiding residents who don't gamble, enjoy the sunshine, the golf courses, the restaurants and an occasional show at a hotel-casino.
Tor has the same problem. It's often identified as "the Dark Web," even though it offers a safe and protected Internet experience for the everyday computer user.
4. Tor can offer you a voice.
Many people are passionate about a cause—animal rights, religious rights, global warming, for example—but they are hesitant to make their opinions known online. Their fear? Being tracked by some government agency or perhaps having their IP addressed leaked (and then attacked) by hackers.
Tor provides a forum for many opinions and a way to join (or oppose) like-minded folks without being labeled, identified or targeted.
5. Tor is absolutely FREE.
There is no cost to set up a Tor browser. Also, it's not as if there is a free version that's basic and an advanced Tor that costs more. There is just one Tor browser and it's free to everyone.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN)—which offers anonymity and masks your IP address—costs about $4-$10 per month. There are free VPNs, but it's better to avoid them. However, a VPN does provide a more secure online experience than Tor, and could be faster.
To sum it up, Tor gives you the total freedom to read the content on the Internet you know—and the Internet you don't know—anonymously.
If that appeals to you, consider giving Tor a closer look.