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Tor Browser review

Protect your privacy or browse the deep web

Tor Browser
(Image: © The Tor Project Inc)

Our Verdict

The whistleblower’s friend is also an effective way to avoid the ubiquitous trackers that infest so many websites.


  • Effective anti-surveillance tool
  • Can unblock censored websites
  • Simple to use


  • Slow browsing
  • May attract unwanted attention

Tor Browser hides your activity and location online by routing all your browsing through multiple anonymous servers, thereby concealing where you are and making it hard (but not impossible) to identify who’s doing what online. That means it’s a good way to access sites that repressive authorities don’t want people to see, for whistleblowers to report corruption and illegal activity without getting fired or worse, and to access the deep web. 

The deep web is an internet within the internet, not indexed by search engines, and sites ending with the .onion suffix and can only be accessed via Tor. As you’d expect, some of those sites are secret for perfectly good reasons - they’re sharing information that someone, somewhere doesn’t want shared - but others are secret because they’re fantastically illegal. Browse at your peril and remember that Tor Browser makes it hard to find you, but doesn’t offer 100% unbreakable anonymity. In fact, just using Tor may flag you as a person worth watching, and it's banned on many public networks.

There are plenty of legitimate uses though, and not just if you’re a political activist. Tor can give you internet access when your internet provider's DNS servers are kaput, and it can keep your browsing free from the advertising trackers that infest so many sites. 

User experience

Tor Browser looks like Firefox and works like Firefox – because it is Firefox. It’s not as fast, though: onion routing makes all of your traffic move around much more than in a regular browser, which slows things down considerably.

It’s important to realise that Tor can’t protect you from risky behaviours, so for example if you run plugins in the browser they may affect Tor’s ability to protect your privacy. It’s crucial that you don’t submit information to sites that don’t display a blue or green button in the browser address bar to indicate a secure https connection, for example.

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Carrie Marshall


Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Carrie Marshall (Twitter, Google+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," she says. "And there's a lot of crap."