Have you ever wondered how to make Tor faster? You are not alone out there. There are ways to speed up Tor, and we will discuss it in this guide. But first, let’s get through some Tor basics.
Tor which is better known as the Tor Project is a software that allows users to surf the internet anonymously. The word Tor is an acronym for ‘The Onion Router’ which borrows from Onion Routing, a technique of online communication.
Basically, onion routing is the method of anonymous communication over an onion network. In an onion network, there are numerous layers of encryption which would resemble the layers of an onion bulb. Data is transmitted over onion routers and these layers are peeled by a series of network nodes. Each time an onion router peels off a layer, it uncovers the data’s next destination. It is this process that allows the sender to remain anonymous. This is because each and every intermediary only gets to know the ideal location of the preceding nodes.
Another aspect of this method is that data is directed through an overlay network, which is a computer network built over another computer network. In this overlay network, there are thousands of relays (more than 7,000) all of which play a part in preventing the network analysis from unearthing the user’s location. It is, therefore, also difficult for an online service to trace or monitor a user’s internet activity while they are sending instant messages, sharing online posts, or visiting websites.
Why is Tor so slow?
One of the core reasons why Tor is slow is that it is not designed for peer to peer sharing. That’s kind of what the uTorrent and Bit Torrent are developed to do. It is directly impacted by those users who spend too much time on their network downloading directories without putting in their fair share of the contribution.
Furthermore, the Tor network is small. Just like the same reason most users are always trying to bypass security and censorship, the users are trying to download or upload heavy files that they would otherwise not, on a usual day! If they wish to also access restricted sites via Tor, then the volume of data flowing through the onion routers is way more than what it is expected to handle anyway.
The functionality of the onion routers is such that, the data is bounced off people’s computers. These people are merely volunteers in the real sense because no one in their right mind would want anonymous data anywhere near their computer. But because of what Tor stands for, most people willingly participate in this online project. Add the network latency and some bottlenecks which directly affect internet data speed, and you have a real problem on your hands.
So why is Tor so slow? It is not slow. It is just that it is congested with so many users attempting bulk transfer rather than simple web browsing.
Speed up Tor
It is as obvious that people who use Tor, are not simply just looking for anonymity. Otherwise they would invest and employ the services of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which delivers the same results plus it is also very secure. The fact that it is free-to-use, most people will try to maximize their time on the software and it is no wonder they end up overwhelming it thereby making Tor browser slow.
So, the main question is still out there – how to make Tor faster?
To speed up Tor, it is first and foremost, essential to identify the weaknesses or flaws that reduce its effectiveness. As more developers engage in fixing and upgrading Tor, the most obvious reasons that have been hindering its optimum efficiency have solutions which are slowly being integrated to improve it.
For instance, people with a low bandwidth on their modems and phones operate the Tor browser slow because, as part of the relay cycle, their devices are slow to peel off the encryption layer from the network nodes. Unfortunately, there are many users whose bandwidth is low. This eventually increases the length of time that the data bounces off their computer.
A simple suggestion, which might sound complex, is to have a balance between the relays by creating proportionality based on their bandwidth contribution. The reasoning is such that, if every single byte of data is going to be used, then the capacity of the data should be weighted proportionally. So far, it is something that the software’s algorithm has failed to do, and it has been highlighted as a possible start in rectifying some of the software’s glitches.
It is still a project in the works because coming up with an algorithm is proving to be an obstacle. It is still not very clear how much bandwidth is necessary for one relay.
It is no doubt that Tor is slow because of onion routing, but like other free software, there are numerous independent developers trying to improve it. They are aware of how to make Tor faster and more dependable to give the perfect user experience to everybody while maintaining the anonymity factor that it is so well known for.
In most forums, the talk is on how to balance between its functionality as well as blocking the resistance that the software is subjected to by major players in the online industry, all while sourcing for funds to further develop it. The surge in the number of users has placed an immense burden on the software, seeing as there is a widespread trend of censorship which is constantly trying to undermine the software’s usability in most of the prominent sites. This is something that deprives the key developers, vital data which is used to rectify any glitches in the software because most websites try to de-anonymize the visitors on their site for safety reasons.
Among the call-to-action is for people to volunteer especially if you have a special skill set that can be used in the software’s development. Alternatively, a small donation can help meet the cost of research or you can as well find a sponsor, e.g. a government agency that might require the services of Tor. With such a large following and people eager to help, it does seem that Tor will bounce back from this minor setback.
Nadin has been tinkering with computers and gadgets for as long as she can remember. She has extensive knowledge about various topics, including IoT, Linux, digital security, and more. Nowadays, she works as an IT network professional and writes helpful guides in her free time.