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What are .onion sites and how to access them?

what are .onion sites

Website addresses ending in “.onion” are not similar to normal domain names, and one cannot access them with the ordinary web browser. They direct you to the Tor hidden services found on the deep web. Still sounds like a mystery? Let’s dig a bit deeper and learn what are .onion sites, how to find & access them.

So .onion sites are a part of a deep web that is not perceptible to search engines and standard users. It is filled with websites for users fanatical about their anonymity and online privacy. Countless onion sites include very malicious things, and lots of them are likely to be rip-offs. It is usually recommended to stay away from them.

How can I find them

You can only find and access onion sites through Tor. To begin, you will need to install Tor software on your PC. The most straightforward technique to make use of it is by downloading and installing Tor’s browser bundle. It comprises a modified edition of Firefox.

The link to the Tor Directory will take you to a list of .onion websites, which you can surf and explore by category. There is also a link to chat where you can participate in anonymous discussions.

How to access .onion sites

  1. To access a particular .onion site you will need to use a Tor Browser. It’s a customized Firefox version that was made to connect to websites through the Tor network.
  2. Download Tor Browser from the Tor project’s site to carry on. It is obtainable for Mac, Linux, and Windows.
  3. On Android tablets and phones, you can download the certified Firefox browser or Orbot proxy app from Google Play. Unfortunately, there is no official browser for iOS users.
  4. After launching the Tor browser, type any .onion address into your address bar.

Never access onion sites using proxies like Tor2Web

You may have heard about accessing .onion sites via proxies that connect to Tor on your behalf. Yet, this is not a good idea if you don’t want to lose your anonymity which is the whole point of using onion address after all.

So what’s wrong with a proxy? The site you access retains its secrecy, but someone examining your connection can see which site you are connected to. The service giver can as well know what you are connected to and poke around on some passwords or other confidential information. Tor2Web works in this manner. For instance, if you try connecting to Facebook’s secret service with Tor2Web, Facebook will block the connection and inform you it is a not a good idea.

The best ones

As we’ve already explained, Deep Web is the part of the internet that is not indexed by any search engines, and onion sites can be uneasy to find. It’s a place of total freedom, so always consider that you might bump into bizarre things. You can candidly discuss politics, regardless of how left or right wing, devoid of fear of being sued by your country. Regrettably, that is jumbled up with a lot not so nice stuff too. Here’s a short list of the most accepted dark websites for you to get the feel of the deep dark part of the internet:

  • AlphaBay
  • Silk Road 3.0
  • RAMP (Russian Anonymous Marketplace)
  • TorShops
  • Dream Market
  • The Hub
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Wikileaks
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  1. Reniam Thorpe November 4, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    Despite the naysayers, onion sites are generally innocuous. One thing the past 2 years has shown, most people actually fear freedom and would prefer to be comfortably numb. Intellectual discussions on various topics from science to philosophy, which are strictly verboten here, are the norm.

    Let’s face it: the once wild, wild west internet has become a walled-in garden of groupthink. These sites offer a return to free-speech. Yes, it’s not always pretty but much preferable to the alternatives.

  2. Urijah Skinner May 20, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I don’t think it’s advisable to access .onion sites. The first reason is the way to gain access is a bit rigorous. Downloading Tor browser and all of those processes sounds stressful to me.
    Second is the existence of malicious contents

  3. Jasmin R April 18, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Oh I didn’t know about that ! I knew about Tor and the onion network but I didn’t know some websites like DuckDuckgo or Wikileaks were onion sites !

  4. Raphael-Gill March 27, 2019 at 9:08 am

    I must confess, I am getting to know about this onion-sites for the first time. It’s more like a mystery! Sites not perceptible to search engine or standard users. I can’t be adventurous though. Maybe something to explore soon

  5. Eve February 4, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Would you guys recommend using a VPN when accessing the deep web? Or the fact that I have to get there with a Tor Browser already safe enough? I’m a little curious but I don’t want to get into troubles.

  6. Erin January 22, 2019 at 2:03 am

    I didn’t know websites like WikiLeaks and Silk Road were called onion sites. Actually I had never heard the term. I still wouldn’t go to the deep web though, I’ve read some messed up things about it.

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author January 23, 2019 at 8:36 am

      Hi there – they’re not exactly .onion sites. Wikileaks has a main site you can find by searching Google, but it uses its onion site for submissions. On the other hand, Silk Road and those darknet market places have sites that can only be accessed by using onion. If you don’t need to go there, you shouldn’t 🙂

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