What’s the Dark Web & How to Access It in 3 Easy Steps – 2024
The Dark Web is an encrypted network of websites you can only access using a special secure browser. It isn’t regulated and it can’t be censored (like Tor).
There are many different sites on the Dark Web — like blogs run by privacy-conscious individuals, press and whistleblower tip-off pages, forums for freedom fighters and protestors, and marketplaces selling (legal and illegal) products. The Dark Web isn’t illegal — but it can be very dangerous to use if you don’t protect yourself.
The best way to stay safe is by using a VPN and Tor to hide your IP, internet activity, and your real location. That way, other Dark Web users can’t trace you.
How to Safely Access the Dark Web
The safest way you can browse the Dark Web is to connect to a VPN and use Tor.
Tor is a secure free browser that anonymizes all of your online activity — it is the only way to access Dark Web sites. These sites don’t have normal URLs and you can’t use a regular browser to view them. Tor makes you anonymous on the Dark Web. It does this by routing your internet traffic through several different relays so other users can’t see your location.
Nobody can see that you’re accessing the Dark Web when you use Tor — but your ISP can see that you’re using Tor. Often, that’s enough for your ISP to investigate and it might flag your activity as suspicious. But a VPN can prevent this.
A VPN app encrypts your traffic — so your ISP can’t see that you’re The Dark Web (or Tor). It also masks your IP address, which means that dangerous Dark Web users can’t trace your activity to your house.
I use ExpressVPN because all of its servers run on RAM instead of hard-drives — when the server is rebooted, it’s wiped clean so there’s no way for your activity to be stored.
Step-By-Step Guide to Accessing the Dark Web
1. Get a trustworthy VPN that doesn’t keep any logs. I recommend ExpressVPN for its RAM-based servers that are wiped clean with every reboot.
2. Download Tor — but don’t connect yet. You need to set your VPN up first so that you’re 100% secure before you visit the Dark Web. Then, connect your VPN to a server in your country. This will give you the best balance of speed and security.
3. Open Tor and click “Connect”. This will link you to a Tor relay network. Now, you’re ready to browse the Dark Web safely!
Best VPNs to Protect You On The Dark Web in February 2024
- Fast speeds for browsing the Dark Web without lag
- 3,000 servers so you can always find a local one to get the best speeds
- RAM-based servers so your data is completely deleted
- 8 simultaneous connections to protect every device you use at once
- 30-day money-back guarantee to test it risk free
- Compatible with Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, routers, and more
You don’t need to worry about your Dark Web activity being traced back to you with ExpressVPN’s RAM-based servers and its strict no-logs policy. All the data on these servers is permanently deleted when they’re rebooted — which is especially important when you’re using the Dark Web.
It doesn’t stop with high-tech servers — ExpressVPN encrypts your traffic with 256-bit encryption. This level of encryption is unbreakable. There is also an automatic kill switch that quickly cuts your connection if the VPN server drops out so that your location and activity aren’t exposed.
Normally, using a VPN combined with Tor will slow your connection down (because your traffic has to go through two sets of servers first) but I didn’t have any issues. My connection was fast enough to browse the Dark Web without long loading times. I’m disappointed that ExpressVPN takes 50 seconds to connect (when most VPNs take 20-30). But once it was up and running, my connection was steady.
I always recommend trying a VPN before you commit to a subscription, and I like that ExpressVPN gives you a money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free for 30 days. I requested my money back after I ran my tests and it was super-easy — it only took me 2 minutes over live chat to get a refund. In addition to the money-back guarantee, you can save up to 49% by taking advantage of ExpressVPN’s latest discount.
- Fast enough to load Dark Web sites quickly
- 11,683 servers with Best Location feature that automatically connects you to the fastest one
- Straightforward apps that connect quickly to get you on the Dark Web sooner
- Protect up to 7 devices at once
- Use its 45-day money-back guarantee to try it risk-free
- Compatible with Windows, Android, macOS, iOS and more
CyberGhost’s simple apps will have you set up and connected to the Dark Web fast (it only took me 3 minutes to download and install). Once you log in, you can use the Best Location feature to automatically connect to the fastest server. This saved me a lot of time because I didn’t have to test multiple servers to find one fast enough to use with Tor.
CyberGhost is secure — you’re protected by its no-logs policy and strong 256-bit encryption. It has something extra that’s pretty unique — I used the Smart Rules to set CyberGhost to start up and connect automatically whenever I opened Tor. If you’re as forgetful as me, these Smart Rules make sure you never accidentally access the Dark Web without protection.
Its money-back guarantee is an easy way that you can test it risk-free for 45 days. If it’s not the VPN for you, it’s easy to get a refund. The live chat agent processed my request right away, and the money was refunded to me within 5 business days. There’s also a sale on right now: you can save up to 84% on your new plan — but it changes regularly, so be sure to double-check it’s still active when you sign up.
Extra Precautions You Should Take to Maintain Your Anonymity
Although Tor is encrypted and your VPN hides your location, you should take extra security precautions to remain totally anonymous on the Dark Web:
- Never use your real name or photos.
- Never use an email address or even a password that you have used before.
- Use an anonymous encrypted email account and aliases that you have never used before and that cannot be traced to you.
- Use an anonymous Bitcoin wallet to make purchases.
- Never have Dark Web stores mail packages to your real address — use a PO box.
- Don’t install browser plugins, as they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address.
- Consider using the TAILS operating system (which is booted as a live DVD or live USB), as this leaves no digital footprint on the host machine.