Table of Contents
- What are Onion Sites?
- Should I Use a VPN to Access Tor?
- The Best Onion Sites
The Dark Web may have a sordid reputation, but there are plenty of legitimate websites out there for people who just want to browse anonymously. Whether you’re a journalist, a member of a human rights organisation, or simply curious about the hidden corners of the Internet, the Dark Web offers a wealth of resources. In this guide, we’ve compiled an up-to-date list of the best onion sites in 2023, so you can get a taste of what’s out there.
What are Onion Sites?
The Dark Web is a collection of websites that are not indexed by regular search engines like Google or Bing. These websites, known as onion sites, cannot be accessed using normal browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. Instead, visitors must use the Tor browser, a special browser developed by the Tor Project, to access sites on the Tor Network.
Onion sites have unique domain names that are derived from a cryptographic key, rather than being registered with a central authority. This adds an extra layer of anonymity and security to the websites hosted on the Dark Web.
The Tor Project coined the term Onion Routing (TOR stands for The Onion Router) to describe the process by which users gain online privacy and anonymity using the network. Tor works by directing Internet traffic through a global network of volunteer nodes, concealing the user’s location and the websites they visit from online surveillance.
It’s worth noting that the Tor browser can also be used to access regular HTTPS websites on the surface web. This provides additional privacy by isolating each website you visit, preventing third-party trackers and ad networks from following your online activities.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that Tor is not suitable for all purposes. The anonymity provided by onion routeing can significantly slow down your Internet speed. If you need to perform activities that require fast speeds, such as streaming in HD, playing games, torrenting, or making video calls, it’s recommended to use a VPN instead.
Should I Use a VPN to Access Tor?
While the Tor network is designed to provide privacy and anonymity, there is evidence to suggest that some nodes on the network have been compromised by intelligence agencies. To add an extra layer of privacy, it’s advisable to use a trustworthy VPN while accessing the Dark Web.
Here’s how you can access Tor safely with a VPN:
- Subscribe to a VPN for Tor. NordVPN is recommended due to its no logs policy, secure servers in 59 countries, and Tor over VPN servers optimised for browsing the dark web.
- Download the VPN software onto your device and install it.
- Choose a server from the list and click connect. It’s generally recommended to use a nearby server for faster speeds, but any server should work.
- Open the Tor browser and use the Dark Web with the added privacy of your VPN.
Using a VPN alongside Tor provides an extra layer of protection and helps ensure your online activities remain private and secure.
The Best Onion Sites
In this section, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular and useful resources on the Dark Web. However, it’s important to exercise caution when browsing the Dark Web, as sites often contain adware, spyware, malicious links, and scams. Always use a reliable antivirus and a robust VPN to enhance your security.
Here are the best onion sites:
1. The Hidden Wiki
The Hidden Wiki is a valuable resource for finding useful websites on the Dark Web. It serves as a centralised directory of notable websites available on the Tor Network, making it easy to discover anonymous chat rooms, Dark Web social networks, and blogs on various interesting subjects.
It’s crucial to proceed with caution when using the Hidden Wiki, as the links on the site are community-edited and can lead to malicious or illicit content. It’s recommended to double-check and verify any onion links you find using a secondary source like Onion Links or DarkWebPug.
Please note that there are various versions of the Hidden Wiki circulating on the Dark Web. The original version, linked below, is considered the most reliable.
SecureDrop is an onion site designed as a safe haven for whistle-blowers to share information with journalists anonymously and without fear of being tracked. It provides a secure platform for individuals with information to pass it on to important news outlets, ensuring their anonymity and protection.
Leading publications have also adopted their own SecureDrop URLs, allowing whistle-blowers to directly submit information to these trusted news sources.
Here are some notable publications with their own SecureDrop:
3. Tor News
Tor News is a news resource about Tor hosted by its developers at the Tor Project. It provides valuable information about updates to the Tor ecosystem, important news about privacy and Internet freedom, and ongoing threats to online security.
DarkNetLive is an onion news site that offers up-to-date information related to the dark web and its use. It covers topics such as dark website closures, arrests, drug seizures, and other news relevant to the dark web community.
5. Archive Today
Archive Today is an archive stored on the Dark Web, similar to the surface web’s Wayback Machine. It captures snapshots of websites on the surface Internet, allowing users to see how a website looked at an earlier date. This is particularly useful for checking historical information and preserving freedom of information.
6. BBC News (and other leading news sites)
While many major news sites have abandoned their presence on the Dark Web, BBC News still maintains an onion site. This ensures that users can access impartial information, regardless of their location.
Other news outlets available on the Dark Web include:
Facebook, despite its privacy concerns, remains a vital platform for communication and expression. During times of political upheaval, Facebook and Facebook Messenger have played crucial roles in disseminating information and coordinating protests. Facebook’s Dark Web mirror allows users to continue using the platform even when it is blocked by restrictive governments.
ProtonMail is a highly recommended private email provider that allows users to send and receive encrypted emails securely. Accessing ProtonMail via the Dark Web adds an extra layer of anonymity and ensures the availability of the service in countries with severe censorship.
9. Dark Web Search Engines
Finding information on the Dark Web can be challenging, but there are search engines similar to those on the surface web that can help. Here are some of the most useful search engines for finding.onion sites:
It’s important to exercise caution when using these search engines and to stick to topics and categories that are risk-free.
Reddit is now available on the Dark Web, allowing users to access the platform via Tor without relying on third-party tools. However, it’s important to be aware that anonymity on Reddit can lead to uncensored behaviour, including trolling, misinformation, and unsavoury comments. Proceed with caution when using Reddit on the Dark Web.
11. Just Another Library
Just Another Library is a Dark Website that hosts over a million books categorised into various genres. From fantasy novels to self-help books, you can find a wide range of literature on this platform. However, it’s important to note that much of the content on this site is likely in breach of copyright, so we neither condone nor encourage its use.
DuckDuckGo is a private search engine that allows users to search the regular Internet via Tor, providing additional privacy and anonymity. It allows you to visit regular HTTPS websites with the added privacy of the Tor network.
The Dark Web offers a wide range of resources for those seeking anonymity and privacy. Whether you’re a journalist, a whistle-blower, or simply curious about hidden corners of the Internet, the onion sites listed above provide valuable information and services. However, it’s important to exercise caution and use reliable antivirus software and a robust VPN to ensure your online security.