How to get on the dark web is the thing many internet users would like to do, yet they are either scared or have no idea how to access this dark part of the internet where everything is for sale.
You may be surprised it isn't all as dark as many make out, and in some ways, it can help you stay anonymous if your privacy is important.
While there are many things for sale, you won't find them anywhere else, and there is a host of potential risks. If you take the right precautions, you can learn how to get on the dark web for a look around to see what all the fuss is about.
By the end, you'll learn how to get to the deep web, which sites you can expect to pay a visit to, and how you can remain safe as you do take a walk on the dark side.
Many internet users are tempted to learn how to access the dark web; however, they may be unsure or scared to try it.
The dark web may not be as dark as many people believe; however, the attraction is on the increase. Any person who tries to take a tour should try to remain as anonymous as possible when they are there.
You can find items for sale you won't find anywhere else, and there are plenty of dangers. Luckily, in our guide, you can learn how to access the dark web using the best free VPN for Tor browser that allows you to access this anonymous place.
In This Article
By the end, you'll understand more about how to access the deep web and how our top picks of free VPN apps can keep you safe while browsing these onion sites.
What is the Dark Web?
The dark web is an area of the internet which search engines such as Google can't index and is hidden by intention. You may have heard the term “dark web” and that it is all about illegal activity.
Almost 60% of this internet traffic is involved with illegal activities in many forms, yet there are many sites or services that are familiar, such as Facebook or the hidden Wiki. You can find the dark web and the deep web spoken of as the same, yet they are different. (Learn How To Watch Hulu In New Zealand)
Some things that are on the dark and deep web that Google can't index are:
- Data from personal email accounts
- Personal information from social media accounts
- Personal data from Online banking accounts
- Scientific and academic database contents
- Medical records and legal documents
How to Access the Dark Web
With activity on the dark web increasing, you'd imagine it was easy to navigate. In reality, this is far from the truth, and it can be challenging. The place is uncontrolled, and thus it can be a chaotic mess.
The Tor browser can help you remain anonymous when online, and it is the main browser that can be used to access the dark web.
Using Tor, your web page requests will be routed across a network of proxy servers run by volunteers worldwide, which makes it hard to trace and identify your IP address.
Tor appears to do magical things as you use it to access the dark web, yet through the design of the network and excessive routing, you will find the experience unreliable, often erratic, and slow.
Best Free VPNs for Dark Web
- 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Hidden Tor network service
- Strict no-logs policy
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Reliably unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and many more
- Apps/ Compatibility for Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, Routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN is the best solution for anyone visiting the dark web. While it isn't free, you can use the 30-day money-back guarantee ($8.32 per month thereafter), which means you test the security and performance while browsing the dark web before you commit.
ExpressVPN is an excellent option for accessing the dark web since they have a Tor network secret service to provide further privacy and anonymity. (Read our ExpressVPN Review)
Besides this, you can even remain anonymous when torrenting, and full P2P sharing can be found on all servers to transfer files across the dark web, deep web, or the regular surface web. To be sure, none of the internet traffic you make will be used; ExpressVPN holds a strict no-logs policy for any activity.
Download speeds are among the best for regular use and when traversing the dark web. You'll find no restrictions on data limitations or bandwidth caps.
ExpressVPN delivers industry-leading security thanks to AES 256-bit encryption to scramble your personal data. It is among the best VPNs to stop data from being intercepted by third parties.
Using the automatic kill switch, your connection will remain secure, even if you lose your virtual private network link. ExpressVPN is the best VPN for many activities besides browsing the dark web, as you can find when you use it.
2. Hotspot Shield
- One high-speed US server
- AES 256-bit encryption
- 500MB daily data cap and up to 2Mbps speed
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu
- Apps/ Compatibility for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Hotspot Shield is quick and can match paid VPN services sometimes while being a 2Mbps free VPN. You can access one USA-based server on the free version, and though not optimized for Tor use, you can use it to access the dark web, yet with a slowdown in speed.
Hotspot Shield's free server supports P2P file sharing. However, you will be limited to 500MB of data transfer per day. While it isn't sufficient for transferring large files, it's suitable to browse the dark web for free.
Unlike other virtual private network providers, you will find a strict no-logs policy since Hotspot Shield finances its free plan via its premium packages.
The company doesn't sell user data to untrustworthy third parties, although you will find in-app ads from Hotspot Shield as you use the app. For enhanced anonymity on the dark web, your data is encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption, yet there is no kill switch. Help is only available via the support center on the free plan. You can also only use the VPN on one device per free account.
- 500MB of data per month
- Servers in 26 countries
- AES-256-bit encryption
- Works with: HBO, some Netflix
- Apps/ Compatibility Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
TunnelBear offers one of the most extensive server selections of any free VPN, and you can connect to high-speed servers in 26 countries. The server number is handy to get the best efficiency for browsing the dark web. (Read our Tunnelbear Review)
Speeds on the free plan aren't the fastest and slow more on the Tor network. You get a handy in-app speed test in TunnelBear to see the effects of congestion on far-off locations or when you use the Tor network.
TunnelBear free is designed for limited use and to test before you upgrade. For this reason, you get 500 MB monthly data, although if you want to experience the dark web, this can suffice.
Luckily, the security features make up for the lack of speed as even on the free plan, it includes AES 256-bit encryption. Your activities remain private with a no-logs policy, and the helpful Vigilant Mode protects you from dark web malware.
- No data restrictions
- Server locations in three countries
- No-logs policy
- Torrenting not available with the free plan
- Streaming is blocked on the free plan
- Apps/ Compatibility with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and some routers
ProtonVPN is one of few free VPNs not putting data caps on users. It does, however, have other restrictions. Torrenting isn't allowed on the free plan, and you only have access to three servers such as those in the US, Netherlands, and Japan.
The second issue will be the speeds, as they limit these to a medium speed when connected.
ProtonVPN is integrated into the Tor network, although you can't make the most of dark web-optimized Tor Over VPN features.
ProtonVPN is a trustworthy free VPN based in Switzerland and offers AES-256 encryption, DNS leak protection, and a strict no-logs policy for anonymous browsing.
When you sign up, all you need is an email, and if you don't wish to hand over your main email address, you can use the secure ProtonMail service.
- 256-bit AES encryption
- 2GB monthly data allowance
- IP leak protection
- No streaming support for the free version
- Apps/ Compatibility for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, Linux, and some routers
hide.me is among the safest free VPNs you can use on the dark web. You get added security with 256-bit AES encryption and IP leak protection to cover any server cut-drops.
The VPN service promises 99.9% uptime for the most uninterrupted connections. You can have 1 connection per device, and there is a limit of 10 GB per month, yet speeds are not affected.
With hide.me, you get connections to five servers, yet P2P support on these can't be guaranteed. If you use the dark web regularly, hide.me offers enough data for browsing, yet you could see your allocation be devoured if you make any downloads.
Your privacy is protected with hide .me as it has a zero-log policy, and they don't bombard you with any ads.
You can also remain safe from an automatic kill switch in case you lose your VPN when on the dark web. The number of devices is limited to one on the service for free users, but you can create an account on each device to increase your data limit.
Is Dark Web Safe?
You may think the dark web is dangerous because it is portrayed by law enforcement and governments. You can purchase illegal items or find places that take part in illegal activities; however, if you steer away from these, then you can face the same threats as you would on the surface web.
Silk Road was the most famous dark web website, but search engines do not index the sites. There are scammers, frauds, and other online threats, and it is for this reason using a free Tor VPN is vital.
What is the Use of Dark Web?
What you do on the dark web largely depends on your personal needs. It is possible to read the news or head to Facebook.
However, other uses, such as if you lived in a country with strict censorship like China or Iran. Using Tor to access blocked pages or the dark web .onion versions can ensure online security.
Many people use Tor and the dark web for privacy instead of what they can access, such as whistleblowers, journalists, and anti-government protestors.
While the dark web allows regular internet users to circumvent government surveillance and data collection, it can allow these individuals to be abused.
What are .onion sites?
Dark web sites appear the same as other websites, although the naming scheme is very different. Dark web sites use the .onion suffix and not the .com or others we can relate to, and because of this, regular browsers can't read them.
A scrambled naming scheme is used most often and makes the URL almost impossible to understand or remember. A good example is http://bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion/, and while it has BBC in the URL, some sites omit this and can be a jumble of numbers and letters.
Do free VPN providers keep log files?
You can find a difference between the types of free VPN. You get the reduced feature set free offerings or the totally free ones. Using these, you can find they retain logs and more besides.
It is very convenient for free VPNs to harvest user data and steal your information. With this, they can either use it for their target ads or sell it to third parties.
ree VPNs may sound like an appealing option, yet when you need a VPN, you need something that can keep you safe online regardless of where you carry out your activities.
To check out the dark web or keep it safe, it is much better to use a premium VPN service such as ExpressVPN and use the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Even free VPNs can't compete with a money-back guarantee, as you have no restrictions and you keep full access to full speed, all the services, and free users can carry out any activity on any server they wish.
By the end of the month, you'll find the premium services keep you private through security that outweighs even the best free VPN for dark web and best free VPN for Tor with top speeds from all locations.