Everyone knows what the internet is and millions of people around the world use it daily. However, there is another side to it and this is called the Dark Web / Darknet. It may also be called the deep web. It is estimated that this “hidden” internet contains around 500 times more content than what is on the “normal” internet. If you are curious about seeing what is out there you might be wondering how to access the Dark Web / Darknet and we have the answers.
What Is The Dark Web?
The Dark Web contains content that is not indexed on the Google search engine. However, a lot of the content and information really is not useful to the majority of people and some of it Google has banned.
IP addresses of the network hosting the websites with the content are encrypted and this means anyone visiting it remains anonymous.
However, as search engines do not index the sites on the Dark Web, you need special browsers that provide anonymity to reach it. One of the most popular browsers to access the Darknet is the TOR browser aka The Onion Router. This browser has a Firefox look and feels as it is based on that browser.
The content accessible on the Darknet includes:
- Hacked Netflix accounts;
- Hacked software;
- Purchase a lifetime premium account for Netflix;
- Buy drugs;
- Get your hands on counterfeit money;
- And more.
However, not all content is illegal, you can:
- Join a Facebook-type site known as BlackBook;
- Become a member of a chess club;
- Find a book that is rare that you want to purchase;
- View whistle-blower sites;
- Visit official .onion sites of Facebook, DuckDuckGo and ExpressVPN;
- And more.
The risks of accessing the Darknet
Venturing onto the Darknet is not without risks. Many of the sites have been set up by scammers and hackers. This is something to consider very carefully. It is one thing to wonder how to access the Dark Web but another to actually do it.
Scammers use the Darknet to setup commerce sites. They then suddenly cash in and disappear with escrow money they were said to be holding.
Hackers can upload files filled with malware and spy tools that infect your device when downloaded and steal personal information.
Your ISP, government and other authorities will not know what you are doing on the Darknet. However, they will know you are using the TOR web browser and this might raise some suspicions about your activities. There is a way to get around this and that is to use a VPN aka Virtual Private Network.
Benefits of using a VPN to access the Dark Web
One of the biggest benefits of using a VPN to access the Dark Web / Darknet is the anonymity it provides. When connected to a Virtual Private Network you mask your own IP and take one on from a server offered by the provider.
This means that not even your own ISP can tell what you do online. The VPN is used alongside the TOR web browser and it provides even more security. A Virtual Private Network not only masks your IP address it also puts a virtual tunnel between the device you use and the internet.
Any information sent down the tunnel is encrypted, which means hackers or anyone else who discovers it cannot read it.
There are some free VPNs out there. However, using a Free VPN would not be a very good idea. Here are three disadvantages to using free Virtual Private Networks.
- They don’t offer the huge range of servers offered with paid providers
- Server connections are often slow as there are many people connecting to them
- Some providers collect your personal information and sell it on to the highest bidder.
- They can leak your personal information because of DNS Leaks or WebRTC leaks.
How to access the Dark Web / Darknet?
Using the TOR browser is one of the best ways to get onto the Dark Web/Darknet. As mentioned above you can remain anonymous and secure by combining the browser with a VPN connection.
So if you are wondering how to access the Dark Web just follow the steps below.
1. Choose a reliable VPN provider
Which VPN should you use alongside the TOR browser?
Any that is reliable and we have chosen some of the best providers at the bottom of this guide. So choose one and a plan that suits your needs and sign up. We chose ExpressVPN and you can save 49% if you choose to pay upfront for a yearly plan with the provider. Even better is the fact that when paying for a year upfront the provider gives you three months free.
2. Download apps to your device
Download the VPN app to your device, install it, launch it and sign in using the credentials you made when signing up with the provider. A dashboard will open up where you can choose a server and connect. Again, in our example, we have chosen ExpressVPN.
3. Connect to your chosen server
Choose a server from the list of the app and click on the connect button. Congratulations, you are now behind the protection of a VPN.
4. Download Tor and install it
Make sure you have a connection to the VPN server, then go ahead and download the Tor browser from the website and install it.
5. Launch Tor browser
Find the icon for the browser you just installed and click on it. You now have the answer to how to access the Dark Web and you ready to go browsing.
Our choice of the best VPNs
Now you have found out how to gain access to the Darknet and have found out that it is safer using a VPN, we are going to recommend some providers.
ExpressVPN is our first choice of provider and for many good reasons.
The provider evens offers a .onion version of their website “expressobutiolem.onion”, for users of Tor browser.
ExpressVPN provides those who use Tor with strong anonymity. Users can access content anywhere in the world along with being able to communicate securely. Of course, you do not have to use the Tor browser to benefit from security and anonymity as a VPN can be used to browse the “normal” internet too.
One benefit of using ExpressVPNs onion service is not having to rely on the exit nodes of Tor. The exit node is the worst thing about Tor as the user’s traffic can be seen. However, with the VPN, the exit node is stopped from tracking. Another benefit is the fact of faster load time for Tor users.
ExpressVPN offers numerous safety measures including military-grade encryption. When connected to a server a virtual tunnel protects personal information while the alternative IP address masks your identity.
The provider offers access to many thousands of servers based in numerous locations around the world. Of course, as expected from a premium provider the servers are lightning-fast and reliable.
ExpressVPN provides not only the answer to how to access the Dark Web safely but also any website along with overcoming geo-restrictions and censorship.
- Very good security
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
- Kill Switch function
- No-log policy
- Easy-to-use application
- Can unblock any website
- Pricing table
NordVPN is well worth a look at as the provider promises to keep users secure online no matter what.
The provider offers numerous features and innovative technology to keep you and your information away from hackers and malware. Of course, this is essential when thinking about accessing the DarkNet.
NordVPN offers military-grade encryption to keep your personal details safe. The provider also includes CyberSec. This feature blocks ads, malware and malicious websites. It is built into the apps so there is nothing extra to download.
NordVPN also includes double VPN. This feature allows users to protect to not one but two servers for double the security and protection.
Thanks to many thousands of servers located globally, users can use their plan to overcome geo-restrictions and censorship. The plans include an Automatic Kill Switch; DNS leak protection and Onion over VPN.
How to access the Dark Web/DarkNet? Well, there is no easier way than with NordVPN. Thanks to Onion over VPN and NordVPN with a single click, users go through Onion network. Of course, there is also the option of connecting to a server then open the Tor browser.
- Many reductions
- 5800+ servers
- Double VPN
- Based in Panama
- Interface of the app
- Speed can be disappointing sometimes
- No PayPal option for the payment
CyberGhost offers the tools needed for your IP address to literally become a ghost as it masks it and replaces it with an alternative one.
The provider offers hundreds of servers, which provide Tor users with security and anonymity. Plans come packed with features, including the highest encryption available, ad blocking, malicious content blocking, blocking online tracking and more.
Plans offer unlimited traffic, DNS leak protection, Automatic Kill Switch, unlimited bandwidth and traffic and more.
- Good value for money
- Number of servers and countries covered
- 7 simultaneous connections
- Many great options
- Servers optimized for P2P and streaming
- Time to connect to a server
- Ad-blocker not very efficient
Surfshark offers cheap plans and while not a premium provider like ExpressVPN, they do offer a lot for the money.
One feature that attracts users is unlimited device connection. This means with one single plan users can protect all their devices, along with other members of the family.
With Surfshark, you also get malware, phishing and tracker protection, DNS leak protection, connection to double servers and much more.
As you might expect the provider offers a range of worldwide fast servers and superb encryption for keeping your personal data safe.
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Safe and secure
- Can be used to unblock Netflix
- Number of servers
- Support can take some time to answer
If you want to make your own IP address vanish take out a plan with IPVanish. The provider offers fast servers and private connections for your online freedom.
With plans from IPVanish, you can surf the internet without a trace by taking on an IP address from one of the thousands of worldwide servers offered.
IPVanish manages all aspects of the service internally. This ensures full protection of your information.
The provider offers plans that include unlimited bandwidth, various protocols, unlimited server switching, 256-bit AES encryption and more.
- Pretty good speed
- Strong encryption
- Torrenting allowed
- High cost
- Company based in the US
So, you now have the answer to how to access the Dark Web/DarkNet and we have provided you with a safe option for doing so. Simply choose one of the providers we recommend, choose a plan, download apps to devices and connect to a server then open the Tor browser.
By the way, you might want to check out our best VPN ranking positions here and gain access to a wide variety of information about VPNs and the advantages of them.
Alison has joined the team in the early stage because she wanted to share with us the experience she had while using VPNs over the last few years. As she’s travelled a lot, she tested many VPNs and wanted to share this with you. Alison cares about staying anonymous and not leaving any footprints on the internet. Therefore, you won’t have the chance to see her face ;).