What is an Onion Site?

Onion sites are special use sites that are accessible using the Tor network

The sites launched in 2004 to make both the information giver and receiver difficult to trace.

Concepts of Onion service

1. Tor network 

Tor is the acronym for ‘The Onion Router’ a series of free interconnected network of servers. The name is inspired by the nature in which it layers your online traffic like an onion. The servers also called nodes are connected in a manner that they randomly route internet traffic in order to secure the origin of the data.

2. Deep web or Deep net

In simple terms, deep net is websites that are not accessible to Google and other search engines. The sites are protected from the index and thus are not searchable in the search engines. There is a wide range of websites that could be in the deep net. They can include; private websites, intranet among others.

3. Dark net or Dark Web

Like deep web, dark web makes websites inaccessible to search engines. However, dark web is much more than just prevention of indexing. On dark net, the websites are anonymous. Here is some explanation; websites on deep web can be traced by finding out who bought domains and other ways but websites on the dark net use Tor network which makes it impossible to trace the origin of the information.

Now you know the key concepts of onion sites; they are hosted on Tor network in deep web or dark web. 

Who uses the onion service and dark web?

Practically, the .onion domains are used by anyone who is handling sensitive information. The persons using the dark net can be as insignificant as a group of friends discussing sensitive information about their business. Whistle- blowers, journalists, government agents and even criminals use the dark web. In essence, if you have sensitive information and you want to stay untraced as you share the information, the .onion is your friend.

Authorities and dark web

Dark web has been implicated for more bad than good. Within the mainstream media, there has been a focus on the many accounts when dark web was implicated in crime. Crimes like; prostitution, assassin services, drug trafficking, human trafficking have benefited from the dark web. The reports on the crimes benefiting from the dark web are recorded and highlighted. Therefore, it would sound logical that the authorities would ban dark web. However, this is not the case. Why?

  1. Apart from the misuse, dark web has been used to expose deep secrets within criminal circles
  2. Dark web and onion services are used by the government sites so as to ensure the information is secure
  3. Historically, the onion services arose as a result of making information shared within the military anonymous. To date, the same .onion domains on the tor network are used.

Therefore, banning it for reasons of the misuse that happens will be more like shooting themselves on the leg. Because, in as much as the services are being misused, they have their upsides.

Accessing dark net .onion services

To access dark net, you need:

  • A directory that contains URLs- Tor directory
  • A browser that can access .onion websites- Tor browser.


There are several directories that are available. They differ in the sense that some are well classified while the others are not. Those that are not well classified can land you in unintended pages. The TOR directory is your best choice when wanting to access the .onion services. The Tor directory are well classified, they are classified in two categories:

a. Languages
b. Categories of what the links represent

The Tor browser offers you two advantages,

a. Ability to access the dark site
b. Anonymity

Search Engines for Dark web services

Dark-web is inaccessible to Google and other search engines. Therefore, to access the dark web services, there are two search engines in which you can type the URLs to be directed to what you are seeking; the Duck Duck Go’s .onion and Torch (the Tor Search Engine).

Is Tor a VPN replacement?

The answer to this is a no. Tor offers anonymity, however for further anonymity you can use the VPN. Tor and VPN have different functions. They also act differently to achieve anonymity. Therefore, by using both the VPN and Tor network while accessing the onion websites you add the level of anonymity for you. 

Tips to help stay safe on Dark net or Deep net?

Deep net has not much to concern you as it is relatively safe. Dark net on the other hand can be dangerous. As you are seeking to stay anonymous, chances are that there are authorities that are on the search for the origins of the websites. You need to be safe, even more because the links that you click can lead you to unintended pages that are for criminals misusing the dark nets.

Therefore, here is a list of some of the tips you must apply for your safety purposes:

  1. The first rule of using dark net; NO DOWNLOADS TO YOUR PC. It is as simple as that; while on the dark net do not download anything.
  2. Before you click any link, be safe. To be safe means using the Tor directory for the links. The unclassified links can mean trouble in the end. You don’t want that.
  3. Browse anonymous. Use the TOR network and for further anonymity use VPN. The TOR browser and the VPN can work together and non is interchangeable for the other,
  4. Turn off all scripts. Eliminate the risk of being tracked as JavaScript created scripts are traceable.

.onion websites are special sites that hide the origin of data shared online. It is a good way to share sensitive information online. Besides, it protects the owners and receivers of information. To access the .onion sites, you need the Tor browser and the tor directory. Besides, while using the onion services, you need to be safe and must stay anonymous. The working of the .onion websites is complicated; however with the information in this article, it is much better understood.

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