dark-web-sites

How to Find Active .Onion Dark Web Sites (And Why You Might Want To)

The Tor network is a series of interconnected nodes that allows anonymous internet use. Tor stands for “The Onion Router,” while sites hosted on the service carry the “.onion” top-level domain suffix. Onion sites are inaccessible from your regular browser. They’re part of the invisible part of the internet known as the deep web. Or, more precisely, the Tor darknet.

But if you cannot access onion sites using your regular browser, how do you find onion sites? Read on to find out how to search for onion sites on the Tor network—and how to stay safe while doing so.


How Do You Access an Onion Site?

You can only access a .onion site through Tor. To access the Tor network, you need the Tor browser. The Tor browser is a modified Mozilla Firefox browser with numerous integrated scripts and add-ons to protect your privacy while browsing onion sites.

The Tor browser is preconfigured to connect to the network, and the developers strongly advise not messing around with the browser settings unless you know what you are doing.

Adding to that, the “know what you’re doing” is different from a regular browser in that altering the Tor browser settings can expose your private browsing data to external sources.

Head to the Tor Project site and download the Tor browser (one of many dark web browsers). Browse to the download location, find the Tor Browser folder and select Start Tor Browser. The browser immediately checks for updates. If there is an update, apply it.

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Other browsers focus on privacy and anonymity. Also, is Tor what you need, or would a basic VPN do the job? We recommend using Tor together with a VPN.

A Quick Warning About Onion Sites

Onion sites, and darknets in general, can host some horrifying content. A large amount of it is fictional, but there is no doubt you can end up viewing potentially damaging and compromising material if you are not careful. Most of the truly awful bits are locked away behind paywalls, proxies within proxies, and addresses you won’t find printed anywhere.

Some would criticize websites for writing about such things—and Tor for enabling them. Tor’s Abuse FAQ provides a good defense, noting that:

Criminals can already do bad things. Since they’re willing to break laws, they already have lots of options available that provide better privacy than Tor provides.

Law enforcement already knows these areas of the web exist—if not on Tor, they’d exist elsewhere. As the FAQ also notes, “Traditional police techniques can still be very effective against Tor.”

Read every description before you click any links!

How to Find Active Onion Sites

Google Search indexes the entire internet, one page at a time. Web crawlers (also known as a spider) are internet bots that systematically trawl through internet pages and index the content. Indexed content is found using a search engine.

The Tor darknet has similar indexing, though you won’t find those sites through Google. At least, not directly.

No, you need a special Tor search engine instead. Alternatively, numerous sites curate lists of onion sites, such as The Hidden Wiki, which you can check out below. There are also onion address search engines such as Ahmia, which allow you to search the Tor network for onion addresses from your regular browser.

1. The Hidden Wiki

The Hidden Wiki is a general jumping-off point for new darknet visitors. Older mirror versions of The Hidden Wiki exist but feature several outdated sites as well as broken links.

The Hidden Wiki contains links for cryptocurrency wallet services, secure messaging services, domain hosting services, darknet marketplaces, the darknet versions of popular social networks, various chans (like 4chan, but on Tor), and much more. It also has a long list of non-English language sites too.

It’s often listed as one of the best darkweb sites to visit, but you really should take the links on there with a pinch of salt. Many of the onion sites listed there are fake, scams, or otherwise.

2. Ahmia.fi

Ahmia.fi is a clearnet website you can use to search the Tor network for onion links, but it has an onion address, too. It’s one of the best dark web search tools currently available, quickly delivering links to onion addresses containing your search terms.

As with any Tor network search engine, you’re always going to have mixed results. The very nature of the network means that not every address is searchable, and dark web content isn’t indexed nice and neatly like the clearnet.

Still, you can use Ahmia to find useful onion links, then copy them into Tor browser for somewhat easier access. Ahmia filters out any content containing child abuse, but you will still find links to other adult content, so be careful. MakeUseOf is not responsible for any content you run into while searching out active onion links!

3. Torch

Torch is a well-known Tor search engine. However, it doesn’t work as a regular search engine. For instance, using Torch to search for “Facebook” doesn’t return the Facebook onion site (which you can find here). Rather, it returns a list of posts looking for advice on how to hack Facebook accounts, where to buy stolen Facebook accounts, and so on.

Comparatively, if you use Google to search for Facebook, you end up on the social media site, as you’d expect. Torch illustrates exactly why searching for onion sites doesn’t always deliver the results you expect.

4. Not Evil

If TORCH doesn’t help you find what you want, try Not Evil. Not Evil works more like a regular internet search and is the successor to TorSearch (another Tor search engine) and the Evil Wiki (another listing site).

For instance, a search for “Facebook” returns the official Facebook onion site. A search for “Proton” returns the official Proton Mail onion site, and so on.

5. Dark.Fail

Dark.Fail is one of the best ways to find active and—most importantly—legitimate onion links. The anonymous journalist behind the account has become a focal point for the dark web, ensuring that only legitimate links feature on Dark.Fail, removing sites with questionable motives, that switch to phishing or other scams, and more.

Be Safe When Browsing Tor and Onion Sites

Most darknet users will tell you the same thing: do not believe everything you hear.

A huge amount of myth and infamy surrounds the Tor darknet. For the most part, it isn’t true. And if it is true, you don’t want to know about it, see it, and especially not click any link that takes you near it.


Whatever “it” may be.


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