Tor (The onion router) is an anonymous network that allows users to access the internet without revealing their location through an accurate IP address. Instead, Tor network routes traffic through a series of nodes to provide anonymity. Tor gets its name from the foundational idea of an anonymous network having multiple nested layers, just like an onion.
Many dark web sites are hosted within the Tor network, meaning they’re not accessible or visible on the clear web. You’ll know these sites by their URL structure: a series of often random characters, following by .onion. If you attempt to open at .onion link in a regular browser, it will not work, and may draw the attention of your network provider. Instead, you’ll need to use Tor browser.
Other dark web sites are hosted outside of the Tor network, and are available through the clear web (e.g., crdclub.ws). Industry best practice is to still use Tor browser to maintain anonymity while browsing these sites. When in doubt, there’s no reason not to use Tor browser.
Downloading and installing Tor browser is a simple task - not unlike making the switch from Safari to Chrome. The download file can be accessed at www.torproject.org, and users should only download the browser from the official project site. Tor browser works across all operating systems. Simply download the install file, and run it the installation program.