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Ultimate Guide to Enhancing TOR Browser Security and Speed

People use The Onion Router (TOR) browser when they want the ultimate privacy. However, it doesn’t mean that you can just use it on its own.

Well, technically you can, but why stop there when you have other ways to boost its privacy capabilities? If you are going to use a TOR browser for your most private transactions, you must make the most of it. You can better secure it by following some of the steps provided by this article.

However, when you talk about maximizing your TOR browser, you may be talking about any of three things.

One, you may be thinking of maximizing its security features, which make sense. After all, you are using it for the privacy it affords you.

Two, you may be thinking of speeding it up a bit. Because of all its security features, the browser runs a little slower than a typical web browser.

Three, you may be thinking of literally changing the size of your TOR browser.

First, let’s take a look at how you can maximize your TOR browser’s security.

Steps You Can Do to Amplify TOR Security

Step One: Choose a reputable VPN

You will find several VPNs out there. Not all of them can be trusted, even though they are all supposedly to provide you with the same service – keep your online activity anonymous.

One warning sign would be if the VPN is free. Free usually means a good thing, but if it means it will endanger your privacy online – stay away. It’s usually the paid ones with a lot of stellar reviews that can provide you the security you need.

Not only that, you must make sure you pick a VPN that is hosted in a country that does not limit your full access to privacy. Some countries have specific rules that will have your activity monitored, anyway.

Step Two: Enable that VPN

Of course, you can’t just download the VPN. You must also enable it. You will need to get it going so that you’ll leave as few digital fingerprints as possible, if any.

When you do this, you will connect to a country outside your current location. This way, you are making any one tracking you believe that you are elsewhere.

Step Three: Launch your TOR browser

Open the TOR browser itself so that you can use it. However, it’s not yet time to search for anything of browse any site. You must go to your settings first.

Step Four: Adjust your Privacy and Security by going into TOR Settings

To make the TOR browser work for you best, you should go to its Privacy and Security settings first. Yes, you can maximize its effects by going there.

You can check the box on the option to delete cookies and site data as soon as you close to browser. Basically, it’s to stop the browser from collecting data or keeping tabs on you.

Then, go down to the History section and reinforce this by ensuring the settings is set to “Never remember history.”

Then go down to Permissions and choose “Block new requests asking to access your camera,” to control how you want your camera to be used. You can do the same thing for your microphone. Security here is all about being able to control how your devices work for you. If you feel like an experienced hacker can still get around that, you can even put a security cover or a tape over your camera.

These days, you can never be too sure.

However, that’s not even yet. There are other settings that you can change. Down to security, you can choose “Safest.” Choosing this will automatically change some of TOR’s setup.

Then, you may have heard that you should always check the URL to make sure it’s set at HTTPs. You can set your TOR browser to HTTPS-Only mode. This way, you will only connect to encrypted sites.

Step Five: Cover your tracks

The whole process of maximizing your TOR browser is all about covering your tracks. It doesn’t mean that you are trying to hide anything, but it is always safer to keep your data free from the prying eyes of a third party.

You can use a TOR bridge to not only cover your location, but also cover the fact that you are using the browser at all.

How to Maximize TOR browser’s speed

Because the TOR browser is built for security, so many processes happen before data gets from one point to another. The transactions are not as straightforward as in a regular browser.

So, the browser can be a little slow. However, it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it. You can make some adjustments that will make it run faster.

One: Update the TOR browser

New versions are supposed to improve on the previous ones. So, if you’re provided with a software update, take it. These updates are meant to improve the security and function of your app. The same goes for the TOR browser.

The good news is that this particular project continues to be in development. To update your browser, you must first uninstall your current version. Then, download and install the new version you get from the TOR project website.

The even better news is that if you have one of the newer TOR versions, it will check for updates and install them for you automatically.

See? Progress is good.

Two: Use a Bridge relay

Another reason your TOR connection is very slow is because your internet service provider (ISP) or even your government is blocking it.

TOR, after all, has quite a reputation for hiding some dark deeds. Reputation does not always translate to real life, but try explaining that to whoever has been blocking your connection in the first place.

So, you can use a Bridge relay, which the TOR project has also thought of. By connecting to it, you get to hide TOR traffic.

How do you go about doing that?

Open the TOR browser and go to its settings. Select TOR. There, you’ll find the option, Use a Bridge. Go for a built-in bridge and choose one provided by the drop-down menu.

Then, you may be able to request the TOR project for a bridge. You will be ask to solve a CAPTCHA. A new bridge address will pop up in the blank space.

If this doesn’t work out, you can use your GMal or Riseup email address to contact [email protected]. Leave the subject line empty and type in “get transport obfs4’” in the body.

Three: Make a new TOR circuit

To speed things up, you may need to create a TOR circuit. A circuit is a series of relays that you will use to get to a website. The tricky part of this is that these relays will be selected at random. However, the selection will depend on geographic proximity.

So, your relays can consist of the Bridge, and then two geographic locations. That can be three relays in all. Of course, you can also modify and moderate the creation of relays by clicking on the padlock button in your browser. You will be asked to click the New Circuit for this Site button.

With the padlock button chosen, your relays do not have to take your digital journey through half the world.

Four: Check out the new identity feature

When you choose the New Identity feature, the browser will close open tabs and windows. Upon closing, it will clear private browsing data such as your history and cookies.

So, each connection will rely on a completely new TOR circult. Getting a new circuit will clear your cache, keeping your data private, and will also increase browser speeds.

You can make this happen by clicking on the magic broom button and choosing “yes” after the confirmation window pops up. Any downloads and ongoing processes will be cancelled. So, make sure you don’t have any ongoing important process.

Five: Optimize its settings

Optimizing the TOR browser settings is always part of maximizing its features and speed.

Click on the hamburger menu. Go down to Settings. Instead of checking out Privacy, check Performance this time.

Make sure that you have chosen “Use recommended performance settings.” After all, the TOR project knows what you should be using. In fact, newer versions will have this enabled by default.

If you see the option unmarked, you know that you should be updating your browser to the latest one. As mentioned earlier, updating means that you can get rid of older bugs in the system.

Six: Optimize the system

No only should you optimize your browser, but you should also optimize your system. Sometimes, the speed issues are not dependent on the browser. Although, of course, we cannot discount the fact that TOR and VPNs will slow down browsing.

However, you can always check what else is in your system that can be adjusted. For example, some people actually have multiple antiviruses running. Sometimes, one antivirus is installed into the system by default and the user installs another antivirus of his choice.

Now, some will tell you to disable these antiviruses and the firewalls, but please don’t do it. You may uninstall your extra antivirus, but don’t get rid of protection just for speed.

So, instead of making adjustments on the TOR browser, adjust your settings on the antivirus or firewall software. You should make exceptions for TOR-related files.

If you’re using Windows, make exceptions for:

  • Tor.exe
  • Firefox.exe
  • Snowflake-client.exe
  • Obfs4proxy.exe (if you are using bridges)

If you’re using the MacOS, make exceptions for:

  • Tor.real
  • TorBrowser
  • Snowflake-client
  • obfs4proxy (if you are using bridges)

Do not edit torrc as some articles would more likely advise. Go for things that the TOR project itself will advise you to do, and that’s what we are also following.

Seven: Remind yourself why you’re even using this particular browser

You are using TOR because you want to keep your data secure and private. The browser is not meant to provide you with your usual, data entertainment. So, if you’re just going to use it to watch YouTube videos or stream movies, think again. You are also not supposed to use it for torrenting, although, unfortunately, many users access TOR simply for that.

TOR is meant to be used on website versions that have been optimized for mobile use.

Yes, you are free to use it for streaming movies and any similar activities, but that will slow the flow of data. So, think about why you’re even using the TOR browser and stick to that intent.

It is also not a way to access illegal sites or perform illegal activity. Instead, it is supposed to discourage other people or entities from stealing your data and using it for illegal means.

Why it is Not Wise to Maximize Your TOR Browser

When you search the word “maximize” together with “TOR browser,” another concern that will pop up is whether to maximize the browser or not.

You’ll notice that the TOR browser is not maximized or in a smaller screen when you open it. It has been designed to be a particular size. Once you change that size, there is a possibility that a third party can detect some information about you.

Just by seeing your resolution, a cybercriminal or even simply a third-party website can track you.

Why Use TOR Browser for Crypto Trading

You can trade your crypto coins using a regular browser with the help of a VPN and your top security settings. However, TOR’s onion routing takes it up several notches.

TOR itself is encrypted and is designed to route your data through multiple computers all over the world. Journalists who may be facing censorship and underground activitist sometimes use the browser to interact and communicate. Of course, illegal entities also use it but you are obviously discouraged from using the browser for that.

Instead, it is best to use the browser to protect sensitive but legal transactions, such as crypto trading. There may be other ways to protect your crypto assets, such as mixing, but you can never be too safe. You may have to sacrifice speed a little bit but, again, as long as you remember why you even have the browser in the first place, you should be fine. You will likely not waste your bandwidth on watching movies or random YouTube videos.

Conclusion

The TOR browser is a powerful tool that can be abused by illegal entities. However, when used right, it can provide you with the safest way to conduct some of your most sensitive transactions.

The Internet has proven itself dangerous at times, exposing your data to prying eyes. Phishing and other criminal activities are transforming and becoming more unpredictable. Therefore, it is best that you equip yourself with the best security and privacy tools out there.

Maximizing the TOR browser’s security and speed will allow you to conduct your transactions with ease, while hiding your personal data from unwanted, prying eyes. However, you should never maximize the browser screen itself to avoid being left vulnerable when you reveal your device’s resolution to third parties.

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