2021 Dark Web Guide: How to Safely Access It in Only 3 Steps
Accessing the Dark Web can be dangerous if you’re not doing it right. The safest method to enter the Dark Web is to combine a VPN and The Onion Router (Tor). Tor is a secure browser that encrypts your data and routes your connection through its server network — but it doesn’t prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from recognizing that you’re using Tor itself. A VPN hides your device’s unique Internet Protocol (IP) address so no one can see that you’re connecting to Tor, not even your ISP.
While it’s legal to use the Tor browser, it’s often associated with the Dark Web and illegal activities. If your ISP catches you connecting to the Dark Web, your browsing history will be carefully monitored for anything suspicious. Unfortunately, it can potentially lead to a termination with your ISP or even a visit from your relevant government authority to investigate you (even if you’re not breaking any laws).
Using a premium VPN secures your connection and ensures your Tor connection remains completely anonymous. Out of all the VPNs I tested, ExpressVPN is #1 due to its secure network of private servers, fast speeds, and strict no-logs policy. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN with the Dark Web for yourself. You can get a full refund anytime within 30 days if you’re not satisfied.
Note: WizCase does not condone participation in any illegal activities. Please check the rules and regulations in your country to ensure you are not in breach of any laws.
3 Easy Steps to Get on the Dark Web (Updated June 2021)
- Get a high-quality VPN. I recommend using ExpressVPN for its proven no-logs policy and RAM-based servers that don’t ever store your data.
- Download the Tor Browser. This is the best and most secure way to connect to the Dark Web.
- Connect to any VPN server and start the Tor Browser. You’ll be connected to a Tor relay and can start browsing the Dark Web anonymously and securely.
Best VPNs to Safely Use the Dark Web in 2021
1. ExpressVPN — #1 VPN for the Dark Web With RAM-Based Servers That Delete All Data With Every Reboot
- RAM-based servers never store any data — audited zero-logs policy
- Best-in-class encryption and data leak protection for security and anonymity
- Over 3,000 servers in 94 countries for fast global connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN’s powerful privacy and security features are perfect for browsing the Dark Web. Its RAM-based servers mean data is never stored and everything resets when the servers reboot. You’re further protected by an automatic kill switch, which ensures your data remains secure even if the internet connection unexpectedly drops out. ExpressVPN has even had its no-logs policy proven in real life. The Turkish government had previously seized a physical ExpressVPN server in an attempt to track down customer data — but ultimately found nothing of use in their investigation.
Its global network of 3000 servers across 94 countries is secured with AES-256, an advanced encryption standard used by militaries across the world to secure and protect classified data. This is implemented to protect your data between the VPN servers and your device, keeping your online activities hidden. I even ran a series of independent leak tests to see if my real IP address was being revealed, but only my ExpressVPN server connection was visible every time. Most impressively, my team in China found that ExpressVPN is one of the only VPN providers still able to bypass China’s firewall.
ExpressVPN’s secure and privacy-focused service makes it the best choice when accessing the Dark Web with Tor. Its unique RAM-based servers are able to offer a level of safety unmatched by the competition. Better still, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try ExpressVPN for yourself without any risk. If you find it doesn’t fit your needs, it’s risk-free to get your money back. I tested it myself as part of this review and I got a full refund within 5 business days.
ExpressVPN works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Smart TVs, Chrome, Chromebook, Firefox, Edge, Apple TV, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and routers.
June 2021 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- NoSpy servers owned and operated by CyberGhost for maximum security
- All connections encrypted with AES-256 and implements a no-logs policy
- 6,600+ servers in 90+ countries
- 30-day money-back guarantee
CyberGhost has a highly-secure server network in Romania called NoSpy servers, making it a top VPN for browsing the Dark Web. These NoSpy servers are entirely owned and operated by CyberGhost, which prevents any malicious third-parties from compromising your data security.
The NoSpy servers are also optimized for safe browsing and torrenting. The server network is equipped with premium hardware and dedicated connections to increase bandwidth. This means you can anonymously torrent and surf the Dark Web at the best possible speeds, even if your online activity is data-intensive.
Your identity and online activities are protected by CyberGhost’s strict no-logs policy. As its NoSpy servers are based in Romania, there’s no legal requirement to retain any user data — guaranteeing your Dark Web activity is completely anonymous. CyberGhost’s AES-256 military-grade encryption protocol further ensures your connections remain shielded from anyone who might try to intercept it. You can try CyberGhost risk-free with its 45-day money-back guarantee. This gives you more than 1 month to see if you’re satisfied with CyberGhost’s performance on the Dark Web.
CyberGhost works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Smart TVs, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromebook, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and routers.
June 2021 Update: CyberGhost has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.25 per month for the 3-year plan (you can save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- Most affordable VPN for visiting .onion sites securely and anonymously
- Includes military-grade encryption, so no one will know you used the Dark Web
- 24/7 live chat support for any questions
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Private Internet Access (PIA) has a great range of security features to keep you safe on the Dark Web. It has the necessities like military-grade encryption and IP leak protection to keep your data hidden when you visit .onion sites. However, PIA also has security bonuses usually reserved only for higher-priced VPNs, like an integrated malware blocker. This automatically blocks ads, trackers, and URLs known to contain harmful software. Since malicious links are one of the biggest threats on the Dark Web, I feel much more assured using VPNs with this feature.
To ensure my private data was hidden with PIA, I connected to a server in France and ran a DNS leak test. This would show me if information like my real IP address leaked while I used PIA. I was glad to see that my DNS test only detected the IP address for PIA’s encrypted VPN server, confirming I was anonymous on the Dark Web.
With its strict zero-logs policy, none of your data is ever recorded to PIA’s servers. That means it can’t be seen by anyone even if the government requests it. PIA also has an automatic kill switch feature, which instantly shuts off your internet if you lose contact with the VPN server. This ensures that you won’t be exposed as a Dark Web user even if the connection drops.
You can try PIA risk-free for 30 days with the money-back guarantee. When I tested it myself, the money returned to my account within 2 weeks.
PIA works on: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebook, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and Android TV.
June 2021 Update! For a limited time only, save 77% on PIA's 2-year plan + get an additional 2 months free! Hurry and check out the deal here!
How a VPN Helps You Safely Connect to the Dark Web
Though the Tor browser provides a certain amount of anonymity, using a premium VPN can guarantee total security and privacy. The Dark Web lacks censorship, safety, and standards that we use on the regular internet. This means websites on the Dark Web are potentially more dangerous and ready to infect your device or attempt to trace your connection. Using a VPN with Tor eliminates the possibility of your real IP being tracked and protects you from the threat.
While there are some good free VPNs on the market, I don’t recommend using any of them for the Dark Web. Even the best free VPNs come with severe limitations, such as restricted data, lots of buffering and lag, and overcrowded servers. None of these downsides are worth it, especially since using the Tor browser will already slow down your browsing speeds. I find it’s well worth investing in a quality VPN for maximum security, guaranteed anonymity, and a high-speed global server network.
Quick Guide to the Dark Web
The Dark Web is associated most often with illegal activities, like purchasing controlled substances, firearms, and stolen personal data to commit fraud. But the Dark Web isn’t just used by criminals — it’s a way to communicate information securely, make purchases, and use the internet anonymously.
- Journalists, whistleblowers, and activists communicate using the Dark Web to share information without being identified or persecuted by government bodies.
- Legal goods can be purchased using cryptocurrency for anonymous online shopping (just make sure to use a P.O. Box and not your real address!).
- Restricted goods, like medications that are legal in some countries but not in others, are available for purchase worldwide.
- It’s possible to surf the web and visit sites, forums, and chat rooms without anyone knowing where you’re located. By making your location anonymous, you can get around geographic internet restrictions and use the web freely. This is useful if you’re in a country with strict internet regulations (like China, Iran, or Russia) and want to access blocked websites.
The Dark Web is often confused with the Deep Web, a far larger part of the internet consisting of information that isn’t available to the public or indexed by search engines.
Top Tips to Stay Safe on the Dark Web
Even with a VPN and the Tor Browser providing encryption and anonymity, there are still more ways you can protect yourself on the Dark Web.
- Use Tor over VPN. Boot up your VPN of choice (here are all the best VPNs in 2021) before using the Tor browser to ensure your IP address is hidden from your ISP. If you accidentally open Tor first and then your VPN (VPN over Tor), you’ve already connected to the Onion network and revealed your activity to your ISP and your IP address to Tor.
- Switch the security settings on the Tor Browser to the highest level. This protects you from malicious sites and online attacks.
- Don’t use your normal device to access the Dark Web. If possible, use a separate computer that has no personal data stored on it.
- Don’t enter any personal details or use non-encrypted email addresses. Don’t post your real name or photo. Use Bitcoin or another anonymous cryptocurrency to make purchases. Use a P.O. Box for any mail, not your real address.
- Consider using the Tails operating system. This is an OS you use with your computer that leaves no trace of your activity (or itself!) on your device. It’s an easy way to access the Tor network anonymously — and you can use Tails with a router-compatible VPN like ExpressVPN to protect your personal data, too!
- Be cautious and careful. This might seem obvious, but using common sense and not clicking on suspicious links or engaging in illegal behavior will keep you safe on the Dark Web.
Don’t Compromise Your Safety & Use a VPN to Access the Dark Web
You don’t have to risk your private data on the Dark Web when you’re connected to a quality VPN and Tor at the same time. The safest VPN choice, ExpressVPN, even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This makes it completely risk-free to test out ExpressVPN with Tor and the Dark Web for yourself. If you’re not satisfied, you can request a full refund (no questions asked). You don’t have to expose your private data on the Dark Web.