Want to protect your privacy without relying on Tor? While Tor Browser is a powerful solution for browsing the web safely, there are plenty of other great alternatives out there. Some of these are arguably better at protecting your privacy than Tor is, depending on your goals and use cases.
In this guide we’ll walk you through several excellent alternatives for Tor Browser. But to understand what problems an Tor Browser alternative should solve, we should first go over the downsides of using Tor.
Tor Browser: Good, But Not the Best.
The Tor Browser gives users extra privacy by routing its traffic through the onion network, which uses various layers of encryption and rerouting to protect your data when you’re browsing online. This can prevent your ISPs from seeing what sites you’re accessing, make it near-impossible for your data to be intercepted while in transit, and is a good way to keep you anonymous.
Back in the early 2000s when the protocol was young, this was the cutting edge of web security. But a lot has happened since. Here are some of the changes that make Tor less relevant in the modern era.
- Governments and advertisers have developed more advanced methods to track user behavior. Including ways to identify individual users based on their digital “fingerprints”.
- Most of the web traffic is now encrypted. Any website using the HTTPS protocol has encryption. When you access those sites, ISPs can only see the domains you’re visiting, not your activity within those domains.
- VPNs have become cheap, fast, and widely available.
- Most modern platforms require accounts to access. If you log in to your email or social media accounts through Tor, you’re sacrificing a ton of anonymity.
But perhaps the biggest change is that Tor has gained a reputation as a tool for hackers and criminals.
Thanks to that, many institutions have banned the use of the browser. And to make matters worse, while your ISP can’t see what you do using Tor, anyone monitoring your web traffic can see that you’re using the Tor Network. The IPs of the network’s access point are public knowledge.
That’s a problem, of course. The best tool for privacy will always be anonymity. It’s easier to keep things hidden when no one is looking closely at you. In that sense, using Tor is like screaming “I have something to hide, don’t look at me!” into the digital void. That’s a good way to get yourself on a watch list.
Thanks to those factors, Tor Browser is no longer the ubiquitous privacy tool it once was. In most cases, using it is not worth the resulting loss of internet speed and the attention it draws. But the good news is that a lot of good alternatives have popped up in the years since.
The Best Tor Browser Alternatives
Modern web users are spoiled for choice when it comes to keeping their data private. The list below includes not only other privacy-focused browsers, but various secure P2P networks that operate largely isolated from the clear web, and even a version of Linux that leverages the Tor network for maximum privacy.
Epic Privacy Browser
Epic Privacy Browser was built with privacy at its core. This Chromium-based browser not only blocks ads but also trackers, fingerprinting, and more. On top of that, all cookies and browsing history are deleted when the user closes the Epic Browser. Meaning that what other browsers call “private browsing mode” is the default for the Epic Browser.
Combine all that with the browser’s built-in free VPN, and Epic users can get a fair bit of additional security by using this browser.
The Apex Browser is a fully-fledged privacy solution with an unique approach to the fingerprinting problem. On top of protecting your data from being collected for fingerprinting purposes, the Apex Browsers lets you choose a virtual identity to present to websites.
Users can choose between ready-to-use online identities, each with its own fingerprints, cookies, and browsing history. You can even assign different tabs to different identities to make multi-accounting easier across various platforms.
Many websites rely on cookies and fingerprint data to function and offer recommendations. Since Apex provides dummy info rather than just blocking fingerprints, you get to enjoy a personalized experience without sacrificing your privacy.
Apex Browser also offers a variety of other privacy features, including the option to change your IP using proxies.
The Invisible Internet Project (I2P)
I2P takes privacy to a new level by creating an entirely encrypted network layer. It’s designed for secure peer-to-peer communication, working as its own internet separate from the regular web.
The I2P shares many of the advantages of using Tor. The difference is that while Tor is made to interface with the regular internet, I2P is optimized for use within the network. And as long as you’re only connecting to other I2P users and services, this network is safer and faster than Tor.
I2P is also less known and harder to detect by ISPs. As a result, using the I2P network is less likely to raise any red flags.
Tailored for extreme privacy, Tails operates with the principle of leaving no digital traces behind. This is not a browser, but a full Linux-based Operating System designed to run from an external drive, DVD, or USB stick.
Tails comes bundled with a suite of privacy-focused tools and connects exclusively through the onion network for added anonymity. It also does not write any data on the hard disk of the device you’re using.
Thanks to all that, Tails is a strong option for privacy-minded users who also require portability. You can also use a Tails virtual machine to safely access the onion network from public computers.
LibreWolf is a Firefox-based browser that places a strong emphasis on user privacy. By default, it doesn’t collect telemetry data and limits other types of data collection. It also supports most Firefox extensions, giving you access to a variety of privacy options.
While LibreWolf is not a fully self-contained privacy solution, when used in conjunction with a reliable VPN, this is a solid option for most users. Especially users who are looking to de-Google their online experience.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Using a trusted VPN service can also be a good way to protect your privacy online without relying on the Tor network. While a VPN won’t completely protect you from fingerprinting, it does encrypt your data and hides your IP address, making it harder for third parties to track your activities.
Brave is a Chromium-based browser that offers a variety of privacy features straight out of the box. It automatically blocks ads and trackers, minimizing your digital footprint. The browser also offers protection against fingerprinting, and it offers native support for browsing through the Tor network.
If decentralization is what you’re looking for, ZeroNet is a good option. It leverages blockchain technology to create a web-like network that operates without central servers. This makes it robust against single points of failure and surveillance.
Similar to I2P, ZeroNet is optimized for use within the network, operating as its own internet of sorts. And while ZeroNet traffic is not anonymous by default, using a VPN can fix that.