Review: Tor Browser Bundle lets you browse in anonymity

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Tor Browser Bundle

    PCWorld Rating

    Though it's not as fast as regular browsers, the Tor Browser Bundle offers an excellent way to browse anonymously.

If you want to beef up and anonymize your Internet browsing experience as well, Tor Browser Bundle (free) is the way to go. The Tor network provides a way to browse anonymously.

Tor's Vidalia Control Panel handles all connections automatically, launching Firefox as soon as you can browse.

The Tor Browser Bundle is a portable, self-extracting package which contains a special version of Firefox, along with an application for connecting to Tor. You extract the bundle, and double-click "Start Tor Browser." A connection window comes up and steps through an initialization sequence. You don't have to do anything; just wait a moment while the progress bar fills up. As soon as a secure connection with Tor is established, Firefox loads and you can start browsing.

When you connect to Tor, all of your Internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a complex network of anonymous nodes until it reaches its final destination. It's not 100% secure, but then again, no security solution is. Tor has been around since 2002, and has been field-tested in rough situations in Egypt and other oppressive regimes that restrict Internet access. It works.

Since Tor routes your data through so many layers and random endpoints, it's not exactly blazing fast. Then again, most of us don't require Tor as a necessary part of our daily browsing routines. For occasional use, it's an elegant solution that simplifies a complex security system down to a double-click.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. This file is donationware; it is free to use, but the developer welcomes donations toward future development.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Though it's not as fast as regular browsers, the Tor Browser Bundle offers an excellent way to browse anonymously.

    Pros

    • Lets you browse the Web anonymously
    • Free and open-source

    Cons

    • Not very fast
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