The internet is a vast ocean of information that you only know, or use, a very small fraction of. In fact, only 4 – 10% of the entire internet is being used by most people, and the rest of it is part of what we call the deep web. If you want to know more about how to access the deep web, then this guide is for you.
Defining the deep web
Before you try accessing the deep web, you have to know what it is and what you can find there. Contrary to popular belief, the deep web is not the place where drugs, pornography, and other crimes take place. It’s one of the most misunderstood terms that people tend to exaggerate when it really is very simple: the deep web is a part of the internet that is not indexed.
This means that it’s not discoverable by most search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, because they don’t crawl through that part. It’s called the deep web because it’s not part of the surface web, the part of the internet that you can easily go to. But that doesn’t mean that it’s illegal.
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Deep web vs. dark web
It’s important to know the difference between the deep web and the dark web so you don’t confuse them with each other.
As mentioned before, the deep web is the unindexed part of the internet. It contains information that is not meant for the public, such as medical records, legal documents, bank information, and government database. Anything that’s password-protected is part of the deep web. It may be confidential or not, but it’s just not indexed because search engines don’t consider them necessary.
Also, to clear up this myth, the deep web is not just accessible through Tor. Most of the information there is also legal even if you use Tor, Freenet, or I2P.
On the other hand, the dark web is exactly what it sounds like – the dark part of the world wide web. It’s where the shady things on the internet are found: drug dealers, live stream torture, selling weapons, disturbing pornography, rape, murder, you name it.
The dark web is only accessible through Tor using onion networking, as we have explained in our guide using Tor. It’s not regulated by the government as it’s impossible to trace, so it’s the perfect haven for illegal activities. The dark web also uses a .onion extension because it’s not accessible using a regular search engine.
To sum it all up, the deep web consists of everything that’s unindexed by search engines. The dark web is also part of the deep web, except that it’s more difficult to access and it’s illegal.
Things found on the deep web
You can find virtually anything on the deep web. If you access deep web, you can find forums for people who have suffered abuse and want to keep their identity anonymous, political blogs that talk about governments, and whistleblowing sites that expose influential and powerful people. These are socially sensitive websites that the general public cannot access easily.
The people who use the deep web don’t want their identities to be exposed, so the deep web helps them conceal their identities and prevents them from being tracked. However, everything in the deep web isn’t necessarily confidential or top-secret; it’s just unavailable to search engines. There are documents, photos, videos, and information found in there that you can legally access.
How to access the deep web
The first and most important step before attempting to access deep web is to install a VPN. This will provide optimum protection when you’re browsing the internet by encrypting your data, hiding your IP address, and spoofing your location.
Install a VPN
We recommend using NordVPN, because aside from its robust security features, it has Onion over NordVPN feature that lets you use Tor with VPN. To know more about NordVPN, read our review here. You can also go to the NordVPN website directly.
Install Tor browser
After installing a VPN, you have to install Tor on your computer. We created a step-by-step guide on how to do it for Windows, Linux, and Mac, so you can follow that guide. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps in installing Tor:
- Download the Tor browser using this link.
- Choose the location where you want to install Tor.
- Complete the setup wizard.
Configure Tor’s security settings
After downloading and setting up Tor, you need to configure its security settings. This will ensure maximum protection on top of your VPN service. To do this, follow these steps:
Open the Tor browser. Do not maximize the window since this will enable websites to track you. Keep it in its default size.
Click the Tor button on the upper left side of the toolbar. It’s the onion icon and encircled red in the photo below.
In the drop-down menu, click New Identity or New Tor Circuit for this Site. Doing this will assign a new IP address for you temporarily.
With this kind of security plus the Onion over NordVPN, you’re guaranteed to have a safe experience in accessing the deep web.
Safety precautions before accessing deep web
Now that your VPN and Tor are set up, there are a few more safety precautions you should do before you go to the deep web. Make sure to do the following:
- Unplug all external devices such as webcam, printer, and smartphone.
- Cover your laptop camera.
- Close all running applications prior to accessing deep web.
- Double check to see if NordVPN is running, and Onion over Tor is enabled.
- Don’t use your real identity when communicating or registering over the deep web.
- Make sure your anti-malware software is actively running.
Just be sure to do all of these things and you’re ready to dive into the deep web.
Deep web sites to visit
The best place to look for deep web URLs is Hidden Wiki. It has a list of URLs for different categories like financial marketplace, drug dealers, commercial services, hosting, blogs, forums, email, hacking, jailbait, and erotic websites. There is also a link for deep web articles that you might want to visit.
You can also use a deep web search engine. It specifically indexes hidden websites so it’s automatically ‘filtered’ to look for sites or pages that are in the deep web. An example of a deep web search engine is not Evil. The link for this search engine is: http://hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion/
Looking for subreddits of onion URLs in Reddit might be a bit tricky because Reddit has banned them.
How to Access the Deep Web on Android
If you’re an Android phone user and would like to surf the deep web through your smartphone, follow these steps:
First, install NordVPN for Android. Your phone needs to be protected too, so sign in using your existing NordVPN account and use the Onion over Tor feature.
Next, go to the Play Store and download the Orbot: Proxy with Tor app. Launch the app after it has finished downloading.
Tap the Start button to enable the Tor proxy. You can now use your regular browser to go to the deep web.
How to Access the Deep Web on iPhone
If you’re using iPhone, you can also access the deep web using your trusty iOS phone. Simply follow the steps below:
As with any device, online security is essential so download NordVPN for iPhone. Same process as with your computer and Android phone, sign in with your existing NordVPN account and enable Onion over Tor feature.
Download the VPN + TOR browser in the App Store and launch it once it’s finished downloading. You can now browse deep web links using that browser.
Deep Web: Legal or not?
Accessing the deep web is not illegal. The information is there for you to access and use, but if you use it for illegal activities, then that’s another story. The dark web is what’s illegal, and if you don’t want to go to jail for trying to buy drugs, smuggle weapons, or watch disturbing porn, then you better stay out of that part of the deep web.
The deep web is just a part of the internet that is not deemed useful by most search engine sites and therefore, the websites in there don’t appear in search results. As long as you don’t take part in illegal activities, you can browse the deep web without legal concerns.
Onion over NordVPN
The Onion over NordVPN solution works by routing your data through the encrypted VPN server first, then go through several hops with Tor. Once the data reaches its final destination from Tor’s exit node, it will be impossible to trace it back to you. You don’t have to download the Tor browser because using the Onion over NordVPN servers will let you access it directly.