What are .onion Sites, how to Browse them and what are the Best Sites to Access?

The deep web has been around pretty much as long as the internet has. First developed by an American defense research organization in conjunction with the US Navy, it was created with the purpose of sending confidential materials between US organizations. The Tor code was only released to the public back in 2004, and in 2006, the Tor Project was formed – and was welcomed with a surge in popularity due to the new-found level of online protection. While many of the reasons for using Tor – and many of the intentions of those who establish markets on the platform – is sincere, it does also provide a safe space for criminal activity. This includes weapon sales, stolen bank information, and even child pornography.

The term ‘deep web’ simply refers to the content on the internet that isn’t indexed by normal search engines – like it is on the surface web through Google. The websites can only be accessed by those with the correct software and authorization. The term ‘dark web’ – which is often confused with ‘deep web’ – refers to a minor part of the deep web where the websites remains intentionally hidden and also inaccessible through typical browsers. These websites are known as .onion sites.

It’s here in the dark web that the first modern darknet market was created: Silk Road. While it was mostly used for illegal drug sales, the Silk Road was used for discreet services by people across the world. Well, until its demise. Now governments are actively trying to find ways to sabotage this anonymity, making the deep web a more dangerous space than it used to be. In many cases, these governments wish to prevent organized crime and that’s about it. But it’s an all-or-nothing situation, with morale users paying the price. 


How to Access .onion Sites

For anyone looking to access .onion sites, you need to download the Tor browser. But first thing’s first: you’re going to want to download a reliable VPN that offers solid encryption and high-speed performance. This is an essential factor for accessing the dark web because without a VPN, your activity could be exposed to monitoring. Since the shutting down of Silk Road, the first darknet market, governments; especially in the USA; actively monitor the platform for any egregious or illegal activity. Not only that, but they’re always coming up with new ways to identify patterns of criminal behavior. If your digital footprint is found, depending on your usage, you could be looking at serious jail time. You can discover some of the most reliable VPNs for accessing Tor here.

Next, you’re going to need to download the Tor browser. It’s a modified version of Firefox, and is available for download on Mac, Windows and Linux. However, it’s important to make sure to only download the browser bundle from the website https://www.torproject.org. Any alternatives you see should be avoided – unless you’re using Android, as Tor Project doesn’t currently offer an app.   Once you’ve selected the up-to-date option for your operating system, just simply install it like you would any other piece of software.

Once the installation is complete, you’re pretty much set – just make sure to disable JavaScript in your browser. The reason for this is, it can be used by governments and hackers to breach security and gather data about your Tor browsing.


What are the Most Popular Types of Sites to Access?

Search Engines

The search engines on the dark web allow people to access all the resources unavailable on the likes of Google; a lot of information they can’t and won’t provide. They’re also a great way of retaining anonymity when researching or making searches. A downfall of them, however, is that the content is interspersed with illegal content – such as extreme forms of pornography.

Some of the most popular and regularly used engines include: Torch, Ahmia.fi, DuckDuckGo and ParaZite.



The markets are a popular place for people looking to make (mostly) illicit sales and purchases secretly. Generally, the products you purchase would land you in a lot of trouble if you’re found with them. Some of the milder services range from buying Bitcoin lottery tickets to 3D printing. As for the more extreme markets on the dark web, you’re able to purchase everything from drugs and fake passports to weapons and stolen credit card details. There are even opportunities to hire the unproven services of contract killers – and weapons-grade atomic material like Uranium Ore. I know… I don’t understand why you would need these things either.

A few of the popular dark web markets include: Dream Market, Crypto Market and Apple Palace.


Popular Sites

Facebook has been available on the dark web since 2014. Reporting more than one-million active on the .onion alternative monthly, Facebook is securing a private connection for those who can’t access it in their country due to state-wide blockages. In addition to Facebook, The Hidden Wiki is a number of wikis that are resistant to censorship. It’s highly similar to Wikipedia, except it also acts as a directory for links to other .onion sites. Upon registering an account, users can then edit the wiki pages.



While our aim is not to direct people to go and use Tor for .onion access, and we’re certainly not encouraging illegal activity, it’s important to know how the deep web works, what it can be used for and how users can navigate it safely. And don’t forget: how that safety is enhanced while browsing through a VPN.

IMPORTANT: VPNPros.com does not encourage any form of illegal activity. Therefore, the information presented above is strictly for research purposes. Do not regard any of it as a means of solicitation.