Outstanding hosting from just $2.95/mo Free site transfers on most plansVisit Siteground > X

Tor And The Deep Web: How To Surf The Secret Internet [Infographic]

Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more

The Deep Web, The Dark Web & Tor: The Definitive Guide

The internet has, in its storied history, been compared to many things: a river; a superhighway; and, perhaps most famously, a series of tubes. But as it turns out, the most apt comparison of all just might be an iceberg.

Like the mighty floes that break off from glaciers, only 10% of the network we call "the internet" is visible to the general public. Hidden below the virtual waterline lies a tangled and secretive network known as the Deep Web. Unindexed by search engines, and accessible only with special browsers such as The Onion Router (Tor), the Deep Web is made up of peer-to-peer connections, which allow users to share files directly (and secretly).

The Deep Web has a strong appeal to privacy advocates, who have taken advantage of the lack of tracking to shield their anonymity from advertisers and officials alike. Whistleblower Edward Snowden used the Deep Web to collect much of the information that carried him into a worldwide controversy, and journalists around the world are coming to rely on it as a more secure alternative to the public web when searching for sensitive or dangerous information.

But the secretive nature of the network has also made it a haven for criminals of various stripes, trafficking in everything from illegal drugs to stolen credit cards to child pornography. The Silk Road, an online marketplace driven by internet currency bitcoin, dominated headlines in 2013 when authorities succeeding in shutting it down. The site had a reputation as the internet's go-to destination for illicit drug sales (including thousands of listings for heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines), and its demise spawned both a crowd-sourced documentary from actor Alex Winter and a bevy of successors eager to capitalize on the fall of their better-known sibling.

Companies such as AT&T, eager to review, track, and control activity within its fuzzy borders, are working tirelessly to bring light to the corners of the Deep Web. Government officials and law enforcement agencies, concerned about piracy, illegal trafficking, and leaks, are in the strange position of attempting to police the same wild and wooly netherworld they rely on for their own clandestine operations. But scandals, secrets, and skulkers will always find their way to the shadowiest parts of the Web, and while the future of the Deep Web may be as murky as its labyrinthine tangles, it's sure to remain a part of internet lore for years to come.

Deep Web and Tor Illustrated Guide

Thank you to our friends at DynamoSpanish.com for the Spanish translation.

Transcript: Everything You Wanted to Know About Tor & The Deep Web

You may think that the internet is a huge resource of information, but in fact what most of us see is just one link in a very long chain of underground websites and unseen content.

What is the Deep Web?

Put simply, it is the part of the internet that is hidden from view.

  • Surface Web
    • 4% of WWW content
    • Also known as the 'Visible Web', it is content that can be found using search engines such as Google or Yahoo. It is under constant surveillance by the government.
  • Deep Web
    • 96% of WWW content
    • Also known as the 'Invisible Web', it is the content that cannot be indexed by search engines. And it is hard to keep track of.

The Deep Web is estimated to be at least 500x the size of the Surface Web.

How do you access it?

When using the Surface Web, you access data directly from the source.

This direct approach tracks the information downloaded, from where and when it was accessed, and your exact location.

Information on the Deep Web cannot be accessed directly. This is because data is not held on any single page, but rather in databases, which makes it difficult for search engines to index.

Files are shared through any number of computers connected to the internet that hold the information you need. This is known as peer-to-peer networking.

In order to access the Deep Web, you need to use a dedicated browser. TOR (The Onion Router) is the most commonly used, but other options such as I2P and Freenet offer an alternative solution.

This method of sharing encrypted data makes it difficult for your location, and the kind of information you access, to be tracked or monitored.

Yes. You use it as you would any other internet browser. Many people are now beginning to use TOR as a way to maintain their privacy whilst online.

  • Who else uses it:
    • Military
    • Police and crime units
    • Journalists
    • Whistleblowers
      • Edward Snowden
      • Julian Assange

Due to the anonymity that TOR offers, the Deep Web has also become a popular nesting ground for criminal activity. This includes things such as:

  • Drugs
  • Weapons trading
  • Child pornography
  • Hit men for hire*

*Though there are groups on the Deep Web claiming to offer this service, there has been no legitimate proof of their existence.

The influence of Bitcoin

The Silk Road became one such popular website on the Deep Web. Known also as the "eBay of drugs", it is a place to buy and sell things - but mainly illegal drugs.

This was made possible by the use of Bitcoin, a virtual currency that makes use of the encrypted peer-to-peer system.

Bitcoin allows users to conduct business transactions anonymously. This has allowed some users of the currency to engage in illegal activity.

  • 2006
    • First Bitcoin traded
  • 2011
    • JAN - Silk Road founded by the user 'Dread Pirate Roberts'
    • FEB - Bitcoin triples in value
    • JUN - US senate investigates link between Bitcoin and Silk Road
    • NOV - Bitcoin loses over 90% of its value
  • 2013
    • OCT - FBI locate and arrest the person accused of being the 'Dread Pirate Roberts'. Silk Road is shut down.
    • NOV - Silk Road 2.0 founded

Bitcoin triples in value*

*Bitcoin is known to be a volatile currency, even though its value has on average constantly increased since its inception, it is prone to large fluctuations in perceived value.

Over $1 billion worth of goods were sold on Silk Road before it was shut down.

There may be a wealth of information out there in the Deep Web, but you should be careful about what you look for. Just like Alice - the deeper you go, the more trouble you could find yourself in.


WhoIsHostingThis Team

About WhoIsHostingThis Team

Our writing team comes from all over the world with diverse backgrounds in the arts and sciences. But what links them is their passion for the internet. All together they represent many decades of experience working in all facets of it -- from programming and hardware creation to website design and marketing.


Thanks for your comment. It will show here once it has been approved.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



February 23, 2014

I must understand how did you conclude the deep web is 500 times bigger than the surface web? It seems very unrealistic to me, and It appears to be the exact opposite.



November 11, 2014

The deep web is not just visitable sites, it also includes vast amounts of stored information such as intranets and other applications that do not need to be indexed for the outside world.


Ben Sinister

March 8, 2014

Just to let you know, it’s written “Tor”, never “TOR”.


Dark web, not deep web

August 30, 2019

And it’s Dark Web, the article says erroneously “Deep Web”. Deep Web is a piece of the web not indexed by Web search engines, but does not require a special software. Dark Web requires a special software such as Tor Browser to access the Tor network.



February 16, 2015

Interesting. And what’s with the entries with the dashes through them? Oh and one location has succeeded in blocking that particular method of accessing the Internet.


Dread Knight

February 20, 2015

I’m a game developer and from time to time I think about going against the tides and making my game project only available for the deep web but I’m not exactly sure atm how to go about it, anyway, you can have a look for now at the prototype and stuff :D https://AncientBeast.com



November 25, 2015

The dark web and the deep web differ in many ways. On the dark web it is mainly for criminals looking up content and buying illegal drugs. On the other side the deep web is just information and has more content which is 500x more information then the Internet. If you want to access the dark web it is a couple of websites on the deep web. Also use a computer viruses blocker and proxy so the cops can’t see you.


Deep web

February 7, 2016

The exact size size of the deep web is unknown. The pages exist in database and therefore couldnt be indexed by search engines. But i think the value that holds within it is a lot more important than its size.



March 13, 2016

I have tor, but have still no idea how to access deep web. All the sites explaining “how to ” just give information as to what it is , but no link or address to go to.
I’m curious about it.



March 31, 2016

This is stupid and simply untrue.

The deepweb does NOT mainly consist of illegal content, it mainly consists of uninteresting data from companies on an intranet that nobody needs/wants to see. What mainly consists of illegal content as mentioned above is the darknet, which is a very small fraction of the deepweb. The darkweb is much much smaller than what is on the surface web.

The reason the deepweb is so much larger than the surface web is not near as exciting as you might think. Companies might have an intranet set up with 50TB+ of data. That’s terrabytes. 1 terrabyte is 1025 gigabytes, and one gigabite is 1024 megabites. So that means they would have 50,000,000 gigabytes of possibly confidential but completely uninteresting data. Even if it is not confidential it is still on the deepweb, only because there is no reason to have it come up on a google search.

So just to recap;
Deepweb = Websites not found via mainstream search engines.
Darkweb = A small part of the deepweb that is written about in the post.
The only reason the deepweb is so much smaller than the surface web is because the majority of it holds an immense amount of data that the general people wouldn’t even care about.



July 8, 2016

Please, review your sources about bitcoin. It didn’t even exist in 2006. Thanks.


Ben Jacobs

August 23, 2016

All this is absolutely worthless. I have the Tor Browser but cannot access anything it seems. Is that because of security settings in my computer, or is additional software required?


jim jason

December 1, 2016

It is good to know know about the deep web, but just to tell you, I do use Tor network, for 100% legal purposes, where I just want anonymity and don’t want google to follow me wherever I go



December 18, 2016

hello . a very good and useful content . loved it never heared these facts anywhere else . this is one of the reasons why i love professional websites such as yourselves.since you guys are professionals and looks like you guys have good researching data base,as a very new-being entrepreneur,im doing some basic research.
i wanted to know that if is it possible for me to know about amount of visitors on a website and then send more visitors there and prove that these new visitors were mine ?. without getting a 3rd party involved (those advertising websites). using deep web ?
sorry for my poor English by the way.


Jeff Chung

January 17, 2020

Hi guys…This article is extremely outdated and BBWExchange.com doesn’t provide the services mentioned any longer. They don’t teach you how to start your own ISP and the website isn’t always live.