Since its creation in the mid-90s, the Onion routing network has been one of the best solutions for maintaining anonymity while exploring the dark web or blocked sites. The Tor browser is free and allows users to browse the internet while preserving privacy. In addition to browsing anonymously, users can host their domain on the Tor network.
Today, we will show you how to set up your Onion domain step by step.
What is a .onion domain?
Before we discuss how to start creating your Onion domain, Let’s break open what an Onion Domain is. An onion domain is a particular address that only works with the Tor privacy browser. Regular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge can’t use this kind of address because they can’t go through Tor’s unique network.
You might know about regular web domains like .com or .org. Well, those are given out by a group called ICANN. People who want a new website name must ask ICANN for permission first.
You can use many different names, but not everyone can get the one they want. Imagine wanting a .apple domain – that’s something you’d have to ask especially for. Plus, purchasing a domain name and keeping it running comes with some regular and hefty fees. So, if you want a certain name, you need approval and some money. Sound fun?
Using an onion domain instead of an ICANN name has its pros and cons. For starters, you can only see a website with an .onion domain using the Tor browser. The Onion Router comes with extra privacy and security, which people who care about their online safety like a lot. On the other hand, only a few people use Tor, and only a handful of them will find your site.
Why Create an Onion Site
So why create an Onion domain? The answer is simple- privacy and security. They’re often used as links for Darknet Markets and fraud but have great uses too. Regular domains are easy to access from multiple browsers, which often means they are assured a certain level of traffic.
However, an Onion domain is only accessible through the Tor browser. This could be seen as a drawback. Less accessibility means less traffic.
When you create an Onion domain, a name will be automatically provided for you. These names will generally have 16 letters and some numbers in them. This code is how the Tor Browser identifies your site. Receiving your site name from the Onion site is a bonus because you can avoid going through ICANN altogether.
How do I create a .onion domain?
So, if you’re new to this, don’t worry, follow these steps, and you’ll get your domain up in no time.
Step 1: Download the Tor Browser
The first step is to download and install the Tor browser. You can go to the Tor website, download the browser file, and follow the installation guide.
Step 2: Set Up a Server
Time to set up a server. You could use several popular web server programs, like XAMPP or Savant. In this example, we are going to use Savant. Open Savant and click on the configuration tag.
Look for the DNS Entry option and type “localhost” and 8080 in the “Port # to Server From” option. If an error occurs while trying to do this, try port 80 or use another port through your system. Remember to click apply when you are done.
Then, open any browser and replace the port in “localhost:port” with 8080 or a different port. Click “Apply” and check if the page loads. If not, then you will need to review the process. Your server is now set up, but we still need to finish. You still need to obtain a URL.
Step 3: Get Your URL
Before we ask Tor for a URL, you need to create a source file on your desktop that Tor will use to make our URL. To do this, Tor needs to be closed, and you need to go to the Tor installation directory. Search for the folder named “data”, enter it, and search for a file named “torrc”. Open your terminal or editor and type in the following codes:
HiddenServicePort 80 127.0.0.1: YOUR_PORT
Replace the username with your PC’s name and provide the folder name. Remember to check that your port has been replaced with the one from Savant; otherwise, the server won’t work.
Save the file, and reopen the Tor browser. Give it some time as it generates a private key and URL, and then close it again. You should find two files in the folder you created on your desktop: “Hostname” and “Private key”. Click on the hostname and open it with any text editor. Search for your URL. It should have an onion on the TLD. To visit your URL, remember to add an append /index.html after.Onion. It should look like this:
Step 4: Restart the Tor Browser
Finally, restart your Tor Browser and type in your URL to see if everything loads correctly again. If not, review your steps from the beginning to find the error.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. The Tor Browser stands for ” The Onion Router” and is the most popular method to connecting to an onion site. However, there are other Onion routers available.
No, .onion sites are not illegal by themselves. However, some laws regulate the content allowed on the web, making it illegal. That would deem the site inherently unlawful.
Onion sites provide a degree of anonymity, but it’s essential to implement reasonable security practices to ensure your identity and location remain concealed. We call this OpSec; learn about it here.
Hey there, I’m a dark web geek who’s been around for the last 8 years. More precisely, I’m livedarknet’s senior content writer who’s been writing about darknet marketplaces, tutorials, and cybersecurity stuff for educational purposes.