Why is Tor so Slow – the Major Reasons behind It

TOR, one of the oldest means to transfer the information securely over a network was first developed in late80s and was used by the US military for transferring the confidential information from one department to other. Later on, the top universities of the SU started using it for transferring the internal data. In early 90s, it became immensely popular and was seen as one of the best ways to transfer information securely over the network without revealing your identity. Let us learn more about it and try to find out the reasons for its slow speed.

What exactly is Tor?

TOR is software that was initially started with the name ‘The Onion Router’. It redirects the internet traffic through an overlay network consisting of thousands of relays. It conceals the user location and protects the user identity from getting revealed. It is totally free and can be used by just anyone around the globe. Most of the people around the globe use it to access the dark web .

The onion routing is implemented by providing encryption to the application layer of the communication protocol stack which is nested just like the layers of onion. This is one of the reasons why is Tor so slow. Tor software lets the users to surf through the internet and send instant messages anonymously. The dark web and deep web constituting of 95% of the internet can be accessed only using Tor browser.

Why is Tor so slow?

There are a number of reasons why is tor so slow, but we will discuss only the major ones in this post. Here are some of the obvious reasons that contribute to slow speed of Tor browser.

Information Passes through Different Nodes adding Delays

To understand the major reason behind the slow speed of Tor, one needs to dig the concept of its working. We all know that Tor works using a network of relay servers that are connected to each other over a virtual space. Each server acts as a node. The nodes only know the IP address of the adjacent nodes. This means that the first node will not know the IP address of the second node unless and until there are only two nodes.

So, as the information passes through different nodes before reaching the destination, a delay is added with every pass. This delay makes the Tor network pretty slow than user expectation. But if we see it from security point of view, this type of connection is really difficult to break through. A hacker trying to get hold of the information being transferred might get hold of it, but he will never be able to decrypt it.

Tor’s Congestion Control doesn’t work well

One of the major reasons for critical performance issues with Tor is combining the high volume streams with its low volume streams. Tor combines all the circuits into a single TCP connection. Though this helps in maintaining anonymity of the users, it has a negative impact on performance. Tor maintains certain number of unacknowledged cells per circuit. IF this volume exceeds, the circuit gets congested.

A Few Users add too much Load

This is one of the major challenges faced by the Tor developers. A few users add too much load far beyond the capacity of network to handle. So, if there is too much load, Tor cannot handle it making the system to slow down.

Tor Network Doesn’t has Good Capacity

This is one of the major reasons why is tor so slow. The Tor network doesn’t have an ability to handle large traffic simultaneously. If too many users arrive in the Tor network at a point of time, it will slow down because the resources will be consumed by different users. The speed will become really very slow. This is why most of the people switch to VPN rather than using a Tor network.

The Tor Client choose the path incorrectly

There are users who abuse the network. This is one of the major issues that can only be solved if Tor improves its algorithms. Tor doesn’t specify the limit of bandwidth a user can use at a point of time. If this limit is fixed, the problems can be reduced. The older entry guards in Tor are totally overloaded. This means that Tor selects a small number of entry guards leading to a large number of users accumulating at an entry point.

The Bottom Line

Tor is free software that can be used to access the internet anonymously without revealing your identity. A Tor network is relatively slow as compared to its counterparts like VPN, but much safer than it. If you are looking to access the internet using Tor, you might have to go through the slow speed issues.