If you’re a TOR user you might have faced restrictions from your ISP when using the Tor. I was browsing through Reddit today and saw many users asking how to use bridges in TOR. So, I thought there should be a simple and quick guide for the users to figure out how to use bridges in tor. So, here it is. If you want, you can also read about a brief introduction to Tor here.

Image credit: Wikipedia

What are bridges?

Well, to be honest, many ISPs can’t digest their users using the Tor network. Whenever they detect someone is connected to the Tor network, they either block the traffic or block the multiple entry points being used in Tor.

Bridges, on the other hand, are relays or alternate entry points which can be used to manipulate the traffic and save your connection from getting disrupted. Now it should be kept in mind that more often than not, you will only be able to use bridges in the web Tor browser.

Why are bridges effective?

These bridges are effective because they are not enlisted in the public directory of Tor. Tor browser public directory has a list of openly available bridges which the users can configure in their browser and connect through them.

However, mentioning them in public directory has a major drawback as well. Now the ISPs know what these bridges are and they can block many of them. 

Time to find a new bridge?

When the openly available bridges are not working for you, now is the time to find and get a new bridge. Also, keep the fact-checked that if your internet connection needs a proxy, you will have to configure your TOR browser first to be able to use the bridges.

Now the question remains, how to get a bridge. Well, the process isn’t difficult. You can either google it and you can find some volunteer bridges, or you can go to the Tor browser’s website and request one from them. You’ll need to provide them with an email i.d and they’ll mail the bridge to you.

Do they work flawlessly?

Unfortunately no. In recent years, ISPs have found various ways to detect the usage of a bridge. They install boxes (source: the Tor project) and keep detecting the packet to detect if someone is using a bridge to connect to the tor network.

Once they get a hint, they block the traffic to block the flow. Or they can track a pattern and use that pattern to detect tor users. But in most cases, using unique bridges will work best for you and you will not be blocked.
There can be other issues as well

Before we make installing tor bridges easier for you, you should keep in mind that the issue isn’t always such that one would need to use a bridge. Often your browser will be restricting connection due to limited internet, clock malfunction, DNS issue, switching to a different computer or internet and so on. In such cases, you don’t need a new bridge but other solutions. You can contact the support to help you with such issues.

This is how you add a bridge

Now that you know much about bridges and what they are, let’s talk about how to add them.

  1. Click “configure” instead of connecting to go into the settings.
  2. Please ensure that Tor isn’t censored in your country. If it is you can go to the next step. Or if you have to add a proxy, go to the proxy settings and add your proxy details.
  3. Now’s a bit tricky part. You have to either add an already available bridge or use one that is available or you can request one from the website support.
  4. If you want to use the already available bridges, just select the preferred transport type for a bridge (obfs4 is mostly recommended)
  5. But if you want to select a new one, you can request it right there and after connecting to the server, they will provide you with a new bridge.
  6. Once you are done with the selection of bridge, just connect to Tor and it’ll work properly.

You should keep in mind that even if your browser does work, you can still add a new bridge by going through the above-mentioned steps.

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