How To Set Up A Tor Relay: Why You Should

Tor or The Onion Router runs on a massive network of donated compute power and bandwidth. It allows users to be anonymous by routing their connection through multiple Tor relays worldwide. The Onion Router is a valuable tool that enables millions of people to bypass government restrictions and stay anonymous online.

The more relays in the Tor network, the more anonymous and secure its users are. You can host a Tor relay for just $10 per month and help millions of people stay anonymous. You’re donating bandwidth by hosting a Tor relay, making the entire network faster and more secure.

This guide will teach you how to set up and install a Tor relay in three easy steps. You may also request a free t-shirt from the Tor Project to thank you for helping their cause.

1. Find a Tor friendly VPS host

Since hosting a Tor relay does not generate any abuse reports, any VPS host should allow you to run one. It’s still good to ask your host if they allow them because some hosting providers will still suspend you because they don’t understand what a Tor relay is.

If you’re looking for cryptocurrency and Tor-friendly hosts, please check out our list of Tor-friendly VPS providers.

2. Install and configure the Tor software

It’s recommended to use a Debian-based Linux distro because they are easy to manage and receive frequent stable updates. This guide assumes you are familiar with using a Linux system and have the know-how to install and configure software.

  1. Update the system
    To install Tor, you will need an updated system – you can update your system by running: apt update -y; apt upgrade -y
  2. Install Tor
    Of course, you will need to install Tor itself to run a relay, and you can do this by running apt install tor -y. Once Tor is installed, you should enable it to auto-start just in case your VPS reboots. You can enable Tor by running systemctl enable –now tor
  3. Configuring the relay
    Once you’ve successfully installed Tor, you’ll need to configure it to run your relay. Edit /etc/tor/torrc using your favorite command-line editor and add the following lines to the top of the file:
    ORPort 443
    Exitpolicy reject *:*
    Nickname reallycoolthing
    ContactInfo tor@nsa.gov
    You can change the Nickname & ContactInfo to whatever you want, but this information will be public to everyone. If the VPS host you’re using has a bandwidth limit, you can add these lines to limit the network usage:
    RelayBandwidthRate 1 MBytes
    RelayBandwidthBurst 3 MBytes
  4. Restart Tor
    Once you’ve saved the torrc file, you have to restart the Tor process for the changes to take effect. Run: systemctl restart tor

3. Your relay is online!

Once you’ve completed all the above steps, your relay should be online! You can check the status of your relay by searching the VPS’s IP address on the Tor Metrics Relay Search. It may take over an hour for your relay to be noticed by the Tor network and over two weeks to be fully utilized.

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