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Circumvention Tools

CircumventionTools: SettingUpaTorRelay

Setting up a Tor Bridge

If you live in an area with little or no Internet censorship, you may want to run a simple Tor relay or a Tor bridge relay to help other Tor users access an uncensored Internet.

The Tor network relies on volunteers to donate bandwidth. The more people who run relays, the faster and more secure the Tor network will be. To help people using Tor bypass Internet censorship, set up a bridge relay rather than an ordinary relay.

Bridge relays (or "bridges" for short) are Tor relays that are not listed in the main (and public) Tor directory. Even if an ISP is filtering connections to all the known Tor relays, it probably will not be able to block all the bridges.

What do I need to run a relay or a bridge relay?

There are only a few prerequisites for running a Tor relay:

  • Your Internet connection needs to have a bandwidth of at least 20 kilobytes/second in both directions (and it needs to be OK for your connection to be constantly in use when your computer is on).
  • You need an Internet connection with an IP address that is publicly routable.
  • If your computer is behind a network address translation (NAT) firewall and doesn't have access to its public (or external) IP address, you'll need to set up a port forwarding rule on your router. You can do this via the Tor Universal Plug and Play facility, or manually, by following the instructions in your router manual or at portforward.com (http://portforward.com/english/applications/port_forwarding/HTTPS/HTTPSindex.htm).

What is not required:

  • Your computer does not have to be always on and online (the Tor directory will figure out when it is).
  • You do not need to have a static IP address.

Downloading Tor

To download Tor, go to the http://www.torproject.org/ Web site and click "Download" in the navigation menu.

On the "Available Tor Bundles" page, select the stable version that fits your operating system.


Installing Tor

Launch the installer and click "Next" when asked.

If you are using Firefox, install all the components proposed in the dialog shown below:

Choose components to install 

If you do not have Firefox installed, deselect "Torbutton" (you will have the option to install Firefox and Torbutton afterwards).

When the installation is completed, launch Tor by clicking "Finish" with the "Run installed components now" box selected, as in the dialog shown below:

Finish Tor installation 

Configuring Tor to be a bridge

To activate your bridge:

  • Open the Vidalia control panel.
  • In the Vidalia control panel, click "Settings".

Vidalia control panel with "Settings" highlighted

  • In the "Settings" window, click "Sharing":
the sharing settings window
  • To create the bridge, click "Help censored users reach the Tor network".
Activate a bridge
  • If you are using a NAT IP address on a local network, you will need to create a port forwarding rule in your router. You can ask Tor to try to configure port forwarding for you. To do so, click "Attempt to automatically configure port forwarding".
    • Click "Test" to see if Tor correctly created a setting for port forwarding in the router. 

    Congratulations. If all has gone well, your bridge is up and running. Your bridge information will be added to the hidden bridge directory and made available to users who request it.

    Sharing your bridge with friends 

    If you specifically established your bridge to help a friend access the Tor network, you can copy the information at the bottom of the Settings window and send it to him/her.