Hello, I am here to explain the Tor Browser, and how it can benefit you. I am also here to ease any concerns you might have about Tor. Lets get started.
First, what is the Tor network? The Tor network, is a network started by the U.S Naval Research Group. Onion routing passes information through what are called nodes, also called relays. The information is encrypted at least three times and travels through many nodes and relays run by volunteers. As the information passes, each node is given the information on where to send the information to next. This happens until the information is fully decrypted after leaving the exit relay. This process is like peeling back the layers of an onion, hence why it's called onion routing.
Now onto the Tor Browser. The Tor Browser is a modified fork of Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) that allows anyone to easily utilize Tor. The Tor browser is modified to prevent websites from fingerprinting and trying to DE-anonymous the user. When using the Tor browser, its best to leave the browser with the default configuration. Any change can result in the user becoming identifiable, thus defeating the purpose of the Tor Browser.
Bridges are ways for a user to connect and use Tor when you can't connect directly to Tor because you ISP blocks Tor, Your system administrator blocks Tor, or your nation censors Tor. Bridges work by connecting through, for example, a meek-azure connection. This tactic is called domain fronting. This allows a user to circumvent the censorship put in place and use Tor.
Now to talk about the downsides. Because the Tor network encrypts your connection, browsing the web will be much slower, so patience is key when using the Tor browser. Using any services like BitTorrent can use up a lot of the bandwidth and cause the Tor network to slow down much more for everyone. Using BitTorrent with Tor can also leave you vulnerable for being identified.
Some common fears about the Tor Browser is the Dark Net. These domains end with a .onion, which is the a domain with the purpose with remaining anonymous and accessible to everyone. This domain is meant for access through the Tor browser. While there are illegal services out there that use these domains. There are a majority of pages that are ethical legal to use, such as the DuckDuckGo onion site.
For more information visit the Tor Project FAQ here: https://www.torproject.org/docs/faq.html.en