When I visit some web sites, there is some strange behaviour. First I can browse through the page without any problems. Then out of nowhere I land again on the main page. After this happened I can browse again like nothing happened.

Is there a chance that this comes from Tor usage (I have only encountered this behaviour while using Tor.)? If yes, is there anything I can do about?

  • 1
    What is meant by "when using Tor"? When using the Tor Browser Bundle? When using a browser with requests proxied to the Tor network? When running a Tor relay? – pmocek Sep 30 '13 at 3:49

Without knowing the web sites, it is difficult to guess what's going on but it might be a combination of the site's session management and rotating exit relays.

Tor clients rotate their exit relays regularly which means that HTTP requests to the web site will come from different IP addresses. Depending on how the web site implements its session management, it might get confused and redirect you to the main page to start all over. If the web site requires you to log in, you might even have witnessed cases where the web site logged you out. Given today's IP address mobility, it is not uncommon to send subsequent HTTP request from different IP addresses. As a result, that kind of session management can be considered problematic.

The TrackHostExits option allows you to specify domains for which Tor will reuse the same exit relay. You can read more about it in the man page: man torrc | less -p TrackHostExits. Also note that by using this option, you are trading off some anonymity. But then again, if the site requires you to log in, you will be pseudonymous towards the web site at best.

  • A) "if you log in you're not anonymous anymore" is overbroad, since you can still be anonymous from adversaries other than the website, and hey, if you're using a pseudonym and you're careful about it, maybe you remain pseudononymous from the website too. B) Might be worth pointing out that many other Internet users, like all AOL users, are screwed by websites that do sessions this way, and it should be considered a bug in the website. – Roger Dingledine Sep 30 '13 at 4:18
  • Another option is that https-everywhere is rewriting something incorrectly. – Roger Dingledine Sep 30 '13 at 4:18
  • Maybe you can rephrase this as answer too. – Jens Kubieziel Sep 30 '13 at 6:07
  • Edited my answer to include Roger's points. – Philipp Winter Sep 30 '13 at 7:24

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