I’m learning how to use Tor and was wondering how Tor Browser connects to directories. I know that the directories have all info on nodes in the network but how can tor connect to directories if it does not have info on the nodes in the first place?

2 Answers 2


The list of directory authorities (src/app/config/auth_dirs.inc), as well as a list of stable default directory caches/mirrors (src/app/config/fallback_dirs.inc), are built directly into tor.


Directories are the only vulnerable part of the Tor network, actually... That's why I've made it different in my project to mitigate it, but it's not related here in a deeper details. Your safety warrant is:

  1. Use the latest version of Tor compiled by hand from the sources, fetch the sources through Tor as well - yes, it's not as versatile as I2P's monotone, but it helps to mitigate many attack vectors
  2. If you need a fine-grained country filtering like StrictNodes - use a paid version of GeoIP databse - yes, it helps a lot
  3. The recent version of the Tor code contains some built-in defaults, but to have a rel benefit from them - see pt. 1, don't relax having just a pre-built binaries. Also - when building from source, don't forget about Google PerfTools TCMalloc and -mtune=native compiler directives when building OpenSSL and all the dependencies - it pays it's price twice with speed
  • Thanks peeps, however you'll have to excuse me my knowledge of TOR is limited but growing day-by-day. Anyways with the directory servers thank you Steve and Alexey for your answers. However the questions still remains unanswered, how does Tor connect to the first guard node if it does not any nodes in the first place? Or does Tor use http get-method directly on the director servers?
    – user33236
    Sep 14, 2021 at 21:21
  • it connects to the directories first if it has no cached data to fetch the network map
    – Alexey Vesnin
    Sep 17, 2021 at 20:04

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