NearlyFreeSpeech.net did make a claim that if they will get enough users who want to have their site accessible directly via Tor they would consider the idea. But maybe there are hosting companies, which already offer to make one's site accessible via .onion domain.

(additional information)

The goal is to host the site and to allow people to access it via Tor, without putting the strain on the exit nodes. Since the exit nodes are by their nature receive heavier load, any traffic that does not involve them will also be faster.

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    I fail to see why the hosting company needs to be involved. Just add Tor to the machine hosting your site and create a hidden service.
    – Logforme
    Nov 7, 2013 at 9:35
  • I've added the intention behind what i am trying to do, maybe that will help.
    – v010dya
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:28
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    @Volodya RE: "Any traffic that does not involve [exit nodes] will also be faster": This is false. Hidden service traffic is routed in a different manner than normal exit node traffic (and has a longer handshake), and must pass through more relays, resulting in higher latency.
    – user5
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:43
  • @SamWhited So are you saying that hosting as a hidden service rather than as an external site would actually hurt the Tor network?
    – v010dya
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:55
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    @Volodya Users accessing your site via exit nodes or hidden services won't hurt the Tor network either way (unless you're getting a ton more traffic than I think you would); it will just make accessing your site slower for your end users because of the latency involved with onion routing.
    – user5
    Nov 7, 2013 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


Edit: After thinking about it for a bit I think what they meant to ask was "are there any mainstream hosting services that don't block Tor clients?".

The main benefit of hidden services is that they anonymise both the client and server. A side effect of the way hidden services works means that it also provides end-to-end encryption.

If you're using a 3rd party hosting company then there's probably not much reason to anonymise the server, since you don't own it. Additionally, if the website is available via the regular internet (and if the same servers are used for the regular website and the hidden service version) then its servers can't be anonymised; you can find out the identity of the servers simply by connecting to the non-hidden-service version.

An easier alternative (that is essentially equivalent for the client) would be to make your website HTTPS (TLS / SSL) only, and ensure that it is accessible via regular Tor; that way clients can anonymise themselves using Tor while also enjoying end-to-end encryption.

Edit: Hidden services do have niche benefits such as allowing your site to be more resistant to censorship.

  • Ok, this together with Sam Whited's comments answered pretty much everything i wanted to ask.
    – v010dya
    Nov 7, 2013 at 18:42

As Logforme noted, hosting providers need not be involved in your hidden services. You merely install Tor, point your server at localhost, and configure the hidden service in torrc. You also want routing and firewall rules that block any connectivity except through the hidden service.

Of course, providers do need to allow connections to the Tor network. However, these are very much like client connections, rather than relay connections, so they shouldn't attract attention (until adversaries track you down, anyway).

It's most secure to isolate your server(s) and Tor process in separate machines, or at least in separate VMs. That makes it much easier to prevent leaks. And if adversaries exploit weaknesses in your server(s), they can't get at Tor quite so easily, and call home from your public IP address.

While I have no clue what NearlyFreeSpeech.net said, it's possible that they were considering the possibility of providing pre-configured Tor gateways. Doing that with web-hosting accounts would be totally insecure, but very user friendly. For VPS customers, they could provide Tor gateway VMs. That would be somewhat more secure, but they'd still own your hidden service key(s).

Regarding user194's statement "If you're using a 3rd party hosting company then there's probably not much reason to anonymise the server, since you don't own it.", I disagree. No matter how anonymously you're renting the server, there's probably some connection, and another layer of anonymity never hurts.

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