Tor Metrics Portal: Users

Direct users by country:

Direct users by country graph


Show possible censorship events if available (BETA)

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Top-10 countries by directly connecting users:

Country Mean daily users
United States 347437 (12.39 %)
Germany 241830 (8.63 %)
Brazil 176949 (6.31 %)
France 175541 (6.26 %)
Spain 132767 (4.74 %)
Italy 119563 (4.26 %)
United Kingdom 100782 (3.60 %)
Poland 98611 (3.52 %)
Russia 95358 (3.40 %)
India 83145 (2.97 %)

Top-10 countries by possible censorship events (BETA):

Country Downturns Upturns
China 25 22
Latvia 16 8
South Africa 13 14
Republic of Moldova 13 12
Saint Helena 12 0
British Indian Ocean Territory 10 4
Turkey 8 11
Vietnam 8 9
no-man's-land 7 12
Guadeloupe 7 0

Bridge users by country:

Bridge users by country graph


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Top-10 countries by bridge users:

Country Mean daily users
Iran 570 (13.36 %)
United States 499 (11.71 %)
India 214 (5.02 %)
Russia 171 (4.02 %)
Italy 138 (3.23 %)
Netherlands 135 (3.16 %)
United Kingdom 130 (3.05 %)
Canada 119 (2.80 %)
France 118 (2.76 %)
Germany 101 (2.36 %)

Bridge users by transport:

Bridge users by transport graph


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Bridge users by IP version:

Bridge users by IP version graph


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CSV file containing new user estimates.

Questions and answers

Q: How is it even possible to count users in an anonymity network?
A: We actually don't count users, but we count requests to the directories that clients make periodically to update their list of relays and estimate user numbers indirectly from there.

Q: Do all directories report these directory request numbers?
A: No, but we can see what fraction of directories reported them, and then we can extrapolate the total number in the network.

Q: How do you get from these directory requests to user numbers?
A: We put in the assumption that the average client makes 10 such requests per day. A tor client that is connected 24/7 makes about 15 requests per day, but not all clients are connected 24/7, so we picked the number 10 for the average client. We simply divide directory requests by 10 and consider the result as the number of users. Another way of looking at it, is that we assume that each request represents a client that stays online for 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Q: So, are these distinct users per day, average number of users connected over the day, or what?
A: Average number of concurrent users, estimated from data collected over a day. We can't say how many distinct users there are.

Q: Are these tor clients or users? What if there's more than one user behind a tor client?
A: Then we count those users as one. We really count clients, but it's more intuitive for most people to think of users, that's why we say users and not clients.

Q: What if a user runs tor on a laptop and changes their IP address a few times per day? Don't you overcount that user?
A: No, because that user updates their list of relays as often as a user that doesn't change IP address over the day.

Q: How do you know which countries users come from?
A: The directories resolve IP addresses to country codes and report these numbers in aggregate form. This is one of the reasons why tor ships with a GeoIP database.

Q: Why are there so few bridge users that are not using the default OR protocol or that are using IPv6?
A: Very few bridges report data on transports or IP versions yet, and by default we consider requests to use the default OR protocol and IPv4. Once more bridges report these data, the numbers will become more accurate.

Q: Why do the graphs end 2 days in the past and not today?
A: Relays and bridges report some of the data in 24-hour intervals which may end at any time of the day. And after such an interval is over relays and bridges might take another 18 hours to report the data. We cut off the last two days from the graphs, because we want to avoid that the last data point in a graph indicates a recent trend change which is in fact just an artifact of the algorithm.

Q: But I noticed that the last data point went up/down a bit since I last looked a few hours ago. Why is that?
A: You're an excellent observer! The reason is that we publish user numbers once we're confident enough that they won't change significantly anymore. But it's always possible that a directory reports data a few hours after we were confident enough, but which then slightly changed the graph.

Q: Why are no numbers available before September 2011?
A: We do have descriptor archives from before that time, but those descriptors didn't contain all the data we use to estimate user numbers. We do have older user numbers from an earlier estimation approach here, but we believe the current approach is more accurate.

Q: Why do you believe the current approach to estimate user numbers is more accurate?
A: For direct users, we include all directories which we didn't do in the old approach. We also use histories that only contain bytes written to answer directory requests, which is more precise than using general byte histories.

Q: And what about the advantage of the current approach over the old one when it comes to bridge users?
A: Oh, that's a whole different story. We wrote a 13 page long technical report explaining the reasons for retiring the old approach. tl;dr: in the old approach we measured the wrong thing, and now we measure the right thing.

Q: Are the data and the source code for estimating these user numbers available?
A: Sure, data and source code are publicly available.

Q: What are these red and blue dots indicating possible censorship events?
A: We run an anomaly-based censorship-detection system that looks at estimated user numbers over a series of days and predicts the user number in the next days. If the actual number is higher or lower, this might indicate a possible censorship event or release of censorship. For more details, see our technical report.

This material is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CNS-0959138. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Data on this site is freely available under a CC0 no copyright declaration: To the extent possible under law, the Tor Project has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights in the data. Graphs are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.