[tor-relays] Home broadband - worth running a relay?

mick mbm at rlogin.net
Fri Jul 12 13:22:44 UTC 2013

On Thu, 11 Jul 2013 21:43:00 +0100
Nick <tor-relays at njw.me.uk> allegedly wrote:

> Hi there,
> I have a reasonable ADSL connection, and a little always-on server.  
> The bandwidth is in the region of 2Mib/s down, something less up 
> (maybe 256Kib/s). Is it useful for me to run a tor relay with this 
> bandwidth? I'd like to run one which isn't an exit, at least for 
> now.
> If not, am I correct in thinking that a bridge is an appropriate 
> help? That's what I'm doing currently, but if a relay would be more 
> useful I'd be very happy to do that.
> One other unrelated(ish) question: I'm in the UK, where the idea of 
> censorship isn't resisted as strongly as it ought to be, and as a 
> result my internet connection is subject to a smallish amount of 
> censorship: whatever is on the secret IWF blacklist plus the pirate 
> bay. Does this mean that running an exit node from a home connection 
> here at some point in the future would not be helpful? Or only if 
> all HTTP(S) was blocked (as the IWF blacklist is secret there's 
> presumably no way to tell the tor network what is inaccessible from 
> this node).


I too am in the uk. In my view, running tor on your home broadband
connection is probably a bad idea. As you have already noted, the
connection is not completely unfiltered and you may find other problems
arise as soon as you try to run a relay. I think you might find it
almost impossible to successfully run an exit relay without a lot of
hassle from your ISP which might end up in your disconnection. Besides
that, the amount of bandwidth available on a domestic ADSL is low and
you will find that tor impacts heavily on usage unless it is heavily

For several years now I have sucessfully run relays (both exit and
non-exit) on fairly cheap VPSs. This has the dual advantage of
separating your own connection from tor and of providing dedicated
bandwidth to the relay. You will need to check with the VPS provider
that they are happy to allow tor. Some are, most aren't and of those
most are not happy with exit relays because they end up getting
(often robotic) abuse complaints. Of course your VPS does not have
to be in the UK. 

I have run relays with bytemark.co.uk (non-exit), daily.co.uk (exit
and non-exit) thrustvps.com (ditto) rapidswitch.com (ditto). I
currently use digitalocean.com (in the Netherlands, but a US company)
and thrust - though for a variety of reasons I will probably drop
thrust at the end of my contract with them and move that one

Always/always check the ISP's AUP in advance and then email them telling
them what you intend to do before signing up. In my experience, those
which are content to allow tor sometimes change their mind after the
first few abuse complaints.  You then have the option of switching to
non-exit, or simply taking your custom elsewhere. It depends on how you
want to play things and what you are getting for your money.

Nowadays you can get a useful amount of bandwidth (1-2 TiB pcm) on a
reasonably specced VM (512 Mb RAM, 1 core, 20-40 GB disk) very cheaply
(on the order of 5-10 UKP pcm, or much less if you shop around). Take
a look at lowendbox.com for some ideas of offers on cheap VPS. Then do
some research on the suppliers, contact those you shortlist and be
open about what you intend to do.



 Mick Morgan
 gpg fingerprint: FC23 3338 F664 5E66 876B  72C0 0A1F E60B 5BAD D312


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