Did Tor use 5 hops in the past?

Tor’s come up in a course I’m doing and they say it uses 5 hops for a normal circuit. The article’s old so perhaps it used to be correct?
(I can’t find anything online that mentions 5 hops.)

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They probably counted including source and destination addresses.
By the way, it possible for Tor to use 5 hops, but it requires non-standard methods and usually not recommended.

No they definitely mean 5 hops within the tor network - there are multiple graphics making it very clear. And this is from the Open University who should know what they’re talking about, that’s why I thought it may just be out of date information.
Do you know if Tor used to use 5 hops? Anyone?
Thanks @Vort for the reply.

Look like I found the article you are talking about:

By the end of the process, the message is wrapped, (in this case), in no fewer than five layers of encryption.


Yeah, that looks right. I should have said 5 nodes inside the Tor network rather than hops. Nowadays there’s clearly only 3 (nodes) as you know:

Thanks for the help,

@arma @nickm May you please bring some clarity to this topic?


3 hops has been more or less standard for decades? There were cases back in some truly ancient versions where we would use a random number of hops, but those are historical. There are cases now where, when we are using vanguards and/or connecting to onion services we might add an extra hop or two, but “3” is the norm.

Looking at the diagram, I see that the caption says “(in this case) in no fewer than 5 layers”. I’m thinking that maybe they are using “in this case” to mean that they are talking about the diagram, not about the actual Tor design?


Thanks @nickm .
I’ve been having this discussion on the OU module forum, too, and the OU staff are aware of this one. I’ll leave it for them to comment for themselves if they want to.

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