I’ve been using Tor for quite a while now, and I feel grateful to the Tor Project for making privacy accessible to me, you and everyone. I wish to run a Tor relay, but I don’t have a spare computer/device to run it on. So, coming to the question:
Can I run a non-exit relay on my laptop I use everyday for things like web browsing, watching videos, making documents, etc., or would it lead to any problems?
Wouldn’t do that, stability will suck and your consensus bad. Personally I run the snowflake plugin for your browser on my personal systems.
Well, this wouldn’t be very useful imo.
- Wi-Fi isn’t great for running Tor relays, unless it’s a really stable connection (so no swapping antennas/frequencies, no moving between floors etc.). Tor relays benefit greatly from consistent connections.
- The large amounts of downtime would be bad for consensus weight and as a result be bad for attracting traffic. That being said though, if your laptop is online 20 hours per day it might not be as bad as say 12 hours a day.
- Running a relay (even a non-exit) on a home ISP connection (or at some public Wi-Fi, which would be even worse) can have significant disadvantages because your public/WAN IP address gets banned by many websites and networks (including Cloudflare, which has a very strong presence on the internet). If you want to do this, make sure you have a dedicated IP address for this.
So in short: yes you can, but it would also lead to considerable potential problems while also not adding much benefit for the Tor network. The Snowflake browser plugin might be a better fit :).
@TorOps Whilst I run various Tor relays I’ve also enjoyed running the Snowflake browser plugin on FreeBSD & OpenBSD in the XFCE desktop environment.
It was interesting & surprising to observe, on a number of occasions, a Snowflake browser plugin connection lasting anything up to 72-96 hours with a bandwidth consumption of up to 25 gigabytes in that time frame, using the Iridium browser on FreeBSD & Firefox browser on OpenBSD.
I happen to live in the shadow of a 5G mast with a high speed connection. So I’ve also been able to use the 5G connection to run a couple of 5G standalone Snowflake proxies (I’ve got multiple 5G subscriptions & 5G routers). The connection to my computers is an Ethernet cable, direct from a 5G router.
If 5G isn’t an option for you, in addition to home broadband, a 4G connection could possibly also work very well for running a Snowflake browser plugin, obviously depending on connection speed. Again, living close to a 4G mast I consistently achieved a download of approximately 60Mbps download & 40Mpbs upload but lesser amounts than these on a 4G connection could still be a valuable contribution to the Tor network.
I’ve also tethered my iPhone to a GL-iNet router so it’s providing an additional, ephemeral Snowflake browser plugin connection during the night time hours, whilst I dream of Electric Sheep
Of course, technically, a 4G/5G connection in the context of running a Snowflake browser plugin is feasible & the IP address rotation can be fun to work with & running a Snowflake browser plugin is still a useful & incredibly worthwhile contribution to the Tor network ecosystem & a good starting point to build from.
Renting a VPS could be an enjoyable next step, if you haven’t done so already? Funds permitting, for $5 a month you could probably find a number of suitable VPS options & work on setting up a Tor Bridge or Tor Guard relay or a standalone Snowflake proxy, using the Tor documentation which is readily available. Using a Linux OS you’re already familiar with will ease the pathway to Tor relay operator success.
Wishing you all the best with it
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