OnionShare – Share files of any size securely and anonymously

About OnionShare

OnionShare is a free, open source file sharing application that can used to share files or folders of any size securely and anonymously over Internet. It works along with Tor browser which is used to securely and anonymously use Internet. OnionShare will generate an unguessable and random-looking URL for the files or folders you want to share with others. It doesn’t need any centralized web server or any third party services. All operations will be done within TOR network and nobody can track what you’re going to share or download, except the recipient of course.

OnionShare has drag and drop option for files and folders, so that you can easily send or download them with a couple Mouse clicks. There is no particular size limit to share or download files and folders. You can also share any number of files/folders at once. Once you started this application, It will copy the sharing URL automatically to the clipboard, and close it itself automatically once the operation is done. It is available in several language and supports international unicode filenames.

OnionShare doesn’t reveal the user’s identify or IP address to outside the Tor network. Also the files shared via OnionShare along with Tor network are cryptographically authenticated and private. OnionShare is developed and maintained by Micah Lee, a Technologist at The Intercept. It is available for Windows, MAC and Linux operating systems.

Installation

As I mentioned, OnionShare needs Tor browser in order to share or download files/folders. If you haven’t installed Tor browser on your system, follow the steps given below.

Install Tor browser using PPA

To install Tor browser in Ubuntu and Debian systems, run the following commands one by one from the Terminal.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:micahflee/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install torbrowser-launcher

Alternatively you compile and install Tor browser from the source as shown below.

Install Tor Browser Launcher using GIT

First, clone the Git repository using commands:

git clone https://github.com/micahflee/torbrowser-launcher.git
cd torbrowser-launcher

Then install dependencies, build a package, and install as shown below:

On Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint:

sudo apt-get install build-essential dh-python python-all python-stdeb python-gtk2 python-psutil python-twisted python-lzma python-txsocksx gnupg fakeroot xz-utils tor
./build_deb.sh
sudo dpkg -i deb_dist/torbrowser-launcher_*.deb

On Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS:

sudo yum install python-psutil python-twisted gnupg fakeroot rpm-build python-txsocksx tor pygtk2
 ./build_rpm.sh
sudo yum install dist/torbrowser-launcher-*.rpm

Now, install OnionShare as shown below.

Install OnionShare using PPA

If you are using Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, open the terminal and type the following commands one by one:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:micahflee/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install onionshare

Also, you can compile and install OnionShare for other Linux from source as shown below.

Install OnionShare using GIT

Clone the GIT repository using commands:

git clone https://github.com/micahflee/onionshare.git
cd onionshare

On Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint:

sudo apt-get install build-essential fakeroot python3-all python3-stdeb python3-flask python3-stem python3-pyqt5 dh-python -y 
./install/build_deb.sh
sudo dpkg -i deb_dist/onionshare_*.deb

On Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora:

sudo sudo dnf install rpm-build python3-flask python3-stem python3-qt5 -y
./install/build_rpm.sh
sudo yum install dist/onionshare-*.rpm -y

Or

sudo dnf install dist/onionshare-*.rpm -y

Usage

After installing Tor browser and OnionShare, we must first launch Tor browser before opening OnionShare.

About Tor - Tor Browser_003

Then open OnionShare. The default interface of OnionShare will look like below.

OnionShare_002

Now, It is time to sharing the files and folders to other users.

Click Add Files or Add Folder and select the path of the files or folders that you want to share with others and click Start sharing button.

For example, I want to share the following folder.

OnionShare_005

Wait few seconds for OnionShare to create a Tor hidden service for your current file share and a sharing URL.

Then click Copy URL and send it to someone that you want to share the folder.

OnionShare_006

Be mindful that this is the secret URL and you should share this URL via any secure medium. The developer of OnionShare recommend to use Off-the-Record encrypted chat to send the URL.

The person who is receiving the files and folders doesn’t need OnionShare on his/her system. All they need is Tor browser only. Just tell him to paste the URL on the address bar of his Tor browser. That’s it. The file/folders will start to download in their machine.

Of course you can see yourself, If you want to see how it works. Paste the URL on your Tor browser’s address bar and press ENTER. It will show the file that you shared via OnionShare. Click on the file to download it.

OnionShare - Tor Browser_007

OnionShare - Tor Browser_009

Once the file is downloaded, OnionShare will show you the download complete message.

OnionShare_010

This way you can share any files/folders of any size, as long as you have an active Internet connection on both sides, and Tor browser and OnionShare installed on your system and only Tor browser on the recipient’s side.

The only downside is you have to be very careful while sharing the URL to the recipient. Do not send it to via Facebook or any other traditional mail services. Follow the developer advice. Also, make sure your system is not compromised already. If your system is comprised, then there won’t be any privacy and protection. Tor and OnionShare have nothing to do with the virus affected or already-compromised systems.

That’s all for now. I will be here soon with an another interesting article. Until then stay tuned with us.

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Thanks for reading! Happy weekend!!