Dark Web vs. Deep Web: What’s the Difference?

Learn about the differences between Dark Web vs Deep Web including their definitions, comparison chart & more explained! Discover why one requires special browsers like Tor and the other just need authentication. Keep yourself safe by understanding what you’re getting into before diving in headfirst!

The Confusion

Have you ever heard someone mention “the dark web,” and wondered what that even meant? Do you use the terms “dark web” and “deep web” interchangeably, thinking they’re both one in the same? If so, don’t feel bad – many people are confused by these terms. In this post, we’ll explore their differences.

In an imaginary conversation between two people named Jack and Jill:

Jack: Hey Jill! Have you ever accessed a deep website?
Jill: No way! That sounds scary.
Jack (smiling): Actually it’s not as scary as it may sound!

The confusion stems from how these names have become intertwined over time. The major difference between them is simple to understand once explained properly.

What is Deep Web?

First of all, let’s define exactly what constitutes the deep web. Essentially anything on the internet which cannot be indexed or searched through traditional search engines like Google falls under this category.

For example:
– Your email inbox
– Online banking accounts
– Medical records

These areas need authentication or special access credentials to gain entry into them. These links -known as “deep web links” – are not accessible from traditional search engines, but they’re not necessarily sinister or illegal.

What is Dark Web?

From there, we move onto the dark web. The dark web is a small portion of the deep web that’s only accessible through special software like Tor (The Onion Router).

It contains a variety of websites and services that cannot be accessed through regular internet browsers. These hidden sites have their own unique URLs known as “dark net links.” Because these sites aren’t indexed by search engines, a user needs to know exactly what they’re looking for in order to find them.

However, just because something exists on the dark web doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad. In fact, many people use this area for perfectly legal reasons such as anonymous communication or purchasing items without leaving digital footprints.

But unfortunately – and quite famously – some areas within the dark net can contain illegal activity involving drugs sales and distribution rings among other things

The Differences

So if you want to access anything on either category aside from surface-level ones that require no authentication whatsoever (like Wikipedia), then you’ll need specialized software called onion routers which encrypts your location data while accessing these networks.

And why would someone want to access the deep web or dark web? There are both legal and illegal reasons for doing so, but it’s important to note that accessing these areas can be dangerous if you’re not careful. You could accidentally stumble upon something illegal or put yourself at risk by sharing too much information.

The main difference between them is that the deep web contains everything on the internet which cannot be indexed by search engines, while the dark web is a small portion of this area specifically accessed through special software like Tor.


While many people use “deep web” and “dark web” interchangeably, they actually refer to two separate things: one being larger than we realize with mostly harmless content requiring authentication; and another consisting of unindexed sites you need specialized software to unlock (and some may contain criminal activity).

It’s important for anyone interested in exploring either area – even just out of curiosity- take precautions before diving in headfirst. Do your research beforehand about what each entails fully and how best approach them safely.

Further reading:

J. Bergman and O. B. Popov, “Exploring Dark Web Crawlers: A Systematic Literature Review of Dark Web Crawlers and Their Implementation,” in IEEE Access, vol. 11, pp. 35914-35933, 2023, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2023.3255165.

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