Snowflake is a system that allows people from all over the world to access censored websites and applications. Similar to how VPNs assist users in getting around Internet censorship, Snowflake helps you avoid being noticed by Internet censors by making your Internet activity appear as though you're using the Internet for a regular video or voice call.
There are numerous tools available, such as Snowflake, that "transform" Internet activity, each using a different technique. Some redirect Internet traffic to appear to be coming from popular cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Others scramble Internet traffic in order to make it appear completely random.
It therefore becomes costly for censors to consider blocking such circumvention tools since it would require blocking large parts of the Internet in order to achieve the initial targeted goal.
Use Snowflake to bypass censorship
Unlike VPNs, you do not need to install a separate application to connect to a Snowflake proxy and bypass censorship. It is usually a circumvention feature embedded within existing apps. Currently Snowflake is available inside Tor Browser on Desktop and Android, Onion Browser on iOS, and Orbot on Android and iOS. If you have downloaded and installed any of these apps, and they are censored in your country, you can bypass the censorship by activating Snowflake through the apps' settings page.
Help people circumvent censorship: operate a Snowflake proxy
Did you know that Snowflake proxies are operated entirely by volunteers? In other words, a user gets matched with a random Snowflake volunteer proxy, which is run by a volunteer like you! So, if you want to help people bypass censorship, consider installing and running a Snowflake proxy. The only prerequisite is that the Internet in your country is not heavily censored already.
You can join thousands of volunteers from around the world who have a Snowflake proxy installed and running. There is no need to worry about which websites people are accessing through your Snowflake proxy. Their visible browsing IP address will match their Tor exit node, not yours.
There are different ways to run a Snowflake proxy (beginner to advanced):
Install the web extension
The web extension is the easiest way to run a Snowflake proxy. Simply install it on Firefox or Chrome, enable the extension, and watch the icon turn green when a user connects through your proxy!
Install in Firefox
Install in Chrome
Install in Edge
Leave this browser tab open or embed a web badge on your website
If you switch on the Snowflake below and leave the browser tab open, a user can connect through your new proxy!
Alternatively, you can embed a Snowflake proxy yourself inside a page in your own website (e.g., relay.love). Visitors to your site can enter the page, enable the proxy, and leave it open to allow people to proxy through it (it behaves and looks exactly like the web extension).
Run a standalone proxy
If you would like to run a command-line version of the Snowflake proxy on your desktop or server, see our guide for running a Snowflake standalone proxy.
Seeking support with using Snowflake
If you encounter issues while trying to connect to Tor using Snowflake, the Tor support channel can be reached on Telegram. You can also browse the Tor Support Portal and the Tor Forum for answers.
If you encounter problems with Snowflake - whether you're using it or running it -, please consider filing a bug report. There are two ways to file a bug report:
- Request an account at the Tor Project GitLab, then open a new issue in the Snowflake project.
- File an anonymous ticket by generating an identifier and logging in with it. Then, find the Snowflake project in the List of all projects and create a new issue.
Please try to be as descriptive as possible with your ticket and if possible include log messages that will help us reproduce the bug.
Learn more about how Snowflake works
Snowflake is a new circumvention technology, part of the Pluggable Transports family, that is continuously being improved. Curious to learn more about its architecture? Feel free to check this Technical overview (in English).
If you're interested in making use of Snowflake inside your application, get in touch with anti-censorship team.