There are several reasons for you to be wanting anonymity on the internet. You might want to get rid of the user tracking of certain sites, you want to research a topic of interest without revealing your location, you want to take part and discuss in a forum banned in your country and so on. While there are many proxy servers or VPN networks that you can use to be anonymous over the internet, the Tor Project presents with an easy, secure and safe solution to acquire anonymity. Tor is short for The Onion Router. When you connect through the Tor network, your data is encrypted several times through different nodes and it becomes impossible for anyone to decipher it. The Tor network also assigns you a different IP address and thus hides your real IP address effectively.
You can download the Tor Client from the Tor Project website. The download is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is recommended that you download the ready-to-go portable Tor browser bundle package. This package contains everything you need to use Tor including the Firefox browser. You do not have to install anything on your computer. Just extract the downloaded package to a folder and run Start Tor Browser.exe from there. The Vidalia Control window would be shown and when the progress bar in the top would reach 100%, you would be connected to the secure, encrypted and anonymous Tor network.
As soon as you are connected to the Tor network, the special edition of Firefox browser would popup. This would show a message Congratulations. Your browser is configured to use Tor along with your new IP address. Though, this browser is actually Firefox but is labeled TorBrowser. If you access any website through this browser, you would stay anonymous. Other applications and browsers would still use your actual IP address. This TorBrowser comes with some add-ons like NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere for better security.
Tor Project website advises not to install any other add-ons in the TorBrowser as some add-ons may reveal your actual IP address. Similarly, you should not access sites with plugins like Adobe Flash because some of these plugins can be used to detect your real IP address. Another thing you should be careful about is not to open downloaded files (like Microsoft Word documents) from within TorBrowser as this also can expose your real IP address.
Tor also places an onion icon in the notification area of Windows. You can right-click on this icon to access different settings of Tor like bandwidth consumed by you, network map, stopping the Tor connection, getting a new identity etc. You can select New Identity from the notification area popup menu to get a new IP address.
The Tor Project is very helpful for everyone who has to remain anonymous for one or the other reasons. Ordinary people can use it to find information about socially sensitive or taboo topics. Social activists and whistle blowers can do their work through Tor without any fear of getting exposed. Journalists can use it to research some topics that otherwise might put their lives at risk. It can also be used to access sites blocked by the oppressive governments of some countries.
You can download Tor Project Browser Bundle from https://www.torproject.org/.