Tor helps to reduce the risks of both simple and sophisticated traffic analysis by distributing your transactions over several places on the Internet, so no single point can link you to your destination. The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you — and then periodically erasing your footprints. Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random pathway through several relays that cover your tracks so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it's going. To create a private network pathway with Tor, the user's software or client incrementally builds a circuit of encrypted connections through relays on the network. The circuit is extended one hop at a time, and each relay along the way knows only which relay gave it data and which relay it is giving data to. No individual relay ever knows the complete path that a data packet has taken. The client negotiates a separate set of encryption keys for each hop along the circuit to ensure that each hop can't trace these connections as they pass through.
Originally posted by TKDRL
reply to post by Severin
The more people with high speed internet that become nodes, the faster it can be potentially. Just running TOR, you are not running a node by default, you have to enable it specifically.
Others like I2P and freenet are different though. I know one of them, you have to stay connected 24/7 and are used as a "node" by default. The longer you are connected, the faster speeds you can potentially get.