Tor vs VPN: Which One Is Better For You?
Do you follow good security practices? Are you browsing the internet anonymously? Do you know the difference between Tor and VPN? If the answer to any of those questions is no, you may want to keep reading. In an increasingly digital world, online privacy has become paramount, and knowing which tools can help protect your identity online is important.
Thankfully, you don’t have to look far for a formidable piece of security software. VeePN offers top-grade 256-bit AES encryption, optimal location to help you get the best connection, and over 2500 high-speed servers to choose from. Protect your online safety and freedom in just a few clicks with VeePN.
Tor and VPN: what’s the difference?
When you use the Tor network, traffic gets routed through a series of random relays before exiting and reaching its final destination. With a VPN, traffic flows through a specified secure server, concealing your IP address and encrypting communication. Both technologies provide a high level of anonymity online.
VPNs provide all-round protection when you access the internet or connect to public Wi-Fi. Whereas, utilizing the Tor network involves using a specialized browser also capable of accessing websites on the darknet. Each technology is different and serves a specific purpose.
How does Tor work?
Tor is a secure network that anyone can use to conceal their browsing habits. Tor technology encrypts traffic and randomly routes it through different nodes. The network is completely decentralized and relies on volunteers to operate the thousands of relays required to provide an acceptable level of anonymity.
The technology utilizes multiple layers of encryption to make tracking users difficult, hence the name Tor, which is short for The Onion Router. The randomness of the relays used, the size of the network, and the depth of encryption offer a considerable amount of protection.
Tor also allows you to connect to darknet websites, but you’ll need the right tool for the job. The dark web is a collection of hidden servers inaccessible through standard means, and accessing these sites often involves inputting complex onion domain names. If you do wish to explore the dark web — which you should always do with caution — or use the secure Tor network, you’ll need to download the specialized Tor Browser.
Is Tor Safe?
In most cases, Tor effectively hides your IP address and maintains your anonymity, as even an entry node can’t decrypt your traffic. However, because anyone can opt to run a Tor node, you can’t know if you’ve randomly connected to a compromised relay. Even so, encryption should still keep you safe. But what if it doesn’t? Read on to know how to make your protection near impenetrable.
Can you be tracked on Tor?
Tracking someone on the Tor network is difficult, but intelligence agencies are always looking for new ways to crack encryption. The Guardian reports that the NSA has exploited the Tor Browser, which uses Firefox as a base, to infiltrate the computers of specific targets. With that said, so far no one has managed to crack the Tor network itself.
While researchers at MIT, using machine learning to analyze traffic patterns, have proven that discovering some information about Tor users is possible, the network’s encryption remains intact.
What does VPN do?
Tor and VPNs share some of the same features. Both technologies can:
- Hide your IP address
- Encrypt traffic to conceal activity from internet service providers (ISPs) and other entities
- Prevent tracking
VPNs, however, offer a little more than Tor, such as the ability to:
- Bypass geo-blocking on streaming services
- Access blocked websites and avoid censorship
- Safely connect to public W-Fi
If you don’t want sites learning your identity or tracking your actions online, hiding your IP address is important. When you connect to a server, an exposed IP allows someone on the other end to identify where the connection came from. With the help of your ISP, anyone with the right authority could use that information to unmask your identity.
When you use a VPN, all traffic between your device and the remote server is encrypted. Encrypted data leaves your computer or mobile device, arrives at the VPN server, undergoes decryption, and continues on to its destination. Information returned from the target location also undergoes encryption at the VPN server before arriving at your device. This tunneling process means that no one, including your ISP, can monitor your activity.
Using a VPN is also an effective way to bypass geo-blocking for streaming services and other websites. Most VPNs allow you to select which server you connect to, which means you can appear to be from almost anywhere in the world.
With a VPN, you can also access websites blocked by your government or ISP. As long as you connect to a server in a country that doesn’t have the same restrictions, you can avoid most attempts to censor the internet.
If you use public Wi-Fi, connecting with a VPN is crucial. Encrypting your connection prevents someone from monitoring your activity or infiltrating your device. The New York Times reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has warned government employees against using public Wi-Fi, but a VPN offers protection when using unsecured connections.
Is VPN safe?
If you choose a reliable VPN service provider, using a VPN is one of the safest ways to browse the internet. When selecting a service, you should look for the following features:
- Tough encryption
- Multiple servers to choose from
- No logging
- Kill switch
Tough encryption means that anyone attempting to monitor your connection will have next to no chance at deciphering any data. Plenty of thus-far-uncrackable encryption methods exist, and a good VPN provider will employ a powerful protocol like AES 256 used in VeePN.
A choice of multiple servers is a must-have feature for any VPN. Not only does a wide variety help with dodging geo-blockers, but frequently switching servers is a good security practice.
You should only ever consider VPN providers that offer a no logging policy. What’s the point of encrypting data between yourself and a VPN server if the company is recording every connection? Such services should never log user data, as doing so defeats the overall purpose of the product.
A kill switch is another important security feature you shouldn’t do without. With a kill switch active, any disruptions to your connection immediately cut off access to the internet to prevent your IP address from leaking. If you’re serious about online anonymity, a VPN with a kill switch is critical.
Do you really need a VPN?
If you care about protecting your anonymity online, preventing people from monitoring your browsing habits, and using public Wi-Fi safely, then you should consider using a VPN. In a world where everything is connected, good security practices are paramount. Also, a VPN should be your go-to solution if you want to access region-blocked content like social media, websites, or streaming services.
Is Tor better than a VPN?
Tor is great for browsing the internet anonymously and accessing the dark web, but it isn’t a VPN and lacks some useful features. Because Tor routes traffic through random relays, you have no control over the locations you connect to, so using the network to bypass geo-blocking or censorship isn’t feasible.
On top of that, the Tor network operates quite slowly, so using it to secure your connection all the time, especially when downloading torrents and other large files, isn’t ideal. VPNs, on the other hand, generally offer much greater bandwidth so you experience minimal speed reductions.
Do you need a VPN with Tor?
When you use Tor without a VPN, your internet service provider knows what you’re doing. Encryption and routing still protect your connection and hide your activity, but your ISP can see that you’re using the Tor network. Adding a VPN to the equation solves this problem.
How to use a VPN with Tor
Here’s how to use a VPN with the Tor network:
- Sign up for VeePN’s super-fast, highly-secure VPN
- Download and install the VeePN client on your device
- Download and install Tor Browser
- Connect VeePN to the desired server
- Launch Tor Browser and connect to the Tor network
That’s it. The many layers of security provided by the Tor network coupled with the extra encryption offered by VeePN’s powerful VPN technology will make tracking you online a near-impossible feat.
VeePN’s top-grade encryption, numerous high-speed servers, and additional security features, including double VPN, kill switch, and DNS leak prevention, provide the ultimate online anonymity toolkit.
Tor, VPN, and everything else
When it comes to online security, you don’t need to choose one method of protection over another. Each tool serves a specific purpose, and your browsing habits will dictate the type of technology you should use. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you remain safe online.
Following good security practices will help you avoid many of the pitfalls that come with using the internet. You should never open suspicious emails, download anything from an untrusted source, click questionable links, post private information, or simply overshare online. Many types of malicious actors are always on the lookout, so arm yourself with knowledge because in our day and age, careless actions online can have some serious offline consequences.
FAQ: Tor vs. VPN
Using Tor is legal in most democratic countries. However, the prominent tech industry players refrain from promoting the use of the Tor Browser. On top of that, in some parts of the world, including China and Iran, Tor is illegal.
Yes, a free VPN service may compromise your online security. Although using a VPN server can protect your traffic from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) monitoring, it also allows an unreliable VPN provider to track your activities. Providers offering free VPN services may not prioritize the confidentiality of your data. They can even share it with third parties to make a profit.
Certainly, it’s possible to use a free VPN. However, we wouldn’t recommend opting for such a solution. Free VPNs are typically less reliable and more likely to leak or sell your data to third parties. Additionally, they often have fewer features and slower speeds.
Although the Tor browser does conceal activities from ISPs to some extent, you can safeguard yourself by combining Tor and a VPN. VPNs encrypt traffic even before it reaches your ISP. So while Tor makes it challenging for your ISP to monitor your online activities, it will be nearly impossible to track you thanks to a VPN. Check out this article to learn more.
You can install the Tor Browser on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android devices. Additionally, you can use Tor on specific routers through the OnionPi project or implement an internal service via OnionShare. Finally, you can jailbreak your iOS device and install the Tor Browser through the i-device repository.