Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Calvin C.
Background of Tor and VPN
If you have been following this blog am sure by now you know a lot about top VPN services that are available. Today I am going to throw into the mix another tool that is widely used to keep internet traffic private and that is Tor. The big question is “which should you use Tor or VPN?”
In this article we answer that question and by the time you finish reading this, everything will be clear. You will also understand the pros and cons of these two technologies so read on.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is extensively described in one post, so if you are a beginner, after reading this post I suggest you read all about it.
- Got no time? Our VPN of choice is NordVPN because it has plenty of security features
Generally, A VPN is an application that you install on your device and all your internet traffic passes through the VPN.
This means it works at operating system level and secures all applications on your devices.
It creates a VPN tunnel, encrypts your traffic and assigns a new IP address. As a result, you can surf the internet securely and privately.
There are no layers that your data has to pass through unlike Tor, so the connection speed is faster.
You use a VPN for torrenting, streaming or changing your virtual geo-location to name a few. Since all the traffic from apps pass through the VPN, you have a peace of mind.
In addition, VPNs are also used by companies, so VPN traffic is not filtered heavily by websites on the Normal web, unlike Tor traffic.
Your ISP can see that you are using a VPN but only sees encrypted data. Internet trolls, fraudsters and hackers cannot see your IP address, hence they are kept in the shadows.
A VPN can be installed on your router, something that you can’t do with Tor. That way any device that is connected to the router is automatically secured.
If you use a good, reliable VPN, connection speed does not drop by more than 30%, hence you are still able to carry out activities that use a lot of bandwidth, like streaming HD movies.
Just make sure you stay away from poorly-built, free VPNs.
What are the features of VPNs
- A good VPN is paid and I don’t advice you to use a free VPN. You can read about the dangers of free VPNs.
- You have to be guided to get a reliable VPN because a significant number of VPNs are not trustworthy. This is the primary purpose of this site, to review VPNs and point you into the right direction.
- More complicated to set-up than Tor, although most have an easy guide one can follow. You have to sign up, get login credentials, install the VPN client etc. It’s a bit more work than Tor.
- At a glance, these are the best VPN services:
What is Tor?
Tor is a browser that guarantees almost 100% anonymity when we look at browser encryption. You can download it on the official Tor Project website and start using it right away.
The way Tor works is that the browser traffic has to pass through a series of nodes to connect to a remote site.
These nodes are essentially computers and your traffic is encrypted from one random node to the next.
By the time your traffic reaches the exit node, your IP address is virtually untraceable.
Nodes are found all over the world hosted by volunteers and since there is no incentive for hosting a node, don’t expect speeds that surpass the best VPNs.
You pay no money to use Tor and the volunteers are responsible for maintaining the service. In other words, it’s open source.
There are no cookies stored by Tor so don’t worry about being tracked when browsing.
Some browsers like brave.com integrated Tor and you can always use it when you want be anonymous online.
What to note about Tor?
- When you use Tor, your traffic enters the guard node and is bounced around various nodes before reaching the exit node.
- Hackers can attack the first later or last layer and see unencrypted traffic
- This is in contrast to a VPN where traffic stays in the tunnel.
- To counter this you can use VPN over Tor or vice versa, but connection speed may decrease significantly.
- The best arrangement is to start the VPN service first, then use the Tor browser. As long as you use a trusted VPN service with no DNS leaks and no logging of your data, you are safe.
- Another thing to note with Tor is that since it doesn’t store cookies, there is no auto-login when online. You have to log in every time you open a new session.
- Tor is used by criminals on the Dark web
- Some websites won’t work if they detect that you are using Tor.
- Don’t expect high speeds as traffic has to pass through many nodes.
So, what should you use, Tor or VPN? The take home message is that Tor is free, but it is filtered by most websites and has a slow connection.
Although it has been associated illegal activities, it is a good browser that many people use.
However, if you want hassle-free anonymity and security on the web, a VPN is better.
The upside of VPNs is that the speeds are way better and you can easily stream online content seamlessly.
The catch is that you need to use a trusted VPN with reliable features.
VPNs are not the same and there is a guide to break down the qualities sought after in a VPN.
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