Tor Vs VPN: What's the Difference and Which is Better
Digital privacy is a growing concern for users of all ages worldwide. The fact is companies track your behavior online to serve you with specific and relevant advertisements.
Government agencies watch your every move to better predict your behavior. What’s worse, cybercriminals strive to steal your sensitive data.
This is why many have resulted in using alternative methods such as private networks and alternate browsers to keep their privacy intact. We compare the two most popular options – Tor vs. VPN. Keep reading to learn, which is the best solution for you.
How Tor Works
Tor stands for ‘The Onion Router’, a service designed to let people anonymously browse the internet. It disguises your identity on the web by sending your traffic through several Tor servers rather than making a direct connection. As your traffic is sent through these servers, the data is encrypted.
Why Tor is Better than a VPN
One of the most significant benefits of using Tor is that it is a budget-friendly solution. You can download the Tor browser for free on the Tor website. The browser is also very user-friendly.
The more Tor users there are, the more hidden your traffic becomes, and with Tor running almost 7,000 relays around the world, as a network, it’s difficult to break into.
Tor is better at achieving real anonymity than some VPNs. This, of course, all depends on your VPN provider and how much information the service collects about you.
When you use Tor, your data is sent through three random delays; you can only be as fast online as your slowest node.
The fact that it is slow also makes it unsuitable for file sharing or downloads, which is something the Tor project advises strongly against.
Tor doesn’t allow you to select the location from which you wish to access the internet as a VPN does. This means you’re going to have trouble accessing geo-blocked content that is only available in a certain country.
Websites are also able to recognize traffic that comes from a Tor exit relay. This has led to many everyday websites completely blocking Tor users from landing on their site. Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have even threatened to cut off service to Tor users.
The fact that you are using Tor in itself raises suspicions. As it is most often associated with criminal activity, it could result in security agencies tracking you.
How VPN Works
A VPN is a private network of servers that uses the infrastructure of the internet to create a digital tunnel. This way, it transfers your data while isolating it from other regular traffic.
Your information is encrypted before it arrives at the VPN server, which then securely sends it through to your final internet destination with a different IP address, protecting your identity.
VPN Advantages: Why VPN is Better than Tor
A VPN provides a much faster online connection than Tor does. This is because your VPN only sends your signal through to one server.
A significant advantage is that VPNs will encrypt all of your online activity, not just web browsing. Streaming, gaming, and downloading files will all be secure for this reason.
You can choose your server locations, with some VPN providers offering thousands of servers for you to connect to.
Unlike Tor, which is run by volunteers, paid VPNs have maintained networks, meaning that you receive updated security, functionality, availability, and sometimes round the clock customer service.
Another benefit of using a VPN is that it comes with a kill switch. This allows you to stay protected even when your VPN connection drops in that it automatically ends your online session.
While Tor is free, the best VPN services are paid. Although there are free VPNs online, they can cause more damage than good. Instead of protecting your online movements, free VPNs are often brimming with malware or trackers.
This is why we highly recommend staying away from free VPNs. For a couple of dollars a month, you can have a premium VPN service with peace of mind.
Our recommended VPN, ExpressVPN, has exceptional speeds (99.9% guaranteed uptime), more than 3,000 servers in 160 worldwide locations, no logs policy, military-grade encryption, and 24-hour customer service availability.
The drawbacks to using a VPN greatly depend on which VPN service provider you use. For example, one drawback is that you may not have many servers to connect to. On the other hand, some premium VPN services provide access for up to 6,000 servers.
Speed is also questionable with low-grade VPNs, with some slowing down your connection as much as 60-70%.
A premium quality VPN will allow you to access the internet securely, stream your favorite shows, and check emails without noticing you’re connected to the service.
Using Tor and VPN Together
Did you know that it is entirely possible to use a VPN in combination with Tor? This is recommended if you’re attempting to use onion websites or the dark web.
If you connect to a VPN server before connecting to the Tor network, your VPN will spoof your IP address. Even if someone were to compromise the Tor entry node, they would still be unable to get access to your IP address details.
This is recommended for journalists, activists, whistleblowers, or crime victims who wish to stay anonymous.
It should be noted that adding another node as well as using more bandwidth with the VPN connection will significantly reduce your connection speed. If you are using Tor, it is assumed that speed is not your priority, so it seems to be a worthy trade-off, but only if you’re using a first-rate VPN.
Tor vs. VPN: Which to Use?
So, the question remains: Tor or VPN? Both Tor and VPNs have quality approaches to ensure a private online experience.
When it comes to a Tor vs. VPN comparison, they’re quite different in their priorities and use.
Tor sacrifices both speed and usability to increase your privacy. However, many websites have blocked users attempting to connect to their platform while using Tor, and its users are often assumed to be connected to some form of criminal activity.
For the everyday user that wishes to keep their online movements private, we recommend using a VPN. This is because you can carry out your daily digital tasks without experiencing lag or buffering. You’re able to access geo-blocked content, stream online, save money on purchases, and also receive all-day assistance with the best VPNs – all while having your data encrypted.
The bottom line is, when considering Tor or VPN, a VPN allows for an excellent degree of protection without sacrificing everyday utility.
Tor is for those users that interpret online privacy as a matter of life and death.
If you just want to secure your home, business, and communications without giving up your high-speed internet connection, a VPN is definitely your best option.