Best VPNs for the Dark Web & Darknet for Safe, Private Access
The dark web and the deep web are used interchangeably by most folks. However, to be exact, the dark web is a fraction of the deep web. The dark web refers to hidden websites and services you’ll find on the deep web. Both senders and receivers of data on the platform are usually anonymous. This level of secrecy is not unconnected to the nature of activities that go on on the dark web.
Due to the cloak that anonymity provides, users believe they can and actually do get away with a lot of activities on the dark web. However, the dark web also is useful to gamers, journalists, and whistleblowers. For the latter group, it affords them an avenue to share information, release data anonymously, and stay safe from the authorities.
You would have to use the Tor browser to access the dark web. However, it is possible to detect when a person uses an IP address provided by the Tor browser. Given the ugly reputation the dark web has, ISPs typically block anyone they suspect is using the Tor browser to access the dark web.
If you wish to remain anonymous the entire time, a VPN is your best bet.
Top Recommended VPNs for the Dark Web & Darknet for Safe, Private Access
Here are some of our best VPN recommendations for safe access to the darknet and dark web:
- Number of servers: More than 3,000
- Speeds: Unlimited
- Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
- Maximum devices supported: 5
- 24 live chat: Yes
- 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Fastest VPN out there
- Strict no logs policy
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Few discounts
It will not be out of place to call ExpressVPN the king of VPN providers. It has excellent features that some providers can only dream of having. From security to streaming speed to unblocking ability, ExpressVPN meets and exceeds our expectations. It supports the Tor browser; hence, you should experience no challenge with the dark web when you use the service. We strongly recommend it for use with the dark web.
This service provider has about 3000 servers in 160 locations. Every one of these servers is fast and super-strong. Thus, they make sure that you do not experience lags and slow speed while you are online. The provider also unblocks unrestricted content across several countries and platforms. To show how remarkable it is, ExpressVPN even gets around the Great Firewall of China.
Users’ security is also prioritized by ExpressVPN. Thus, it uses the AES 256-bit encryption model to protect its servers. To this, it adds a TrustedServer technology that has the function of preventing the writing of data on a hard drive, enhancing security. Furthermore, it has a network kill switch that comes on when users’ encryption momentarily fails, and it also runs its own private DNS.
You will find ExpressVPN apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. There are also apps for routers and game consoles. The installation process for this VPN is pretty straightforward. However, even if you run into any challenge, ExpressVPN’s 24/7 customer care response team will sort out any issues.
- Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
- Simultaneous connections: 6
- Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
- Servers: 5342 in 58 countries
- Lots of pricing options
- Netflix support kept up to date
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Slow app
NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN with enviable features. With 5000+ servers in 59 countries, it has one of the highest server counts of all the providers on this list. These servers are fast. Thus, even though it is usual to notice a speed reduction when you use a VPN, the same is not the case with NordVPN. It also fares well when it comes to security. Hence, on those two parameters, you can trust that this provider will keep you secure when you use the dark web.
Coming down to the specifics as it relates to security, NordVPN uses the standard AES 256-bit encryption to secure its servers. In addition, it provides obfuscated servers for users who need enhanced security, allows for split tunneling, and has a standby fully-functional kill switch. For security protocol, it supports both the OpenVPN and IPSec protocols. Furthermore, it has its own proprietary protocol known as NordLynx.
Apart from the regular security features which keep NordVPN users safe while using the dark web, the provider also has a feature known as a Dark Web Monitor. This informs a user whenever their details get exposed on the internet. These alerts help the user take appropriate measures to shore up their security while using the platform. In addition, it supports The Onion Router.
NordVPN has apps for the major device types. It allows 6 devices simultaneous connections to one account. Finally, it offers a trustworthy 30-day money-back window as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
- Free trial? Yes
- Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
- Ad blocking? Yes
- Servers: 1000+ in 61 countries
- No footprints
- Allows torrenting
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Not the fastest
Surfshark is one of the fastest-rising VPN providers currently in the market. It currently has about 3200 servers in 60+ locations. These servers are fast and reliable. They will make sure you have seamless access to whatever you need to do on the internet. Specifically for use when accessing the dark web, Surfshark is excellent.
Surfshark is remarkable for unblocking geo-restrictions. When you connect to any of its servers, you can get around blocks imposed by service providers such as Netflix, Hulu. Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Spotify, etc. In addition, Surfshark can afford you the means of flying below the radar of the surveillance of any country.
Surfshark also supports the Tor network. This offers easy access to people looking to use the dark web. The provider has a step-by-step process for those looking to integrate Surfshark into their Tor use. The steps include downloading and installing the Tor browser, then connecting to a Surfshark server in a compatible region. This avails the user of the protection of Surfshark.
Unlike other providers, Surfshark does not have a cap on the number of users who can connect to one account. Thus, you could connect an infinite number of devices and enjoy Surfshark’s protection while you use the dark web. Furthermore, Surfshark runs a 30-day money-back window for users who want a refund of their subscription funds due to any dissatisfaction with the service.
- P2P support? Yes
- 30-day money-back guarantee? Yes
- Country of origin? Switzerland
- Servers: 600+ in over 40 countries
- Simultaneous devices: 5
- Professional support
- Modern interface and apps
- AES-256 encryption
- Lesser known provider
ProtonVPN carries out the job of securing its user’s privacy very diligently. It has a slew of features aimed primarily at making sure users stay safe on the internet. We, therefore, recommend it as a reliable tool for enhancing your security while using the dark web.
This provider has 1200+ servers in 55 countries and counting. It uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure its servers. In addition, it runs traffic through multiple servers and offers both a kill switch and an adblocker. This provider implements a strict no-logs policy. It is based in Switzerland. The Swiss authorities have zero tolerance for breaches of users’ data. Thus, you can rest assured of your safety while using the service.
ProtonVPN allows integration with the Tor network. This compatibility makes it an excellent fit for use in accessing the dark web. It lays down a simple setup process that even newbie users can follow. Users are afforded a fleet of Tor-enabled servers on the VPN’s service. Connecting to any of them routes the user’s traffic through the Tor network.
There are a couple of things to note while connecting to a ProtonVPN Tor server. The first is that this option is not available to free subscribers. ProtonVPN has both a paid and free version. Some functionalities, such as integration with the Tor network, as is in this case, are unavailable for the free version. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that Tor only supports TCP traffic. You cannot route UDP traffic through the Tor browser.
- Speeds: 20 Gbps
- Money-back guarantee: Yes
- Activity logs? No
- Locations: 190+ countries
- Best server database on the market
- No-logs and kill switch policy
- Multiple device protection
- Expensive short term plan
HideMyAss (HMA) is a 15-year old veteran in the VPN industry. With a fleet of 1100+ servers in 290 locations, HMA has one of the highest location counts for any provider. Hence, you can expect that there would scarcely be any location you want to connect to that will not be available.
This provider makes use of military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. In addition, HMA has a kill switch that is always on and kicks in when the VPN momentarily falters, allows for split tunneling, and shuffles your IP address to throw off any tracker. HMA maintains a strict no-logs policy. Hence, it wipes down its servers after each user is done. Even if anyone were to gain access to the VPN server, there would be nothing to compromise your security.
HMA supports the Onion Router, with which you can access the dark web. It gives detailed explanations of the dark web and how users can access it for optimum protection. Whatever device you have, you will find a VPN app for it. Thus, from Windows to Mac to Linux and Apple devices have compatible apps from HMA. Furthermore, the subscription offers are affordable. Its array of options includes a 36-month subscription plan that goes for as low as $2.99 per month.
- Killswitch Yes
- iOS App Yes
- Data logging No
- Servers in 63 countries
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 2048-bit Encryption With AES-256
- App can seem complicated
PrivateVPN is a mid-tier provider that we recommend for use when accessing the dark web. The provider has strong security features that will ensure users have their security locked in while on the internet.
PrivateVPN, just like the other two previously discussed, has a little over 1000 servers in 63 countries. These countries include the popular locations and even the highly volatile countries in the Middle East. This company pairs the 2048-bit encryption with the AES 256-bit encryption to bypass hacks and surveillance. It also supports the OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2, and IPSec protocols.
This provider also maintains a 30-day money-back guarantee period. Within this grace period, a user can use the service and request a refund if unsatisfied with the quality of service. The service has apps for the major device types. These include MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. The installation process for this VPN is pretty straightforward. If you run into any challenges, you could reach out to the company’s customer care personnel to have the problem sorted.
- Connected devices at once: 7
- Automatic kill switch? Yes
- One click connect: Yes
- Servers: 5900 worldwide
- No logs policy
- 24/7 live chat
- Apps for mobile devices and routers
- No free option
CyberGhost is the last on our list but is certainly not the least. It ranks as one of the best VPN providers you can find in the market. This provider is an all-rounder: it features excellent speed for streaming and downloading content, sports reliable security features, and affordable subscription offers. For use with the dark web, you will find CyberGhost to be a reliable provider.
This provider has no less than 7000 servers in 90 locations. As highlighted earlier, these servers are primed for speed. Hence, whether for regular browsing, downloading, streaming content, or surfing the dark web, CyberGhost comes through. It performs high-end tasks like torrenting also.
What you find with CyberGhost is unimpeached security when you use its services. The provider uses the standard AES 256-bit encryption to secure its servers. So, you have nothing to worry about while you explore the dark web. Furthermore, it has an automatic kill switch and also supports both the OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols. For a small added fee, you could get a dedicated IP address solely for your use. Furthermore, it has NoSpy servers, specialty servers great for users in high-risk areas.
This provider does not have a free version. It charges $12.99 for its monthly plan, $3.99 per month for its yearly plan, $3.49 per month for its 2-year offer, and $2.25 per month for its 3-year plan. Not to worry, you can use its services potentially for free when you take advantage of its money-back window. CyberGhost allows you 45 days within which you can use the service and request a refund if unsatisfied with the VPN. It further has apps for most device types; hence, yours should be covered.
Is It Legal To Use a VPN for the Dark Web?
First of all, the question should be the propriety of accessing the dark web at all. Hence, the question should be whether it is legal to access the dark web in the first place.
There is no simple answer to the question. Whether it is legal to use the dark web depends on what you are using it for. No doubt, the dark web can and is sometimes used to perpetuate all kinds of crimes. Thus, the dark web can be used to sell weapons, illegal drugs, stolen credit cards, etc. However, it also provides a safe haven for journalists and dissidents, a site for some journal papers, etc.
Thus, it is advisable to use a VPN for the dark web. This is because most countries already have a negative stance towards the dark web. Hence, when they discover that a person is using the Tor network to access the dark web, they could block such a service. However, a VPN encrypts your service. Your ISP or government authorities will be unaware of the activities you carry out with the Tor browser. However, you should not engage in illegal activities even while under the cloak of the VPN.
There are many perfectly legal and legal reasons to use the dark web. However, you need enhanced protection while using the dark web. This is what a VPN affords you. This discussion directs you to the best VPNs to consider.