Tor or VPN: What They Do and Which is Better? (Quick Guide)

Tor or VPN: Which is Better?

Many of us have either heard or read about any of these two services. If you’ve ever read anything about the “deep web,” chances are, you know what Tor is. If you’ve ever needed a more secure connection, then you know what a VPN is.

Although they both do the same – they hide our identity, they have certain differences. In this article, we will be discussing which is better to use. Before we get to that, though, let us first discuss what each of them is.

What is Tor?

Short for “The Onion Router,” Tor is a browser that keeps your identity anonymous. It’s basically a secure browser because it does not allow users’ IP addresses to be seen. When a user uses Tor for browsing, it passes through various Tor nodes scattered all around the world. Each node has a specific set of encryption which further secures your connection.

The Tor browser can be downloaded for free and can be used by anyone. However, it’s only compatible with selected devices.

The only problem with a Tor is the exit node. The exit node is the last node that would have a look at the data before transferring it to the destination. The exit node’s data is decrypted so the person running the exit node might have information about the prior connection.

What is a VPN?

A VPN or a Virtual Private Tunnel is a type of connection that also keeps the identities of its users hidden. It is a set of servers that creates a direct tunnel between you and your network. Once an established connection with a VPN is present, the servers of the VPN will act as your home on the internet.

The VPN is a subscription type of thing that you have to pay for monthly. The servers of the VPN clients are funded and need to be maintained in order for it to work.

If there’s a problem with Tor, there’s also a problem with VPN. Some VPN connections might still experience a DNS Leak. A Domain Name System, responsible for associating IP addresses to websites, might have a leakage. This can happen when your VPN provider does not have its own DNS servers; or when the traffic leaks out of the secure VPN tunnel.

How is a Tor and VPN similar?

Both of these programs give you the same goal – to keep your identity hidden. In Tor, it passes through different nodes (across different servers) while encrypting the traffic. What this does is that the traffic, when searched and analyzed, won’t be traced back to you.

A VPN, on the other hand, encrypts all data that you send and receive. This makes you anonymous all throughout your journey while using VPN.

What are the differences between Tor and VPN?

While both programs give you the anonymity you want, they have distinct differences. Their differences are quite vast, and it would depend on how a user wants his or her connection to be. In order for us to differentiate them, we will be highlighting the key factors and disadvantages of each program.

Advantages of using Tor

  • Since Tor is a scattered network, it would be difficult for an organization to shut it down.
  • The more Tor users, the more secure your connection would be since it would be passing through multiple nodes.
  • The software is free to use as well as the network.
  • It allows you to access websites that are geographically restricted.
  • It is so secure that it does not show your IP address to the websites you visit.

Disadvantages of using Tor

  • Since your data is routed and transferred through multiple nodes (relays), it’s slower than your average speed.
  • There’s no accountability in Tor because there’s no direct funding for it. It’s run by volunteers.
  • Tor is compatible with a selected number of devices and operating systems.
  • The Deep Web is not a place for people who are not looking for it. You might get into a lot of trouble if you access it.

Advantages of using VPN

  • Since it’s a direct tunnel between the local IP address (your device) to the network, it’s faster.
  • Subscribing to a VPN connection protects and secures all data that you receive and send.
  • VPNs are paid so there are people who can help you when you experience problems.
  • It allows you to access websites that are geographically restricted.

Disadvantages of using VPN

  • A lot of ads might annoy you and in order for you to get rid of them, there’s a monthly fee.
  • Although they say that they’re secure, some VPN providers log your history.
  • Compared to Tor, VPN has a monthly fee for its services.

What is the Best VPN to Use?

Many providers offer VPN services. However, we recommend that you use ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers to use in enforcing security and preventing cyberattacks on your device. When using this VPN, you won’t need to use the  Tor over VPN option because of its high-end security. 

The VPN service provider uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to secure your data. It also uses several protocols like OpenVPN and other key features to enhance your security. ExpressVPN also has a kill switch, two leak-testers, and a malware protector. With these features, you can stream your preferred content and remain essentially safe from attacks.

ExpressVPN also has a strict no-logs policy and will therefore neither save nor share your data. It has great privacy policies that give you the guarantee of safety and anonymity when using the internet.  Additionally, ExpressVPN has the split-tunneling feature that allows you to choose the sites and apps to use over a VPN and the ones you’ll leave to your local ISP. 

The VPN software is compatible with nearly every device and allows you to connect up to five (5) devices simultaneously. You can protect all your essential devices with a single ExpressVPN account. 

So, what should you use?

When it’s down to this question, it would really depend on your personal situation. Tor is perfect to be totally anonymous. It’s built for those with extreme patience and with ultra-sensitive information that no one can know about.

Using a VPN, on the other hand, is the best for the majority of people who want a faster internet connection. VPN users aren’t all about the protection of data, it could also be its efficiency and how it’s easy to use.

But can I use Tor with a VPN?

I knew you would ask that, but for clarification, it’s still going to be slow. Using these two together won’t make much of a difference. It’s still going to be a secure connection, but the speed would most likely be the same.

In conclusion, a majority of people who want a secure connection would be recommended to use a VPN. It’s fast, it’s secure, and it’s monitored by teams who make sure that everything is running smoothly. Tor, however, is for the use of secretive browsing or accessing. We won’t recommend P2P file transfers or streaming if you’re connected to Tor because it’s just going to piss you off.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tor safer with a VPN?

You can use the Tor browser through a VPN if you want to, but just how secure is such a connection? This combination will only be perfect if your VPN doesn’t store metadata. 

While some VPNs don’t store your online data, they keep the metadata. Essentially, metadata is data about data. There are structural and descriptive metadata. Both types of metadata contain information on your data storage and its contents.

So, if your VPN stores metadata and it leaks, this leak can expose the fact that you’re using Tor. Therefore, if you plan on using Tor with a VPN, you’ll have to get a VPN that doesn’t store metadata to stay safe.

Can I choose a free VPN over Tor?

Free VPNs are included when we rank VPNs above Tor. This exclusion is because free VPNs have significant security shortcomings. For instance,  free VPNs often store and sell user data to third parties. They also have more flawed privacy features. Therefore, since Tor is free and offers some online security, it’ll be best to use Tor than a free VPN. 

Tor vs. VPN; are they legal?

Both Tor and VPNs are legal for use in many countries. However, while using Tor, you can be flagged for suspicious activity if you’re discovered. Furthermore, if you use VPNs for illegal activities, the law will hold you liable. Therefore, if you want to choose between Tor or VPNs or even use both, you don’t have to worry about breaching the law.

What’s the best VPN for Tor?

If you want to use Tor with a VPN, it’ll help to select the best VPN available. One such excellent choice is ExpressVPN. Apart from its many spectacular features, ExpressVPN even has its own .onion site. This site allows users to create an account anonymously. So, you may want to try out this VPN with Tor.