VPN vs Tor – The Best Comparison in 2024

Discover the right tool for your online needs. Explore the differences between Tor and VPN, their pros and cons, and make an informed choice for optimal privacy and functionality.

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Last updated on 27 February 2024

VPN vs Tor: What is a VPN?

As the expanded name suggests, VPN refers to technology that produces an encrypted or private tunnel in open internet. You can use hardware and tools to produce a closed-off network where no can pry. But, VPN creates a safe and private route between user and end-points of info exchange in the same setup of desktop or laptop you use.

During online activities, your data and information exchange passes to and for between other online systems you are trying to connect and your server. VPN technology makes your connection private through encryption and with new connected server location. So, your info passing between your server and the points of info exchange becomes inaccessible to hackers or other prying eyes.

How VPN Works?

As you use a VPN service, they connect you to a server location, different from your geographical location. That notably gives you a new IP address. So, your system (laptop, desktop or other device) establishes connection with a new server. Your device now uses the new server and its info for online activities and browsing.

So, any system trying to access your data or server info, they remain in dark about your actual IP or server. They get to see the information of the VPN server. Further, the encryption protocols like AES 256 help in keeping your data in safe route.

The encryption processes your online data in a way it appears gibberish to hackers or other prying systems. The data only takes the understandable and original form when it reaches the receiver from sender (you) in the network.

VPN and Tor

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using VPN

The hype surrounding VPN software takes our attention to the advantages and disadvantages of VPN services. Yes, VPN does come with important benefits like masking your actual IP address, improving online safety and privacy and evading geo restricted content.

But at the same time, VPN can cause issues like slow connection or government ban. Continue reading to explore the pros and cons of this network.

Pros of VPN

VPN changes your streaming experience in a good way. Through a remote server, you can access a broad range of geo restricted content online. Further, whether you access gaming sites, or work with sensitive info, you get excellent privacy online with VPN. That happens owing to the encrypted route of traffic and masked IP address.

Further, the masking of your real IP places difficulty in associating your online activities with your IP and actual server location. Importantly, as VPN gives your data transfer an encrypted route, you get security and safeguarding from hackers especially in public Wi-Fi. So, VPN brings safety in every task starting from your online monetary transaction to remote office work and handling of confidential files.

Moreover, the encryption standard especially with good VPN services like ExpressVPN remains strong and active 24*7. So, a wide range of prying eyes fromgovernment to third-party ad makers and your ISP (internet service provider) can make no sense of what you do online.

Cons of VPN

Several countries like North Korea and Oman across the globe either has banned or restricted the use of VPN. Further, certain rules for VPN users and providers in certain regions are such that they took away the veil of anonymity desired by virtual consumers. So, that makes VPN providers unwilling to continue business there or change the subscription plans. But, then again, these loopholes aren’t exactly part of VPN cons. These inconveniences are in place because of external regulations.

Notably, the downside of using VPN involves slower browsing experience. VPN takes your traffic away from usual route and through the VPN server. That brings adjustments and changes in the network. So, you can face a slow internet connection. But, you can evade the issue of slow connectivity with quality VPN.

Also, VPNs may face trouble in accessing every geo restricted content. However, with a quality service or VPN specialized for streaming platforms like Netflix, you shouldn’t have any issue.

Furthermore, almost every con of VPN is tied down to free VPN. Free VPNs put your traffic and online data in vulnerable position. With a free VPN, you have high chance getting your data accessed by hackers, sites or apps.

Tor vs VPN

Types of VPN Protocols

VPN protocols refer to the way how your data travels in the established secure route. Further, you have more than one single protocol in existence. Each protocol differs in security standard and may bring a change in connection speed.

IPSec

IPSec uses encryption in the route connecting the sender and receiver. Through end-to-end encryption, it jumbles up the data from the sender’s point. The data gets back to original form at the receiver server point.

L2TP

L2TP (or layer 2 tunneling protocol) isn’t technically an encryption framework. It forms a pathway for connecting you with your VPN server.

Lacking encryption tools, it works in association with IPSec for making your data secure and private.

SSL and TLS

SSL VPNs come in association with TLS. This connection enables secure and private connections through web browsers.

SSH

SSH or Secure Shell promotes secure connection from one computer to another device. It offers security in an unprotected network between different network services.

Open VPN

Most commonly used by many VPN services, Open VPN uses either TCP (transmission control protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol).  TCP promotes connection between receiver and sender like when chatting in Skype. Further, it helps in maintaining the data quality as it reaches the receiver.

On the other hand, UDP doesn’t involve forming connections and focuses on improving speed. So it comes in handy during tasks like gaming.

PPTP

PPTP (or point to point tunneling protocol) is one of the oldest and commonly used protocols. However, it lacks the upgradations of recent ones and can make your data vulnerableto online attacks.

WireGuard

A speedy and comparatively new protocol, WireGuarduses impeccable cryptography. Compared to its contemporaries, it makes browsing highly secure and private.

Lightway

ExpressVPN uses a new technology, Lightway. It makes browsing faster with low power consumption. But, this protocol certainly comes with tight-knit security compared to its contemporaries.

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VPN vs Tor: What is Tor?

Tor (or The Onion Router) refers to a network system that hides your online activities including used IP address and browsing tasks. Just like VPN, it hides your IP address. But VPN involves rerouting your traffic through a new server. On the other hand, Tor involves routing your web traffic through different points or routers called nodes.

Further, Tor prevents tracking of your browsing and online data transfer. Coming with an advantage of anonymity, Tor has become necessary for journalists, investigators and especially people with dark motives like smugglers or weapon sellers.

Tor VPN

How Tor Works?

Tor creates a network of its own rather than making use of third-party servers or network route. As you browse using Tor, your data passes through several network nodes (onion routers). Each node comes with a layer of encryption or coding that protects your data.

Further, as your data passes from initial node to final destination or receiver, it removes the layer of encryption. The data reaches the receiver in a decrypted or non-coded form.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Tor

Tor does come with both advantages and disadvantages. Tor network gives safe browsing experience and also offers easy use. But, Tor users experience blocking, vulnerability of exit and entry nodes and stigmatized behavior. Continue exploring the pros and cons of this network.

Pros of Tor

Tor comes with ease of download and installation. Importantly, it is free for extensive use. Further, being an open-source technology, it prevents ill-use and ensures security.

Notably, dark web (which can’t be accessed through Google) can only be accessed by Tor browser. Thus, Tor browser vs VPN or other browser – Tor remains safe compared to regular browsers which get exploited by scammers and hackers.

Cons of Tor

Since Tor is used for accessing hidden markets online found in dark web, Tor users get a bad reputation. But researchers, investigators and lawpersons use Tor for catching crimes just like any smuggler does.

Notably, Tor in its network doesn’t involve encryption in the exit node. So, the data can be mishandled or hacked by anyone in the exit node.

VPN vs Tor Comparison

In the section for VPN vs Tor comparison, we have focused on parameters like security, speed, ease of operation and cost. With these factors in comparative study, you can grasp a better idea of Tor vs VPN features.

VPN vs Tor Comparison of Security

If you want to compare tor network vs VPN, VPN offers better safety and improved privacy. However, Tor is better in masking your identity.

VPN vs Tor Comparison of Speed

In VPN vs Tor browser, VPN speeds can become slower because of routing through a different IP and server. So, for VPN browser vs Tor, you get maximum efficacy with Tor. But ExpressVPN can help you get good speed.

Tor VPN Comparison of Ease of Use

In Tor vs VPN, you get maximum ease with Tor browser. However, connecting both requires knowledge and a bit of efficiency.

VPN vs Tor Comparison of Cost

Tor is free to use. But in Tor vs VPN debate, VPN gives maximum security and better streaming with paid services. Plus, ExpressVPN has good trial features and 100% money back guarantee.

Tor vs VPN Comparison Summary Table

CHARACTERISTICS VPN TOR
Security and Privacy Winner Loser
Speed Winner Loser
Ease of use Winner Loser
Cost Loser Winner

Who should use VPN?

If you want to access and watch geo restricted platforms without buffering, then VPN is your BFF. VPN lets you pass your traffic through a server location which lacks broadcasting limitations. Further if you are remote worker or tasked with handling financial or crucial data, VPN offers better and secure browsing.

Notably, VPN comes in handy for securing business communications in shared network. Moreover, if you tend to work using public Wi-Fi, you are vulnerable to hackers stealing your info. In this regard, VPN acts as the apt solver by securing your data.

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Who should use a Tor Connections?

Tor is the perfect tool to get anonymity. So, you can surf online anonymously. Moreover, certain sites like those on dark web can’t be accessed through search engines like Google. In this context, Tor is your savior for navigating through the dark web.

Further, people selling drugs, weapons or child porn on dark web use Tor which lets them stay hidden from the visible and commonly used search engines. But Tor isn’t only relied for illegal tasks. People use Tor for catching criminals or unmasking scams. Moreover, journalists, or activists use Tor for online activities without leaving evidence.

Tor network vs VPN

FAQs for Tor vs VPN

Here are answers for some commonly asked questions for VPN vs Tor comparisons.

Is VPN or Tor better for streaming content?

If you are considering streaming content that too across many platforms, VPN is hands down a better choice compared to Tor. VPN masks your actual IP address based on your geographic location. It lets you use a server location to overcome geo restrictions. So, you can catch shows and events not permissible for viewers’ access in your home location.

Further, geo restrictions limit your access to the entire content of streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu. But, with VPN, you can evade broadcasting limitations and access various streaming services.

Can I use Tor and a VPN at the same time?

Yes, you can use Tor and VPN at the same time for extra security and privacy. You can opt for Tor and VPN in two different ways. One involves initially connecting to VPN server followed by use of Tor. This “Tor over VPN” connection hides your IP from Tor entry point and gives encrypted pathway. But this arrangement can compromise your anonymity.

Alternatively you can connect to Tor browser first and then link with VPN in a “VPN over Tor” arrangement. Here your traffic remains hidden from exit nodes but your entry node remains vulnerable. Further some experts think of VPN over Tor connection as slow, and difficult to achieve. Difficulty to achieve this setup carries risk of compromising your traffic data or privacy.

VPN or Tor

Tor vs VPN, which is better?

There isn’t a straightforward answer to “Tor vs VPN which is better”. Tor is apt for accessing dark web and anonymity. But, you can get anonymity with VPN if you consider its new server location. With VPN, your online activities can be traced back to the new server, not your actual IP address.

While debating over Tor vs VPN, our experts recommend VPN. But, if you have time to develop comprehensive secure system, it’s better to use both Tor and VPN. Using both, when properly done, gives you impeccable security and privacy along with a high degree of freedom to unlock geo restricted content.

How is Tor different from VPN?

Tor and VPN definitely differ identity wise. Tor can be considered as a browser whereas VPN is a technology for safe and private connection.

Further, Tor only protects the info accessed through the browser system. But, VPN safeguards data received and sent through a device irrespective of its source like search engines, apps or browser.

Which devices support the Tor Browser?

Many devices support the Tor browser. You can access Tor from Windows, Linux, Android and Mac devices.

Can I use a free VPN instead of a paid one?

Yes, you can use a free VPN instead of a paid one. As technically you are using VPN whether free or paid, you connect with a remote server location. The new server definitely helps to removing broadcasting limitations imposed in your region. So whether you are in US or India, you can get a UK VPN server. Then, you can watch shows exclusively available for UK residents.

But, free VPN understandably doesn’t take your money. But, then again, anyone doesn’t start any service just for nothing. So, where does money come from for free VPN service providers? They access your data themselves, and leak, and sell your data to third-parties to generate ads targeting your preferences or needs. Even free VPNs don’t give clarity regarding how, or when they use your data.

Moreover, paid VPNs use your money to give your encrypted protocol and online privacy. On the other hand, the free services lack proper mechanism of safeguarding your browsing or surfing. So, yes, you can use free VPN but that comes at a cost of jeopardizing your virtual safety.

Tor vs VPN Conclusion

When considering anonymity and security, VPNs offer robust encryption and protection, making them a preferable choice over Tor. However, Tor excels at accessing the dark web, providing specialized routing for anonymous browsing.

For heightened safety, combining Tor with VPN adds an extra layer of encryption within the Tor network. When it comes to optimal VPN performance, ExpressVPN stands out with its fast and secure servers worldwide, ensuring seamless browsing, streaming, and downloading experiences.

Evaluate your specific needs, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed decision based on your priorities for online privacy and security. Choose the solution that best suits your requirements.

However, we recommend using ExpressVPN to experience the pinnacle of online privacy and freedom. Elevate your digital journey and unlock a world of possibilities free today with 30 days money-back guarantee.

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Radha is a writer by heart, with a particular passion for writing in the realm of technology. She has been a geek ever since her preschool days, and looking back, she sees her journey from a reader to an author as incredibly fulfilling. Moreover, Radha finds joy in inspiring kids, much like herself, to pursue their own paths. With a background in Computer Science, Radha's knowledge and expertise are further enriched by her career as a technical support specialist. For any inquiries or collaboration opportunities, you can contact Radha via email at radha@thebestvpn.in.

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