Comparison of Tor and VPN

Online privacy has become a critical aspect of our digital life, with 74% of US internet users concerned about their online privacy. As a result of these increasing worries, internet users are turning to alternative software such as private and/or secure browsers, virtual private networks (VPNs), and even Tor. To assist people in grasping the difference, we’ve developed a guide that compares two distinct technologies and their accompanying advantages and disadvantages: Tor and VPN.

What exactly is Tor?

Tor is an acronym for “The Onion Router,” a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and development of internet privacy technologies. Tor is a free browser that is available on Linux, Mac, Windows, and mobile platforms. The Tor browser (based on Firefox) is mainly intended to safeguard one’s online identity. When you use it, everything you do is encrypted and routed via the Tor network, which keeps your internet activities secret. Ironically, Tor was initially developed by personnel from the United States Naval Research Laboratory to safeguard US intelligence communications online.

Tor’s operation

The Tor browser conceals your online identity by routing your traffic via several Tor servers. Your communication is encrypted as it passes via these other computer systems, ensuring that nobody can trace your travels. Tor, like an onion (or even an ogre), offers many levels of secrecy, thus its name. The more Tor users use these servers, the more your traffic is disguised. Relays, end relays, and bridges all contribute to the formation of these levels of protection.

Tor route and its operation

Middle relays are routers that handle traffic in between and may be built at home by anybody. End relays are the chain’s last relays, and this is the IP address from which the connection will seem to originate. End Relays’ hosts are often targeted by police and DMCA demands when their IP address is reported for any unlawful activity. Bridges are unlisted Tor routers that are protected by IP blocks. This enables encryption even in countries where all publicly stated Tor relays are routinely blocked. Each relay is simply aware of the router before it in terms of its IP address. The original IP address is lost when the traffic travels via the relay, and the End Relay IP address is used in its place.

While not everyone who uses Tor is required to operate a relay, the program relies on a network of individuals willing to do so. The more relays that are operating, the quicker and more secure the Tor browser will be.

Tor’s advantages


Tor is built on the Firefox browser and, as such, is very user-friendly and simple to use.

It’s absolutely free

Tor is a completely free browser to download and use. Due to the project’s open-source nature, advanced users may also download the code and contribute.

Protect your privacy

Tor safeguards your privacy by preventing websites from obtaining your IP address. Anyone can utilize the platform to keep their information secret, from journalists and political activists to ordinary individuals.

Tor’s disadvantages

Slow pace

Because data is routed via so many relays, information is often delayed. Photos and movies, in particular, have difficulty loading. The more users that are not hosting a relay, the slower the connection gets.

Blocked web services

Numerous bigger online services prevent users from accessing Tor. When these sites are accessed, they produce an error message similar to a 404. Others enable access but require users to navigate a labyrinth of CAPTCHAs to visit the site.

Legal difficulties

Anyone may use the Tor browser. If someone engages in unlawful conduct and you serve as an exit relay, this communication will be traced back to you. Due to the way Tor operates and your ISP’s traffic monitoring, all of your actions may be watched for possible criminal activity.

What is a virtual private network (VPN)?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a network that serves as a liaison between your systems and the systems to which you require access. Originally, VPNs were employed in businesses to enable workers to securely access sensitive information. It has been developed to protect an individual’s online activities from hostile organizations, government censorship and surveillance, and any other online risks.

How a VPN operates

A VPN is comprised of a network of servers situated around the globe. NordVPN has thousands of servers in several countries. When you make an internet request, it is routed via one of their VPN servers and then to the internet. When it goes via this alternate server, your IP address will be changed from the one assigned by your ISP to the one assigned by the VPN to which you have connected. This safeguards your identity by transmitting the VPN IP rather than your own, and your device seems to be in a different location, enabling you to safely access local network resources or geo-restricted content.

VPN routing and VPN operation

For example, if you visit China and attempt to access Facebook, you will be unable to do so owing to local censorship laws since the site is prohibited by the Chinese government. However, by connecting your device to a VPN server in a country where Facebook is permitted, you may access the site in China.

The benefits of a VPN


Since you are connected to a single server, your internet connection will remain as fast as usual. Generally, no extra time is required for pictures or videos to load.

Access to all internet content

You have full internet access regardless of your geographic location. Even if a website or service is banned or modified in your country, you may still access the version that other countries view.

Encryption of all traffic

Unlike Tor, which encrypts just requests made via the browser, VPNs encrypt all traffic to and from your computer.

The disadvantages of using a VPN

Certainly not anonymous

While a VPN will protect your IP address by serving as a middleman, even the greatest VPN will not provide you with online anonymity and is only successful when used in conjunction with other tools and recommended practices.

It’s an expense

Unfortunately, VPN services are expensive to operate owing to bandwidth and server expenses, and users must thus pay for access to the service. Never trust a free VPN, since if you are not paying for a service, you are the service.

Your VPN provider may be able to monitor your activity.

NordVPN has a robust privacy policy and a strict no-logging policy in place to protect your privacy and security. Regrettably, some VPN services record their customers’ activities. Select a VPN service that respects your privacy.

Which is thus superior? Which is better, Tor or VPN?

Both Tor and VPN have their advantages and disadvantages, but combining the two allows for the best of both worlds. Tor over VPN and VPN over Tor are both viable connection options, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

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