There is a huge debate among online advocates, Tor Vs VPN, which tool is better for your online privacy? Today I am going to share my opinion on this matter.
The similarity between Tor and VPN
The main similarity between The Tor browser and VPNs is online privacy and security tools. They both allow you to skid by censorship, restrictions and stay unseen online.
The difference between Tor and VPN
The main differences between Tor and VPNs are their use cases. VPNs are faster and more suited than Tor for everyday tasks like casual browsing and streaming. Tor is slow and privacy-oriented. It’s better for sending sensitive information that might put your freedom or life at risk.
What is Tor?
Tor or “The Onion Router” is a service created to allow people to anonymously browse the Internet. It is a decentralized system that allows users to connect through a network of relays rather than making a direct connection.
How TOR works
TOR was named The Onion Router because it has layers just like the real onion when the user sends information that will go through different random servers, and each server does not know where the information is coming from so it is very difficult for anyone to trace your information.
It is like you want to send a message to your mother, but you do not want anyone to know about this, so you decide to send it to your first friend, just a message and an indication that they must deliver it to your second friend.
They take the message to your second friend without the return address, just with the indication that it must be delivered to your mother, your second friend leave the message at your mother’s door, your mother gets your message.
This is the simplified way of how Tor communication works.
Advantages of using TOR over VPN
TOR is free
Tor is a free project, it is operated by free volunteers, this makes it free to use, you just need to download the browser and be ready to use it. A good VPN will cost you some money.
It is very difficult for the government to shut it down
Since it is a distributed network run by volunteers, it is extremely difficult for any government or organization to shut it down while governments can easily block a VPN service.
It will protect your IP address
The routing method does not reveal your IP address to the websites you visit. This will make your IP address protected. Using a VPN you are just borrowing an IP address from a VPN provider server.
Disadvantages of Tor compared to VPN
Tor is very slow compared to a VPN
Since your data is routed through multiple layers, each with varying bandwidth, it will take longer for the exchange of the information to occur.
If the exchange of information is just text you can use TOR but if you want speed and high-quality video streaming this is not for you.
Anyone can set up an exit node to spy on users
Since the traffic at the exit node is unencrypted, anyone (government, hacker, etc.) that is running the exit node can see your internet traffic if you are not using an HTTPS connection.
You do not have another option
You can only access the Tor network using their browser or from applications that have Tor access built-in. If you need to use another browser because of that browser’s unique capabilities, you will not be protected by Tor.
It is run by volunteers
Since Tor nodes are free to use and run by volunteers, they are not accountable, no one knows who funds them.
There are rumors that it was created by the United States government to help spies communicate among themselves without being intercepted, and the government let normal people use it to increase the difficulty of tracking.
You can not buy normal things using Tor
Since Tor is linked with Dark Web, most of the famous stores block traffic from it, and even those who allow it, will require you to verify that you are a human every few minutes, it can be very annoying.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network is a network connection that enables you to create a secure connection to another location, thereby allowing you to appear as if you were in another place.
How VPN works
In simple English, the VPN provider has a lot of servers all around the world, all you do is borrow those servers and use them as your own.
If we go back to sending a letter to your mother, instead of using friends to send the letter as in Tor, all you do here is to borrow your friend’s return address and you use it to send a letter.
Your friend will know the information about you, but since you trust them, you believe that your information is safe, you shift your trust from your Internet provider to your VPN provider.
VPN advantages over Tor
It is faster
A VPN is generally much faster than Tor. Since you are going directly to one VPN server, then to your desired destination (website, online service, etc.), it’s faster than through several Tor nodes, before going to your final destination.
You can access geographically restricted websites and content
This can also be achieved with Tor but since Tor is very slow it is almost impossible, with VPN you can watch and access content from anywhere in the world, all you need to do is to change your IP address.
All Traffic is Encrypted
Unlike Tor, which only encrypts requests while using the browser, VPNs are able to encrypt all the traffic coming from your computer. This makes them more secure.
VPN disadvantages over Tor
VPN providers can log your browsing history
Remember when I said having a VPN is like trusting your friend and sending your letter from their address and hoping they will respect your privacy. This is what VPN providers do, they can log in to your browser history or check your logs at any time.
Most of them will tell you they do not, but they do. Ask yourself this, if they do not keep the logs why some of them they will just allow you to use a limited number of devices? how do they know? They keep the logs, the question here is for how long? you need to read their terms most of them will mention it.
VPN costs money
While Tor is free of charge, VPN will cost you some money to use it. I know there are some free VPN providers out there, but most of them will put a lot of ads in order to get money to run the servers, so for me, it is better to pay a small amount of money to get rid of those ads.
Tor vs. VPN which one you should use?
For me, if you need to send very sensitive information, and you want to stay anonymous I will recommend using Tor.
If you are a normal user like me, you just a little bit of protection and to bypass restricted content I will recommend using a VPN.
Which VPN you should use?
I tested a lot of VPN providers, I think NordVPN is the best VPN provider at the moment of writing this, I will recommend trying them out.
That is it, this is my comparison of Tor vs VPN, which one you should pick? it depends on what do you want. Both of them have some advantages and disadvantages. Thank you for reading.