As online privacy and anonymity concerns continue to escalate, the tools that help users shield themselves – Tor Network and VPNs – are becoming increasingly significant. Yet, less tech-savvy individuals may have heard of these terms but might not be clear on what the main distinctions are. Both options have proven to be good choices for online privacy, with their own pros and cons, which can serve as the determining factor for your choice.

vpn vs tor
VPN vs Tor: which one is right for you?

What is Tor?

Tor (The Onion Router) is maintained by a non-profit organization known as “The Tor Project”, which is financially backed by NGOs and corporations, like Google. It’s a free network enabling users to browse the web and communicate anonymously. This is achieved by encrypting the user’s request multiple times and routing it through three randomly chosen relay servers, likely managed by volunteers. With approximately 7,000 of these servers available, each passing server decrypts the message or request layer by layer, leaving the exit node (the final server) unencrypted without exposing the user’s IP.

Tor Advantages

  • It’s completely free and user-friendly.
  • Tor’s intricate encryption method ensures comprehensive online anonymity.
  • A vast network of volunteer-run servers makes it challenging to shut down or intercept.
  • It permits users to access .onion (The Dark Web) content, which isn’t available on other browsers.

Tor Cons

  • The fact that the request or message leaves the exit node unencrypted is Tor’s vulnerability, as the ISP or Government can eavesdrop on the communication between the exit node and destination server.
  • The use of multiple encryption layers also slows down the connection speed.
  • There’s a lack of accountability and transparency from the volunteers running the servers, which, theoretically, could be exploited.
  • It’s difficult to obtain an exit node (IP) from a specific country. This requires reconnecting multiple times or configuring the connection.
  • Unsafe browsing on the .onion websites can pose risks.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) routes the user’s traffic via an encrypted tunnel, making the connection anonymous. No third party, such as the ISP, the government, or hackers, can see what kind of information is being transferred within the tunnel. Premium VPN providers adhere to the “No logs” policy and have independent audits to prove it, meaning they do not store any information on what their clients are doing online. VPN providers typically have thousands of servers in dozens of different countries. Also, there are various types of protocols a VPN user can select from, with the most popular being WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec.

VPN Advantages

  • Next-generation protocols like WireGuard ensure excellent speeds.
  • VPNs provide more accountability, as it is easy to determine who operates a specific service.
  • It’s straightforward to obtain an IP from a required country, as premium providers have thousands of servers in many different locations.
  • Advanced encryption offered by top VPN providers ensures no part of data transferred is exposed to leak risks.

VPN Cons

  • Premium VPN providers offering the best speeds and features tend to be pricier.
  • Not all VPN providers have independent no-logs audits.
  • Since the whole system depends on a single VPN provider, it’s essential to only find trustworthy services. Free VPNs are almost never a good idea.

How do they compare, and which one is right for you?

In terms of speed, security, and additional features, a premium VPN is almost always superior to Tor. However, the best VPN services are paid. Tor allows access to .onion websites, which a VPN cannot do, and this can be crucial for some. VPNs enable easier access to IPs from a specific country. It’s also possible

to use them both concurrently. However, this will impact connection speeds negatively, and some premium VPN providers offer the Onion Over VPN service, which additionally routes the traffic through the Tor network, adding an extra layer of security.

NordVPN: A Closer Look

NordVPN is a renowned VPN provider that goes beyond the basics. It has developed its own WireGuard-based protocol named NordLynx, allowing users to enjoy the benefits of WireGuard without privacy tradeoffs. NordVPN hosts over 5000 servers across 60 countries, so there’s always a fast server to select.

Moreover, the NordVPN website features a comprehensive knowledge base that includes in-depth explanations about VPN protocols, servers, how-tos on enhancing VPN speed, and other valuable reading material. The NordVPN app smartly picks the fastest server in a selected country, and if there are any questions about NordVPN, a 24/7 customer support team is ready to assist.

NordVPN is audited thrice for its no-logs policy, ensuring users that their online activities remain confidential. Consequently, your activities will be private, and your devices risk-free. Furthermore, it is a continually updated service, rolling out crucial security updates every few months to guarantee reliable user online safety.

What is Threat Protection?

Threat Protection is a feature offered by NordVPN that provides an additional layer of security, essentially a step beyond VPN protection. This tool is designed to enable safer browsing by blocking malicious websites, ads, and trackers, as well as identifying files infected with malware. A detailed NordVPN blog post about Threat Protection can be found here.

What is Meshnet?

Meshnet is another feature by NordVPN that allows users to access devices or encrypted private tunnels. Instead of connecting to a VPN server, users can connect to other devices anywhere. All traffic on Meshnet is encrypted, just like when connected to a VPN server. This opens up plenty of new possibilities: easier file sharing and collaborative projects, gaming parties, internet traffic routing, and more. A detailed NordVPN blog post about Meshnet can be found here.


Ultimately, whether you opt for a VPN or Tor will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. If online anonymity and accessing .onion websites is your priority, Tor may be your best bet. If you value speed, security, and flexibility in accessing content from different countries, a premium VPN service like NordVPN is likely the better choice. It’s also worth considering the Onion Over VPN service for an added layer of security.

Check out the best VPN services and learn more about how to use a VPN effectively on our website. Happy and safe browsing!

For more articles on VPNs, refer to our blog here. For specific VPN services, you can read about AtlasVPN and Surfshark. Learn about the importance of a VPN kill switch here and VPN use on Wi-Fi networks here.

You can also find a guide on proxy vs VPN. Additionally, you might find our discussion on VPN legality and the need for a VPN at home here useful.

In the ever-evolving world of the internet, privacy and security should be your top concerns. With tools like VPNs and Tor, you can take control of your online identity and protect your data. Make sure to stay informed about the tools at your disposal and use them responsibly. Remember, online safety is not a destination, but a continuous journey. Stay safe, stay informed!

Remember to check back often for more articles on cybersecurity, digital privacy, and online safety. If you have any questions or need further information on any topics, feel free to reach out or leave a comment. Happy browsing!

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