Internet privacy is a growing concern among those surfing the internet. According to a survey, more than 55% of internet users said they were more concerned about their internet activities and online privacy. With these growing concerns, internet users turn to different software methods such as alternate browsers, proxy websites, or private networks.
No matter why you need to stay anonymous online, you are likely to select a virtual private network of Tor browser. These are two of the well-known choices among those concerned about protecting their online identity. Selection can be difficult, so TechNinjaPro created a guide comparing the pros of two of the most popular choices: VPN and Tor.
- What is VPN?
- How a VPN Works?
- Benefits of VPN
- What is Tor?
- How Tor Browser Works?
- Benefits of Tor
- What is the significant difference between a VPN and Tor?
- When should you utilize a VPN?
- When should you make use of Tor?
What is VPN?
A virtual private network is a software platform that can change your location address and encrypt your online traffic. It helps you protect your internet privacy by creating a secure connection to any server or network over the internet. Originally, most VPN services were used at corporations, allowing all employees of the business network to access important information privately.
A VPN has evolved to protect an individual’s internet activity from hackers, internet service providers, government censorship, and other risks lurking on the web. Virtual private network services are widely used to avoid geo-location restrictions, prevent traffic sniffing, and ensure safe and secure interaction with your banking apps and shopping.
How a VPN Works?
A virtual private network has a network of servers located worldwide. When your online request is made, it goes through one of the VPN servers before reaching the internet. When it passes through your selected servers, your IP address is changed. A virtual private network allows you to access the local network’s resources securely.
For example, if you are visiting China and want to access Facebook, you would not be able to through their network connection because the Chinese government restricts the site. However, using a virtual private network that connects your system to an internet server in a region where Facebook is allowed will let you access the website in China.
Benefits of VPN
- Anonymous internet surfing: A virtual private network hides your actual IP address so that you can browse sites anonymously.
- Removes regional restriction: Virtual private network servers are located worldwide, so you can overcome regional limitations and access any site to watch movies or listen to music.
- Keeps a high-speed connection: Using a specific VPN server to connect to your desired destination is much faster than connecting through various Tor nodes.
- Surpasses censorship: VPN helps you avoid government censorship limitations by connecting users to servers outside of a country’s jurisdiction and internet service providers.
- Secures connection via Public Wifi: If you access the internet from a public network, a virtual private network keeps your internet connection secure.
What is Tor?
The Tor is a free, open-source browser enabling users to surf the internet anonymously. Tor is also known as the Onion Router that researches and develops online privacy tools. It is a tool that anyone can download for Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile devices. Tor is mainly used to protect your internet identity.
Everything you do goes through their network of nodes and is encrypted, keeping your internet activity private when using it. Tor browser is built of layers upon layers of independent nodes run by Tor users.
How Tor Browser Works?
The Tor browser can mask your internet identity by moving your traffic across different Tor servers. As your internet traffic runs through these other computer servers, the data s encrypted so that no one will be able to track or trace your movements. It has layers of privacy similar to the layers of an onion. The more Tor users that use these servers, the more hidden your internet activity becomes. These layers of safety are created by a network of middle relays, bridges, and end relays.
Middle relays are routers that handle the internet traffic along the way and can be created by anybody at home. End relays are the closing relay in the chain, and this is the IP address your connection will show to be coming from. These hosts are apt to be targeted by police and copyright holders if any illegal activity is detected. Bridges are Tor routers that are not publicly listed and are protected by IP blockers. These make encryption possible even in countries that regularly block all publicly listed Tor relays. The more relays running, the faster the browser will work and the safer it will be.
Benefits of Tor
- Hides your internet activity: your internet history and cookies are automatically reset when you stop using it.
- Anonymous identity: Tor tries to build all users look like to prevent anyone from identifying you from your devices or browser characteristics.
- Multi-layer encryption: In the Tor browser, your internet traffic is redirected and encrypted various times to keep you completely anonymous.
- Anti-spy protection: Tor stops others from tracking the sites your visit.
- Safeguard your privacy: Tor protects your privacy by not revealing your IP address to the sites you visit. Anyone from political rebels and journalists to your average Joe can use this platform to keep their data safe from repressive governments and corporations.
What is the significant difference between a VPN and Tor?
The significant difference between a VPN and Tor is multiple VPN tools and providers available but only one Tor browser network. Tor relies on a decentralized layer of autonomous nodes to transfer data safely, while a virtual private network connects to a central server to offer a secure VPN tunnel.
Another common difference between the two is specific of their use. If your internet activity is related to the transmission of extremely important information or might get you in problems in countries with strict censorship laws, Tor is the perfect choice to go for. The reason is obvious: VPN still has to be registered, pay taxed, and comply with legislation.
A VPN is your most suitable option if you want to ensure anonymity and safe access when traveling or working from home.
You can use these two tools simultaneously to get the highest level of privacy and security. This will open up a Tor through a VPN connection so you can access the benefits of each. However, this is possible only to be advised if you are a technologically advanced online user.
When should you utilize a VPN?
Here are some of the grounds to use VPN over Tor:
- You need to unblock region-locked content. A VPN will help you bypass any localized restrictions if you are in a country where access to your favorite movie or show is closed.
- You need to keep your internet connection private. A virtual private network uses the most updated encryption to protect your information. A good virtual private network also ensures that the sites processing your information do not see where it came from, offering you the highest degree of anonymity.
- You need to be secure when using a public network. Using a VPN on a public network protects your private information, passwords, and other personal information from hackers, ISPs, and third parties.
When should you make use of Tor?
Tor is a bit more effective than a VPN in the following cases:
- You want to access the dark web. Tor’s hidden services are also the gateway to the dark web. It comprises sites that are only accessible through a Tor connection and cannot be found through search engines like Firefox or Google. The dark web is associated with criminals, which is why it is illegal in some countries.
- You want to stay secure while accessing geo-restricted content. Using Tor is a perfect way to protect your privacy when trying to access prohibited content in your region. This includes geographical limitations, avoiding censorship in countries like China and Iran.
- You want to stay away from hackers or ISPs. The Tor browser is the best solution if you need to use the internet and leave no internet footprint. It is impossible to trace a connection to the original user, so you can surf the internet without leaving any identifying signs behind.