In the world where Internet freedom is becoming almost non-existent and cyber threats are lurking from every corner of the world wide web, it's important to find the right tools to remain safe online and exploit the full potential of the Internet.
Unfortunately, many people around the world are suffering the consequences of strict geo-restrictions and are unable to use the Internet freely. Thousands of Internet users are becoming victims of hackers and government espionage every day. It has become incredibly difficult to stay safe and anonymous and do all those things we love to do online without the fear or restrictions.
Two great tools to help you preserve Internet safety and freedom are Tor and VPN. But, even though these two tools are often compared, they are actually very different. Although they are used for the same purposes, they function in different ways and provide different levels of security and performance.
So, before choosing one or the other, you need to learn about those differences. That's why we've compared Tor vs VPN to see which one is a better choice.
How Does It Work?
Tor is the acronym for 'The Onion Router' and it was first developed by the US Navy. Just like its name suggests, Tor protects your connection by routing your data through several layers of security.
Tor works as a network of servers, also called nodes, and each time you send a request in your browser (for example, try to connect to a website), your connection is routed through a number of randomly selected nodes until it reaches the final destination. Your connection is encrypted on its way until the final destination where it gets decrypted before it arrives.
The interesting thing about Tor is that these nodes are actually run by volunteers, and the bigger the network of volunteers the better.
Unlike Tor, VPN sends your data through a virtual tunnel and routes your connection through only one other server until it reaches the final destination. With a VPN your connection is completely encrypted along the way.
A VPN service has its own network of servers usually on multiple locations around the world. Once you connect to a VPN, you will either get assigned an optimal server or get to choose a server, and you will be assigned a new IP address. From that point on, all your online activity will appear to be coming from that IP address at a completely different location from your own.
Level Of Protection
With Tor, your connection is encrypted and re-encrypted from one node to the next, and each server can only 'see' the IP address that precedes it and the one that follows it, but nobody can see the whole path of your connection.
Using Tor, your data will be encrypted from the first moment to the exit node. However, there is a weak spot between the last node and the final destination where the data will be decrypted. This fact also means it's pretty risky being a volunteer on the exit node because all the online activity will appear to be coming from that server.
When it comes to VPN, you can expect your Internet connection to be encrypted the whole time, from your device to the final destination of your request. And unlike Tor, that only covers one request at a time, VPN immediately encrypts your whole connection from the point you start your VPN client.
Although technically, your VPN provider could get an insight into your information – your IP address and your online activities – all reputable VPNs ensure your privacy and anonymity with an air-tight zero logs policy. A zero logs policy means that the VPN provider doesn't monitor, track or record your data and can't share them with the third parties.
Best Used For
If you live in a country with severe Internet restrictions and need a quick fix to browse the Internet freely, Tor is a great choice. It's also a good option for all those who are looking to hide their online habits from their ISPs, government and other prying eyes.
In other words, Tor can be very useful for bypassing geo-restrictions and preserving your precious anonymity. However, since the nodes are randomly assigned, you will only be able to access geo-restricted content if the exit node is located in a country that allows it.
Tor is also the tool of choice for many illegal activities and has been used to access the notorious Silk Road black market and facilitate many other criminal doings. This makes Tor quite controversial, although the majority of people are using it only to preserve their anonymity and circumvent restrictions.
VPN, on the other hand, can be used for almost anything. Due to its strong encryption methods, VPN is the best choice for those who want to ensure their online security. A good VPN will protect you from all prying eyes as well as hackers and other dangerous online threats.
Aside from being completely protected, you will be able to enjoy your favorite benefits of the Internet: streaming, downloading and sharing files, gaming, working and communicating with your loved ones, and you'll be doing all that safely and anonymously, from anywhere on the planet.
Advantages Of Tor And VPN
Tor is free, easy to use and untraceable. On top of that, since it comprises a network of servers from different locations, it would be incredibly difficult to take it down.
VPN has numerous advantages – it's a foolproof tool for using the Internet completely safely and anonymously no matter what you like to do online. VPN is fast, secure and excellent for P2P traffic. This means that you can enjoy torrenting and streaming and easily access geo-restricted websites and content.
What About The Disadvantages?
Although Tor will give you the safety and anonymity you need, you will have to give up many other things. For one, Tor will slow your connection down tremendously, precisely because there are so many different servers involved before your request reaches the final destination.
This means that although Tor will help you bypass geo-blocking, you won't have a lot of options to take advantage of this. You can expect very poor performance if you were planning to stream, torrent or play online games.
Although a VPN will give you a much better protection and more options, this tool isn't perfect either. There are a lot of unreliable VPN providers that can monitor your activities and even sell your data to third parties. That's why you need to be careful and choose a trustworthy provider with a clear zero logs policy.
VPN is also a paid service, although there are free versions out there that we wouldn't recommend. In some cases, VPNs can be very costly, but you can easily find a good, reliable provider with an affordable price.
If you've been paying attention, you will be able to conclude who wins this contest.
Tor is a great option when you're just looking for something to help you protect your privacy and anonymity while you're browsing, but in every other category, VPN is a much better choice.
Not only does it give you complete safety and anonymity online, it also provides the best Internet experience with the most options. With a VPN, you can now avoid geo-restrictions, keep all your sensitive data protected, enjoy your favorite online content and much more.
Ready to experience the ultimate Internet freedom and safety? Sign up for SwitchVPN free trial now.