Many used to find the thought or the actions of torrenting and/or streaming slightly nerve-wracking. Somewhere along the line, within the computing and software world, VPNs for protecting one’s privacy became common knowledge. Then came the free open-source privacy platform, Tor.
Both VPN and Tor will encrypt and protect a user’s IP address from being known to interloper’s eyes. Tor and VPN were originally designed and created to protect larger networks, such as government agencies or corporations, by encrypting their secret and personal information and messages for complete privacy.
While both VPN and Tor were designed within 10 years of each other, and act to do the same thing, which is to protect your privacy, both are used differently across the world, and one might be better for you than the other. If you want to learn whether VPN or Tor is right for you, continue reading below to understand both and to make an educated decision on which you feel you can use safely.
What is Tor?
The Onion Router (Tor) is a free platform for open source anonymous communication.
In short, Tor enables internet users an easy way to browse through the web namelessly. It’s a non-profit privacy network organization that has created this free and autonomous open source browsing space and project for protecting your privacy.
Basically, what happens is the Tor network re-routes all your online web traffic through the Tor platform (or network) which then hides your IP address by changing it at every new browser opened and makes your online searching anonymous.
Also known as “the dark web browser”, the onion router is best known for protecting your online identity.
There are a few reasons why people might like the idea of web anonymity including:
- Researching competitors
- Protecting your privacy because you’re a private person
- People who don’t want certain web-surfing habits tied back to them
- People who aren’t interested in advertisers collecting their information
Tor is free and user-friendly so is usually preferable for beginners in the world of online privacy preferences.
What is VPN?
A VPN is another private network that can give people their privacy online. The VPN allows users a “protected” connection when using public networks.
A VPN can connect all your devices, your PC, tablet, smartphone, etc., to another server on the internet so that all your searches and web browsing is re-routed through that other server. This means you can have a VPN that is routed to another country, which then looks as if your browser is connected and coming from that country.
While the main reason for needing or wanting a VPN is for streaming purposes, there are numerous reasons for people wanting to use a VPN:
- Protecting privacy by hiding your true location
- Stream media from other networks (Netflix, Stan, Prime, etc.)
- Get access to media and information that might otherwise be restricted
- Protecting your privacy when working on a public network
VPN technology works behind the scenes to provide you with a secure VPN network to keep your information private and safe.
Which VPN Should You Get?
With so many VPNs available today, choosing the one you want isn’t so straightforward anymore. It’s easier now to go from the “why” you want it point of view.
All the below VPNs listed are useful for different times and different reasons.
VPNs are divided into categories to help people decide which might be the right VPN for them.
- Remote access
Remote Access VPN is the most commonly used type of VPN which allows users to access a private network through added encryption on a remote and secure server. Commercial VPN services build their foundation on remote access VPN servers.
This VPN software is easy for beginners to understand, set up, and use, with its hassle-free design, and is best for personal use.
- Intranet- based site-to-site
Do you work in a large-scale business that has multiple offices or sites? You might have an intranet that is accessible to all site members alike and is a secure network that people outside of the business cannot access. This is an intranet site-to-site VPN network.
The business’ information is securely shared between each site so that resources and information are the same across the business. Many businesses use their intranet as their “one source of truth”.
- Extranet-based site-to-site
This is the same sort of concept as an intranet site-to-site secure VPN but with two companies that are working together but should not have access to each other’s intranet servers for all business members to see.
Intranet and extranet VPN servers are more difficult to set up than remote access servers and are best used for largescale businesses that have the resources to have this type of secure technology setup.
Tor Vs VPN – Which is Better for Privacy?
While there is only one Tor, there are numerous VPNs, but both have their disadvantages and advantages, as well as being best for different things.
Both a VPN and a Tor provide a secure network, but which is better for you?
It depends mainly on what it is you want a secure and private network for.
Here are the pros of both Tors and VPNs:
|Tor Pros||VPN Pros|
|Privacy is safeguarded with encryption||All traffic is encrypted|
|User-friendly platform||Faster speed|
|Easy for beginners||You can choose the IP address for rerouting|
|It’s free||You get full internet server access|
|There’s only one Tor|
And here are the cons of each:
|Tor Cons||VPN Cons|
|Servers and browsing can be slow||VPNs are not all free|
|You aren’t permitted with full internet access||There are numerous to choose from – confusing|
|Governments keep a close eye on Tor users and you can run into legal trouble even if you weren’t the one practicing something illegal||VPN providers may monitor the “private” activity, so your browser isn’t 100% private|
|If untested and not installed properly there can be system “leaks”|
So, which one is better for privacy then?
Tor is often recommended for users needing to transmit personal and sensitive information, not regularly. Tor can be slow and can get an innocent user into legal trouble if their server is somehow linked to illegal activity.
Because Tor is a free server and is available for everyone and anyone to use, if your IP address happens to be the last one in the exit relay of illegal activity, you can be tracked and marked for illegal behavior.
VPN is more commonly used on a day-to-day basis and because there are multiple and various servers located worldwide there are more servers to alter and reroute your IP address. VPN is also faster and as such is more popular for daily use.
VPNs are a practical way for people to research information that is not usually accessible to them in their own country. For example, news and journalism sites that can be accessed in America, can’t all be accessed in the United Kingdom. But if the researcher in the UK has a VPN that can connect them to American servers, they can easily access the information needed.
Although Tor is recommended for once-in-a-blue-moon privacy and sensitive network requirements, Tor is a slow platform that has been known to be closely watched by government personnel, and users might find the faster VPN network more suitable.
Both VPNs and Tors will provide you with the necessary anonymity that you are seeking, and although VPNs are monitored by providers, they are faster than Tors and put the user in control of where their IP address is being routed so is better used for daily use.