Should You Be Using Tor Or VPN For The Best Online Security And Freedom?

Last updated: July 11, 2017

tor-vs-vpnThe internet is fantastic because it gives you full access to a lot of informative and entertaining content and sites. But the internet is also incredibly dangerous due to the amount of hackers who can hack into any personal online account and steal your money and sensitive information. What is worse is that the internet is no longer free because there are so many governments who are enforcing geographical laws in terms of websites. Tor or VPN software can help you restore internet freedom and security so you can once again be completely free online.


What exactly is Tor?

Tor is a group or a network of servers that have been created by volunteers to improve their online privacy and to help them share content completely anonymously and untraceable. Tor consists of shared networks of Tor individuals all over the world. By getting a bucket load of people to connect to a Tor network and share content and requests it is incredibly hard to track individual activities through the masses of information.

 

Tor also prevents censorship and hides your IP address and location which gives you the freedom to access websites that are restricted in your area. When you use Tor you are accessing these sites through a path of other computers in other areas. Tor is also completely free because it is created by volunteers.

 


encryptionHow and why Tor has been created?

Onion routing has been designed, implemented and deployed as an original project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, with initial study beginning in 1995. The United States was searching for a way to secure and anonymize intelligence communication for domestic and international operations.

The first publication on onion routing was presented in the mid-1996 causing a furor and showing forward progress. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) joined a project by rendering financial assistance for proceeding with researches in 1997. Unfortunately, the sponsorship dried up in 1999, but onion routing development continued. With the progress of the researches, it wasn’t a surprise that DARPA reversed its decision and came back to provide funding.

In October 2002, the alpha version of Tor, which was also called The Onion Routing project or TOR project, was launched. The first public release completed a year later and the Tor code became available to the public under a license from MIT. Making Tor free to all implies that average users can benefit from the anonymity of this technology.

By the end of 2003, about a dozen nodes were set up by volunteers from the U.S. and Germany heralding a new era of Tor development. Nowadays, Tor counts 6,000 nodes around the globe providing anonymous web surfing to all social groups.


How and why VPN has been created?

In the early nineties, VPN access was a fairly new concern to most internet community. This technology has been used among businesses, and while large corporations had a good send-off with VPNs, the others only started to perceive the provided possibilities. Today, VPN is presented as a standard network security technology and widely applied throughout most companies.

The earliest services did the simplest job they were created to do, manage remote access to a network. While designing to provide security, the versions were vulnerable to outer attack, which intercepted data flow and compromised the safety. What is more, they reduced connection speed while transferring data, being not so useful as they are today.

Early VPNs required their own client, which is usually installed on the remote workstation that needs access to the local network. Vulnerable encryption methods made them a poor choice because they could be easily compromised. As an example, PPTP was an extremely popular VPN protocol, but it did not provide a proper security level with its weak encryption and simple authentication method.

Over the years, different types of VPN technology have emerged. The choice varies with a type of a client (for business or personal usage), different protocols maintainability (PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN), types of encryption utilized to protect customers (hashing, symmetric, asymmetric, elliptic).

Today’s VPN services have been improved with the strongest encryption methods corresponding to the modern cybersecurity standards. Contemporary VPN market offers plenty of services, which help users to get rid of government surveillance, hacker attacks, data leakage and other unpleasant phenomena. Besides, VPNs allows access to the restricted websites because of certain geo-location particularities and strict censorship policy.


 

Why people use Tor?

Tor is used by numerous different people for numerous different reasons. Travelers uses Tor to connect to their office networks from foreign countries without their private business information and so they won’t get into trouble for accessing websites that are restricted in other areas. Some people use Tor to be safe from hackers and others use Tor to stay anonymous when they are sharing malicious content or accessing malicious sites.

 


tor-browserHow to use Tor?

Having decided to run Tor for your online protection and freedom, you should realize that your connected device is one of the chain ‘nodes’ used by the method of onion routing.

When you browse a network all the traffic transferred to a website is passed in so-called packets. If you run Tor, your packets won’t simply travel to a website, but pass through several randomly assigned nodes.

Normally, any user’s packet is assigned with a sender’s address and destination. In case with Tor the packet is wrapped in several packets while confusing your online steps for all the prying eyes.

Beside, the technology is known to be free for usage basing on ideological aims. All you need is to download and install a modified Firefox browser version, which is compatible with numerous OSes. However, the method of routing traffic slows down your average uploading and downloading internet speed a lot.  


What is VPN?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private network that is created over the public internet by a hosting company. The VPN can include as many server locations in as many countries as the VPN Company can cater for and allows users to log onto the VPN server and be completely anonymous when they access content of other countries included in these VPN server locations. VPN uses protocols and encryption software to keep their networks secure and gives their users secure and anonymous point-to-point VPN connections so they can access restricted content and be completely safe online.


pros-and-consWhy people use VPN?

People use VPN to be secure against censorship and hacking when they are online. The VPN protocols and VPN encryption software encrypts and secures all online activities so no one can monitor what they are doing. By connecting to a VPN they are also completely anonymous since they are using a fake IP address which keeps anyone from hacking into private info and from identifying the VPN users' locations.


Pros and cons for Tor and VPN

So basically Tor and VPN has the same functionality, namely to give you full access to restricted websites, to keep you anonymous online and to secure you from hackers. The main pros and cons of Tor and VPN are:

Tor Pros

  • Tor hides your IP address and location.
  • Tor bypasses firewalls and internet restrictions.
  • Tor provides complete online anonymity.
  • Tor gives you access any content you like from any location.

Tor cons

  • Tor connections can be redirected through numerous computers, which can make your network slow. This makes it difficult to stream and download content since downloads take forever and the streaming is constantly interrupted to load.
  • Some ISPs are specially formulated to block Tor relays which reinforce the blocking to certain sites.
  • The traffic is unencrypted which means that should someone discover your IP address, they will be able to monitor your traffic and hold it against you. There are also great hackers and ISPs who can actually trace your activities through the masses that use Tor.

VPN pros

  • VPN hides your IP address and location.
  • VPN bypasses firewalls and internet restrictions.
  • VPN provides complete online anonymity.
  • VPN gives you access any content you like from any location.
  • VPN has incredibly fast network speeds because it is direct.
  • The networks are encryption and better protected and more secure so no one can monitor you or get access to your traffic information.
  • Some VPN service providers add extra security extremes to improve their security.

VPN cons

  • Most VPN providers charge for their services.

Which is best?

It is clear that both can give you protection to a certain extent, but VPN is a much better choice since you can enjoy faster connection speeds and much better security. VPN networks are some of the toughest networks to hack into and give you direct access to any content from any location while protecting your online activities. You can stream live HD quality movies completely uninterrupted and securely and visit any website you like without anyone ever being able to monitor you or pinpoint anything to you.


How to choose the best VPN service?

  • Ratings – Check out VPN ratings and VPN reviews so you can find out which ones the clients were most satisfied with.
  • Security – All the good VPN service providers will make it clear which VPN protocols and VPN encryption software they use so you can be sure that you will be as protected and secure as possible when you use their services.
  • Server locations – If you are singular about your online desires, then choose a VPN service that has servers in locations with popular content that you love to watch. If you travel a lot and love a great variety of online content, then try to find a VPN service that has as many servers and locations as possible.
  • Price – There are a lot of VPN out there who offer their services completely free. But some of them have restrictions on services. Some VPN providers charge a monthly fee because they invested a lot in the encryption software and server locations and give you so much more. Choose a VPN service provider that suits your budget and offers great security.