If you are in the market for a new VPN service, Tor will likely come on your radar at some point. The only question is, what is Tor and what are the benefits of using a VPN vs Tor?
Here, we’ll take a look at the VPN vs Tor browser debate, and what you need to know when it comes to safeguarding your privacy online.
VPN Vs Tor – Basic Differences Explained
The basic differences between Tor and VPN services like Shielded VPN are simple. Tor, short for “The Onion Router,” is a free to use virtual private network that tunnels Internet traffic through lots of peer-to-peer relays and virtual bridges. The Onion Router also gets its namesake by using layers upon layers of tunnels to completely obfuscate user identities.
By comparison, VPN services establish private Internet connections exclusively between devices and end VPN servers.
The VPN Vs Tor Debate From a Practical Use Perspective
At face value, it is easy to argue that Tor provides people with a more robust level of privacy online. However, using Tor comes with several major drawbacks.
- Tor is slow. Layers upon layers of tunneling coupled with poor bandwidth make average Tor browsing speeds 47% slower than average VPN web browsing speeds.
- When you use Tor, it is impossible to watch streaming media. This is thanks to Tor being slow. However, Tor also purposefully blocks a lot of media codecs in the name of online security.
- Governments track Tor users. Many people who use Tor do so to engage in criminal activity. As a result, intelligence services take more interest in Tor users than they do VPN users.
In simple terms, Tor might seem a lot like an ultra-secure VPN. However, it is impossible for most people to use Tor for everyday web browsing.
Tor is Not as Secure as Many People Think
If you plan to use Tor in 2020, your first step will be to download the Tor Firefox web browser bundle. This contains a standalone Firefox web browser that Tor developers pre-configure to use Tor.
Sadly, using the Tor browser bundle means that Tor users only have control over their privacy online when using the Tor browser itself.
- When using the Tor browser bundle, other apps continue to connect to the Internet normally.
- It is necessary for Tor users to periodically test browsers to ensure that they are connecting to the Internet via the Tor network.
- Several third parties are known to monitor Tor traffic relays to attempt to identify Tor users.
When using Tor, it is also important to remember that Tor does not encrypt information you send or receive across the Internet. This means that anyone monitoring a Tor exit node can monitor your behavior as easily as if you weren’t using Tor.
Using a VPN Makes More Sense for Most Internet Users
Research suggests that almost 50% of people have increasing concerns about their privacy online. However, Tor is only really suitable for regular use if you are a budding Edward Snowden.
Slow Tor speeds mean that basic web browsing can be painfully slow. Slow speeds also make downloading and streaming content impossible. This being the case, using Tor certainly isn’t for everyone.
Are you planning to take steps to protect your privacy online this year? If so, Shielded VPN can help. Even better, we don’t ask that you stop using the Internet the way you want to. To find out more, click here .
Online freelancer, owner of Shielded VPN and long time website creator and designer. Happily married man and father of two amazing boys.