Some folks like to have their communication super secure and VPNs are “not enough” for them. So they combine VPNs with Tor which is a powerful combination that makes them virtually untraceable in the online world.
Tor, which is short for The Onion Router, does its magic by routing data through multiple layers (peels of the onion) of security before reaching its final destination. Unlike VPN, Tor is run by volunteers who may not have the professional equipment like VPN providers do. But these guys and gals do help some people get to the information that could otherwise be outside of their reach.
That being said, we don’t think anyone should get a VPN just to be able to super-charge his/her Tor experience. A VPN offers much more and in most cases, you can use it without Tor to access parts of the Internet that may be censored in the place where you live or work.
With that in mind, we have selected VPNs that sing along Tor but will also let you do other things online. Here are what we consider to be the top contenders:
- 5,000+ servers in the network
- Easy to use - install it and forget it
- One license is good for up to 6 devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Chrome extension is just a proxy
- You can't pay with PayPal
Its network includes more than 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries, which directly translates into faster speeds. NordVPN is also very secure, relying on the strong 256-bit encryption combined with secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec). But as a user, you get a seamless experience with all this technology "doing its thing" in the background.
NordVPN is well suited to pretty much every task you throw at it — whether it's accessing a banned site from some country that filters out the internet, torrenting, accessing streaming services, or just wanting to keep a low profile on the web. It also doesn't keep any logs.
We highly recommend NordVPN to anyone looking for reliable service.
- Good for both torrenting and streaming
- Works in China
- Solid network with servers in 60+ countries
- Easy to use apps on multiple platforms
- Live chat isn't always available
- Fairly pricey
Whether you need a VPN for watching Netflix shows or downloading files via BitTorrent, Astrill can help you out — all while keeping your identity under the radar. And this is especially true if you live or work in China when the company's stealth protocols will kick in to let you access all the popular sites that are by default blocked by the country's censors.
Astrill's apps are easy to use and available on all popular platforms. Nevertheless, they still manage to provide a host of advanced features tech-savvy folks are used to get. Highly recommended, again, especially if you're looking to bypass the Great Firewall of China.
- Feature-rich yet easy to use
- One of the best VPNs around
- Strong no-logging policy
- Reliable support you can reach 24/7
- Limited number of servers in Africa and the Middle East
- Kinda pricey
ExpressVPN has great desktop apps for Windows and Mac, mobile apps and browser extensions. Also, it is well suited for video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others.
However, what makes it stand out is its ease of use. We can't emphasize this enough. One could tell a lot of time has been spent making sure even the advanced features are easily accessible. And we love it for that. Plus, let's not forget ExpressVPN's speed which tends to leave other services in the dust.
- Fast download and upload speeds
- Works with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc.
- Great for torrenting
- Advanced privacy features (i.e. Tor over VPN)
- Relatively small number of servers
- There are no browser extensions
- Live chat support is not always available
Specifically, you can rely on PrivateVPN for both torrenting and streaming, without paying a premium. It is, in fact, one of the most affordable options in its league and we love it for that.
Customer support may not be on par with bigger players but it's not like you should experience many problems anyway. You will get the same level of security and privacy as with other services, and a single license will let you run PrivateVPN on up to 6 devices. Pretty cool.
- Works in China
- Many servers in Asia
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Advanced services like VyprVPN Cloud
- No browser extensions
- Torrenting could be better
It manages to bypass restrictions in high-censorship countries and elsewhere by relying on its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which can easily slide under the radar.
VyprVPN is also great for accessing video streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and so on — delivering the true buffer-free experience every single time. It will also work with BitTorrent, and consequently - Kodi.
VyprVPN has a strict zero-logs policy. Period.
Tor is free and open-source software that enables anonymous communication. Its name comes from the acronym The Onion Router, where the “onion” is used to describe the protocol because of its peels. In that sense, Tor routes data through multiple layers (peels) of security before reaching its final destination.
Tor protects you against “traffic analysis,” which can reveal your identity and location by monitoring the data at different points between the device you use and the websites you visit. Here’s how it works, as depicted by this EFF diagram:
Tor is used with a free Tor browser, which routes all the traffic coming to and from your device through randomly selected servers, called Tor nodes. From there, the request is sent to several other computers (Tor nodes) before reaching its final destination.
The same thing happens when data is passed back to you, providing a high level of anonymity — as every node in the network only knows the IP address of the previous node and the IP of the next node. Therefore, it is impossible for any one server to know where the data originally came from and the final destination.
There are several reasons why Tor is so popular, such as:
- Resiliency – the Tor network is run by a distributed network of volunteers, and it is extremely difficult for any government or organization to shut it down.
- Anonymity – the routing method used by the Tor network does not reveal your IP address to the websites you visit.
- Price (it’s free) – you don’t have to pay a single dime in order to use the Tor software and network.
- Bypassing geo-restrictions – Tor allows you to access geographically restricted websites and content.
In addition, with a Tor browser, you get to access .onion sites which are impossible to open on other browsers. Mind you, these are not websites most people visit.
Most users need a VPN instead of Tor
As far as the majority of users are concerned, they need a VPN rather than Tor. Just like Tor, a VPN will protect their privacy while delivering faster download and upload speeds, unblocking geo-restricted content and so much more. Also, a VPN is easier to use as it only requires users to start an app and they are good to go. Plus, a VPN can run on multiple platforms and devices and work for both websites and apps that require an Internet connection.
Nonetheless, you can still use Tor in combination with a VPN for an extra “peel” of security. A VPN has much more to offer as it will let you do other things, like:
- Accessing content that could otherwise be restricted in your physical location.
- Preventing tracking and minimizing your digital footprint so that no one can track you online (at least not that easily).
- Avoiding throttling from your ISP – which is known to happen when you’re torrenting or accessing video streaming services.
- Bypassing firewalls in a workplace, university, school and so on.
- Bypassing censorship in places like China, North Korea, countries in the Middle East, and even Turkey and Russia.
- Securely connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots – with a VPN encrypting all the traffic coming to and from your devices.
The bottom line is – get a VPN that fits all your needs. The top contenders include the following: