With the technological revolution, the Internet is more of a basic need than it is a luxury. Almost everything we do requires the internet connection.
Even bookstores have online outlets to reach out to more readers! Social media is also another reason why people connect to the web. Yet, even with all the sweet spots on the internet, there are a few downsides.Cyber crime is the elephant in the room as far as the web downsides are concerned. And, whenever internet security and anonymity is mentioned, people rush to three methods; Tor, VPN, and Proxy. The three methods help internet users beat cyber spying and attacks.
With the spying unleashed to internet users by governments, there is a need to know how to stay safe on the web. The FBI and NSA are the most notorious government departments as far as spying is concerned. According to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA spies on everyone, including the Chinese! Well, you may have nothing to fear if you are not a criminal, but this does not mean you don’t need your privacy!
Apart from the spies and snoops, the number of cyber criminals is on the increase. Every time you use your credit card or login details, there is always someone trying to get them off your hands. These internet kleptomaniacs will try everything possible to snatch what is rightfully yours. Of course, you need to keep them away, too!
Then, there are times you want to access restricted online platforms. For instance, when you want to access the US Netflix outside US, where it is restricted! In such a case, you need to come up with a trick – and that is hiding your real location online.
For whichever reason you want to hide your online identity, Tor, VPN and proxies are what you need! But, most online privacy enthusiasts are stuck for choice in the debate dubbed Tor vs VPN vs Proxy. And, the reason for this article is to compile as many facts as I can get. Whichever method emerges the winner in this contest; we should all make it our choice, shan’t we?!
Make no mistake, every method of obfuscating hackers has its cons and pros. But, it is the Tor vs Proxy vs VPN traits that separate the wheat from the barley. Thus, it is only wise to place each method under the test.
Before that, not everyone is a tech guru. As per our thorough studies, most people who Google ‘ Tor vs VPN for torrenting’ or ‘Tor VPN free download’ don’t have a clue of what Tor and VPN are!
And, it would be so unfair to bombard such people with tech jargon and Lexis. I won’t lie; I intend to bombard you with the terminology, but I will explain everything! So, I will be very forthcoming – after reading no one will remain a greenhorn anymore!
What to Look in the Best Anonymity and Security Tool
Nevertheless, it is important to set a metric for determining the best technology for best online anonymity. In a match, the rules should always be in bold font! Without rules of the game, no game can proceed. In brief, here is what you need in the Tor vs VPN vs Proxy battle. Noteworthy, in the final ranking, each feature shall have two points.
- Online Security: The software should encrypt all internet data, hide your IP address and ensure your internet is safe.
- Internet anonymity: The tool should help you camouflage in the web traffic. So, no one should know who or where you are browsing!
- Beat internet restrictions: With the technology, you should beat public or company wifi restrictions. So, for example, if YouTube is blocked at your workplace, it should help you watch and download Youtube videos anyway!
- Unlocking geo-restricted sites: A good anonymity software should allow you to unblock websites like Netflix. For this reason, the software should help you create accounts and access services of Crackle, Hulu, ESPN, and Spotify Student, etc.
- Should we mention service fee here? Or, do you have a problem paying more for a quality service? Well, to be fair, the price for monthly subscription shall be part of the metric algorithm too.
Tor vs VPN vs Proxy
So, which is the best among Tor, VPN, and proxy? In this comprehensive piece, you will learn the pros and cons of each online privacy technologies. Let us put the three modes of online privacy and anonymity technologies to the test below!
And, let the facts be the scores here. The match code is Tor Vs VPN Vs Proxy – so place your bet already! If you are asking where my money is, I am neutral until the final whistle! I am the umpire anyway!
The English dictionary defines a proxy as an intermediary. In brief, a proxy server is an intermediary data device that accesses the internet on behalf of a user.
The proxy redirects traffic to the server so that the source seems to come from the server and not the user. Think of the proxy server as the cop who stands by the roundabout, and controls the traffic on the road. Or, a middleman who transacts with the internet on your behalf.
Basically, all your traffic flows through the proxy server before connecting to a website. In this case, all data logs are only traceable to the server and not the user. Thus, the proxy acts as an ideal way to mask your online identity!
For instance, if your boss ever blocks social media from your office Wi-Fi, you can use the proxy! The proxy server receives all your browsing data on behalf of the website. Then, you access the web site via the proxy server. It is like the server browses the internet on your behalf!
Unlike other methods that have web domains, the proxy server doesn’t. It makes a proxy ideal in accessing some geo-blocked websites too!
The proxy server method functions in an easy way. It tricks websites into thinking that the traffic originates from the server, and not your personal computer or device.
Again, it makes the internet provider believe you are browsing a different website from the one they have blocked. So, if your boss or school (for example) has not blocked the Proxy, you can beat all the office or School internet restrictions!
So, how do proxy servers work in concealing your online identity?
It is clear that Proxy Servers channel your traffic to a server. Thus, the network tricks websites into thinking you are browsing from the server. So, the IP address that accesses web sites is not your own, but that of the server. When communicating with the internet, proxy servers use either HTTP, HTTPS or SOCKS. In brief, here is an explanation of how each communication protocol works.
- SOCKS Proxy Servers
SOCKS protocol is flexible because it does not reduce network traffic. But, with the massive traffic it handles, the protocol is slow. On VPN vs proxy for torrenting, SOCKS is Proxy Server’s greatest strength. SOCKS servers have different kinds of internet traffic to upload and download torrent files.
SOCKS protocol supports SMTP and POP3 for online mail. Also, IRC traffic is the part of SOCKS protocol that allows online chats. And, FTP allows you to upload or download stuff on websites.
The fact that SOCKS5 version handles any traffic makes it an ideal security protocol. So, if all you need is to mask your ID when downloading torrents, a SOCKS proxy that has an SSL connection is the best!
- HTTP Proxy Servers
HTTP protocol is an abbreviation for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The HTTP protocol only interprets traffic that starts with the URL ‘https://’ or ‘http://’. In short, the HTTP Proxy Servers are exclusive for websites or pages. In advance, it is quicker than both SOCKS and VPN servers.
The HTTP proxy server protocol has lots of downsides, though. Besides being only necessary for loading web pages, HTTP servers are not encrypted. All your ISP is under watch.
In your internet escapades, you must have seen some websites with a green or blue URL at the top. At the far left of your browser, it is inevitable to see the green or blue part. The URL starts with https://… And HTTPS means Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.
And, there are three main types of proxy servers namely;
Private proxy server
Although they are free in most cases, these are proxy servers that are not for the public. Formidable software companies operate private proxy servers, so; you can trust them.
Examples of private proxy servers include Proxy VPN free services, BTGuard.com and TorGuard.net. The private proxy server has both VPN and Proxy. So, get your VPN proxy free download right away!
Public proxy server
Unlike the private proxy server, the public version is open to anyone. Besides allowing multiple connections, these open proxies allow both SOCKS and HTTP protocols. Also, the free proxy has several IP addresses and port numbers.
Like any other internet security method, the public proxy server has its hitch. Because it allows simultaneous connections, the proxy is unstable and slow. Again, you need to have absolute trust in the providers of the unidentified servers. So, it is not wise to trust them with your sensitive information.
Yes, they are free and full of adverts – mostly. But, web proxy servers will mask your identity to a near-perfection! With a web proxy, you can access websites on your very own browser.
So, you do not have to install additional software, or change any of your browser settings! If you use CONNECT, you can make HTTP proxy servers work like SOCKS. But you have to use it alongside SSL – an option of using SSL/HTTPs is available for users to select on almost every free web proxy out there.
Subsequently, the sad thing is that most popular web proxies cannot access some websites. Why? Because the IP addresses of some servers are often blocked. It is the reason why you need to have a backup plan, like using VPN and proxy together. Or, you can try the Tor Proxy download!
Proxy servers have multiple benefits. And, here are some of them.
- Proxy servers have the potential to unblock geo-restricted streaming sites
- Proxy servers are ideal for basic web surfing
- They are free
- And, with proxy servers, it is possible to beat internet and network restrictions
But, here are the downsides of using the Proxy servers.
- Most Proxy servers do not encrypt your browsing data. So, third parties can access it
- Many websites have blocked most of the web proxies. So, they might be of no use
- Worst-case scenario, you could be sharing it with a hacker or cybercriminal. That’s absurd, bearing in mind that you are seeking online safety on the proxy server
- The person or organisation that runs the proxy server is anonymous. Thus, you have no clue of who they are, or whether their intention is to snoop on you
- They are unstable sometimes, and thus, inconvenient
Final score for proxy servers
And, now, let’s get a tally of the total score that proxy servers get in this contest. Two full points for being a free service and two for IP masking. Then, zero for security and one for anonymity.
So, it’s outright why proxy servers can only receive a rating of 5-6/10 in the best case scenario. Have you lost your bet already? Read on!
Tor stands for The Onion Router. The free network enables you to surf online without anyone tracking what you do. In most cases, the Tor network is referred to as the home to the dark web.
The Tor Project Organization seeks to protect users from any form of hacking or tracking. Tor comes with a browser software customised for online protection within the Tor Network. A team of volunteers runs the free network across the web.
In short, The Onion Router allows people to speak up anonymously. In my opinion, it has accolades from leading civil right movements. So, rebels, activists and whistleblowers use Tor to access the media as well as share their views.
How Tor Works
Just as WhatsApp is the fortress for messaging, so is Tor to online anonymity. Tor is where the majority of users turn to when they need to mask their online identity. The fact that it is free makes it even more lucrative. But, how does Tor hide your identity? Is Tor safe enough? Read on.
What is the comparison of Tor vs VPN?
Tor network lets you connect to a complex web of servers. The servers are invisible so; no one can see the trail of the connection or source of the data. Tor encrypts all the data you send to obscure it from any online snoop from guessing your IP.
When you browse on the Tor network, the encrypted data goes to an infinite number of invisible Tor servers. Then, the data is decrypted when reaching the recipient.
So, anyone who tries looking up who you are is puzzled by the set of multiple servers! After about ten minutes, Tor changes the relays or path of communication randomly.
Thus, Tor is like the person who welcomes you to their home and sweeps off your footprints. And, by doing that, spies can’t join the dots to locate your computer. Further, not even your ISP can know the websites you visit.
And, here are the advantages of using the Tor Browser or Tor network!
- Anonymity is so important that not even your ISP can tell your browsing data
- Also, Tor together with VPN gives a near perfect combination
- Again, the Tor network provides you with near-absolute encryption
- Tor is free
- You can circumvent internet restrictions using Tor
- At times, Tor can help unlock geo-restricted sites
Although the Tor network is much hyped, it has several setbacks too. So, here are some of them.
- The endless number of attacks on the Tor Network compromises its legacy. Both hackers and government agencies are notorious for that
- It requires you to download the Tor browser and may require you to part with some bandwidth.
- Also, Tor allows everyone – including criminals, to hide. So, it attracts the intervention of security agencies such as the FBI and NSA
- Tor is too slow to stream websites like Netflix
Oh, to those who placed their money on Tor, what do you think? Well, Tor gets almost all the ten possible points. But, unfortunately, it is impossible to rely on it for priority sensitive data.
No – not with the kind of spying and attacks perpetrated by security agencies. Also, the Tor network is not accurate in the unlocking US-based websites like Netflix. If rated out of ten, Tor gets 7-8 points. To be fair and empirical, I call that 7.5/10!
The third team to face grill is the VPN! VPN is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Network. A VPN lets you connect to the internet in a secure way.
After changing your data, the VPN goes far into encrypting data. With the VPN software, your computer channels data through an encrypted tunnel straight to the VPN server.
So, as far as the internet is concerned, you surf as if you are in a different location. Anyone who tries looking you up finds you in a different place, and gets confused!
With the dangers of using Tor, it is easy to fall into the trap of fearing to use VPNs. But, no known technology or hacking trick can break the VPN encryption protocol. Thus, rest assured that no one will read your data – not even the government! Unless your VPN provider doesn’t provide the data to agencies – itself 🙂
Which are the advantages of using VPN over Tor and Proxy servers? And, what benefits do you get by using the VPN? Well, these questions will lead to the list of reasons why you need a VPN. So, find them below!
- The Virtual Private Network is faster than both Tor and Proxy. But, you need to check the maximum speed with your provider
- Most VPN programs have added features such as anti-malware and anti-DDoS protection
- VPN’s privacy is far better than Proxy’s
- To beat the stiff competition, some VPN providers add the benefits of Tor and Proxy to their services too. So, it’s all cyber security and anonymity under one roof
- You are sure that a formidable company runs the servers. So, you don’t have to run ice water through your tummy, fearing you may get hacked or duped
- You are at liberty to choose an IP address from any part of the world! So, you can browse from China when you are actually based in Boulevard (for example)
But, a coin is three sided – head, tail and flip. So, here are the disadvantages of using a VPN.
- VPNs can be too expensive! Also, even the best free VPNs may be too intolerable with endless adverts
- Although you can trust the VPN provider, you can never be sure they won’t give up your browsing logs. Some VPN companies are notorious for providing their client’s browsing trails to security organisation
- May require to be used with Tor or Proxy for absolute confidential or secret information
Now to the tally; VPN has almost all the ticks. But, it is not absolutely free. Also, the VPN has some issues with giving up user information. While you can unlock geo-restricted sites using a VPN, some providers are blocked.
So, with the two half-issues, the Virtual Private Network earns 8.5/10 on the score sheet. And if you get a supreme quality VPN like ExpressVPN, you are always going to be a winner – as even the site such as Hulu and Netflix who has blocked VPNs and proxies are not able to block this provider.
Also, it is the most secure and fast VPN provider out there. Not a single case of keeping data logs or providing its users’ information, and always come first in tests regarding speed too. Did you win your bet? The odds were lucrative, congrats if you did! Read on for the prize…
Blending VPN with Tor and Proxy
After a close check, it is important to tell that none of the privacy tools is perfect. To get 10/10 on the score sheet, it is important to blend the networks and get the total benefits. So, it is important to see how systems blend with each another. Let’s say some sort of mixing fruit juices, or finding what
So, it is important to see how networks combine with each another. Let’s say some sort of mixing fruit juices, or finding what colours become when mixed!
VPN Vs Tor
A close evaluation of Tor vs VPN or the Tor VPN review – proves that none is perfect. While the VPN may look or sound a little more lucrative, it has vulnerabilities too. In fact, you must ensure that your VPN provider is respectable and capable enough. Otherwise, they might be worse than the public proxy server!
But yes, the top-notch VPNs such as ExpressVPN come along with guaranteed security – but at a fee. If you can afford to pay some bucks, perfect then. On the other hand, Tor is slow and vulnerable to security organisations. So, it is not safe to use any of the two alone – especially if you are up for using a free VPN.
The best way to harness your online security is to use Tor and VPN together. Tor and VPN encrypt your traffic while at the same time channelling it to a secret network.
But, the blend tends to be slow due to Tor’s nodes and connection to multiple servers across the world. So, in the Tor vs VPN for torrenting battle, the former may be too inconvenient! Needless to state, you need to download and activate both software (VPN providers provide you with manual setup wizards too, which enable you to setup VPN to use without having to install software).
VPN vs Proxy
The functions of a proxy server have an alignment with those of a VPN. Both the VPN servers and Proxy send and receive data on behalf of your computer. This way, the VPN and proxies hide your IP address.
But, a VPN is quite different from a proxy server. Private companies, mostly for profit – run VPNs. Thus, they concern themselves with fostering the privacy and safety of internet users.
But, you can also use the Proxy VPN free method or the VPN proxy service. Here, you use a free VPN and proxy together. You must be ready to stomach the adverts, though!
Tor vs VPN vs proxy for torrenting and streaming
So, which is the best network for torrenting and streaming? This question proves a real headache for anonymity enthusiasts. But, it shouldn’t! Of course, Tor and Proxy are too slow. Communication through the two networks involves a series of servers in different parts of the world. Thus, they do not provide a convenient way to stream content from websites.
Then, Tor depends on the exit node. The person who hosts the exit server during streaming or torrenting is the key. So, if any illegal content is downloaded on the Tor network, anyone (including you) could be held accountable! Again, Tor is not the best for streaming because it does not have a particular IP. Netflix and its alternatives require you to have a US profile. But, Tor’s IP addresses are at large!
Again, Tor is not the best for streaming because it does not have a fixed IP. Netflix and most of the Netflix alternatives require you to have a US profile. But, Tor’s IP addresses are at large scale at once.
As far as torrenting is concerned, VPN is the best, but it requires confirmation from the provider. Most companies do not allow downloads from torrent sites. So, you need to subscribe to the VPN provider that allows torrenting! As I stated above, ExpressVPN is by far the best VPN to use – yes, it allows torrenting too.
To sum up…
In conclusion, the battle of VPN vs Tor vs Proxy is too turf to tell the winner. The Tor and Proxy networks have their benefits that are not found in VPNs (they are completely free and other good things that suit many folks). So, VPN cannot stand out as the indisputable winner.
Thus, the battle shifts ground – from the best method to the best combination. If I personally had to go with only one option, though, it would be the VPN. It is evident the networks work best together. Oh my, does it mean the neutral guy has just won the bet?
Top/Featured Image: By Michael Johnson / Wikipedia