When it comes to protecting yourself online, Tor and VPNs are both excellent tools which can enhance the safety and security of your browsing experience. But while the two pieces of software do perform similar functions, they do so in very different ways – begging the question, which is better: Tor or VPN?
The truth is that each option carries with it its own unique advantages and disadvantages, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. When considering which service to use for business purposes, it makes sense to weigh up what kind of traffic you expect to receive, what type of activity you will pursue and what you’re looking for from the product. Here’s a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of both in order to better inform your decision.
The case for Tor
For the uninitiated, Tor is a browser privacy tool which works by bouncing the data sent by its users through a number of “relays” that are operated by thousands of volunteers across the planet. By drowning out the signal of your computer’s IP address, it makes it virtually impossible to tell where the data came from. This makes it an excellent method of protecting your digital identity. What’s more, Tor is a completely free service which can be downloaded and used by anyone.
The case against Tor
While Tor is free and effective, it’s not the most efficient option available. Due to the fact that the data being sent and received is bounced among the relays, there’s an inevitable delay in comparison to standard web browsing or that which uses a VPN. Slower internet speeds aren’t the only catch, either; Tor is not suitable for downloading large files and the software behind it has been blocked by some major websites, while there is no option to specify the country in which your exit node is located. This means that accessing geo-blocked content can be bothersome.
The case for VPNs
By contrast, VPNs simply cloak your data in a private connection on top of the public network that it would normally travel through. This means it’s capable of far greater speeds and lends itself well to downloading, streaming and gaming. VPNs can also be applied to any device, offering universal coverage, whereas Tor is only available on a Tor browser. Finally, the option to choose the location at which your IP address will appear greatly facilitates the unlocking of geo-blocked content.
The case against VPNs
Having said that, VPNs aren’t a 100% perfect solution, either. Less scrupulous providers could theoretically access your data and put it at risk, thus defeating the purpose of using one in the first place. For a more reliable option, you must opt for a paid service, which costs more than Tor’s free service. VPNs are also less secure than Tor – at least in theory – due to the fact that its entire defences depend upon a single server.
Whether you choose Tor or a VPN for your business operations will depend on whether you prioritise affordability and effectiveness over efficiency and ability. It’s quite likely that the convenience, speed and processing capabilities of a VPN will make it a more attractive option for commercial and professional purposes – but if you do go down that route, just make sure you find a trustworthy provider of the service.