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Top 7 Differences between VPN, Proxy and Tor

16 December 2021

Would you like to be in a position to access or watch media on the internet with privacy and security? Well, VPN, Proxy, and Tor are the services you should be thinking about. The three of them allow users to access any content while hiding their device’s IP address.

Even though they have a common goal of hiding the user's identity, note that the three of them are different. It’s for that reason that you must understand facts about each one of them before settling for one.

Defining VPN, Proxies, and Tor

VPN encrypts a user’s internet traffic and acts as the user’s online identity. It conceals your online identity by allowing the network to be redirected. This is done through a configured remote server run by a VPN host. This happens in real-time and prevents third parties from tracking your activities.

That means that when using a VPN to browse, the VPN server becomes the source of your data. As a result, no third party or ISP will be able to tell which site you visited. If a third party gets their hands on your data, it will be useless because VPN turns the data into gibberish.

Tor is a software that enables you to surf anonymously. It protects your data from spies and cyber-criminals. It does this by bouncing your device's communication around a distributed network of many relays.

A proxy protects your data by communicating with a server on your behalf. Users connect to the proxy, which sends the connection to the server.

When looking for where to buy proxies, be sure to find a reputable proxy provider. It helps to determine the quality of the IP address you are purchasing. Do some research by reviewing proxy services.

People using shared proxies risk getting blocked in case other users get blocked. Public proxies as the name suggests are found on the internet and are accessible to any user with an internet connection. They’re free and need no authentication. Private proxies on the other hand are used by a single individual.

Lets try to explain the differences between VPNs, proxies, and Tor.

Privacy

Proxies incorporate HTTPS encryption to the site users go through on the website. As a result, anyone going through your browsing history only finds gibberish.

When using a VPN, other users will get to see your VPN server’s assigned IP address. Despite using a VPN, cookies and trackers can still get tracked. Although your VPN traffic can be seen, no one can peek inside. It’s for this reason that you’re advised to go for an anonymous VPN that doesn’t keep a user's logs. It’s also important that you opt for a VPN play customized to privacy.

When it comes to Tor, a user’s privacy is considered a top priority. When it comes to proxy, users must ensure that the proxy is correctly configured.

Performance

Usually, VPNs run on large amounts of bandwidth and processing power. This means that a user’s connection will suffer a slowdown if they’re on a weak network.

In the case of proxies, users sustain a little cost for bandwidth and it runs on low amounts of processing power.

The high number of users over the recent past has significantly slowed down Tor’s performance. This means that proxies and VPN are the best options in terms of performance.

Encryption

Although proxies hide users’ IP addresses by disguising their identity, they can’t encrypt data or traffic. This leaves room for the leakage of information between your device and the server.

As for Tor, it doesn’t encrypt users’ data when they browse a site that doesn’t encrypt its data. It leaves the responsibility of encrypting your data to you, the user.

VPNs on other hand take up the task of encrypting a user’s traffic via a highly secured tunnel. What this means is that of the three, VPN is the most secure method.

Security

When it comes to the security of your connection, proxies cannot begin to compete. Even though they are affordable proxies, HTTPS and SOCKS can’t encrypt a user’s traffic. Yet, they’re the most commonly used proxy server protocols.

VPNs are enabled to encrypt users’ traffic right from their device to the server. They then ensure that the traffic is passed into the user’s destination website. In case cybercriminals use a sniffer to intercept a user’s connection, encrypted data is what they’ll find. That’s how safe VPNs are especially when using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.

Tor relays nodes while routing user’s traffic. This encrypts a user’s traffic and keeps it safe from the prying eyes on the internet. Tor makes it difficult for the users to predict where their traffic will go. This is because the relay route changes every time Tor is used.

The exit node is the only limitation with Tor’s security. A user’s traffic can get intercepted while exiting the Tor network. You may argue that your website uses HTTPS, but even that isn’t foolproof.

Legality

A lot of countries have restricted and even banned the use of Tor and VPNs. In other countries, censorship laws don’t allow users to post or view some types of content.

Considering Tor’s association with the dark web, its use always draws government suspicion. So what is the dark web? It’s anything that’s not reachable by standard browsers like chrome and Google. The dark web is believed to be a haven for illegal activities that governments would rather keep at arm’s length.

Of the three options, proxies are the least restricted. Thus, users need to investigate the laws of a country to know which security tool to use.

Mobile Compatibility

Proxies should be applied on a per-application basis. That’s because some mobile apps can ignore your proxy.

VPNs are compatible with mobile apps. They can be found on both Android and iOS. Internet users only need to do some adjustments manually. The adjustments enable the VPN to work perfectly on mobile devices.

As for Tor, it only works on Android applications, not iOS. This makes VPN a sure bet in terms of mobile compatibility.

Speed

Speed is very important in today’s world of streaming and HD video content. But, if you’re looking for an internet security tool for speed, proxies cannot be the right choice. Yes, a lot of paid proxies provide reliable streaming. The problem is that they're susceptible to disconnections. As a result, super fast proxies experience many issues and downtime.

VPNs provide users with good speed, enabling them to easily stream videos. To experience good speed, consider getting a server that’s near you. VPN also has an auto-connect feature that gives users good speed.

In terms of speed, Tor is the slowest of them all. That might be the price you pay for its ability to hide your IP address.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to tell who the winner is between VPN, proxy, and Tor. Tor and proxies come with their benefits that are lacking in VPN. This means that VPN cannot stand out as the irrefutable winner. So, we shift this battle from the best method to the best combination.

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