The Onion Router (Tor) is a privacy-focused browser that anonymizes your internet traffic to help you bypass internet censorship. In spite of its privacy benefits, you’d be wise to use the best VPN for Tor for security reasons.
- NordVPN is the best Tor VPN, thanks to its lightning-fast speeds, obfuscation technology and solid security.
- NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Surfshark use obfuscation technology. Besides hiding Tor use, they mask the fact that you’re using a VPN.
- NordVPN and ProtonVPN come with built-in support for Tor over VPN on select servers. They are ideal options if you want to route traffic through a Tor network without launching a Tor browser.
Why should you use a VPN provider with Tor? First, your internet service provider (ISP) can see that you’re using Tor — Tor IP addresses are publicly available. Given that this browser is often conflated with entry to the dark web, your ISP might block or throttle Tor traffic.
Second, Tor sends your traffic through three servers: the entry, relay and exit nodes. However, the nodes are volunteer-run, and a malicious volunteer could monitor or redirect your internet traffic. A VPN will provide encrypted security to your internet connection.
A reliable virtual private network (VPN) such as NordVPN — our best VPN for Tor — has the features that complement Tor’s capabilities and seal its susceptibilities. It encrypts your traffic so that your ISP can’t see you’re using Tor, while preventing malicious nodes from exposing you or compromising your traffic. Read on to find out more about the best Tor browser VPN providers.
We recommend using NordVPN for its excellent speeds, solid security and strict zero-logs policy.
We don’t recommend using free VPNs with Tor, because the vast majority don’t have ideal speeds and security features. However, there are a few exceptions, such as ProtonVPN, which has great security, but you have to upgrade to a paid plan to get access to Tor over VPN.
NordVPN is the best VPN for the dark web, because of its top-notch security, excellent speeds and built-in Onion over VPN servers.
Top VPNs for Tor
What Makes the Best VPN for Tor?
A great VPN for Tor has features that remedy the weaknesses of the Tor browser — namely, security, privacy and speed. We examined a number of VPNs through the lenses of these features; here are the five VPNs for the Tor network.
- NordVPN — Privacy juggernaut with obfuscated and Onion over VPN servers
- ExpressVPN — Great Tor VPN service provider with excellent speeds
- Surfshark — Reliable Tor browser VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections
- CyberGhost — Tor browser VPN with configurable startup options (smart rules)
- ProtonVPN — Best free VPN for Tor with built-in Tor over VPN capability
First and foremost, you need a secure Tor VPN. Solid encryption, a kill switch and DNS leak protection wrap your traffic in extra layers of protection. Dedicated Tor servers are a bonus, though only two VPN providers that we know of offer them.
Moreover, it’s important to look for a secure VPN that uses obfuscation technology. Such a VPN service kills two birds with one stone. First, it conceals Tor use, so that government agencies won’t train their sight on your internet activity. Second, obfuscation hides VPN use so your ISP won’t block your internet traffic.
Speed is important when picking the best VPN services for Tor. Remember: Tor routes your traffic through three nodes, and that makes it slower than other web browsers. A VPN’s encryption further slows down your connection, but the best VPN for Tor ensures the impact is minimal to prevent the connection from becoming annoyingly slow.
In a Tor over VPN setup, the Tor network encrypts and decrypts your web traffic before it reaches the internet.
The 5 Best VPNs for Tor
Our list comprises the top five VPNs that can hide Tor use and protect you from malicious Tor nodes. However, these services offer varied tools and are uniquely priced. We compiled the details to help you pick a VPN service that offers the features you need at an affordable price.
Tor users who only want to use the Onion network without launching Tor browser will benefit from NordVPN’s Onion over VPN server.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: cheapest plan costs $3.29 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- Obfuscated VPN servers
- Onion over VPN servers
- Robust security & privacy
- Advanced features can be difficult to use
NordVPN provides a fleet of obfuscated VPN servers in some countries that change the way your VPN traffic looks to mask the fact that you’re using a VPN. Doing so lets you covertly use a VPN for Tor in countries where VPNs and anonymizers are banned, like Russia, Turkey and China.
Moreover, NordVPN has other helpful security features such as the double VPN, which sends your traffic through two VPN servers. However, if connection speed is a priority, we suggest sticking to NordVPN’s regular or obfuscated servers, as the double encryption slows it down.
Speaking of speed, NordVPN is one of the fastest premium VPNs we’ve tested, even when using the slower OpenVPN protocol. The lighter and more modern NordLynx protocol is incredibly fast as well, so much so that when using it with Tor you can do any speed-intensive activity without interruption.
Enjoy the Efficiency of Onion Over VPN Servers
In addition, NordVPN offers Onion over VPN servers that route your traffic through the Tor network. They come in handy when you don’t want to launch the Tor browser, but still want to send traffic via the Tor network. Even traffic from apps other than your browser get routed through Tor, which gives you added security.
Onion over VPN servers slow down your internet connection, but provide increased security.
NordVPN’s monthly plan is on the higher side of the pricing spectrum. However, extended plans are cheaper — with the two-year plan offering a significant discount. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee (read our NordVPN review to learn more).
Every time you connect to a VPN server, ExpressVPN’s obfuscation kicks in to hide VPN use.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: cheapest plan costs $6.66 per month (15-months plan)
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- Fast speeds
- Solid security & privacy
- Easily bypasses geoblocks
ExpressVPN ticks almost every box for one of the best VPNs for Tor. With AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption and solid VPN protocols, it helps hide your Tor traffic from your ISP. The automatic kill switch (called “network lock”) cuts your internet traffic when the VPN connection drops, preventing leaks that could tip off your ISP about Tor use. Its only downside is its hefty price tag.
All of ExpressVPN’s servers use obfuscation technology, ensuring your ISP doesn’t detect VPN use. To add to this, the VPN service has a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t record, store or share details about your online activity — which is great if you intend to traverse the dark web.
Enjoy Great Speeds With Lightway Protocol
ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol barely slows down your connection. When your internet traffic leaves the VPN server and heads into the Tor entry node, it has nearly the speed of an unprotected connection. As a result, you can stream videos, watch vlogs on the Facebook onion site or make cryptocurrency transactions without interruption.
ExpressVPN has the security features Tor users need to access hidden sites without fear of exposure.
Unfortunately, though, ExpressVPN is quite expensive. However, given all the features it offers, its value for money is excellent, plus you get a discount if you opt for the annual plan. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee with each plan, just in case you change your mind. Read our full ExpressVPN review to learn more.
Surfshark lets you establish secure connections backed by obfuscation technology to mask VPN use.
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: cheapest plan costs $2.49 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: surfshark.com
- Uses camouflage mode
- Anonymity with IP rotator
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
Surfshark is another great VPN for Tor browser that excels at hiding Tor use. For features, it offers AES-256 encryption, robust protocols and DNS leak protection. Beyond that, it has a split tunneling feature (called “bypasser”) that enables it to configure the Tor browser to use the VPN tunnel while allowing other apps to access the internet directly.
Even better, it comes with camouflage mode (Surfshark’s version of obfuscation). The feature springs into action when you connect to Surfshark’s servers. The only quibble is that camouflage mode runs only when you’re using OpenVPN, meaning IKEv2 and WireGuard don’t support this option.
Surfshark’s MultiHop feature (its version of double VPN) routes your traffic through multiple VPN servers. This adds an extra layer of protection, and may come in handy for journalists, activists and whistleblowers in restrictive countries. However, using the feature slows down your connection; add this to Tor browser’s sluggish nature and your connection could be challenging.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
Most VPNs limit the number of devices you can connect at once, but Surfshark places no such limits. With its unlimited simultaneous connections, you can protect all of your devices at once. You can even share your account with family and friends to split the bill, though Surfshark is pretty cheap as it is.
Surfshark is a fast and secure VPN that supports obfuscation on OpenVPN protocol only.
Surfshark doesn’t match NordVPN’s VPN server network, but it has unique capabilities such as unlimited simultaneous connections. To make it even sweeter, it’s cheaper than our top two picks when you select the one-year or two-year plan. Each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee (read our full Surfshark review to learn more).
- : Unlimited GB bandwidth,
- : Unlimited GB
- : Unlimited
Although it doesn’t use obfuscation, CyberGhost supports Tor use with a comprehensive suite of security features.
More details about CyberGhost:
- Pricing: cheapest plan costs $2.15 per month (three-year plan + three months)
- Provider website: cyberghostvpn.com
- Large VPN server network
- Constant protection via smart rules
- 45-day money-back guarantee
CyberGhost doesn’t support obfuscation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fly-by-night VPN service. Besides a comprehensive security suite that includes AES-256 encryption, secure protocols and DNS leak protection, it offers NoSpy servers. The privacy-focused servers work well with Tor browser to bypass internet censorship in restrictive countries.
CyberGhost is easy to use, even for VPN rookies. Its menu is laid out clearly, and even advanced options have descriptions about what they do. This means that you can optimize your security for Tor browsing in an informed way.
Its NoSpy servers are located in privacy-friendly Romania and feature added security measures. CyberGhost directly owns and supervises these servers.
Get Always-On Protection With Smart Rules
Let’s face it: Sometimes, you might forget to turn on the VPN, even when accessing the dark web. If you’re a dissident, journalist or whistleblower, that could be a catastrophic error privacy-wise. Luckily, CyberGhost’s smart rules lets you configure CyberGhost to establish a secure connection every time you open the Tor browser.
CyberGhost one of the best VPNs for Tor browser with dedicated IP addresses.
Like the rest of our picks, CyberGhost’s monthly plan is quite expensive, and it only has a 14-day money-back guarantee. However, extended plans offer significant discounts and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. Read our comprehensive CyberGhost review for more details.
ProtonVPN is one of the best Tor VPNs, thanks to built-in support for Tor over VPN.
More details about ProtonVPN:
- Pricing: cheapest plan costs $4 per month
- Provider website: protonvpn.com
- Tor over VPN servers
- Free plan
- Secure core servers
ProtonVPN made it onto our best VPNs for Tor list, thanks to its built-in Tor over VPN features (we’ll get to that in a bit). Its security suite is stacked with AES-256 encryption, solid VPN protocols and perfect forward secrecy features that wrap your traffic in layers of protection, hiding it from your ISP and malicious snoopers.
Additionally, ProtonVPN is one of the best free VPNs, though it has some limitations. The free version places a soft cap on your speed by putting you on a high-traffic server.
ProtonVPN also has NetShield — a built-in ad blocker that will stave off ads. However, because of the way Proton handles DNS requests with Tor over VPN, its ad blocker won’t work with Onion servers.
Use Tor Over VPN With Single Click
Like NordVPN, ProtonVPN features built-in Tor over VPN. The feature isn’t available for free users, but paying users will be able to enjoy Tor protection — which is why we can’t recommend ProtonVPN as the best free VPN for Tor.
ProtonVPN’s free plan limits your available servers to three countries (United States, Japan and Netherlands), but you can remove the limit with a premium plan. However, it does not have data caps, unlike Windscribe or Tunnelbear’s free plans.
Even though it has a smaller server network compared to other picks, ProtonVPN includes Tor over VPN servers.
If you want to use ProtonVPN for Tor, go with a paid plan. The monthly plan is expensive, but the two-year plan will save you a chunk of money. These plans also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Read our full ProtonVPN review to learn more.
Why Use a VPN With Tor?
Although Tor can be useful for increased privacy and as an access point to the deep web, it also has a few major flaws. Its nodes are run by volunteers, who might not have your best interests in mind. Frequently, these nodes are actually operated by surveillance agencies, and they may be operated by hackers as well.
If your traffic happens to pass through a malicious Tor exit node, its operator can alter your traffic and hijack it. They can redirect you to a copycat website and steal sensitive information if you don’t notice the switch. They can even hijack crypto transactions to siphon money into their wallet.
What’s more, your ISP (and thus your government) can see that you’re using Tor. If you’re a dissident or journalist, this might not be ideal. A VPN will encrypt your traffic before it reaches the Tor network, so no one will know you’re using it. Plus, the originating traffic points to the VPN server and not you, meaning your IP address is hidden from the node operators.
Final Thoughts: The Best Tor VPN Options
There’s no doubt that using Tor and VPN together enhances your digital security and privacy. The benefits of this combination outweigh the risks if you’re taking part in politically sensitive activities. It’s great for journalists, whistleblowers or human rights activists looking to share sensitive information without the fear of reprisal or government monitoring.
However, if you’re a regular user who only desires security and privacy when streaming or playing games online, you’re better off with just a VPN. Remember, while Tor anonymizes your internet traffic, it can be slow and inefficient for streaming, torrenting or gaming, and it can be downright dangerous if used incorrectly.
Have you used a Tor over VPN combination before? Did the combination deliver the security and privacy benefits you were looking for? What would you recommend Tor over VPN for? We’d like to hear about it in the comments. As always, thanks for reading.
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