Browsing the Internet safely is not a fad but a necessity and all of us have access to both free and paid functions to carry out our tasks, consume content or chat safely from anywhere.
Today we will see the differences between VPN vs Proxy vs Tor and three of the ways to achieve this security and anonymity in the network in a simple way. There are three concepts or applications intended for different uses: we could create a VPN to encrypt our connections and unblock content outside our country, use one of the many free HTTP proxies on the Internet, or on the other hand use the Tor browser and its own network to browse the deep web.
Everything will depend on our needs and possibilities, so we are going to see the main differences between these concepts and what use each of them is aimed at. We recovered this VPN, you can see our analysis on our website.
VPN: Browsing will continue from anywhere
VPN means Virtual Private Network in Spanish, and it is understood that network that allows programs and devices to connect through an Internet extension without being physically linked to this network.
In other words, a VPN is a secure extension of a LAN or local area network to WAN domains such as the Internet. It is possible to extend a LAN to different parts of the world and in the number that we want by creating secure and encrypted connection tunnels without depending on public network nodes. This is called tunneling.
This secure transmission is created by one or more servers that create the network and provide private IP addresses to the hosts connected to the network wherever they are. In this way, the virtual and physical connection barrier is broken and it is as if we were connected directly in the country where the server resides. As if we moved our router to that country.
The VPN service goes much further than a Proxy since all our incoming or outgoing data from the connected host will be encrypted with the latest security protocols available such as L2TP, IKEv2, or OpenVPN, among others. Not only this, but it is also possible to mask the IP address, including anti-malware services and ad blockers, as well as remove geographic barriers such as blocking in China or Russia.
Advantages, disadvantages, and use of VPNs
Now we will mention the most important, the most outstanding possibilities and functions of a VPN vs. Proxy vs. Tor, and for which area of users it is directed.
- Security and encryption in all communications from the connected host
- Absolute compatibility with our hardware, PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, or even SmartTV
- Ideal to connect through public WiFi without being spied on
- Bypass country blocks and view content from abroad
- Obtain extra Premium services with payment companies
- Increased security when downloading from torrents, streaming, and other file-sharing services
- Create a tunnel from anywhere in the world to our house
- It is possible to create a VPN with some routers on the market, such as Asus, Cisco, and others.
- Most of the services are paid for since very few of us can create our own VPN server outside our country.
- In general, latency increases and bandwidth suffers
- Be especially careful with little-known companies as they can use our information for illegal purposes
- We navigate more securely but it is not an infallible means, none is
- Political obstacles in some countries
As for its main use, well, more or less it can be deduced from the advantages and disadvantages. The first and clearest will be for those users who travel a lot and work on the Internet with sensitive content.
But its main claim for domestic users is the possibility of consuming content that is blocked or not available in their country of origin, we can see Netflix, HBO, ESPN, BBC, and much more. In most cases, we will need a paid subscription, since this way we will not have data and bandwidth limitations.
We advance in the VPN vs Proxy vs Tor comparison, now focusing on what a proxy server is, which can be summarized as a lower level than the VPN.
A proxy server is a remote server that is placed between our computer and the destination to which we deliver or request information, for example, a website. This server is placed halfway to intercept the data that travels between our equipment and the website we intend to access.
It can be understood as a virtual pipe similar to the VPN but that is only created between the origin and the destination. By placing the intermediate proxy server we will be cheating our geographical location in some way to avoid certain blocks in the place where we are, since the traffic will seem to come from the proxy address. Proxies are not supposed to save or use our IP or personal information.
The biggest advantage of a proxy server is that it usually offers free services via websites from almost all over the world, although there are paid services with more features as well. There are several types of proxies, such as web, transparent, reverse, open, SOCKS, and others. The most common and accessible will be the first.
Web proxy, use, advantages, and disadvantages
This type of proxy is the most widespread for free use on the Internet since it uses the HTTP and HTTPS protocols for most connections. For this reason, it can be used from simple web browsers like the ones we have on our computers.
In this type of connection, the server is limited in many cases to redirect web traffic from the client to the server where the content is located. In turn, our IP address and position are masked to access geo-blocked content in our country of residence. A clear example can be foreign pages or blocked websites such as “rojadirecta” and streaming places that are not too legal.
Some of these proxies have a cache where they store web pages to provide customer service more quickly, called proxy-cache. Let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of a web proxy server.
- Accessible by the vast majority of users as there are many free ones
- They deliver faster speed than other types of proxies and free VPNs
- A good option for sporadic use and Internet browsing
- No extensions or dedicated applications are needed in many cases
- We can access geo-blocked content in our country easily
- They do not use an extra encryption layer for the connection
- They are limited to working in the web environment HTTP and HTTP and sometimes FTP
- There are many unreliable free proxies that compromise our security. Never buy or handle money through them
- Proxy caches sometimes have out-of-date cached pages
The clearest use of a web proxy is when we need to access a web page that is blocked in our country or by the connection service provider that is not available from the generic search engine that we have in the browser. It is also possible to use other types of proxies such as SOCKS to play online in turns on servers in another country.
We recommend it above all for sporadic use in certain web content, never for continuous use, since for this it is better to use Tor or a free VPN. For example, if we intend to evade the blocks in Asia, the best thing would be a VPN.
Tor Browser and Network
Tor is the last one on our list of VPN vs Proxy vs Tor, a browsing method that is increasingly used by advanced users and who do not want to find themselves with the limitations of the Internet network.
Tor means The Onion Router or El Router Cebolla in Spanish. The visible face for the user is a web browser based on open source as well as the protocol on which it works. But it’s much more than a browser, it’s a network overlay on top of the Internet, a virtual WAN itself. Many will know it as the Darknet, now we will see why.
This project has more and more users, it is a global meshed communications network superimposed as we say to the Internet where users browse anonymously and without revealing their IP. In the Tor network, users share bandwidth and resources with each other to form an encrypted network. In addition, all the information that travels through the Tor network is encrypted and remains anonymous until it reaches its destination, which on the other hand will only be visible from Tor.
Precisely because of this anonymity it is called the Darknet, which is different from the Deep Web or Deep Web. This concept refers to information that is not indexed (searched) by conventional search engines such as Google. It is often confusing because the Tor browser can access the Deep Web.
Tor is not just a network for the Deep Web
Far from it, in fact, it is a booming and increasingly reliable network for those users who want to browse the Internet anonymously without restrictions or content blocking, in short, the information must be available to everyone.
We can use Tor Browser exactly like Chrome or Firefox, and do exactly the same thing with the security layer that Tor adds. In addition, we can add an extra layer of definitive security with a VPN network, although of course, the bandwidth will suffer with so much encryption.
It is not recommended to use it for P2P downloads or streaming or real-time content consumption, since the security layer considerably increases latency and decreases bandwidth.
On the contrary, it is ideal for accessing information from activist associations that defend freedoms outside of government. Journalism is information, and information is power. Finally, we will see the advantages and disadvantages that Tor vs VPN vs Proxy can bring us.
- Multi-layer encryption on all connections and access to all content
- Browsing anonymously and free
- Free and dedicated browser, with access to the “Deep Web”, content that does not appear with the usual search engines
- Available in all countries or the vast majority of them
- It can be integrated with VPN networks to achieve an additional layer of encryption
- Extremely easy to use, just install the browser
- It is still an experimental and growing network, so it has security gaps
- Its negative connotation can put us in a vulnerable situation by government investigation agencies
- Encryption increases latency and decreases bandwidth
We leave here the Tor download link in case you want to try it or learn more about it.
Conclusions about VPN vs Proxy vs Tor
We have reached the end of this comparison which we hope to have shed a little more light on these three Internet browsing methods or services. We see that their philosophies and the use of each one are quite different, although as always in computing all of them can operate in an integrated way.
To summarize: a VPN network will be great for accessing geo-blocked content and browsing safely from anywhere, although it usually requires a fee. Meanwhile, a proxy offers access to blocked sites in our geographical area normally free of charge, although its use is rather occasional and insecure. Finally, Tor is a network that operates on the Internet with anonymous access for users and the possibility of entering the Deep Web, although it is slow and sometimes not very secure for its user.
Now we leave you with some interesting tutorials to continue exploring the world of networks: