5 Best VPNs for Tor Browser

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Reliable privacy, security, the ability to unblock Tor, and having malware and ad blockers are key features for a VPN. NordVPN is the best VPN for Tor browser.

It has obfuscated servers, fast speeds, reliable privacy, and security features and is compatible with multiple devices.

Alternatives that may also fit the bill include Surfshark, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost.

Therefore, if you want to improve your experience with tor browser, you’re in the right place. Read this review to the end to know more.

Surfing Anonymously the Right Way: The 5 VPNs at a Glance

You’re probably exploring the never-ending deep web on your Tor browser, so here’s a quick summary of the 5 VPNs you should be using.

  1. NordVPN Best Overall + Onion Over VPN Servers.
  2. Surfshark – Unlimited Device Connections + Budget Friendly.
  3. ExpressVPN – Automatic Obfuscation + In-Built Onion Service (Expressobutiolem.onion).
  4. Private Internet Access – User-Friendly Interface + Advanced Privacy Features.
  5. CyberGhost – Large Server Network + NoSpy Servers.

Tor is slow, and adding VPN encryption on top of it can make things even slower. However, speed isn’t the aim here. Each VPN was extensively tested for security and privacy, and they all passed with flying colors.

Keep reading for the details!

The Best VPNs for Tor Browser

Extra security is never bad. If adding a VPN to the Tor browser advances that, the better. For all the speed tests, I used base internet speeds of 30Mbps to give an accurate picture of what to expect.

Without wasting more time, let’s dive in!

NordVPN - Best Overall + Onion Over VPN Servers

Location

Servers

Connections

Average Speeds

Best Deal

Panama

5500+

Six

9Mbps

Show the Deal 

Ability to Unlock Tor

NordVPN Ability to Unlock Tor

NordVPN has over 5,000 servers, enough to unblock Tor browsers in Iran, China, and Russia, among other countries where it’s blocked or restricted.

Connecting to a server of your choice is quick.

NordVPN also has obfuscated servers, but they only work with OpenVPN, so the speeds take a hit. I conducted a speed test with an obfuscated server. The speeds dropped by half to 4Mbps.

Furthermore, NordVPN is the only option offering Onion over VPN servers, a big reason why it’s first on this list. 

These servers eliminate the need for the Tor browser in the first place. 

You can use any regular browser without losing the same high-level anonymity Tor offers.

Privacy and Security

NordVPN Privacy and Security

Security and privacy are NordVPN’s most formidable forte. 

It has AES 256-bit encryption that protects your Tor browser traffic against breaches of all kinds. The deep web is rife with all types of threats like hackers, and this encryption makes things harder for them.

NordVPN, like PIA, has two kill switches. One for disabling the internet when the VPN connection drops to counter leaks. 

Then a second one that disconnects the internet for specified apps, leaving the internet connection intact for others.

Combine all these with obfuscation, and you have the ideal VPN for the Tor browser. You can surf in peace without worrying about your online safety.

Malware & Ad Blocking

NordVPN Malware and Ad Blocking

NordVPN has CyberSec that handles unnecessary ad pop-ups when surfing the internet on Tor. It also doubles as a threat protection tool that blocks malware and intrusive tracking before it loads on your device. 

This was evident when using one of my favorite dark web search engines, Haystack. There was no ad in sight.

As far as the dark web is concerned, CyberSec may not be as thorough as a full-fledged firewall or antivirus, but it gets the job done. 

Ensure you have it activated from the settings before launching the Tor browser.

NordVPN Threat Protection

Connection Speeds

This Tor VPN averaged 9Mbps, considerably faster than Surfshark. Shocking. This may handle some very basic streaming and torrenting, but waiting times and buffering will be more common. 

Basic browsing on Tor sites like Safe Escrow shouldn’t be a problem.

NordVPN also has split tunneling that could vastly improve your speeds. Set the VPN to only work with the Tor browser from the settings. 

However, it’s only available for Android and Windows.

Multiplatform Support

The VPN provider has native Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux apps. Any device compatible with Tor browser can work with NordVPN.

This is convenient if you want to surf from anywhere using any device anonymously.

Regarding price, NordVPN is a little costlier than Surfshark but cheaper than ExpressVPN. Additionally, you can use these fantastic discounts while they still last.

Pros

Cons

Surfshark - Unlimited Device Connections + Budget Friendly

Location

Servers

Connections

Average Speeds

Best Deal

The Netherlands

3200+

Unlimited

2Mbps

Show the Deal

Ability to Unlock Tor

Surfshark Ability to Unlock Tor

Surfshark is another Tor browser VPN with over 3,200 servers; that’s less than CyberGhost and NordVPN. All the same, this can help you access the Tor browser in places where it’s blocked.

For example, Russia has been blocking Tor anonymity networks since December 2021. The only way to access the internet using the Tor browser is through a reliable VPN like Surfshark.

Privacy and Security

Surfshark Privacy and Security

Tor gives you excellent anonymity, but you’ll need more. 

Surfshark addresses this problem through several features.

First is the encryption that scrambles the traffic, making it unreadable and unusable to prying eyes. This protects your real IP address.

A kill switch also disables the internet when the VPN connection drops.

This shields your IP from being exposed until the reconnection is established.

For places where Tor is banned, Surfshark’s Camouflage Mode will protect you against DPIs and any other detection measures employed by the state. However, it’s slower than ExpressVPN’s obfuscation since it only works with OpenVPN, but it was still faster than NordVPN’s obfuscated servers.

Malware & Ad Blocking

Surfshark Malware and Ad Blocking

Like NordVPN and PIA, Surfshark has an effective ad blocker called CleanWeb. It’s available on Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS

It blocks ads and malware before they load. It also handles trackers when you dive into the deep web with the Tor browser and keeps you safe from phishing attempts.

Compared to Threat Manager, there are instances where occasional ads slipped through with CleanWeb. In particular, CleanWeb couldn’t handle YouTube ads on Tor, which Threat Manager blocked easily.

Connection Speeds

Surfshark Connection Speeds

I averaged connection speeds of 2Mbps with Surfshark. 

This was a far cry compared to the usual speeds when using regular browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox.

In a nutshell, there isn’t much you can do with tor browser regarding speed-intensive activities.

For instance, you can’t stream or download heavy files comfortably. 

The best I could do was open pages like The Hidden Wiki and Torch.

Multiplatform Support

You can use Surfshark on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux like other VPN providers. All these platforms support the Tor browser, meaning you can use it anywhere on any device as long as you have a stable internet connection.

Surfshark is the cheapest, and you can link as many devices as you want with unlimited device connection capability.

Take advantage of these discounts plus the 30-day money-back guarantee to save even more.

Pros

Cons

ExpressVPN - Reliable Speeds With In-Built Onion Service (Expressobutiolem.onion)

Location

Servers

Connections

Average Speeds

Best Deal

BVI

3000+

5

3Mbps

Show the Deal

Ability to Unlock Tor

ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers, enough to get you past any Tor blocks in any part of the world. It also has obfuscation, which works with all servers and protocols, unlike the other alternatives. 

It automatically becomes active when you launch ExpressVPN.

With this, you can use Tor safely without any fear of retribution if you live in a country that blocks Tor networks.

Additionally, ExpressVPN recently launched a service called Expressobutiolem. It’s an onion service hosted within the Tor network that gives people in high-censorship areas easy access and greater privacy.

To access this, simply open the Tor browser, navigate to http://expressobutiolem.onion and start browsing safely and anonymously.

Privacy and Security

ExpressVPN Privacy and Security

ExpressVPN is well stacked in the privacy and security department. 

It has the industry standard encryption that adds the extra layer of protection on top of what Tor already provides. 

This encryption prevents you from being flagged by your ISP for using Tor, as they can’t tell what you’re up to.

You also get a kill switch (network lock) for the moments where your VPN connection suddenly drops with the risk of exposure high. 

This disables the internet immediately, countering leaks.

Malware & Ad Blocking

ExpressVPN Threat Manager

ExpressVPN has a Threat Manager feature that blocks ads, malware, and third-party trackers. This is efficient when navigating the deep web, where chances of stumbling on malicious links are always high.

The Threat Manager prevents your device from communicating with servers listed on ExpressVPN’s internal blocklist (updated regularly). 

All trackers, ads, and possible malware are immediately blocked whenever you open a website on this blocklist.

Threat Manager is available for Linux, macOS, and iOS only, unlike CyberSec, PIA MACE, and CleanWeb, which work with all devices.

Connection Speeds

ExpressVPN Connection Speeds

ExpressVPN registered 3Mbps when using Tor Browser. 

That was slower than NordVPN and slightly faster than Surfshark.

Again, the most you can do with these speeds is stream SD content and handle small file downloads with considerable waiting times and buffering on sites like SecureDrop (the best site for whistleblowers).

I used two more servers for confirmation, and the speeds never exceeded 3Mbps.

Luckily, you can use ExpressVPN’s split tunneling to only route Tor traffic and improve overall speeds. The change may not be that big, but it’s worth a try if you have faster base internet speeds.

The split tunneling feature is available only for Windows, Android, macOS, and routers. iOS doesn’t have it yet.

Multiplatform Support

ExpressVPN Multiplatform Support

ExpressVPN is compatible with Android, macOS, Windows, iOS, and Linux. You can use the Tor browser with ExpressVPN on any device if you have a stable internet connection.

Unfortunately, the price tag is high. It’s the most expensive VPN, but you can offset that a little by getting your subscription using these great discounts.

Pros

Cons

Private Internet Access - User-Friendly Interface + Advanced Privacy Features

Private Internet Access website

Location

Servers

Connections

Average Speeds

Best Deal

United States

Unknown

Ten

2Mbps

Show the Deal

Ability to Unlock Tor

Private Internet Access Ability to Unlock Tor

You can unblock Tor networks easily with Private Internet Access using the vast server network spread across the globe. 

This includes school and work networks that may have blocked the use of Tor networks for security reasons.

Like the others (except CyberGhost), PIA offers obfuscation

But it only works with OpenVPN and slows your speeds.

But it’s still faster than NordVPN’s obfuscated servers and Surfshark’s Camouflage Mode.

In exchange for speed, it grants Tor users complete anonymity from any VPN detection, making it one of the best tools to beat heavy censorship.

Privacy and Security

Private Internet Access Privacy and Security

PIA features military-grade encryption that secures Tor traffic from your ISP, network administrators, or advertisers. 

Combine this with PIA’s anonymity, and you get an almost foolproof vehicle for browsing hidden internet gems like ProPublica and ProtonMail as you see fit.

It also has public Wi-Fi protection for those bold enough to use public Wi-Fi for accessing sensitive websites.

Another handy feature is the kill switch. PIA is the only VPN on this list with two kill switches.

A regular one for disconnecting the internet when the VPN goes offline, and an advanced kill switch that blocks leaks even when the VPN is switched off.

Malware & Ad Blocking

Private Internet Access Privacy

PIA MACE is an in-built ad blocker that doubles up as an anti-tracking and malware tool. Like CyberSec and CleanWeb, PIA MACE has to be activated from the settings and adds an extra shield that blocks harmful scripts, ads, and trackers before loading your device.

PIA MACE works on all platforms, unlike Threat Manager, which isn’t available for Android and Windows. It came through so well on my Android phone when browsing through MegaTor.

Connection Speeds

Private Internet Access Connection Speeds

PIA didn’t perform well either in the speeds department. 

I averaged 2Mbps, the same as Surfshark, and that’s barely enough to get anything serious done. Besides the usual surfing and opening websites, you can’t comfortably stream or torrent at these speeds.

Private Internet Access Split Tunnel

On the bright side, the split tunneling feature is pretty advanced.

You can choose an app and designate it under “Bypass VPN” or “Only VPN.” This can bump up the speeds a little.

Multiplatform Support

This VPN service provider works on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux. It also offers ten simultaneous connections. 

This is more than CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.

Finally, the price plans are fair and within the affordable range of most people. Check out these discounts if you’d like to get them cheaper.

Pros

Cons

CyberGhost - Large Server Network + NoSpy Servers

Location

Servers

Connections

Average Speeds

Best Deal

Romania

8800+

Seven

2Mbps

Show the Deal

Ability to Unlock Tor

CyberGhost All Servers

CyberGhost has over 8,000 servers, the largest server network by far and that makes unblocking Tor easier and faster.

NordVPN is the closest competitor with 5500+ servers. 

Again, like NordVPN, it has specialty servers for torrenting

However, they may not be helpful since Tor browser doesn’t do well for speeds.

But, as far as hiding your actual address when popping into dark web pages, CyberGhost has sufficient servers to get you where you need.

Privacy and Security

CyberGhost Privacy Settings

There’s AES 256-bit encryption that protects your traffic from interception. It scrambles the data and turns it into a gibberish mess.

You also get a kill switch that protects your devices from leaks by disabling the internet anytime there’s an interruption to the VPN connection.

Unfortunately, CyberGhost is the only VPN here that doesn’t offer obfuscation. But you can use its NoSpy servers owned and operated by CyberGhost. They’ll help you use the Tor browser in censored places.

Malware & Ad Blocking

CyberGhost has a Block content feature that blocks any DNS domain that uses ads to target or track users. It also takes care of malware and other minor threats you may encounter when using the Tor browser.

But unlike the other adblockers that can work with all protocols, CyberGhost’s Block Content only works when paired with the WireGuard protocol.

Connection Speeds

CyberGhost Connection Speeds

CyberGhost posted 2Mbps on average. That’s in the same ballpark as Surfshark and PIA. The most productive thing you can do with this is launch basic web pages like Dread as you take advantage of the increased privacy and security.

But as far as streaming and torrenting go, you’ll only give yourself a headache with all the buffering and wait times.

Luckily, there’s split tunneling, like the other options, that you can take advantage of to slightly increase the speeds. But don’t expect a huge spike.

Multiplatform Support

You can combine Tor and CyberGhost on Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux. CyberGhost supports up to 7 device connections, enough to cater to your needs if you have multiple devices or people coming over.

The price plans aren’t that bad, either. Throw in these discounts, and you can get CyberGhost almost for nothing.

Pros

Cons

Tips to Consider When Choosing the Right VPN for Tor Browser

With all features of the best VPN services covered, now it’s time to pick. 

Here are the factors to consider.

  • Ability to Unblock Tor: Tor is blocked in many parts of the world. This is because of its anonymity features that make tracking hard. This is why many activists use it to fight the government. If you’re in a hostile region that bans Tor, you’ll need Tor VPNs with an extensive server network to bypass the censorship. If it has obfuscation, the safer it is for you.
  • Privacy and Security: People use Tor browsers to be anonymous, but that isn’t enough. Anyone accessing your traffic’s exit node can see everything they need, especially your ISP. To throw them off, go for a secure VPN software that features encryption, DNS leak protection, kill switches, and any other tool that makes it hard for anyone to see your secure connections.
  • Malware and Ad-Blocking: The dark web is a sinister place with very little regulation. Deciding to venture there requires proper security tools, and ad blocking and malware detection are just some of the essential ones the best Tor VPNs should have. These stop ads and malware from loading on your device, protecting your phishing and other threats.
  • Multiplatform Support: You need the flexibility of switching between devices depending on the one available. So go for a VPN compatible with portable devices like smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
  • Connection Speeds: Tor browser is slow, and a VPN won’t magically bridge that gap. As long as you’re using Tor, speeds will be significantly low. So go for a fast and secure VPN that will push the speeds to the point where you can do more than load basic pages.

How to Set up a VPN for Tor Browser?

  1. Download and install a VPN of your choice. In our case, NordVPN.
Download NordVPN App for Mac
  1. Launch the VPN and choose a server.
Choose VPN server
  1. Once active, launch Tor Browser and start browsing securely.
Launch Tor browser

Best Tor Configuration for Safety?

If you’re looking to maximize your safety while using Tor, here are the best Tor configuration settings for safety.

  1. Set the security settings to Safest. This disables JavaScript on all websites and disables automatic media plays.
Set security setting to fastest
  1. Ensure the boxes under “Deceptive Content and Dangerous Software Protection” are checked.
Checked Deceptive Content and Dangerous Software Protection
  1. For the “Logins and Passwords,” ensure the boxes are unchecked. If you have to save logins, ensure the generated passwords are strong enough.
Unchecked Logins and Passwords

What’s the Difference Between Tor Over VPN and VPN Over Tor?

There are two main ways to connect to the Tor network: Tor over VPN and VPN over Tor.

Tor over VPN is the more common of the two methods. You connect to a VPN server first and then connect to the Onion network through that server.

Tor over VPN

Pros

Cons

VPN over Tor is less common and involves your traffic going through the Tor entry node first before it reaches the VPN server.

VPN Over Tor

Pros

Cons

FAQs

The difference between VPN and Tor is that a VPN encrypts incoming and outgoing traffic while passing it through a server in a different location. 

This is to make it hard for anyone to see your online activity. 

Tor is free software that offers anonymity by routing your traffic through random servers called relays within the Tor network. Unlike a VPN that makes you anonymous and encrypts your traffic, your actual IP address can still be seen when using Tor.

it isn’t illegal to use Tor. While some countries restrict anonymous browsing, there are no general laws against it.

However, some activities are illegal regardless of whether you use Tor or not. 

For example, buying or selling drugs, child pornography, or counterfeit goods is prohibited. If you’re worried about monitoring your activities, Tor can give you peace of mind. But if you’re engaging in illegal activity, don’t expect Tor to protect you.

You can be tracked using Tor. It’s designed to prevent anyone from tracking your online activity, but it isn’t infallible. Your internet service provider (ISP) can still see that you’re connecting to the Tor network, and they may be able to track your activity.

The Tor network is made up of volunteer-run servers, so it’s possible that one of these servers could be compromised. If this happens, the person operating the server could also see your internet traffic.

A free VPN like AtlasVPN can work with Tor. However, even the best free VPNs will likely have some limitations when used with Tor, like very slow speeds and not providing the same level of anonymity as a paid VPN. 

Therefore, the experience isn’t worth it compared to using a premium VPN like Surfshark or ExpressVPN.

You can use Tor bridges to get around censorship and firewalls, but they’re not a perfect solution. If you’re looking for a more reliable way to stay safe and secure online, use a VPN. With a VPN, your traffic is encrypted and routed through a remote server, making it much harder for anyone to track or block your activities. Plus, a VPN can give you access to content and websites that may be blocked in your country, including the Tor browser.

NordVPN is the best option for using Tor on Android (via Orbot), as it offers AES-256-bit encryption and a strict zero-logging policy, ensuring your information is never shared with any third party.

NordVPN also offers a dedicated Onion over VPN server, making it easy to connect to the Tor network and browse the web anonymously.

Tor works with all Apple devices through the Onion Browser. 

There’s even a specific Tor Browser for iOS. However, not all features are available on Apple devices. For example, the video and audio capabilities are limited. Nevertheless, Tor is a great way to stay anonymous and secure on any device.

Final Word

Combining Tor with a VPN isn’t as complicated as most people think. 

It’s about striking a balance where both security tools complement each other. NordVPN is the best at achieving this.

The obfuscation, the Onion over VPN servers, and the decent speeds stood out the most. But if that doesn’t meet your needs, you can always turn to Surfshark, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, or CyberGhost.

If you go with NordVPN, don’t forget to get your subscription through this link to grab amazing discounts.

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