Hello! My name is Mikko.
Many people don’t know what is the difference between
VPN services and Tor.
So what is the difference? They’re both used for anonymizing your connections and encrypting them.
Well, Tor is based on open source and it’s run by volunteers,
which means it’s a free service. You pay no money to use Tor.
It’s also based on a layered approach.
So let’s say you use your computer and you want to do a Google search,
but you want to do it over Tor.
That means that the traffic from your computer will hit one Tor layer,
which encrypts it and gives it to the second layer, third layer, fourth layer,
and then it finally exits the layers and hits Google search.
Well the results of that layered approach are several.
One is that it’s slower. There’s multiple layers, so it takes a little bit of time.
Another thing is that anybody can run those layers.
So if there are bad people running the first or last layer,
they will be able to see some unencrypted traffic.
Another thing that affects Tor is that
since it’s so popular, there’s all kinds of people using that service.
That’s why some websites will not let you access their services
if you come from the Tor network.
For example some online stores or some streaming services
simply will not work when you use Tor.
VPN providers don’t use a layered approach.
They typically have dozens of data centers around the world
and you pick one data center and all of your traffic will be
encrypted and routed through that data center.
Its going to be much faster, because there’s no layers.
And if you trust the VPN provider, in that sense there’s not going to be an enemy
who could possibly look at some of your traffic if they happen to be the first or last node.
And since most VPN traffic is by corporate users for business purposes,
these don’t really get filtered nearly as badly as Tor traffic does.
However, Tor can also be used in a different way.
There are services where you can run a website inside the Tor network.
And this is known as Tor hidden service.
And most likely the best known Tor hidden service website was the Silk Road service,
which was providing illegal services including
selling drugs and guns over the Tor hidden service network.
We shouldn’t get the misconception that everything on Tor is bad,
because that isn’t true.
All kinds of people use Tor, I use Tor myself.
And Tor is especially important for dissidents living in totalitarian countries.
In a nutshell comparing Tor and VPN:
Tor is slower and gets filtered more, but it’s free.
And VPNs give you better performance and they work better, because there’s less filtering,
but you have to pay money for the service.
And that is the difference between Tor and VPN.