VPN vs Proxy vs Tor: What are the differences?

Emre Çitak
May 26, 2023
Updated • May 30, 2023
Good to know, Misc, VPNs

In the world of online security and privacy, virtual private networks (VPNs), proxies, and Tor stand out as three top-notch tools. But what sets them apart? Join us as we explore the distinctions between Tor, VPNs, and proxy servers, and delve into the comparison of proxy vs VPN.

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Discover how you can safeguard your internet traffic with an industry-leading VPN, providing a fast, secure, and private connection. Let's dive in and understand the differences between these privacy tools.

What are VPNs?

A VPN acts as a secure gateway between your device and the internet, encrypting your web traffic and routing it through a remote server. When you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is assigned a remote IP address, making it appear as though you are browsing from a different location. This feature allows you to bypass content restrictions, evade censorship, and protect your online activities from prying eyes.

Leading VPN services like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and SurfsharkVPN offer comprehensive solutions for users seeking enhanced privacy and security. By installing their dedicated apps on your device, you can easily connect to their servers and choose your desired location.

One of the key benefits of using a VPN is that it secures your internet connection, making it nearly impossible for anyone to intercept or monitor your online activities. Whether you are accessing sensitive information or simply browsing the web, a VPN ensures that your data remains encrypted and protected.

VPN vs Proxy vs TOR
VPNs are secure gateways between your devices and the internet

What are proxies?

A proxy server acts as an intermediary between your device and the internet. When you connect to a proxy, your requests are first sent to the proxy server, which then forwards them to the target website or server on your behalf. This process helps conceal your IP address, as the website or server only sees the IP address of the proxy server.

Proxies come in various forms, including local proxies and internet proxies. Local proxies allow you to connect to a local router, which then connects to the internet on your behalf. On the other hand, internet proxies are accessed remotely, enabling you to alter your apparent location and protect your data from being easily traced.

While proxies offer some level of privacy and IP masking, they lack the robust encryption provided by VPNs. Without encryption, your internet traffic remains vulnerable to interception and surveillance. However, proxies can still serve as a useful tool for bypassing geo-restrictions and accessing specific websites or services.

VPN vs Proxy vs TOR
Your access requests first reach proxy servers and then to the internet

What is Tor?

Tor, short for "The Onion Router," is a software tool that anonymizes your internet connection by routing your traffic through a network of volunteer-operated servers called nodes. Each node in the Tor network adds an additional layer of encryption to your data, making it extremely difficult to trace your online activities back to your original IP address.

Tor is particularly useful for individuals who require a high level of privacy and anonymity, such as journalists, whistleblowers, and activists. By concealing the origin of your internet connection, Tor helps protect your identity and allows you to browse the web without leaving a digital footprint.

However, it's important to note that Tor's focus on privacy comes at the cost of speed. Due to the numerous encryption layers and the extensive routing process, browsing the internet through Tor can be considerably slower compared to using a VPN or a proxy.

VPN vs Proxy vs TOR
Tor offers the highest protection but with a catch, it is slow - Image: Tor Project

VPN vs proxy vs tor

When deciding which tool to use for your online privacy and security needs, it's essential to understand the trade-offs involved.

Here's a comparison of the key features of VPNs, proxies, and Tor:

Cost: VPN services like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and SurfsharkVPN typically require a subscription fee, whereas many proxies are available for free.

When it comes to payment options, NordVPN currently offers a tempting deal with a 59% discount and an extra three months added on top. This allows users to take advantage of their impressive security features at a reduced price.

Alternatively, ExpressVPN provides a 12-month package that includes three additional months for free, guaranteeing uninterrupted VPN service. SurfsharkVPN also presents an appealing pricing offer for their highly praised VPN service, with a remarkable 82% discount and an extra two months of service included.

The number of users: VPNs generally allow unlimited simultaneous connections, while proxies often have restrictions and may be limited to a single user.

IP address masking: Both VPNs and proxies can mask your IP address, making it appear as though you are browsing from a different location.

Web encryption: VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, providing an additional layer of security. Proxies, on the other hand, do not offer encryption, leaving your data vulnerable to interception.

Coverage: VPNs offer global coverage, allowing you to connect to servers in various countries. Proxies, however, are often limited to specific websites or apps.

Bypassing geo-blocking: Both VPNs and proxies can help you bypass geo-restrictions, enabling access to regionally restricted content.

Speed: Speed is a crucial factor to consider when choosing between VPNs, proxies, and Tor. While Tor provides the highest level of anonymity, its extensive routing process leads to slower browsing speeds. VPNs offer a balance between privacy and speed, with leading services like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and SurfsharkVPN offering optimized server networks for faster connections. Proxies are generally faster than Tor but lack the encryption and comprehensive security measures provided by VPNs.

In summary:

  • VPNs, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and SurfsharkVPN, offer comprehensive encryption, global coverage, and faster speeds, making them an excellent choice for users seeking privacy without sacrificing performance
  • Proxies provide basic IP masking capabilities and can be useful for bypassing restrictions on specific websites or apps
  • Tor excels in providing high-level anonymity and privacy but comes at the cost of slower browsing speeds

Ultimately, the choice between VPNs, proxies, and Tor depends on your specific requirements and the trade-offs you are willing to make for enhanced online privacy and security. But if you decided to go with a VPN, here is how to choose the perfect VPN for your needs.

Disclaimer: Some of the links added in the article are part of affiliate campaigns and may represent benefits for gHacks.


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  1. Seeprime said on September 8, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    Missing from the “story”: Ukraine’s agreement to never use Starlink for military purposes. This is why.

    Ghacks quality is AI driven and very poor these days since AI is really artificial stupidity.

    1. Karl said on September 12, 2023 at 9:10 pm

      “Elon Musk biographer Walter Isaacson forced to ‘clarify’ book’s account of Starlink incident in Ukraine War

      “To clarify on the Starlink issue: the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it, because he thought, probably correctly, that would cause a major war.”

      1. Karl said on September 14, 2023 at 5:58 pm

        I posted above comment to:

        Not to the following article about Geforce where I currently also can see it published:

  2. Anonymous said on September 11, 2023 at 10:09 pm

    Well, using Brave, I can see Llama 2 being decent, but it is still not great?
    All these AI stuff seems more like a ‘toy’ than anything special, I mean, it is good for some stuff like translations or asking quick questions but not for asking anything important.

    The problem is Brave made it mostly for summarizing websites and all that, but all these Big tech controlled stuff, won’t summarize articles it doesn’t agree with, so it is also useless in many situations where you just want it to give you a quick summarization, and then it starts throwing you little ‘speeches’ about how it doesn’t agree with it and then it never summarizes anything, but give you all the 30 paragraphs reasons why the article is wrong, like if I am asking it what it thinks.

    SO all this AI is mostly a toy, but Facebook with all the power they have will be able to get so much data from people, it can ‘train’ or better say, write algorithms that will get better with time.

    But It is not intelligence, it is really not intelligence all these AI technology.

  3. Tom Hawack said on September 14, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Article Title: Tech leaders meet to discuss regulation of AI
    Article URL: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]

    The eternal problematic of regulating, here applied to AI. Should regulations (interventionism) have interfered in the course of mankind ever since Adam and Eve where would we be now? Should spirituality, morality, ethics never have interfered where would we be now? I truly have always believed that the only possible consensus between ethics and freedom is that of individuals’ own consciousness.

    Off-topic : Musk’s beard looks like a wound, AI-Human hand-shake is a quite nice pic :)

    1. Karl said on September 14, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Haha, oh dear, Tom.
      I thought that the comments system issue where comments shows up under a totally different article was fixed. But seeing your comment here, the “error” is clearly still active. Hopefully it is sorted as soon as possible.

      1. Tom Hawack said on September 14, 2023 at 6:40 pm

        Article Title: Tech leaders meet to discuss regulation of AI
        Article URL: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]

        Hi Karl :) Well, let’s remain positive and see the good sides : one’s comment appearing within different articles (the one it was written form and for, another unrelated one) brings ubiquity to that comment : say it once and it’s published twice, double your pleasure and double your fun (“with double-mint, double-mint gum” and old ad!). Let’s forget the complications and inherited misunderstandings it leads to. Not sure the fun is worth the complications though. Which is why, with a few others here, I include Article Title & URL with comment, to ease a bit the pain.

        This said, I’m trying to find a logic key which would explain the mic-mac. One thing is sure : comments appearing twice keep the same comment number.

        For instance my comment to which you replied just above is originally :


        It then got duplicated to :


        Same comment number, which let’s me imagine comments are defined by their number as before but now dissociated in a way from their full path : that’s where something is broken, as i see it.

        First amused me, then bothered, annoyed (I took some holidays to lower the pressure), then triggered curiosity.
        I’m putting our best detectives on the affair, stay tuned.

      2. Karl said on September 16, 2023 at 8:58 am

        Hehe, yes indeed, staying positive is what we should do. Good comes for those who wait, as the old saying goes. Hopefully true for this as well.

        Interesting that the comments number stays the same, I noted that one thing is added to the duplicated comment in the URL, an error code, the following: “error-code-0x0003”.

        Not useful for us, but hopefully for the developers (if there are any?), that perhaps will be able to sort this comments error out. Or our detectives, I hope they work hard on this as we speak ;).

        Cheers and have a great weekend!

      3. Karl said on September 16, 2023 at 9:18 am

        Whoops, my bad. I just now realized that the error I saw in your example URL (error-code-0x0003) was part of the linked article title and generated by Geforce! Oh dear! Why did I try to make it more confusing than it already is lol!

        Original comment:


      4. Tom Hawack said on September 16, 2023 at 9:20 am

        Article Title: Tech leaders meet to discuss regulation of AI
        Article URL: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]

        @Karl, you write,

        “I noted that one thing is added to the duplicated comment in the URL, an error code, the following: “error-code-0x0003”.”

        I haven’t noticed that up to now but indeed brings an element to those who are actually trying to resolve the issue.
        I do hope that Softonic engineers are working on fixing this issue, which may be more complicated than we can imagine. Anything to do with databases can become a nightmare, especially when the database remains accessed while being repaired, so to say.

        P.S. My comment about remaining positive was, in this context, sarcastic. Your literal interpretation could mean you are, factually, more inclined to positiveness than I am myself : maybe a lesson of life for me :)

        Have a nice, happy, sunny weekend as well :)

      5. 💾 said on September 16, 2023 at 12:35 pm

        Correct: AI is certainly overhyped, it’s also advertised by some shady individuals. It’s can also be misused to write poor quality articles or fake your homework.


        16 September 2023, this website is still experiencing issues with posts erroneously appearing in the wrong threads. There are even duplicates of the exact same post ID within the same page in some places.

      6. 💾 said on September 16, 2023 at 8:41 pm

        Clerical error “[It] can also be misused …” you just can’t get the staff nowadays.

        Obviously [#comment-4573795] was originally posted within [/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]. However, it has appeared misplaced within several threads.

        Including the following:

  4. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    “How much radiation is dangerous?
    Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, is more energetic and potentially harmful. Exposure to doses greater than 1,000 millisieverts (mSv) in a short period can increase the risk of immediate health effects.
    Above about 100 mSv, the risk of long-term health effects, such as cancer, increases with the dose.”

    This ban is about NON-ionizing radiation limits, because there is too much radio wave power from the iphone. This has nothing to do with the much more dangerous ionizing radiations like X-rays, that are obviously not emitted at all by mobile phones. I invite you to correct your article.

  5. Anonymous said on September 17, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    “Aaro.mil makes history as the first official UFO website”

    I wonder if it’s just smelly crowdsourcing for the spotting of chinese balloons or whatever paranoia they’re trying to instigate, or if they are also intentionally trying to look stupid enough to look for alien spaceships, for whatever reason. Maybe trying to look cute, instead of among the worst butchers of history ?

  6. Anonymous said on September 17, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    “The tech titan’s defense”
    “Whether he provides a clear explanation or justifies his actions”
    “the moral compass”

    You take it for granted that this company should agree being a military communications provider on a war zone, and so directly so that his network would be used to control armed drones charged with explosives rushing to their targets.

    You don’t need to repeat here everything you read in the mainstream press without thinking twice about it. You’re not just pointing interestingly that his company is more involved in the war that one may think at first and that this power is worrying, you’re also declaring your own support for a side in an imperialist killfest, blaming him for not participating enough in the bloodshed.

    Now your article is unclear on how this company could be aware that its network is used for such military actions at a given time, which has implications of its own.

    Reading other sources on that quickly, it seems that the company was: explicitly asked ; to extend its network geographically ; for a military attack ; at a time when there was no war but with the purpose of triggering it, if I understood well. You have to be joking if you’re crying about that not happening at that time. But today you have your war, be happy.

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