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Is Onion over VPN safe?

Written by, Andriana Moskovska

Updated August, 16, 2022

Getting a VPN is an excellent way to protect the privacy and security of your network traffic. But, what if you can take a step further? Then, you’d probably want to opt for the Onion Network. 

Still, is Onion over VPN safe? 

Let’s find out!

What is Onion over VPN?

Onion over VPN is a privacy solution that combines the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with The Onion Router (Tor). 

It essentially allows you to connect to a VPN software before using a Tor browser and lets your traffic go through the VPN server of your choice before reaching the Tor network. 

Since a VPN encrypts Internet traffic, this adds an additional layer of protection and ensures anonymity and security during online browsing.

Did you know: Tor is an open-source platform and network that routes your traffic through a series of servers, called onion routers, and allows you to access the dark web. Each onion router encrypts your traffic and sends it to the next onion router in the chain. 

Is Onion Over VPN Safe?

Using Tor and VPN separately ensures protection and privacy but in a slightly different manner. The main difference between a VPN and Tor is that Tor focuses on anonymity, while a VPN emphasises privacy. 

Since anyone can run Onion servers, your data is not entirely protected and is vulnerable to snoopers. When you combine a VPN with Tor, your traffic is routed through a VPN server, which hides your IP address, and only then goes to the Tor network. 

Why Do You Need Onion Over VPN?

Using Onion over VPN is recommended when you’re dealing with highly-sensitive information. Since VPN and Tor on their own can secure your online activities, having a double layer of protection ensures privacy and anonymity, but it may not be necessary for everyday use. 

The main benefits of using this type of technology are: 

Privacy – it can provide a high level of privacy and ensures anonymity. 

Security – It protects your data by encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP address. This can also help to bypass censorship and restrictions imposed by your ISP or government.

When Should You Use Onion over VPN? – Pros and Cons

While accessing Tor through VPN brings in a lot of benefits in terms of privacy, protection, and security, but, there are some disadvantages to using this type of technology. 

Additional layers of encryption
Access to geo-blocked locations
Browsing activity remains private
Tor guard node cannot see the IP address
Blocks certain malware
Slow connection speeds
Some websites block
Tor exit nodes No control over IP address location
Tor supports TCP protocol only

When to use Onion over VPN

If you’re working with sensitive data – Certain officials secure channels to communicate and transfer sensitive data regarding highly-classified cases. 

If you live in restricted countries – Not only can it help keep data safe and secure, but it can give you access to the Tor Network in places where it’s not allowed. 

When not to use Onion over VPN

Casual browsing – Using Tor with VPN for casual browsing is not necessary, especially when you already have a VPN. 

When you need speed – If you’re gaming, streaming, or downloading files, you’ll want to make sure that your connection is as fast as possible, and using an Onion over a VPN can significantly slow down your connection. 

Did you know: Journalists often use Onion over VPN to talk to whistleblowers and discuss classified investigations. One of the most popular VPNs among them is Proton VPN.

How To Use Onion over VPN Safely

Setting up Tor over VPN is fast and easy. All you need to do is connect to your VPN before launching the Tor browser, (which is free to download).

Here’s how to set up Onion over VPN from start to finish: 

  1. Connect to a VPN server.
  2. Download the Tor browser.
  3. Install the browser on your device.
  4. Launch the Tor browser.

Although the connection ensures privacy and anonymity, it’s best to avoid logging into online accounts and sending emails.

Did you know: The setup is slightly different for users of certain VPN providers, like NordVPN, that have built-in onion network access. For example, if you use NordVPN, you could access Onion over VPN in the Specialty Servers menu.

Tor Over VPN vs. VPN Over Tor

VPN over Tor is a method that similarly encrypts traffic via a secure tunnel but only after you leave the Tor network. 

In a Tor over VPN, you first connect to a VPN server and then access the Tor Network. In VPN over Tor, you first visit the Tor browser and connect to the VPN as you’re leaving Tor noodles.

You get similar benefits for using VPN plus Tor, but there are some slight differences.

The main disadvantage is that with a VPN over Tor, your IP address is exposed and your internet activity is traceable. What’s more, your ISP provider may flag your activity in the Tor Network and mark you for surveillance. 

For example, in the US, the NSA records and monitors all Tor users.

The biggest advantage of this method is that it protects your connection from malicious exit nodes. Tor is an effective tool for keeping your traffic anonymous but the exit nodes are operated by volunteers and can be compromised by malicious actors.

 Did you know: Some tests have found that malicious actors control around 25% of exit nodes. 

Bottom Line

Getting Onion over VPN is a smart and secure option if you want to keep your anonymity and privacy online. However, using Tor over VPN is not always necessary, especially for casual browsing, and should be reserved for certain occasions, since it significantly affects the connection speed. 

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What is better: double VPN or onion over VPN? 

Double VPN is a feature that provides double encryption through two servers. It also helps secure data but to determine which one is better versus onion over VPN, depends on what the purpose is and which type of server you’re comfortable in.

Is Onion over VPN safe?

Using Onion Over VPN is not only safe but it enhances privacy and anonymity. However, it’s not necessary for everyday use unless you’re dealing with highly-sensitive information.

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