Onion Over VPN – How to Set Up TOR Over VPN
By Nancy William 9 minutes
What is Onion over VPN? Well, for a simpler definition, it is when you simultaneously use the Tor Browser and VPN software. Why? Well, since we know that the TOR browser comes with a better privacy focus, it adds even more encryption and added security when paired with a VPN server.
In short, it’s the process with which your TOR traffic passes through a VPN connection before its final destination; the TOR Network. You can pretty much use Onion Over VPN when your main focus is to remain completely anonymous, specifically while trying to access the TOR.
Table of contents
- What is TOR?
- How does TOR work?
- What is a VPN?
- How does a VPN work?
- What is Onion Over VPN? How does it work?
- Why do you need Onion over VPN?
- How to set up and use TOR Over VPN
- Is Tor Over VPN Safe?
- What are the advantages of using Onion Over VPN?
- Tor vs VPN – Understanding the Differences
- Is TOR better than a VPN?
- Can you be tracked using Tor over VPN?
Onion Over VPN is the ultimate solution for online privacy and security, especially for whistleblowers or journalists, who’re trying to remain below the radar.
This is just a glimpse of what we’ll be discussing. With that said, this guide will help you understand what Onion Over VPN is, how to set up and use it, and when to use it. We’ve also covered the differences between TOR and a VPN for better understanding.
Before jumping into what TOR over VPN is, let’s first break the two up for your understanding.
What is TOR?
Tor stands for The Onion Network or better known as The Onion Router. It was a project by the U.S Naval Research Lab (NRL) to develop a way to secure communications. The way TOR works is that it involves multiple nodes in a network that relay information until the request reaches its destination – and back.
Years later, two people from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began working on Tor with the Onion network as the framework. There have been multiple implementations of the Onion network, but Tor is the most popular and widely-used project.
How does TOR work?
You might have wondered why TOR is called the onion router. It’s just like an onion has many layers that finally lead you to the core; TOR works similarly. It has layers of re-routing points where data travels.
The TOR networking system operates in a manner where any user can join in. It takes in information fed and routes it through several points, commonly known as relays or nodes.
Data is received and passed through these relays between your device and the final destination. It encrypts and hides your IP address behind each layer, which is especially crucial when trying to access the best .onion websites on the dark web.
What is a VPN?
We all know about VPNs by now – they are a tool that lets you spoof your virtual location with a different IP address. The growing popularity of VPNs is fueled by general concern among the masses over privacy and digital streaming services such as Netflix.
How does a VPN work?
What is a VPN? How does it work? When you connect to a VPN, you’re basically connecting to any one of the virtual servers that it offers. Once you’ve established a connection, all your data is passed through an encrypted tunnel and then reaches the final destination, hiding your physical IP address in the process.
You could say that a VPN and Tor are quite similar in the purpose they achieve, but at the core, they are different. What many people don’t know is that they can be used together to achieve an even greater level of privacy; thus Onion Over VPN or TOR Over VPN.
What is Onion Over VPN? How does it work?
We know how TOR works, and we’ve also covered some basics on how a VPN works. Now, when you combine the two, known as Onion over VPN, it means adding encryption between the VPN and its server and adding layers through several TOR relays between that VPN server and the final destination. To an extent, it adds a higher level of encryption between the server and your device.
Why do you need Onion over VPN?
As mentioned above, TOR over a VPN offers a great deal of encryption, especially for those who want access to the TOR browser. It works in the way that it hides your actual IP address while encrypting your connection. All requests received are passed through a minimum of three relays before reaching the final stop.
It’s especially used to access .onion sites on the dark web, keeping your activities private and secure. Plus, when you use the VPN to access streaming services, apps, or websites in countries with harsh censorship laws, Onion over VPN adds another layer of privacy.
How to set up and use TOR Over VPN
- Sign up for FastestVPN.
- Download and install the VPN on your device.
- Launch the sign-in to your VPN account.
- Connect to the best server.
- Download Tor Browser for your platform.
- Open the Tor browser and connect to the TOR network.
- Start browsing
You can head to www.whatismyipaddress.com to check your IP address. If the address shows a different location than your physical one and the VPN server you are connected to, you are successfully routing through the Tor network.
Is Tor Over VPN Safe?
Yes, Onion over VPN is safe.
Tor and VPN are built for privacy. When combined, TOR over VPN or Onion over VPN can give you a level of anonymity, unlike any other software. Tor over VPN allows you to mask your identity from the entry node of Tor for maximum privacy. Internet traffic goes to the VPN server first before entering the Tor network.
Through Onion over VPN, all your internet traffic is shielded from being exposed, even while you’re browsing. It helps prevent ISP surveillance, and from discovering that TOR is in use.
What are the advantages of using Onion Over VPN?
The request travels encrypted in Tor’s network until it’s decrypted at the Exit Node. The Entry Node cannot see your request but it knows your IP address because you establish a direct connection.
Connecting to FastestVPN will establish a connection to a VPN server and the request will travel – encrypted – first to the server then enter the Tor network. The result is that the Entry Node neither sees your identity nor knows what you are trying to visit.
It comes down to the matter of trusting your VPN provider in its ability to keep your activities private. FastestVPN has a zero logs policy; a policy that dictates user activities will never be recorded or sold to third parties.
Tor vs VPN – Understanding the Differences
Connecting to a VPN service hands over the responsibility of routing your internet requests to the VPN server instead of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It effectively makes you anonymous on the internet with the IP address lent to you by the server.
Tor works similarly but differently in execution. Tor is a network of many nodes that are people who have volunteered to be part of it. These nodes are actual people around the world who have set up their devices to relay requests to the next node in the network. In total, there are three nodes that work to serve you.
Tor is accessed via a browser called the Tor Browser. It’s not complicated to set up Tor, which makes it accessible to the average user.
When you open a website through Tor, the request is encrypted and sent to the first node (Entry Node). The Entry Node checks the requests and sends them to the second (Middle Node). It then passes the request to the third node (Exit Node). The Exit Node unwraps the encrypted request and sends it to the correct address, then returns it back.
This process of request traveling several layers represents a layer of an onion – hence, the name Onion Network. The downside of using Tor is speed. Because requests have to travel back-and-forth to several nodes, latency takes a hit.
Is TOR better than a VPN?
Tor’s strength is also its weakness. Because the Tor network passes data through multiple nodes before reaching the destination, it introduces latency. Browsing or streaming videos on Tor will be much slower than on a VPN because not only does the data travel through multiple nodes, it also has to travel the same distance from the destination and back to you.
With FastestVPN’s “no logs” policy, you do not have to worry about your privacy. Even though Tor is free to use, a VPN is much faster and allows you to connect to your preferred regions.
Can you be tracked using Tor over VPN?
While Tor is built for anonymity, it has some weak links. The first node in the network connects to you directly, and thus knows your IP address. Using Tor over VPN eliminates that concern by protecting the IP address from the entry node.
Law enforcement agencies have been known to set up Tor nodes to take advantage of this weakness. Once you connect to a VPN, you cannot be tracked on the Tor network. Your ISP can see that you are connected to a VPN but cannot see your internet activities.
What is VPN over TOR?
We know about Tor or Onion over VPN, but what about a VPN over TOR? Is it possible to set up the VPN after the Tor network node? You could say that this comes in handy when trying to access websites that block TOR. However, we wouldn’t recommend this as it’s not safe. The main purpose of Onion over VPN is to thoroughly mask your identity. Using a VPN over TOR completely defeats the purpose by not masking your activities or the fact that you’re using TOR from your ISP or other sites.
Does the TOR network function the same as a VPN?
Not really. Despite the similarities in both offering privacy online, they’re not the same. A VPN’s main functionality is to provide both online privacy and security, while the TOR network only caters to the best privacy.
Is Onion better than VPN?
It depends. If you’re looking for an everyday solution to the best online privacy and security, and access to regionally locked content, then only a VPN can help with that. However, if you’re only looking to safely pass on sensitive information from one node to another, TOR works smoothly. In terms of speeds, a VPN trumps in every aspect, but when paired with the TOR network, can drop down lower than usual.
Why is Onion over VPN so slow?
The major drawback of using Onion over VPN are the slow speeds. This happens because of the time taken to reroute traffic through multiple Onion servers. It then slows down the speeds.
Who should use Onion Over VPN?
Using Onion Over VPN is the best for people who are journalists, activists or whistleblowers who are looking to expose the truth and bring justice to light. Other people who using Tor over VPN are often travelers going to countries that impose harsh censorship and surveillance laws. Lastly, if you’re someone who handles a lot of sensitive data and would like to remain private or anonymous online, using Onion over VPN is the best option.
Because of its ability to keep you anonymous online, Tor is notorious for illegal activities. The Dark Web is that part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. Using Tor can potentially raise an alarm that you are doing something illegal, even if you are just using it to get around geo-restrictions. Using a VPN will prevent that by blocking the ISP from knowing that you are Tor.
FastestVPN is a zero-logs VPN that ensures your privacy. Using a VPN with Tor or the “onion over VPN” method is the best way to cover small drawbacks in Tor’s function.