How to use a VPN with Tor

Using either the Tor network or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as a standalone service will have its benefits and drawbacks. Both encrypt your internet traffic, but due to the way they work, they each fall short of providing complete privacy.

A solution is to combine forces and use a VPN alongside Tor. This gives you double encryption and solves some of the privacy issues inherent in the standalone tools.

In this post, I discuss the benefits of using a VPN and Tor together and reveal the different ways you can set them up. I have also researched the best VPNs for use with Tor and reviewed them in detail below.

For now, here is a quick summary of the best VPNs for Tor users:

  1. NordVPN: My number one VPN choice for use with Tor. It offers fast connection speeds, strong security measures such as 256-bit AES encryption, and it also provides thousands of servers for users to connect to. It is a clear top contender and users can try it for 30 days risk-free.
  2. Surfshark: A great budget option that has powerful features in place. It has over 3,200 servers in 95+ countries, fast speeds, and can easily access services as well.
  3. ExpressVPN: A solid streaming option with powerful features. It is secure too and can unblock many different services.
  4. CyberGhost: Has a large server network of more than 9,000 servers and can effectively unblock a wide range of services.
  5. PrivateVPN: This is a smaller privacy-focused option that can unblock a wide range of services. It is secure and offers decent connection speeds.
  6. IPVanish: A solid streaming option that is popular with Kodi users. It is fast and secure and allows you to connect an unlimited amount of devices simultaneously.
  7. Private Internet Access (PIA): A lightweight and secure option that ticks all of the right boxes in terms of privacy.
  8. Atlas VPN: Fast and provides lag-free streams. Can unblock a wide variety of services and works well with Tor.

I carefully studied the best VPNs for use with Tor. I made my choices based on the following criteria:

  • Compatibility with Tor
  • Can provide secure access to services such as online banking and streaming services
  • Fast connection speeds
  • Strong security measures

You can find out more information about the criteria I used in the testing methodology section later in this article.

Best VPNs for use with Tor

Here is my list of the best VPNs for use with Tor.

1. NordVPN

nordvpn homepage

NordVPN has a large, global network of VPN servers that spans 60+ countries. In total, there are over 5,000 servers. This service’s fast connection speeds make it an excellent option for streaming. It can also access many different services.

NordVPN also has strong security measures in place. These include 256-bit AES encryption, an app-specific kill switch, an automatic ad-blocker, a malware scanner, and protection against WebRTC, IPv6, and DNS leaks. This service also doesn’t store any logs and accepts cryptocurrency payments. These don’t associate users’ names with payments, unlike traditional credit card payments.

Users can download the client apps for NordVPN for many different devices as well. This includes apps for Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, and even Linux. Some routers can have this service manually installed on them. Users have the option of connecting six of their devices simultaneously. The customer service team is available 24/7 via the provided live chat.


  • Fast connection speeds
  • Strong security measures in place
  • No logs are stored
  • Apps are available for many different platforms
  • The customer service team is available 24/7


  • The desktop app can be slow at times

BEST VPN FOR TOR:NordVPN is one of the best options available for Tor. It has over 5,000 servers, strong security measures, and it can access a wide variety of services. It also comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Surfshark

Surfshark ESPN

Surfshark is an excellent, affordably-priced VPN. While it is affordable, the quality doesn’t take a hit. It has over 3,200 servers, spread across 100+ countries. It is a good option who might be interested in changing their IP address for reasons such as using Tor. It also offers fast streaming speeds and can access many types of services.

In addition, this service has strong security measures in place such as 256-bit AES encryption and protection against IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leaks. A kill switch and traffic scrambling are also provided. Another positive aspect of this provider is the support provided for cryptocurrency payments. This service also stores no logs.

Surfshark apps are also available for many different platforms. These include Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It can also be installed on routers that support it. Surfshark offers users an unlimited number of connections, which is great for users with many different devices. In addition, the customer service team is available 24/7 via live chat, boding well for people in different time zones.


  • Can access many different services
  • Fast connection speeds
  • Strong security measures
  • An unlimited number of connections are supported
  • Accepts cryptocurrency payments


  • Some servers are slightly slow

BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is affordable and still upholds high standards. It can access many different services and allows you to connect an unlimited amount of devices at once. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN home

ExpressVPN is an excellent option for users who stream a lot. This is because it offers some of the fastest streaming speeds when it comes to VPNs. It has a network of over 3,000 servers in 94+ countries as well, making it a great option for users who need to access geographically restricted services. It is also very easy to use, making it one of the better choices for beginners.

The provider also has strong security measures in place. These include 256-bit AES encryption, perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. This provider also has a .onion site which can only be accessed via the anonymous Tor network.

Another privacy measure that has been put in place by ExpressVPN is the company’s acceptance of cryptocurrency payments. These allow users to make payments without having their names associated with the payment. In addition, this service stores no logs and eight simultaneous device connections are allowed.

Express VPN has apps available for iOS, Android, macOS, and Linux too. It can also be installed on supported routers. The customer support team can be reached 24/7 via the provided live chat.


  • Fast connection speeds
  • Can access top-tier streaming services
  • Strong privacy measures such as .onion site and acceptance of cryptocurrency payments
  • Excellent security measures


  • More expensive than some other options
  • Lack of customizability could be frustrating for advanced users

GREAT STREAMING OPTION:ExpressVPN offers very fast streaming speeds and is a great pick for Tor users. Prioritizes security and privacy, as seen by its .onion site and acceptance of cryptocurrency. This service comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost has the largest number of servers out of all of the other VPNs on this list. It can unblock several different services as well. In addition, its connection speeds are fast and there are 9,700 servers located in about 91 countries.

There are strong security measures in place with this provider, including 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch. No logs are stored either. This provider accepts cryptocurrency payments, which are more anonymous than traditional credit card payments.

CyberGhost apps can be downloaded for macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. Some routers can also be manually configured to work with this service. The customer support team is available 24/7 and seven simultaneous connections are supported.


  • Clients are easy to use
  • 24/7 live chat service is provided
  • Huge server network is spread across a large number of countries
  • Strong security and privacy measures are in place


  • Blocked in the UAE and China
  • Torrenting and P2P may not work on all servers

LARGE SERVER NETWORK:CyberGhost has a network that consists of over 9,700 servers. This gives users many different choices for getting a different IP address. Strong security measures are in place and it gives users a 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is a smaller VPN provider, with just over 200 servers. However, its server network is spread across 60+ countries. This means that you can access streaming services from many different countries if you’re an expat. PrivateVPN provides fast streaming and connection speeds overall and can access streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.

PrivateVPN has strong security measures in place such as 256-bit AES encryption, and protection from IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leaks, and it stores no logs. On top of that, this provider accepts cryptocurrency payments that allow for a greater level of anonymity.

Apps are provided for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. Linux devices and routers can be manually configured. One thing to note is that customer service agents can only be reached during regular business hours. The quality of customer service is excellent but this could cause issues for some. 10 devices can be connected on a single subscription simultaneously.


  • Accesses Netflix and many other streaming sites
  • Fast speeds
  • No logs are stored
  • Works in China


  • Small server network
  • Customer support isn’t available 24/7

PRIVACY-FOCUSED VPN:PrivateVPN is a privacy-focused VPN that has features such as strong encryption in place to keep you safe while online. It also provides access to a wide range of streaming platforms. This service comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

6. IPVanish


IPVanish has a network of just under 2,000 servers in 75+ countries. It has also been trusted by the Kodi community for several years thanks to the robust nature of the VPN network; it’s fast and reliable.

There are also many security measures in place. These features include 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and protection against IPv6 and DNS leaks. A traffic scrambling option is also included and the provider stores no logs.

IPVanish apps are available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. In addition, this service can be manually installed on some routers and Linux. It supports an unlimited number of simultaneous connections and live chat support is available 24/7.


  • Fast connection speeds
  • Great option for torrenters and Kodi users
  • No logs stored
  • An unlimited number of connections are allowed


  • Some servers don’t work with Netflix
  • Apps don’t work in China

UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS:IPVanish is secure and it offers fast streaming speeds. Users can also have an unlimited number of connections. A 30-day money-back guarantee is included.

7. Private Internet Access

private internet access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is fast and efficient thanks to its use of the WireGuard VPN protocol. PIA is also a lightweight option that doesn’t use many system resources. It can unblock several different services as well.

Strong security is offered by this provider too. 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and split tunneling help to keep users safe. This service stores no logs.

Apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. PIA has customer service that is available 24/7 as well via the provided live chat and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Strong security measures
  • Can provide secure access to many different services
  • WireGuard VPN protocol supported (faster, more efficient protocol)
  • Several customization options are available


  • Doesn’t work reliably in China
  • App design is lacking in some ways

LIGHTWEIGHT, EFFECTIVE OPTION:PIA is a lightweight option that is also fast and efficient. It supports an unlimited number of connections and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

8. Atlas VPN

atlasvpn homepage

Atlas VPN has a server network that spans 40+ locations. In total, this service has over 750 servers and its network is fast and secure. It also allows users to unblock services. Despite Atlas VPN being a newer provider, it doesn’t skimp on quality.

The provider also has a lot of security measures in place. These include 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks. This service stores no logs and MultiHop servers are available that can encrypt your data twice. Atlas VPN also allows users to make payments with cryptocurrency.

Atlas VPN apps can be downloaded for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. In addition, this service supports an unlimited number of connections.


  • Can access many different services
  • Connection speeds are fast
  • Multihop servers encrypt data twice
  • No identifying logs are stored


  • Doesn’t work in China
  • Customer service could be better

FAST OPTION WITH STRONG ENCRYPTION:Atlas VPN is a newer service but it offers quality features. It boasts fast speeds and strong security such as 256-bit AES encryption. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Our Testing methodology: How I chose the best VPNs for use with Tor

There are many different VPN services that are available to purchase. However, not all of them are created equal. I reviewed many different VPNs to arrive at the final list using my testing methodology. Here are some of the factors I considered when making my choice.

  • Servers: The greater the number of servers the better. This increases the chances that users will be able to access many different types of services from across the globe without hassle.
  • Ability to unblock services: These VPN services must allow access to services such as the home libraries of streaming services and online banking.
  • Security: VPNs can provide protection against hackers on open WiFi networks and they can also protect your privacy while you operate in the online world. This is necessary to give users the confidence to use the internet safely while online.
  • Speed: Fast connection speeds are necessary to make sure that users can use the internet without lag. This ensures that there is no frustration while browsing and that the overall experience is smooth.

How to use a VPN with Tor

When setting up a VPN with Tor, there are two possible configurations:

  • Tor over VPN: Connect to the VPN and then open Tor.
  • VPN over Tor: Open Tor and then connect to the VPN.

While VPN over Tor sounds simple enough, it’s actually far from straightforward. You will need to check with your VPN provider to see if this setup is possible, and if so, exactly how to set it up. Here I’ll focus on the more popular setup of Tor over VPN.

Here’s how to set up Tor over VPN:

  1. Subscribe to a reputable VPN service. I recommend NordVPN. Alternatively, Surfshark and ExpressVPN are capable alternatives.
  2. Select a server and wait for a connection to be established.
  3. Open the Tor browser.
  4. You can now browse the web privately.

Because Tor tends to drastically slow down your internet speeds, ideally, you should choose the fastest VPN server available. If your VPN doesn’t provide server speed information, then your best bet is to go with a geographically close server. Obviously, the faster your base connection is, the higher your overall speeds will be.

Note that with this setup, only your Tor browser traffic will be routed through the Tor network, although there are ways to configure other individual applications to work with Tor.

How to decide which Tor and VPN setup to use

To understand which option is best for your situation, let’s look at each in more detail. Note that in both cases, your traffic is encrypted by both the VPN and Tor.

Tor over VPN

When you connect to the VPN first, once traffic is encrypted, it goes to the VPN server and then through the Tor network. Tor over VPN is preferable if you’re looking to access .onion sites and/or want to hide the fact you’re using Tor.

Here are the main pros and cons of this setup:


  • Your ISP can’t see you’re using Tor
  • The Tor entry node can’t see your real IP address
  • You can access .onion sites
  • Neither your ISP or the VPN can see your traffic
  • Setup is simple
  • You can choose what traffic goes through the Tor network


  • Destination websites can see you’re using Tor
  • Your VPN can see your real IP address
  • You can’t access sites that block Tor traffic
  • A compromised Tor exit node could see your traffic

Some VPNs offer Tor over VPN as a feature built into apps. NordVPN is one example. An advantage of using this built-in feature is that all traffic is routed through the Tor network, not just Tor browser traffic. A downside, however, is that it’s theoretically possible for your VPN provider to analyze your traffic, so you really need to have trust in your chosen provider.

VPN over Tor

When you connect to Tor first, after encryption, your traffic goes through the Tor network and then the VPN server. This configuration can be useful if you want to anonymously access sites that block Tor traffic.

This setup comes with the following pros and cons:


  • Websites can’t see you’re using Tor
  • Your VPN can’t see your real IP address
  • You can access sites that block Tor traffic
  • Neither your ISP or the VPN can see your traffic
  • Compromised Tor exit nodes can’t see your traffic


  • Your ISP can see you’re using Tor
  • The Tor entry node can see your real IP address
  • You can’t access .onion sites
  • It’s complex to set up
  • You can’t choose which traffic goes through the Tor network

Should I use Tor bridges instead of a VPN?

Tor bridges are similar to relays (nodes) but they aren’t included in the Tor directory. Because bridges aren’t made public, traffic that goes through them is far less likely to be blocked. As such, a Tor bridge is useful for users who are unable to use the Tor network via regular relays.

While this sounds like a good solution, setting up a Tor bridge can be a pain. First, you need to find one that will work for your situation. Some bridges are made public which means there’s a higher chance that anyone censoring Tor traffic will have already blocked them. To find a bridge that’s more likely to work, you’ll need to request it by sending an email.

Bridges take several steps to configure and the setup is more complex than using a VPN. Plus, if a bridge doesn’t work, you’ll need to repeat the process until you find one that does.

Why use a VPN with Tor?

When you connect to the internet via the Tor network, you can browse anonymously and gain access to sites that are not available via the clear web. Often called “Tor” for short, the Tor network encrypts your internet traffic, which means that if anyone intercepts it, they won’t be able to decipher its contents. Tor traffic travels through at least three random nodes (which are actually volunteer computers and may also be called relays) before reaching the destination website.

When you use Tor alone, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and any snoopers such as government agencies can detect that you’re using Tor. Utilizing Tor itself isn’t illegal and the network has many legitimate uses, such as providing an anonymous forum for journalists, whistleblowers, law enforcement and military agencies, victims of crime, and anyone else who can benefit from a high level of privacy.

That said, there are many illegitimate uses for Tor and the network has a bad reputation. So much so that just connecting to the Tor network may raise a flag with law enforcement or government agencies. Governments in some countries go as far as to have ISPs block Tor traffic entirely.

This is where a VPN comes in handy as it will mask your internet traffic, hiding the fact it’s going through the Tor network. This means that only your VPN provider will be able to see you’re using Tor. A VPN routes your traffic through a secondary server in a location of your choice and your real IP address is replaced with one from that server. The VPN also adds an extra layer of encryption, further securing your traffic.

The Tor network

VPNs for use with Tor FAQs

Can I use a free VPN with Tor?

When looking for a VPN to use with Tor, you’ll undoubtedly come across many free offerings. I recommend that you opt for a paid, privacy-focused VPN.

Free VPNs tend to lack the privacy and security standards that come with their paid counterparts. When you use a VPN with Tor, or at any time, you’re trusting that the VPN itself isn’t monitoring your traffic or keeping logs of personally identifiable information.

The problem is that the business models of free VPNs are often built on data harvesting (including user IP address and sites visited) meaning that they generally can’t be relied upon to protect your privacy. Free VPNs are also notoriously unsecure with many lacking strong encryption and some not providing any encryption at all. I've even seen cases where free providers outright lie about the type and amount of data they log.

Free services tend to perform poorly on the speed front too. They have a ton of users sharing a small selection of servers, resulting in very slow speeds. Your speeds will already be very slow, just from using the Tor browser itself, so you really need a fast VPN for browsing to be at all practical.

When you opt for a reliable paid VPN for Tor, you know you’ll be getting solid security and strong performance. On a budget? Check out my best cheap VPN recommendations.

Are VPNs legal?

Yes, VPNs are legal. However, using a VPN to carry out illegal activity is not. Breaking the law while using a VPN doesn't protect you from the possible consequences. With that being said, don't take anything in this article as legal advice.

Are VPNs safe?

Yes, VPNs are safe to use. Using a VPN while browsing is safer than not using one. while using a VPN, your IP address will be masked, and your identity will be protected and you will have increased security while using open WiFi networks. Your connection will also be encrypted

Is Tor legal to use?

Tor is perfectly legal to use. It is blocked in some countries and there is a stigma attached to it due to it being associated with some criminal activity. This means that you probably shouldn't assume that you can use it trouble-free.