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What is VPN over Tor?

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VPN over Tor

Everything You Need to Know about VPN Over Tor

VPN over Tor combines both technologies’ anonymity and security benefits, providing an advanced solution for safeguarding your online activities. By channeling your internet traffic initially through the Tor network’s nodes and subsequently through a VPN server, you can encrypt your transmitted data, obscure your IP address, and access the internet with an elevated degree of confidentiality. This powerful combination offers an effective defense against surveillance, censorship, and malicious attacks.

Key Takeaways

  • VPN over Tor refers to using a VPN connection along with the Tor network to enhance privacy and anonymity online.
  • Connecting to Tor through a VPN provides an added layer of security and prevents your IP address from being revealed if the Tor network is compromised.
  • It helps circumvent geographic restrictions, censorship, and ISP throttling, allowing you to access blocked content and websites.
  • Running a VPN over Tor reduces VPN leakage issues like DNS leaks, IPv6 leaks, and WebRTC leaks, which can expose your real IP address.
  • The downside of combining VPN and Tor is reduced VPN speeds due to Tor network congestion and extra hops. Connecting to Tor before VPN is better for anonymity, while VPN before Tor optimizes speed.
  • Additional steps like using bridges, Pluggable Transports, and a private/incognito browser window enhance anonymity when using VPN over Tor.

What is VPN over Tor?

VPN over Tor refers to using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in conjunction with the Tor anonymity network. It involves connecting to a VPN server and then routing the VPN encrypted traffic through the Tor network to access the internet.

The aim of using VPN over Tor is to gain an extra layer of protection, security and anonymity while online. Tor hides your identity by routing traffic through a series of relay nodes operated by volunteers all around the world. VPN encrypts data and masks your IP address.

Combining them together provides privacy enhancement, making it very difficult for anyone to monitor and trace your online activity back to you. VPN over Tor provides a sturdy shield against surveillance, censorship, ISP throttling, targeted ads, geographic restrictions, and cyber-attacks.

Best Ways to Implement VPN over Tor

  • Connecting to Tor through VPN: This method involves first establishing a VPN connection, and then routing the VPN traffic through the Tor network. Here, the VPN sends your encrypted traffic into the Tor network, which then sends it through a series of relay nodes before exiting onto the open internet.
  • Connecting to VPN through Tor: In this approach, you first connect to Tor, and then access your VPN service through the Tor network. The traffic is first routed through Tor nodes, and then sent to the VPN server where it is encrypted. The VPN exit server then sends the traffic out to the internet.

Most privacy experts recommend connecting to Tor through VPN rather than the other way around. We’ll explore the reasons behind this and the advantages of each configuration in detail later in this article.

How Does VPN over Tor Work?

To understand how it works, let’s first briefly recap how VPNs and the Tor network function independently:

How VPNs Work

A VPN or Virtual Private Network allows you to browse the internet privately by routing your traffic through an encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN server. When connected to a VPN:

  • Your internet traffic is encrypted using protocols like OpenVPN and IPSec.
  • Your real IP address is masked and replaced with the IP address of the VPN server.
  • Your online activities, like browsing, streaming, torrenting, etc., are hidden from your ISP, government, hackers, and other third parties.
  • You can bypass geographic restrictions and censorship to access blocked content and websites.

How the Tor Network Works

The Tor network routes your internet traffic through a series of volunteer nodes run around the world to make you anonymous online. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • You install the Tor Browser, which acts as the client that connects you to the Tor network.
  • When you access a website, Tor establishes an encrypted connection through a random pathway of 3 Tor relays – entry node, middle relay, exit node.
  • These nodes pass encrypted data between each other. The exit node fetches data from the destination site and routes it back to you.
  • The site only sees traffic coming from the IP address of the exit node, hiding your true location and identity.

How to Connect VPN over Tor

  • You first establish a secure connection to your VPN server. All your internet traffic is encrypted by the VPN.
  • The encrypted VPN traffic then enters the Tor network through the entry node as the source.
  • The middle Tor relay node receives traffic from the entry node and forwards it to a random exit node.
  • The exit node fetches the requested data from the destination site and passes it via the relay back to the VPN server.
  • The VPN server decrypts the data and sends it back through the encrypted VPN tunnel to your device.

How to Connect Tor Over VPN

  • You first connect to the Tor network using the Tor browser, which establishes an anonymous connection.
  • The encrypted Tor traffic reaches the Tor exit node, which is then forwarded to the VPN server.
  • The VPN server encrypts the data a second time and sends it through an encrypted VPN tunnel to your device.

Why Use VPN over Tor? Advantages and Use Cases

Now that you understand what VPN over Tor is and how it works let’s look at some of the key reasons to use a VPN in combination with the Tor network:

Added Layer of Online Privacy and Anonymity

VPN over Tor provides stronger privacy benefits than using just Tor or just VPN alone. Tor hides your IP address but if the entry node is compromised, your real IP can get leaked. VPN encrypts traffic but your ISP can still see you’re using Tor.

Together, VPN prevents IP leaks while Tor obscures your online activity, making it extremely hard for anyone to trace traffic back to you. Researchers have found that combining VPN and Tor provides near-bulletproof anonymity online.

Avoid VPN and Tor Leaks

One of the biggest issues when using VPNs or Tor individually are leaks that can expose your real IP address and compromise privacy:

  • VPN leaks like DNS leaks, IPv6 leaks, and WebRTC leaks can reveal your true IP behind the VPN tunnel.
  • Tor leaks happen if the entry node is compromised or misconfigured, exposing your IP to sites you visit.

Stacking VPN over Tor minimizes both VPN and Tor leaks significantly. Your IP is encrypted by VPN before entering Tor, and then further obfuscated as traffic passes through Tor nodes.

Bypass Geoblocks, Censorship and ISP Throttling

VPN and Tor both allow you to bypass geographical restrictions on content, circumvent internet censorship imposed by authoritarian regimes, and prevent ISP bandwidth throttling.

Combining them takes this to another level, making it extremely difficult for censors, ISPs, and content providers to block access to anything on the internet. VPN over Tor can unblock sites and services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Facebook, YouTube, etc. when traveling or living in restricted regions.

Enhanced Security Against Surveillance and Attacks

Government agencies like the NSA are known to target and compromise Tor users by monitoring entry and exit nodes or taking control of nodes themselves. VPN over Tor reduces this risk significantly.

Even if Tor nodes are compromised, the VPN encryption prevents surveillance of your internet traffic and hiding your true IP address. This also provides protection against cyber-attacks like malware, spyware, session hijacking etc.

Access .Onion Sites More Securely

The .onion sites on the Dark Web can only be accessed on the Tor network. Connecting to Tor via VPN allows you to visit .onion sites more anonymously and securely. The VPN encryption shields your traffic before it enters Tor, providing an added layer of protection for your identity and data.

Maintain the Privacy of the VPN Provider

Some repressive regimes like China and Russia have blacklisted known VPN servers to crack down on VPN usage. When you connect to Tor before VPN, the VPN servers you use are completely obscured from your ISP and the government. This prevents VPN IP addresses from getting blocked.

Disadvantages of Using VPN over Tor

While VPN over Tor provides stronger online anonymity along with the benefits highlighted above, there are some downsides to consider as well before using this approach:

Slower Connection Speeds

One of the biggest tradeoffs of routing traffic through both VPN and Tor is reduced internet speeds. VPNs already cause some speed loss, and Tor connections tend to be quite slow due to the multiple hops and network congestion. Combining them increases latency significantly.

Configuring VPN over Tor is Challenging

Setting up VPN over Tor involves more steps compared to using either solution alone. You have to configure your VPN and Tor software, choose compatible servers, manage leaks etc. It can get quite complicated for beginners.

No BitTorrent Support

Most VPN providers block BitTorrent traffic on their Tor-enabled servers to improve speeds for other users. So, VPN over Tor may not work reliably for P2P file sharing via BitTorrent.

Paying for Two Services

To use VPN over Tor safely, you should invest in a premium and secure no-logs VPN along with donating to the Tor project. This can get expensive compared to paying for just one or the other.

Banned from Some Websites

Some websites may block traffic coming in from known VPN and Tor exit IP addresses to prevent abuse. This can lead to captchas being blocked outright, etc. when accessing sites via VPN over Tor.

Now let’s take a more detailed look at the two main set ups for VPN over Tor and analyze their pros and cons.

How to Connect Tor through VPN vs. VPN through Tor

There are two ways to run a VPN over Tor, as we discussed earlier:

  • Connect to the VPN first, and then route the VPN traffic through Tor
  • Connect to Tor first, and then access the VPN through the Tor network

Both configurations provide enhanced privacy, but they have some key differences:

Connecting to Tor through a VPN

Most privacy experts generally recommend this method as it provides maximum anonymity. Here are the pros and cons:


  • Hides your IP address from the Tor network, protecting against Tor entry node leaks and attacks.
  • Allows access to Tor if VPN use is blocked by censoring your ISP or country.
  • VPN encryption shields your traffic before entering Tor, providing an added layer of security.
  • Obscures VPN IP addresses from your ISP, preventing blockage of known VPN servers.


  • Slower connection speeds as traffic passes through VPN and Tor.
  • Only works with VPNs that permit Tor access on their servers.
  • VPN provider sees that you are using Tor, losing some privacy against them.

How to Connect VPN through Tor

Here are the upsides and downsides of this method:


  • Faster speeds compared to Tor over VPN, as traffic is first anonymized by Tor.
  • It works with any VPN provider since you can access the VPN after Tor. No need for VPNs that allow Tor.
  • ISPs can’t see you are using a VPN along with Tor. Added privacy against surveillance.


  • Your IP can get leaked if the Tor entry node is compromised or malicious.
  • There is no protection against censorship of the Tor network itself by repressive regimes.
  • VPN providers can see entry node IPs, losing some anonymity against them.
  • I cannot access .onion sites as the VPN is outside of Tor. Need to disable VPN for that.

Which VPNs are Compatible With Tor?

The first step in learning how to set up a VPN over Tor is choosing a VPN provider that is compatible with the Tor network and allows Tor traffic on its servers.

Many VPNs block connections to Tor due to bandwidth constraints and legal concerns. The ones that do permit Tor need special servers and configurations to route VPN traffic into Tor properly.

Here are some of the top VPNs that work reliably with the Tor network:


ProtonVPN is designed with online privacy as a top priority and is fully compatible with Tor. They have specific VPN servers marked as “Secure Core” that can access the Tor network. ProtonVPN has a strict no-logs policy and does not record any activity data that can identify users.


Mullvad is an anonymous VPN service based in Sweden that allows Tor connections on all its servers. They also accept cash payments to avoid collecting any personal info. Mullvad provides SOCKS5 proxies that can relay VPN traffic into the Tor network.


IVPN is a reputable no-logs VPN focused on protecting user privacy. Their client app makes it easy to route VPN traffic through the Tor network with a single click. IVPN also has servers that can access .onion sites if needed.


AzireVPN is a lesser-known but reliable VPN provider that actively maintains servers optimized for VPN over Tor usage. Their network is specifically designed for privacy-conscious users and anonymization networks like Tor.


OVPN is a Swedish VPN service that permits Tor access on selected servers. They have extensive documentation on setting up VPN over Tor for maximum anonymity. OVPN keeps minimal logs and accepts anonymous Bitcoin payments.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Setup VPN over Tor

Select a Suitable VPN and Tor Browser

Choose a reputable no-logs VPN that allows Tor connections on designated servers. Then download the latest version of the Tor browser from or the App store on your device.

Configure Your Chosen VPN

Install your preferred VPN app and sign up for an account. Make sure the VPN account does not require any personal information like names or email. Connect to a VPN server that supports Tor access – options like multi-hop, double VPN, Obfsproxy or Stealth VPN are suitable.

Enable SOCKS5 Proxy

Enable the SOCKS5 proxy option in the VPN app and note down the Proxy IP address and port number. This allows VPN traffic to be routed into Tor.

Configure Tor Browser to use SOCKS5.

Open Tor Browser, go to Settings > Network Settings. Check ‘Use custom proxy’ and enter the VPN’s SOCKS5 proxy IP and port number obtained in step 3. This will forward Tor traffic through the VPN tunnel.

Connect to Tor Network

Connect to the Tor network using the Tor browser. It will now route all traffic through both the VPN tunnel and Tor nodes for enhanced privacy. Verify you are connected by checking your new IP on sites like

Disable JavaScript (Optional)

JavaScript can be used for browser fingerprinting and profiling your activity across sites. Disable JS in Tor settings for added anonymity at the cost of some functionality.

And that’s it! You now have a VPN over Tor setup for maximum online privacy and anonymity. Make sure to connect the VPN every time before launching the Tor browser.

Additional Steps to Enhance Anonymity with VPN over Tor

  • Use Tor bridges to hide the fact that you are connecting to Tor from your ISP. Bridges are unlisted entry nodes that are more difficult to block.
  • Enable Pluggable Transports, which disguise your Tor traffic as normal HTTPS web browsing, to bypass deep packet inspection and block Tor.
  • Use a Private/Incognito browser window to prevent browsing history and cookies from being stored on your system when accessing Tor.
  • Don’t sign into accounts associated with your real identity when browsing over Tor, as it can reveal your identity across sites.
  • Avoid Maximizing the Tor browser so that its window size doesn’t become a tracking fingerprint for your Tor usage.
  • Disable Flash and Javascript to prevent exploits and browser fingerprinting through Tor.

Final Thoughts

Using a VPN in conjunction with the Tor network – VPN over Tor – provides significant privacy and security benefits that are hard to achieve with either solution alone. The combined encryption and routing of traffic through VPN and the Tor network makes it extremely difficult to trace online activities back to you.

However, VPN over Tor also comes with downsides like reduced speeds, configuration complexity, and limited torrenting support. Setting it up involves carefully choosing a VPN provider compatible with Tor, configuring software settings correctly, and being cautious of leaks.

Frequently Asked Questions About VPN over Tor

Does using a VPN with Tor slow down your internet speed?

Yes, combining VPN and Tor will significantly slow down your internet connection. VPNs already cause some speed reduction, and routing through multiple Tor nodes adds further latency. Extra network hops mean higher delays.

Should you use a VPN before or after Tor?

It is generally recommended to connect VPN before accessing Tor, as it provides better anonymity by hiding your IP address from Tor. Connecting Tor before VPN gives faster speeds but weaker privacy if the Tor entry node is compromised.

Is it illegal to use a VPN over Tor?

There is nothing inherently illegal about using a VPN over Tor. They are just tools to enhance privacy. However, these tools can be used for both ethical and unethical purposes. Make sure to obey the law.

Does VPN over Tor prevent DNS leaks?

Yes, combining VPN and Tor provides strong protection against most VPN and Tor leaks, including DNS leaks. VPN encrypts traffic before it enters Tor, so real DNS requests don’t leak out. Extra Tor hops add more obscurity.

Does VPN over Tor prevent my ISP from seeing that I am using Tor?

Yes, connecting to Tor via VPN hides the fact that you are using Tor from your ISP. They only see encrypted VPN traffic. Additionally, using Tor bridges obscures Tor usage as well. This prevents repressive ISPs from blocking Tor.

What’s better for torrenting – VPN over Tor or just VPN?

For torrenting and P2P activities, a VPN alone is preferable over a VPN over Tor. Tor reduces download speeds considerably, and most VPNs block BitTorrent on Tor-enabled servers anyway. A fast, no-logs VPN provides sufficient privacy for torrenting.

Can government agencies see my traffic if I use a VPN over Tor?

VPN over Tor provides very strong anonymity and makes it extremely difficult even for powerful agencies to monitor or trace your online activity. However, absolute privacy from global agencies cannot be guaranteed with any tools if targeted.

Is it safe to access my personal accounts and emails over VPN over Tor?

Accessing sensitive accounts like email and banking via Tor alone is risky, as exit nodes can sniff traffic. But VPN over Tor minimizes this risk significantly by encrypting traffic end-to-end. So it provides an added layer of protection for accessing personal accounts anonymously.

Riha Mervana
Riha Mervana

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Riha Mervana is a professional content writer at, with extensive experience crafting engaging and informative content. She has established herself as an expert in the VPN industry, creating content that educates readers on the importance of online privacy and security.