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I know there will be some votes against this but I want to run a VPN alongside the Tor browser. Can I just open the VPN program, connect to the VPN provider, then open the Tor browser and use it as normal? No extra setup required?

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TL;DR: No extra setup required.

Concept:

Try to understand what Tor does. Tor builds a Proxy Chain for you to access the Internet. Your single request is routed through several different Tor nodes (known as relays) before reaching the host. The host only sees the IP address of the last node in your Proxy chain as the requesting IP address and returns the response to that IP. Diagrammatically, it would look something like this:

Your Machine ====> Tor Node 1 ==> 2 ==> 3 ==> 4 ==> 5 ==> Internet

Now what would happen if you also connect your machine to a VPN?

A VPN is like a tunnel which makes your OS believe that it is part of a private network, but the actual VPN server hosting this network may be a few hops away from your network. So effectively, when you connect to a VPN, all your traffic flows in the following manner:

Your Machine ====> N/W Hop 1 ==> 2 ==> 3 ==> 4 ==> 5 ==> VPN Server ==> Internet

Only the IP address of the VPN server is exposed to the Internet. Your VPN network adapter however remains oblivious to this route all it sees is:

Your Machine ====> VPN Server ==> Internet

When you merge run both VPN & Tor browser, the network path will look like this:

Your Machine ====> VPN Server ==> Tor Node 1 ==> 2 ==> 3 ==> 4 ==> 5 ==> Internet

  • ok, I have one more question. How does this order/way change if my VPN provider supposedly already connects to the Tor network? protonvpn.com/support/tor-vpn – Ultra Gamer Mar 11 at 18:21
  • I would advise you to figure the rest out... It should be pretty elementary after the answer I provided above. – Amey Mar 12 at 6:52
  • What I mean is, will being connected to a Tor VPN replace the normal tor connection? Or will it then go Tor Entree Node ==> Tor Guard Node ==> Tor Exit Node ==> Tor Entree Node ==> Tor Guard Node ==> Tor Exit Node and have it go through the Tor network twice? – Ultra Gamer Mar 13 at 17:35
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This depends what you mean with "alongside". If you start your VPN all your traffic will be going over VPN, which means your setup is essentially VPN->Tor when using the Tor browser. Everything you do outside the Tor browser will of course only go over VPN.

So as to your question: yes you can open VPN and then use the Tor browser. This also hides the fact that you are using Tor from your ISP because your traffic first goes to your VPN and then to Tor. There should be no additional setup required.

If you're interested in Tor over VPN maybe this link will also provide further useful information:

https://blog.bolehvpn.net/tor-over-vpn-vpn-over-tor-which-is-better/

  • @NeoSkies So after reading it, just to be clear, I have to choose between trusting the VPN provider with my browsing data, or trust that the exit node I'm using isn't malicious? (P.S. I understand there are more pros and cons than that but that is the main issue for me). – Ultra Gamer Mar 11 at 18:18
  • That is correct. You should also note that if you browse sites that use HTTPS, a malicious exit node only sees the encrypted traffic. It really gets nasty when you browse a site that only uses HTTP, because a malicious exit node then sees everything, potentially also passwords. You should never enter any personal data while browsing non-encrypted clearnet sites with Tor. – NeonSkies Mar 12 at 17:44
  • Understood, Thank you! – Ultra Gamer Mar 13 at 17:36

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