Why you should NOT use a VPN with Tor

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I read yesterday this interesting article, I always thought it was better to connect to tor through vpn.

Yeah its something a lot of people screw up. Can’t blame them though, when you look at how much money VPN providers spend on their marketing campaigns. Also most people online and those new to privacy/security don’t actully know how most of this stuff works.

The result of that is that they will think “so many people say it so it must be true” which will causes the to start and parrot that opinion too, which increases the amount of people saying you need to use a VPN with Tor, which then keeps going on as an un-ending circle that keeps getting stronger.

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Would you say use Tor on PC and VPN on your phone? Or just use Orbot? I’m interested, because reading that article, I don’t really see much of a point in having a vpn!

I would say just use Orbot. If you are behind a restrictive firewall, you can try checking “ReachableAddresses” in settings which by default attempts to connect to guards that support ports 80 and 443 (if I understand it correctly) and if even that doesn’t work, in the main screen there is the “Use bridges” toggle.

I think the main point is the old fashioned way to access your hosts with static addresses in a virtual private network without having to care about NAT. I am using the Yggdrasil network for that even if it’s intented for meshnets and maybe attempting to replace the internet in the future.

Edit 2019-08-04: Linking to Discussion: Yggdrasil so people can see ideas on what Yggdrasil can be used for.

That’s because you would be correct. When you use tor, you often don’t need any VPN services. One could make the argument that a VPN is faster, and it often is, but Tor these days is fast enough to watch HD videos. And when your just browsing, Tor browser is the best choice. What also is nice, is that Tor browser takes care of fingerprinting for you, so no more plugins or about:config hacks needed to maintain anymore, its already done for you :slight_smile:

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Is this only about using a VPN service in addition to Tor, or also about using the VPN mode in Orbot?

This is mostly about using a VPN with Tor. the VPN mode in Orbot, is not a real VPN. the VPN mode makes use of Androd VPN-api to force all apps to thru its own tor connection. They do it this way because he only alternative would require rooting your device.

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Question comes up all the time on reddit. I have found Tor to be surprisingly fast, even on my not-stellar connection.

The problem with Tor is, first, the Tor-hostile sites. Throwing infinite captchas, or flat-out refusing to connect. I also know of some blogs protected by Cloudflare, and in spite of Cloudflare having removed its captcha barrier for Tor, it has a very vicious way of always refusing service the first time. You always need to change nodes. Every single time.

The other problem is, you cannot configure the browser. No extensions, no fancy added features. While that makes it very reliable, it also deprives you of many tools.

On Android, I’ve never been able to make any sense of Orbot. It’s supposed to have an added VPN mode inside. Wazzat ? what does it do ? what is it for ?

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Orbot is no longer needed, Orbot is just a standalone tool to force other apps thru the Tor network using the VPN-api in Android so root ins’t needed. You can just download Tor browser for Android from the playstore or the Guadrian projects F-droid repo. note tho that its still in alpha, so you can hit a few bugs here and there. Also you CAN configure your Tor browser just like you can with Firefox, you will only make yourself less anonymous. This happens when your on Firefox to. You are better of with a Tor browser with one or two extra addons installed, then a normal Firefox install that you configured yourself.

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Android Tor being in alpha is the reason I stuck to Orbot up to now.

On a PC, I don’t tinker with Tor beyond the recommended standard configuration, in order to keep it as private as possible.

Not tinkering is indeed recommend to stay anonymous, but I was just pointing out that its better to use Tor browser with a plugin, then use Firefox with that same plugin

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On some of those paid articles I was doing, the editors even told me to include that! I started saying it was optional, but be sure to understand how they work and what the potential pitfalls are.

What the “VPN mode” in Orbot did, in essence, was to route all of your apps’ traffic through Tor, not just Orfox. However, you did have to designate which apps to use (I suppose you could just have said “all”). The only problem I ran into with this is that some of the apps wouldn’t work because, and I quote, “This service is not available in your country.”

Torrifying all traffic seems like a very interesting proposition.

Another strange thing about Orbot is, it shows me much more than the standard 3 nodes of Tor. The traffic is supposed to hop through at least 6 nodes, if memory serves right. How this is possible is beyond me. Also, is it better ? worse ? I could not find any information on that.

I do have to say Orbot + Orfox has been exceedingly slow, in the rare instances I’ve tested it.

I advise you to just ignore the circuits its showing you, its buggy and doesn’t show your currently used circuit like you think it does, Tor will always use 3 nodes unless told otherwise. also, orfox is EOL (end of life). Tor browser for Android is whats currently recommended, and does not need Orbot to function.

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Thanks, I wasn’t aware of all that.

So Android has this elaborate way of updating all apps automatically, and Orfox wouldn’t tell you by itself it has reached end of life ? For such a critical product ? That’s seriously wrong.

Okay so first of all:

  1. Orfox was an app maintained by the Guardian Project (Orbot is too btw), not the Tor Project, the Tor browser for Android will be the first browser the Tor Project itself develops.
  2. They are working on a final update for Orfox that will redirect people toward the new Tor browser for Android.
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Great to know. Thanks.

Well, I must say that if the bridges don´t work with your ISP or you are behind a restrictive firewall, then I don´t see why it´s not useful to connect to your VPN, if they don´t keep logs and is a company fighting for the privacy and donating to other similar companies. And if you normally use this VPN, then it´s good to connect directly to Tor without the headeaches that sometimes Tor bridges give.
But of course you only need bridges and/or Tor browser. But I prefer using my VPN daily and also when I need Tor I connect from the VPN to Tor.

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