What Is The Difference Between Tor And A Regular Proxy?

Sometimes you just don’t want people to know what you are doing when you are surfing the internet.

Some of the activities may be embarrassing, while others may be secret because of the business that you are involved in.

For whatever reason, you just want to keep your internet session private.

protect your identity with Tor or a standard proxy

There are several ways that you can do this.

Private Surfing

Usually the first solution that you hear people tell others about is to use a proxy or to use Tor.

They tell a person that they will keep your session private but they do not explain how.

People will use the two interchangeably but they really are not the same thing – they do two entirely separate jobs – they just have the same end results.

I will explain in the rest of this article what those jobs are and why they are so different from one another when they seem like they get the same thing accomplished.

After I am done explaining the differences, you can decide for yourself, which one would suit your purposes more – Tor or a normal proxy solution.

The first one of these programs I will describe is a proxy.

A proxy does nothing more than serve you a web page off of a different server.

For example, you can go to a web page which hosts a proxy and type in the address for Facebook.

Now that proxy will take your request and grab the Facebook page.

After it grabs the page, it will then redirect it towards your computer.

And each time you make a request to Facebook’s servers, the same process happens over and over again.

What you have done is to give the proxy server your IP address and not Facebook.

So Facebook will have no record of you being there, only that someone logged into your account.

How Tor Differs From A Regular Proxy

With Tor, the same thing is accomplished but it is done a little bit differently.

With Tor, I am not going to get that complicated about the description.

Tor actually works on a deeper level dealing with a computer’s SOCKETS directly.

Most readers would not understand that explanation so I will leave it out.

The Tor program itself uses a proxy but you are then sent on an encrypted session.

Once your packets are released onto the internet, they are then randomized to go to a server that you do not know about.

There are plenty of people out there who run Tor servers, so your message could be on any one of them.

After the message goes through a couple of these servers, it is then unencrypted and delivered to where it was supposed to go in the first place.

As you see, Tor goes through a lot more steps  than a normal proxy so the session can be slower.

But you have a better chance at keeping your identity secret while you surf the internet.

These are the differences between a proxy and Tor.

It is up to you to decide which one you would like to choose.

They both offer a different level of protection but each choice leaves some kind of trail that can be followed.

You can find more on Tor here.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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