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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

5 Best VPNs for the Dark Web — Safe Access in 2024

Tijana Stankovic Updated on 6th June 2024 Fact-checked by Kate Veale Cybersecurity Researcher

Tor isn’t safe enough to access the dark web by itself; you also need a reliable VPN to protect you from compromised nodes and other threats. The problem is that many VPNs aren’t good enough to pair with Tor and other dark web browsers.

My team and I tested 40+ VPNs to find the best ones for the deep web. Only a few of them had the features you need to stay secure. All my shortlisted VPNs are Tor-compatible and fast enough to avoid any further lag. Plus, they’re trusted by Reddit users.

I found ExpressVPN to be the best dark web VPN. Its Lightway protocol made it faster than other VPNs in my tests, which is a huge benefit, considering Tor causes slowdowns. All its servers are obfuscated, so you can also access the dark web from restricted networks. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Try ExpressVPN for the Dark Web >>

Important. Despite its many positive uses, the dark web is associated with criminal activity. As such, it’s important to be careful which sites you access when using it. We at vpnMentor do not condone illegal activities, so please be responsible when using the dark web.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best VPNs for the Dark Web in 2024

  • Editor's Choice
    ExpressVPN
    ExpressVPN
    Superior security and impressive speeds to reliably access the dark web without delays.
    70% of our readers choose ExpressVPN
  • CyberGhost VPN
    CyberGhost
    Easy to install and use with the dark web, even if you're unfamiliar with VPNs.
  • Private Internet Access
    Private Internet Access
    Customizable security to tailor your connection for the dark web.
  • NordVPN
    NordVPN
    Onion Over VPN servers for accessing the dark web on any browser.
  • Surfshark
    Surfshark
    Unlimited simultaneous connections to conveniently secure all your devices.

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

Best VPNs for the Dark Web — Full Analysis (Updated in 2024)

1. ExpressVPN — Overall Best Dark Web VPN with Strong Security and Fast Speeds

Best Feature TrustedServer technology keeps you anonymous by automatically erasing all data when rebooted
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries let you pick your preferred one
Speeds Excellent speeds with only a 3% drop on local servers
Security & Privacy AES 256-bit and ChaCha20 encryption keeps your data safe from prying eyes
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

ExpressVPN is my top recommendation for the dark web because of its unique balance of security and ease of use. It has all the security features you need to stay safe, including 256-bit AES encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and modern security protocols. Even with many advanced options, it is straightforward to set up and use. Most settings are pre-configured, so you can have top-level dark web security without making any adjustments.

It was also the fastest VPN I tested. Tor (and other dark web browsers) is notoriously slow, so the VPN mustn’t worsen this. I used ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol during my tests, and it only slightly impacted my base speed — from 127.29Mbps to 122.95Mbps. Because it uses far fewer lines of code, it is faster than older protocols like OpenVPN.

Screenshot of Torch search engine on Tor, with ExpressVPN connected to New YorkI experienced no buffering using ExpressVPN's Lightway protocol

ExpressVPN is particularly handy if you use public WiFi because all its servers are obfuscated. Many public networks block VPNs, but obfuscation makes your encrypted data look like regular internet traffic, so you can use the VPN on any of them. With this, I could browse.onion sites from my local cafe without triggering the VPN blocker.

On the downside, it doesn’t accept Google and Amazon Pay, which is disappointing as I use both often. However, you can still use major credit cards, PayPal, and crypto. When you sign up, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee to test the service without risk. I got in touch via the 24/7 live chat support and received a refund within 4 days.

Useful Features

  • Quick to connect. The app is ready to go as soon as you log in. To make things even easier, when you click the large power button, it will automatically choose the best server based on your location.
  • Network Lock. ExpressVPN's kill switch protects your real IP address from exposure by temporarily cutting off your internet if the VPN connection drops.
  • Private DNS. ExpressVPN runs its own private, encrypted DNS on each server, making connections safer and faster.
  • Split tunneling. With this feature, you can select which apps should use the VPN and which should run through your regular internet connection. This way, you can secure Tor without affecting your regular work.
ExpressVPN Offer June 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. CyberGhost — User-Friendly Apps To Access the Dark Web Easily

Best Feature Apps look the same on most devices, so there’s no learning curve when you switch
Server Network 11,690 servers in 100 countries, so it’s easy to find one nearby for the best speeds
Speeds Just a 4% speed reduction testing local servers, nearly as fast as ExpressVPN
Security & Privacy A strict no-logs policy means your data is never stored or shared
Editors' Note: CyberGhost VPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

CyberGhost's apps are intuitive and easy to install for all major devices. The app opens in a minimized view with everything you need to connect. You can expand it to find the VPN’s settings and server lists. There’s also a favorites list to which you can add the servers you use the most for accessing the dark web.

Screenshot of CyberGhost's interface, with VPN connected to a Romanian NoSpy serverNoSpy servers cost a bit extra but are only accessible by the CyberGhost team

Like ExpressVPN, your online activities are protected with AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. I tested 10 servers throughout the US and UK and didn't detect any leaks. Plus, it has a strict no-logs policy, so none of your data is recorded. There are quarterly transparency reports, which you can read on its website.

My favorite feature is its configurable Smart Rules, which let you automate your connection. Using this, you can set CyberGhost to launch and connect to a specific server when you open your dark web browser. Just wait for the VPN to establish a connection before using Tor.

One drawback is its expensive monthly subscriptions with a short refund period. However, its long-term plans are very affordable at $2.03/month. You also get a generous money-back guarantee to use CyberGhost free for 45 days. I tested its refund policy and found it trustworthy and straightforward.

Useful Features

  • 24/7 customer support. If you run into any issues while using Tor, CyberGhost's customer support is available around the clock via email and live chat.
  • Simultaneous connections. CyberGhost allows up to 7 devices to be connected at the same time, making it a great choice for protecting all your devices.
  • WireGuard. This is one of the fastest protocols, giving you the best possible speeds for the dark web.
June 2024 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 83% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Customizable Settings for Secure Dark Web Surfing

Best Feature Choose your encryption level to balance speed and security when surfing the dark net
Server Network Vast network of 29,650 servers in 91 countries
Speeds Good speeds with only a 6% loss on servers closeby
Security & Privacy IP/DNS leak protection keeps your actual location private
Editors' Note: Private Internet Access and this site are in the same ownership group.

With Private Internet Access (PIA), you can tailor your online protection to your specific needs. Choose your level encryption (256 or 128-bit), security protocols (including OpenVPN and WireGuard), and kill switch type. I used OpenVPN with AES 256-bit for Tor and its Advanced kill switch (it works even when your VPN isn't on). During testing, the kill switch immediately disconnected me from the internet when switching servers (when the VPN drops) so my data wouldn't leak.

For additional protection, you can use the VPN's Multihop which routes your traffic through a proxy. This acts as an obfuscation, so your ISP can’t see you’re using a VPN. I usually use the recommended server for Multi-Hop since it is the most reliable and provides decent speeds for torrenting files.

Screenshot of PIA's settings, showing Multi-Hop and ObfuscationIf you’re not sure which proxy to use, stick to Shadowsocks

One minor con is that PIA is based in the US, part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances, a country that shares data on its citizens. This could be a concern if you seek the highest level of privacy. However, it follows a strict and court-proven no-logs policy, so your personal information is safe from third-party access.

PIA’s pricing is great, with long-term plans only $2.03/month. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it without risk.

Useful Features

  • P2P support. PIA allows torrenting on all its servers, making it a good choice for fast downloads wherever you are. Port forwarding might also help improve your speeds.
  • 24/7 customer service. Customer support is available at all times through live chat and email, and will quickly help you if you have any problem using it with the dark web.
June 2024 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 82% off!

4. NordVPN — Onion Over VPN Servers to Browse the Dark Web Directly

Best Feature No need to use the Tor browser to access.onion sites
Server Network 6,420 servers in 111 countries to use Tor from anywhere
Speeds Fast speeds with an average drop of only 8%
Security & Privacy Special servers obfuscate your connection and keep you anonymous online

NordVPN offers a unique Onion over VPN feature. These servers are designed to route your traffic through a VPN and then through the Onion network, just like Tor. While testing, I could access.onion sites on any browser. I also found that this makes browsing dark net easier and faster while keeping you secure since Tor will inevitably lower your speeds.

Screenshot of NordVPN's interface, showing Onion over VPN, connected to Netherlands Onion serverYou don't even need Tor with these specialty NordVPN servers

It also has a Dark Web Monitor feature that regularly scans the internet for any credential leak associated with your email address. This can quickly help you find out if any of your personal info or passwords are compromised. Just remember to turn it on, as it’s not a feature that works with the VPN automatically.

NordVPN isn't without its limitations. I experienced significant speed drops when connecting to distant servers. However, it worked well with nearby servers. And when using Tor, the speeds were more than good enough for surfing the dark web.

You can get a NordVPN longer-term plan at $6.39/month. Like ExpressVPN and PIA, it also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it first and request a refund if you're unsatisfied.

Useful Features

  • Intuitive interface. You will have an easy time using the NordVPN app, since it has a search bar and a map for quickly finding the right server for you.
  • NordLynx protocol. This proprietary protocol offers an excellent balance between speed and security.

5. Surfshark — Secure All Devices for Dark Web Browsing With One Subscription

Best Feature Use the VPN simultaneously for dark web surfing, torrenting, and gaming
Server Network 3,200 servers in 100 countries to quickly find one near you
Speeds Very fast speeds, even while using Tor
Security & Privacy Camouflage mode to obfuscate VPN traffic and bypass VPN blocks

With a single Surfshark account, you can connect unlimited devices for as little as $2.19/month. This means you can securely access the dark web and share your VPN with your household without worrying about VPN reliability. I tested Surfshark by connecting 9 devices simultaneously, including my laptop, PC, and several smartphones, and got a stable connection throughout.

Another tool I really like is the Speed test, which you can use to connect to the fastest server. I used this feature to find the fastest nearby server for uninterrupted torrenting — only a 4% drop from my base connection. However, the VPN can't be connected to use this tool.

Screenshot of Surfshark's settings, showing the speed test toolI usually test the recommended servers as they're usually the fastest

The only issue with Surfshark is that it’s located in the Netherlands, which is a member of the 9 Eyes intelligence alliance. However, it follows a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn't track, collect, or share your sensitive data. So you can use it without worry.

You can also test Surfshark risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with the VPN, you can easily get a refund; just use the 24/7 live chat feature, like I did.

Useful Features

  • Automatic WiFi protection. Surfshark will automatically connect to a VPN when using an unsecured WiFi network, so your Tor access is secure.
  • Bypasser. The VPN’s split tunneling will reroute your traffic for specific websites, so you can set the app to bypass the VPN. This will let you use Tor with VPN while you can use other important sites with your regular internet connection.

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

Quick Comparison Table: Best Dark Web VPN Features

Even among the best dark web VPNs, there are several differences that can sway your decision. So here’s a short table that sums up and compares the most important VPN features for protecting your security and privacy on the dark web.

Lowest Price Dark Web Speeds Server Network Obfuscation Outside 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances?
🥇ExpressVPN $6.67/month The fastest VPN we tested 3,000 servers in 105 countries Yes Yes
🥈CyberGhost $2.03/month Excellent speeds 11,690 servers in 100 countries No Yes
🥉Private Internet Access $2.03/month Very fast 29,650 servers in 91 countries Yes No
NordVPN $6.39/month Fast on nearby servers 6,420 servers in 111 countries Yes Yes
Surfshark $2.19/month Excellent speeds 3,200 servers in 100 countries Yes No

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for the Dark Web

In the process of testing these VPNs, I used a set of criteria to find the best ones to use with the dark web. If you want to do your own research and choose a VPN that way, here is a list of features to look out for:

  • Strong encryption. Encryption is the backbone of any VPN service. When browsing the dark web, strong encryption like AES-256 is essential to keep your online activity hidden from prying eyes and your personal data remains secure.
  • Kill switch and leak protection. A kill switch disconnects you from the internet if your VPN drops unexpectedly. This, and IP/DNS leak protection is particularly important when browsing the dark web, as any exposure to your real IP address could lead to serious privacy risks.
  • A no-logs policy. This states that your VPN will not record your data, such as browsing activity, enhancing your privacy and anonymity. You should also check if it is audited by a third party.
  • Obfuscation. This is a stealth mode that allows you to connect to a VPN, but disguises it so that it looks like normal traffic. This prevents your ISP from knowing you're using a VPN.
  • Fast speeds. Tor is already slow, so a slow VPN will make the browsing experience even worse. You need a fast VPN to make the most of your dark web experience.
  • Anonymous payment options. Look for a VPN you can purchase with cryptocurrencies for additional anonymity online.
  • Reliable customer support. Look for round-the-clock customer support that can troubleshoot and resolve any problems. 24/7 live chat is best, but prompt email support is also good.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee. Always choose a VPN with a reliable guarantee. That way, you can test the VPN properly and get your money back if you're unhappy.

Quick Guide: How to Access the Dark Web Safely With a VPN in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN for its advanced security features, fast speed, and ease of use. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Connect to a server. Choose a server nearby to help mitigate slowdowns when connecting to Tor.
  3. Browse the dark web. Install the Tor Browser using the official Tor Project website to download it. Now, you can securely access the dark web.

Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

More Ways to Stay Safe on the Dark Web

Exploring the dark web can be risky due to its association with various criminal activities. However, if you're using it for legitimate purposes, such as maintaining privacy or accessing valuable information not available elsewhere, here are some best practices to ensure your safety:

  • Never share personal information. Keep your real name, address, and phone number private. Be wary of any service or site that asks for this information. Don't even give out anything that seems harmless.
  • Verify URLs. Due to the complex nature of the dark web, URLs often consist of a random string of characters followed by.onion. Be sure to double-check any links and only use trusted sources to avoid phishing sites. And never try typing in a link; one typo and you might accidentally go to an illegal web page.
  • Disable JavaScript. Many websites use JavaScript for interactive features, but it can also be exploited to reveal your identity or distribute malware. Tor browser's security settings allow you to disable JavaScript, so make sure you do that.
  • Don't download files. Downloading files from the dark web is risky as they often contain malware. If you must download something, make sure your antivirus software is up to date and scan the file before opening it.
  • Use cryptocurrency. If you need to make a transaction on the dark web, strongly consider using a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Tether. It's not completely anonymous, but it's more private than traditional payment methods. Never give out your credit card info on the dark web, no matter how trustworthy it may look.
  • Stay legal. Remember to always stick to legal sites and services that you know of and trust. If you go exploring, you may stumble on something illegal and may get into trouble.

Keep in mind that the dark web is merely a tool, and its safety is contingent on your usage. Make security and privacy your top concerns when navigating the dark web.

FAQs on the Best VPNs for the Dark Web

Can I use a free VPN with the dark web?

A free VPN for the dark web is not recommended, as it can cause serious vulnerabilities. Free VPNs have poor security and privacy features and restrict speed, so they won't work with Tor. Even worse, they log your activity and data to sell to third parties for profit. It’s much safer to try out a reliable VPN with a money-back guarantee.

Which devices can I access the dark web with?

You need the Tor Browser to access the dark web, which is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Due to its unregulated nature and potential for encountering illegal or harmful content, it's crucial to be cautious when exploring the dark web. Always prioritize your online safety by using a reputable VPN service with Tor.

Is it safe to access the dark web without a VPN?

No, it’s not recommended to access the dark web without a VPN. While Tor can provide a degree of anonymity, it doesn't offer the same level of security and privacy as a VPN combined with Tor. Without a VPN, your ISP can see that you're using Tor, which could raise suspicion. A quality service like ExpressVPN will add an extra layer of protection while you’re on the dark web.

How do I unblock Tor with a VPN?

To unblock Tor with a VPN, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow. Sometimes, it’s not enough to connect to a VPN and securely browse the dark web. So, here’s what you can do:

  1. Connect to your VPN and launch your Tor browser. Ensure that the VPN supports Tor and doesn't block or restrict its usage.
  2. Configure Tor Settings. In the Tor Browser, navigate to the settings or preferences section. Look for options related to network or proxy settings.
  3. Specify VPN as Proxy. Within Tor’s settings, configure it to use the VPN as a proxy. This usually involves entering the VPN's proxy settings, which may include the IP address, port number, and authentication credentials provided by your VPN provider.
  4. Connect to the Tor Network. After configuring the settings, you should be able to connect to the network within the Tor Browser while keeping your connection secure with a VPN.

Should I use Tor over VPN or VPN over Tor?

Tor over VPN is recommended by most cybersecurity experts. To clarify, Tor over VPN (VPN→Tor) means your data first goes through a VPN server, then into the Tor entry node. This gives you an extra layer of security and privacy. Using this method is as simple as connecting to a VPN, then connecting to Tor.

In VPN over Tor (Tor→VPN) the data goes through all the Tor nodes, then into a VPN server. Here, the ISP can see you’re using Tor. Also, this method is very complicated and is not easily configurable on a home computer, so don’t try it if you’re not confident.

Get the Best VPN for the Dark Web

Accessing the dark web requires a high level of security and privacy. To do that, you need the right VPN. Choose the wrong one, and you might compromise your personal data.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for the dark web. It provides powerful security features, a wide server network, fast speeds, and is committed to user privacy. With its 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free. If it doesn’t live up to your requirements, you can request a refund.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for the Dark Web…

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 83%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 82%!
4
9.4 /10
9.4 Our Score
Save 72%!
5
9.3 /10
9.3 Our Score
Save 86%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

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The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Tijana Stankovic is a experienced content writer currently working at vpnMentor. She has written numerous VPN guides and comparisons, making sure that the readers get the best possible recommendations through her articles.

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