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5 Best VPNs for the Dark Web in 2022 (Safe, Private & Fast)

Finding the right VPN for the dark web isn’t easy. Some VPNs can compromise your online safety and privacy while others are just not fast enough to mitigate Tor's already slow speeds. In addition, you need a VPN with special stealth functions to access Tor at all in countries where it's not available.

My team and I tested 35+ VPNs to find the best ones for the dark web. Of all the VPNs tested, only a few have the security and privacy features needed to safely access the darknet and avoid surveillance. All these shortlisted VPNs are also Tor-compatible and have good speeds to avoid any additional slowdowns.

I found ExpressVPN to be the best dark web VPN because of its state-of-the-art privacy features and lightning-fast speeds. You can even try ExpressVPN completely risk-free as it’s backed by a solid money-back guarantee. So if you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund within 30 days.

Try ExpressVPN Today

Important! The dark web is often associated with criminal activity and can be a dangerous place, but it also has many positive uses. It's a platform used to expose criminals and corrupt public figures anonymously, for example. The dark web also offers free resources like research materials and live medical advice. 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 2022

  1. ExpressVPN — Excellent security and privacy features join super-fast speeds for seamless browsing on the dark web. The VPN even has a “.onion” domain, so you can download it in privacy.
  2. CyberGhost — NoSpy servers that are based outside the reach of government surveillance and other strong security features to keep your data secure on the dark web.
  3. Private Internet Access — An excellent ad and malware-blocker and customizable security options for added security on Tor, but not the fastest speeds.
  4. IPVanish — Unlimited simultaneous connections to protect all your devices while using the dark web. However, it does not accept anonymous payments through crypto.
  5. PrivateVPN — Stealth Mode to add an extra layer of security, but it has a small server network.

Best VPNs for the Dark Web — Full Analysis (Updated 2022)

1. ExpressVPN — Overall Best Dark Web VPN With Solid Security Features and Excellent Speeds

  • Powerful security features for ultimate protection on the dark web
  • Ultra-fast speeds for browsing without slowdowns
  • 3,000 server locations in 94 countries
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • Works with: Tor, Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more
ExpressVPN Offer August 2022: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

ExpressVPN protects you on the dark web with some of the strongest security features available, such as military-grade encryption with perfect forward secrecy. PFS is an added bonus — it ensures your encryption key is regularly changed, making it nearly impossible for hackers or snoops to decrypt and see your online activity.

The VPN’s kill switch (Network Lock) protected my data by instantly blocking my internet when I changed servers mid-session. But it works in case the VPN disconnects unexpectedly for some reason, too. Network Lock prevented my online activity from being exposed to my ISP while the VPN re-established a connection. I didn’t detect any IP or DNS leaks while testing ExpressVPN either, and the VPN uses secure protocols like OpenVPN and Lightway.

Graphic showing how to access the protocol options in ExpressVPN settings menu.

You can select any protocol based on your requirements by clicking the options

Lightway is one of the reasons this VPN has lightning-fast speeds. It’s ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol and has been audited and tested by security specialists to ensure its safety. Because it’s so lightweight (and therefore fast), it’s a great choice to combine with Tor to prevent any additional slowdowns. I got an average speed of 28.4 Mbps using this protocol on its Dockland and London servers in the UK, which was just a 4% drop from my base internet connection (30 Mbps).

ExpressVPN is a top choice for privacy, too. It operates under a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn't keep any of your activity logs. It even uses private DNS and RAM-based servers that delete all your online data after every reboot. It’s also based in the British Virgin Islands, outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances — a group of countries known for monitoring citizens online and sharing their data.

The split-tunneling feature also allows you to encrypt the Tor browser only while using your regular connection for other apps. I used Tor with the VPN app while accessing my banking app as normal (to avoid triggering alerts on my account). This is also handy for optimizing your speeds on Tor because you don’t have to encrypt any unnecessary traffic.

The only minor con I found with ExpressVPN is that it’s a bit more expensive than other VPNs — its cheapest plan starts from $6.67/month. However, that wasn’t a problem for me since it offers regular discounts throughout the year — I got 49% off ExpressVPN when I signed up for the annual subscription. You can pay with credit cards, PayPal, WebMoney, Yandex Money, and Klarna. The service accepts Bitcoin too, plus you can sign up through the VPN's mirror site with Tor for additional privacy.

ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you decide the VPN isn’t for you. To test out this guarantee, I contacted support through the 24/7 live chat feature after using the VPN for 3 weeks. The representative processed my request immediately without asking any questions and I had all my money back after 3 days.

Try ExpressVPN Now

2. CyberGhost — NoSpy Servers for Better Privacy on the Dark Web

  • NoSpy Servers prevent third parties from seeing what you do online
  • 9,023 servers in 91 countries
  • Super-fast speeds to reduce Tor slowdowns
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • Works with: Tor, Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more
August 2022 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 82% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost provides highly secure NoSpy servers to safeguard your privacy while browsing the dark web. Only the CyberGhost team can access and operate these Romania-based servers, making it basically impossible for third parties to get their hands on your data. The VPN is also headquartered in Romania, which isn’t bound by any data retention laws. The strict no-logs policy ensures that CyberGhost doesn’t log any of your online activity either.

Graphic showing the NoSpy servers menu and 1-click connect button of CyberGhost.

Select a NoSpy server with low ping for the best speeds and press the connect button

Your data is also protected by state-of-the-art security features. The VPN uses military-grade encryption, DNS/IP leak protection, and a kill switch to prevent your identity and online activity from being exposed. During my testing of CyberGhost, I found no leaks on any NoSpy servers I tried or on the US-based regular servers. I was also able to choose from a range of secure protocols including OpenVPN and WireGuard.

The VPN has a “Block Content” feature you can enable through privacy settings too. This feature alerts you to potentially dangerous links or malicious sites that might allow hackers to compromise your data while using the dark web (or any browser). It blocks troublesome ads and trackers too so that you can browse smoothly. I didn't encounter any pop-up ads with it enabled.

Fast speeds help you browse the dark web smoothly even after the slowdowns caused by Tor. I got a 26.2 Mbps speed against a 30 Mbps base, which is just a 14% drop on the US and UK servers that I tested. It’s not quite as fast as ExpressVPN, but I didn’t notice any additional slowdowns while using Tor.

The only problem I had with CyberGhost is its expensive short-term plans that only come with a 14-day money-back guarantee. However, the long-term plans are pretty reasonable and you can sign up for CyberGhost for as low as $2.29/month. The longest 3-year plan provides the best value and you can pay with Bitcoin for added privacy.

You also get a generous 45-day money-back guarantee with the long-term plans. I easily got a refund when I tested this claim. I canceled my subscription via the 24/7 live chat feature towards the end of the refund period. After asking a couple of questions, the support representative approved my request. I got the money back in my bank account in 4 days.

Try CyberGhost Now

3. Private Internet Access — MACE Feature to Block Harmful Content on the Dark Web

  • MACE feature blocks ads and malware
  • 29,650 servers in 84 countries
  • Fast speeds for smooth browsing on the dark web
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Works with: Tor, Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more
August 2022 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!

PIA’s built-in MACE feature can block unwanted ads, malware, and trackers. This is particularly useful since the Tor browser advises against installing such extensions for privacy reasons. While testing PIA, I didn’t experience any dangerous ads while browsing the dark web.

I was also impressed with its Multi-Hop feature, which reroutes your traffic through a VPN server and a SOCKS5 or Shadowsocks proxy. While this did slow down my speeds, it’s a great feature for added privacy on Tor — it makes it twice as difficult for anyone to see your true IP address and track your online movements.

Graphic showing the multi-hop feature of PIA.

This provides another layer of privacy, though it can slow you down

You can also customize security settings like the level of encryption the VPN uses. It comes with the standard, most secure AES 256-bit, but you can choose 128-bit for better speeds (but slightly weaker security). The automatic kill switch is also customizable — you can set it to turn on only when the VPN disconnects unexpectedly, or whenever the VPN is turned off (even manually) for constant protection.

Although PIA’s speeds are not as fast as ExpressVPN or CyberGhost, it’s fast enough for smoothly browsing the dark web. I averaged above 23 Mbps on its US and UK servers against a base speed of 30 Mbps. This is about a 30% drop, so it’s best if you have a fast connection to start with.

Although it has multiple subscription plans, I found the long-term plans — like the 2-year plan I chose — to be more affordable. Picking a longer plan means you can get PIA for just $2.19/month. It even accepts payments through crypto for an additional layer of privacy.

You can test PIA for free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. In case you decide the VPN isn’t for you, simply ask for a refund. I canceled my subscription after 26 days of use. The representative immediately processed my request over 24/7 live chat and I got my money back in just 4 days.

Try Private Internet Access Now

4. IPVanish — Protect All Your Devices on the Dark Web

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections to protect all your devices on the dark web
  • 2,000 servers in 75 countries
  • Fast speeds to prevent slowdowns on The Onion Browser
  • Works with: Tor, Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more
IPVanish August 2022 Deal: It's hard to find active IPVanish offers so I was really surprised to find this one! Click here to get 77% off your IPVanish subscription today! Discount automatically applied (no code required).

You get unlimited simultaneous connections with IPVanish, so you can safely use the dark web on all of your devices. To test IPVanish’s performance, I connected the VPN on 6 of my devices and didn’t notice any performance issues. I used the dark web on my Windows laptop while streaming The Witcher on my smartphone in HD without lag or long loading times.

The VPN offers all the standard security and privacy features to prevent your online data being exposed. This includes military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. Like ExpressVPN, it has a zero-logs policy and uses perfect forward secrecy for added security. You can also use the Scramble feature with the OpenVPN protocol to hide your VPN use from sites that block VPN traffic.  The service supports WireGuard as well.

I recorded good browsing speeds during my tests too. I had no issues accessing and browsing the dark web without any additional slowdowns, with an average speed loss of 18% on US and UK servers.

I was disappointed that IPVanish doesn’t allow payments through cryptocurrency because I don’t like to share my payment information. That being said, the VPN accepts all other major payment types like credit cards and PayPal, so it’s still easy to pay for it.

It’s pretty affordable as well. You can get IPVanish for as low as $2.50/month with a long-term subscription. It offers several length-based plans, but the short-term ones aren’t the best value overall. I’d instead recommend its annual plan that offers the same features but at a lower monthly price.

You can also try IPVanish for free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. I claimed a refund after using the VPN for 27 days to test its credibility. All I had to do was log my request via my dashboard on the website (I didn’t even have to contact a support rep through 24/7 chat like with the other VPNs I tested). I got the money back in my account in 5 days.

Try IPVanish Now

5. PrivateVPN — Stealth Mode to Bypass VPN Restrictions and Access the Dark Web

  • Stealth Mode hides that you’re using a VPN, allowing you to get around firewalls
  • 200 servers in 63 countries
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Works with: Tor, Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more

PrivateVPN provides obfuscation through its Stealth Mode. This feature makes your VPN traffic appear like normal internet traffic. This means that PrivateVPN works to access Tor in countries that block the site and VPN connections.

It’s also a really safe option with all the standard security and privacy features — military-grade encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch. You can choose between security protocols, but I’d recommend OpenVPN for the dark web because it’s the safest option. If you have issues with slow speeds, then you can also switch from 256-bit to 128-bit encryption for a little boost. During my tests, my speeds were about 10% faster using 128-bit encryption. There's a strict no-logs policy too.

The only issue I had with PrivateVPN was that its server network is smaller than all the other VPNs on this list. I was worried overcrowded servers would reduce my speeds, but I didn’t notice this during testing and averaged above 20 Mbps on the UK server (which was about a 30% drop from my base connection).

There are multiple plans but I found the long-term subscription to be the best value — you can get PrivateVPN for just $2/month. I was happy to see you can pay with Bitcoin as well.

You can also test PrivateVPN for free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. I canceled my subscription after 21 days of use by contacting the live chat (available 22 hours a day). The representative processed my request in about 5 minutes and only asked for my feedback. I had my money back in 4 days.

Try PrivateVPN Now

Quick Comparison Table: Best Dark Web VPN Features

This table compares the most important features you should look for in a VPN for the dark web.

I’ve included information about which services are headquartered outside the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances, which is important for privacy. You can also see which VPNs use obfuscation technology, which disguises your VPN traffic as regular traffic. This is useful for getting around firewalls and VPN blocks, as well as hiding your VPN activity from your ISP.

Lowest price Dark web speeds Outside 5/9/14 Eyes alliances? Ad, malware, tracking blocker? Obfuscation? Money-back guarantee
🥇ExpressVPN $6.67/month Very Fast Yes No Yes 30 days
🥈CyberGhost $2.29/month Fast Yes Yes No 45 days
🥉Private Internet Access $2.19/month Average No Yes Yes 30 days
IPVanish $2.50/month Fast No No Yes 30 days
PrivateVPN $2/month Average No No Yes 30 days

Access The Dark Web With ExpressVPN

Tips on How to Choose the Best VPN for the Dark Web

I used a rigorous list of criteria when testing and ranking the best VPNs for the dark web. If you want to run your own tests, feel free to use my checklist:

  • Strong security features — At the very least, your VPN should be able to protect your data with features like military-grade encryption (256-bit), DNS/IP leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. But, if you're extra concerned about security, then look for special features like multi-hop servers and stealth mode (obfuscation) which add extra layers of encryption to your connection.
  • No-logs policy — A good VPN should never log your online activity, IP address, or share any of your data with third parties. If a VPN's logging policy is difficult to understand or isn't transparent about what it logs and doesn't log, that's a red flag.
  • Fast speeds — Tor’s own security measures already slow down your internet speed since your data has to travel through multiple nodes. Any VPN that you use should be fast enough to use with Tor and not cause additional slowdowns. For example, you need around 5 Mbps for basic browsing, 10 Mbps for SD streaming, and 25 Mbps for UHD or 4K streaming. All the VPNs shortlisted gave me speeds of at least 10 Mbps.
  • Easy-to-use apps — Top VPNs have simple app interfaces. You should be able to navigate through their security and privacy settings easily.
  • Device compatibility — Since you can access the dark web on many devices and operating systems, make sure that your VPN supports all the devices you use. You also need to look for a VPN that’s compatible with Tor or your chosen dark web browser.
  • Reliable customer support — Look for round-the-clock customer support that can troubleshoot and resolve any problems that you might encounter. 24/7 live chat is best, but prompt email support is also satisfactory.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee — Always choose a VPN that provides a trustworthy money-back guarantee. That way, you can test the VPN properly before committing to a subscription. It also shows the VPN is confident in its service. Privacy-friendly payment options like cryptocurrency are a bonus too.

Quick Guide: How to Access the Dark Web Safely With a VPN

  1. Get a VPN. My top recommendation is ExpressVPN, as it provides strong security and privacy features with super-fast speeds.
  2. Connect to a server. Choose a server closest to your actual location for the best speeds.
  3. Download Tor and start browsing! After the connection is established, download Tor, enter your chosen.onion URL, and start browsing the dark web.

Try ExpressVPN Today

FAQs on Accessing the Dark Web with a VPN

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

No, it’s not. Although the Tor browser itself provides a layer of encryption there have been instances of data leakages in the past. Similarly, if your ISP detects that you’re using Tor, your traffic may be marked for surveillance by different government agencies. A VPN can hide your Tor use and encrypt your online activity to safeguard your privacy on the dark web.

The dark web can also be a hotbed for malware and dangerous ads. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a safe link and a dangerous one. Some VPNs come with additional malware and tracking blockers that alert you to any potentially risky links.

Is it legal to use a VPN to access the dark web?

Mostly, but it can be complicated depending on your location. Using a VPN and accessing the dark web are both legal in most countries. In fact, you should always use a trustworthy VPN to safeguard your privacy while browsing the dark web and using Tor. That way, you stay protected against darknet cyber threats.

That said, using a VPN or the dark web for any illegal activity is always against the law no matter where you live and vpnMentor does not condone any such activity. Likewise, some countries (like Russia, China, and Belarus) do have restrictions on VPN use or block Tor altogether. So always check the most recent local laws in your country first.

How do I unblock Tor with a VPN?

Connect to a VPN server in a country where Tor isn’t blocked. Some countries, like China and Russia, block you from accessing Tor within their borders. So, if you plan to travel somewhere Tor isn’t available, you’ll need a VPN with a large global network to help you access Tor from anywhere.

Should I use Tor over VPN or VPN over Tor?

VPN over Tor is the better setup as it means you connect to your VPN first. The best dark web VPNs scramble your traffic with military-grade encryption, so no one can see what you do online.

If you use Tor over VPN, your traffic passes through Tor first. This is less useful as it means your ISP can still see that you’re using Tor (which can raise suspicion with authorities).

Is a VPN better than The Onion Router?

It’s best to use both at once and to connect your VPN before you access Tor. Both these platforms are different tools with different working mechanisms designed for online privacy. A VPN protects your privacy by using a network of servers ultimately controlled by the VPN company. It protects your internet connection in every app and software that uses it. On the contrary, onion routing is a decentralized system that uses nodes to anonymize your traffic within a specific browser.

Should I use my VPN with Tor or I2P?

You should use a trusted, secure VPN no matter which platform you choose. While I2P can be faster, Tor is generally considered the safer option for the dark web. It’s more established, more secure, and has better documentation.

Can I use a free VPN with the dark web?

It’s not recommended as most free VPNs aren’t safe. The majority lack crucial security features like a kill switch and advanced encryption. Worse, some free VPNs have been caught selling user data to marketers or bundling adware and malware into downloads. It’s much safer to try out a low-cost VPN with a money-back guarantee if price is your concern.

Even if you do find a secure free VPN, these services usually impose lots of restrictions on non-paying users. They limit your speeds, server access, bandwidth, and usage — making them unsuitable for use with the already slow Tor browser.

Access Tor With ExpressVPN

Get The Best VPN for the Dark Web Today

To access the dark web, you need a VPN with state-of-the-art security and privacy features that provides superfast speeds. My team and I tested dozens of VPNs and shortlisted the best ones that offer all these features (plus more) and are compatible with Tor.

From these, my top recommendation for the dark web is ExpressVPN. It provides lightning-fast speeds, military-grade encryption, and DNS/IP leak protection to secure your privacy. You can even test ExpressVPN risk-free because it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you decide that it’s not for you, you can claim a full refund.

To summarize, here are the best VPNs for the Dark Web

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

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

About the Author

Sheharyar is a freelance content writer specializing in cybersecurity and other tech-related topics. He strongly advocates for digital freedom and believes that everyone has a right to online privacy

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