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.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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 in 2024 (Safe, Private & Fast)

Anshul Jain Updated on 1st December 2023 Fact-checked by Anneke van Aswegen Cybersecurity Researcher

Finding a safe VPN for the dark web isn’t easy. Many VPNs can compromise your online safety and privacy, while others just aren't fast enough to make up for Tor's slow speeds. In countries where Tor isn't available, you’ll need a VPN that has a stealth mode to even access it.

My team and I tested 40+ VPNs to find the best ones for the dark web. Only a few of the VPNs we tested have the security and privacy protections needed to safely access the darknet and stay anonymous. I made sure all of our 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 because of its state-of-the-art privacy features and impressive speeds. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you’re not satisfied, you can ask for a full refund.

Try ExpressVPN On The Dark Web >>

Important. The dark web is often associated with criminal activity. It can be a dangerous place, but it also has many positive uses. For example, it's a platform used to expose criminals and corrupt public figures anonymously. The dark web also offers archived resources like research materials and publicly inaccessible data. 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

  1. Editor's Choice
    ExpressVPN
    ExpressVPN
    Superior security and speed for reliable dark web browsing, plus a robust money-back guarantee.
    70% of our readers choose ExpressVPN
  2. CyberGhost VPN
    CyberGhost
    NoSpy servers offer enhanced anonymity for dark web use, beyond government surveillance reach.
  3. Private Internet Access
    Private Internet Access
    Customizable security settings for a tailored dark web browsing experience.
  4. NordVPN
    NordVPN
    Features Onion Over VPN servers for secure, direct dark web access.
  5. Surfshark
    Surfshark
    MultiHop servers provide additional encryption layers for Tor usage.

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

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

Best Feature TrustedServer technology keeps you anonymous while using Tor
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries let you pick your preferred one
Speeds Excellent speeds with minimal speed drop on Tor Browser
Security & Privacy AES-256 encryption keeps your data safe from prying eyes

ExpressVPN is a top-tier choice for safely navigating the dark web, thanks to its robust security features and commitment to user privacy. It comes with TrustedServer technology, which ensures all data is wiped with every server reboot. So there’s no record of what you did while the VPN was active, which is backed up by their audited no-logs policy.

It was also the fastest VPN I tested. ExpressVPN's proprietary Lightway protocol is designed to be lightweight, faster, and more reliable than older standards. During my tests, ExpressVPN consistently delivered fast speeds, even when accessing.onion sites through the Tor Browser. This was a major plus compared to many other VPN services that tend to slow down quite a bit.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN Windows app with Tor Browser on the Torch Onion Site.I experienced no buffering using the Lightway protocol, but you can also choose OpenVPN

However, the VPN comes with a higher price tag, costing $6.67/month. But you can get a discount of up to 49% with ExpressVPN's frequent deals, including an additional 3 months free.

All subscriptions are backed by a reliable 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with it, you can request your money back. I tested this refund policy and was pleasantly surprised by the hassle-free process. I just needed to use the 24/7 live chat support, and I received a full refund to my bank account within 4 days.

Useful Features

  • Perfect Forward Secrecy. ExpressVPN changes your encryption key every time you log on, so even if someone manages to hack your device, they won't be able to access any past or future data.
  • Network Lock. Also known as a kill switch, this ensures your real IP address is never exposed by automatically cutting off your internet connection if the VPN connection drops.
  • DNS/IP Leak Protection. This ensures all your internet traffic is securely tunneled through the VPN, so there's no accidental DNS or IP address leak.
  • 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.
  • Private DNS. ExpressVPN runs its own private, encrypted DNS on each server, making connections safer and faster.
ExpressVPN Offer February 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. CyberGhost — NoSpy Servers for Anonymity on the Dark Web

Best Feature NoSpy servers add an extra layer of security on the dark web by servers only accessible to internal staff
Server Network 11,683 servers in 100 countries with specialized ones for streaming and torrenting
Speeds Fast speeds so your Tor browsing stays smooth
Security & Privacy A strict no-logs policy means your data is never stored or shared

CyberGhost's optimum blend of security, privacy, and performance makes it a reliable choice for browsing the dark web. Its NoSpy servers are only accessible to the CyberGhost team, making it impossible for third parties to access your data. However, you do need to pay a little extra for these servers. The VPN is also headquartered in Romania, outside the 5/9/15 Eyes Alliances, so it's not bound by data retention laws.

Like ExpressVPN, its security suite includes AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. With these measures, you can relax knowing your dark web activity will stay private and protected. I tested 10 servers throughout the US and UK and didn't detect any leaks. Plus, CyberGhost's Block Content feature alerts you to potentially dangerous links or malicious sites that might allow hackers to compromise your data while using the dark web.

Screenshot of CyberGhost Windows app with NoSpy servers.Select a NoSpy server with low ping for the best speeds and press the connect button

The only problem I had with CyberGhost is its expensive monthly short. However, its long-term plans are very affordable at $2.03/month. And you can pay with Bitcoin for added privacy.

You also get a generous money-back guarantee with long-term plans. So, you can use CyberGhost free for 45 days and easily get a refund if you're not 100% happy.

Useful Features

  • 24/7 Customer Support. If you run into any issues while using Tor, CyberGhost's customer support is available around the clock to assist you.
  • Smart Rules. These configurable rules let you automate when you want CyberGhost to turn on/off the VPN, so you’re always protected when you need it most. You can set it up to auto-connect when launching the Tor Browser.
  • 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.
  • Intuitive Interface. Its user-friendly apps and quick installation means you can use CyberGhost immediately, even if you’re new to VPNs.
February 2024 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

3. Private Internet Access — Customizable Security for Safe Dark Web Surfing

Best Feature Configurable security settings for tailored dark web protection
Server Network Vast network of 29,650 servers in 91 countries
Speeds Good speeds, but can be a bit slow with Tor
Security & Privacy AES-128/256 encryption so your data is safe from intruders

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a great choice for the dark web if you’re looking for extensive customizability. You can tailor your online protection based on your specific needs. Choose your preferred settings from the encryption type and security protocols (including OpenVPN and WireGuard) to the obfuscation proxy. This level of granular control is rare among VPNs.

It also has a built-in ad, malware, and tracker blocker called MACE. While testing PIA, I didn’t experience any dangerous ads while browsing the dark web. On top of that, it has a Multi-Hop feature, which routes your VPN traffic into a Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 proxy. This acts as an obfuscation, so your ISP can’t see you’re using a VPN.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access' Multi-Hop settings screen on Windows appIf you’re not sure which proxy to use, stick to Shadowsocks

A drawback of PIA is that it's based in the United States, a country that's part of the 5 Eyes alliance. This could be a concern if you’re seeking the highest level of privacy. However, it follows a strict and court-proven no-logs policy, so you don’t have to worry about your online activity being shared.

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

Useful Features

  • P2P Support. PIA supports P2P file sharing, making it a good choice for torrenting.
  • Kill Switch. Like other deep web VPNs, this will automatically stop your internet connection if the VPN server drops unexpectedly. This prevents any data leaks.
  • Port Forwarding. This can improve the connection speed and reliability, particularly for P2P traffic.
February 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 Onion over VPN servers can access the dark web from any browser
Server Network 6,088 servers in 61 countries let you maintain connection stability
Speeds Fast speeds with only a minor impact on Tor
Security & Privacy AES-256 encryption keeps your internet traffic private

NordVPN is another excellent option for the dark web, with 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. But remember, you should not access the dark web from a browser that has your personal info saved on it.

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. For extra security, you can use Double VPN to route your traffic through two servers, encrypting your data twice. But you can’t combine this with Onion over VPN.

Screenshot of NordVPN's Windows app showing Onion Over VPN serversThese servers let you access.onion sites from any browser, so you don’t even need Tor

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 $3.39/month. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out hassle-free.

Useful Features

  • NordLynx protocol. This proprietary protocol offers an excellent balance between speed and security.
  • IP/DNS Leak Protection. This ensures your DNS requests and real IP address remain secure and do not leak outside of the VPN tunnel.
  • P2P Support. NordVPN supports P2P connections, which is useful if you need to download files from the dark web.

5. Surfshark — MultiHop Servers Add Extra Encryption While Using Tor

Best Feature For added anonymity, send your traffic through 2 different VPN servers while using Tor
Server Network 3,200 servers in 100 countries
Speeds Generally good speeds while using Tor, but occasional slowdowns
Security & Privacy Camouflage mode makes your VPN traffic look like regular internet traffic to bypass VPN blocks

Surfshark is a great budget choice for accessing the dark web with a VPN. It includes Dynamic MultiHop, which allows you to choose any two servers to route your data through. This is a major improvement over other services that generally offer fixed server pairs to choose from. With two VPN servers, your data is more secure from possible intruders.

Like other VPNs on this list, its security suite is comprehensive, with AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection. During my tests, I found no IP or DNS leaks on multiple browsers like Chrome, Edge, and Tor (which is based on Firefox).

Screenshot of Surfshark's VPN Settings enabling NoBorders ModeYou can enable NoBorders mode in the app’s VPN settings

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.

Surfshark comes in at an affordable price, starting at $2.89/month for long-term plans. You can also test it risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Useful Features

  • 24/7 live chat support. This is really useful in case you face any issues while using the VPN. In my experience, they were friendly and helpful.
  • Automatic WiFi protection. Surfshark will automatically connect to a VPN when using an unsecured WiFi network, so your Tor access is secure.
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections. So you can protect all your devices under 1 subscription.

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 11,683 servers in 100 countries No Yes
🥉Private Internet Access $2.03/month Very fast 29,650 servers in 91 countries Yes No
NordVPN $3.39/month Fast on nearby servers 6,088 servers in 61 countries Yes Yes
Surfshark $2.89/month Mostly good speeds 3,200 servers in 100 countries Yes No

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for the Dark Web

In the process of meticulously examining the most sought-after VPNs on the dark web, I utilized certain criteria to assist me in selecting the top ones. Should you wish to conduct your own investigations, you're welcome to employ my checklist:

  • 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 to ensure 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.
  • No-logs policy. A strict no-logs policy is indispensable when using the dark web. This ensures that your VPN provider does not keep any records of your online activities, further enhancing your privacy and anonymity. Plus, you should check if it gets 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.
  • 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 are unhappy.

How to Access the Dark Web Safely With a VPN

Venturing into the dark web using a VPN can be intimidating, particularly for newcomers. If not done correctly, you risk exposing your personal details. Thus, I'm providing a detailed guide on how to access the dark web safely using a VPN and Tor.

  1. Download a reliable VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN for its advanced security features and ease of use, so you don’t have to waste time figuring out the complex stuff.
  2. Switch on security features. Go to Settings and make sure the kill switch (and other safety features like ad blocker and obfuscation) is enabled.
  3. Connect to a server. Choose a server nearby to help mitigate slowdowns when connecting to Tor.
  4. Download and install Tor Browser. Make sure you use the official Tor Project website to download it. Install it by following the on-screen instructions.
  5. Browse the dark web. Open the Tor Browser and connect to safely surf the dark web.

Best Practices for Staying 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:

  1. Use a VPN before you connect to Tor. You should make sure you are connected to a VPN before you fire up Tor. This way, your connection is encrypted and routed through a network of private servers to safely access the dark web.
  2. Use Tor Browser. The Tor browser is the preferred gateway to the dark web. It’s well-integrated with Tor circuits, and has extra safety features to make sure the browser doesn’t give away any of your sensitive info. However, remember that you’re never completely invisible.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

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, you need a service that uses obfuscation to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. It should also have other premium features like a no-logs policy and strong encryption. Launch your VPN and connect to a 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.

Can I legally use a VPN to access the dark web?

Yes, it's legal to use a VPN to access the dark web in most countries, but it’s also complicated. If you’re not careful, you may stumble onto an illegal part of the dark web. And in some countries (China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.), even using Tor may be prohibited.

So please check your local laws and regulations to make sure you’re compliant. While a VPN can retain your privacy, it’s your responsibility to make sure you do not do anything illegal with it.

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.

Is a VPN better than The Onion Router?

A VPN serves a different purpose than The Onion Router (Tor), and it’s best to combine both. A VPN is faster and more reliable for day-to-day usage on the internet. Tor by itself does allow you to access the dark web, but it can cause privacy issues in some cases. For maximum privacy on the dark web, you should use a Tor over VPN setup. This adds an extra layer of encryption to your online activity.

Should I use my VPN with Tor or I2P?

While I2P can be faster, Tor is generally considered safer for the dark web. It’s more established, more secure, and has better documentation. Make sure to use a reliable service like ExpressVPN.

Can I use a free VPN with the dark web?

It’s not recommended to use a free VPN on the dark web, as this can cause serious vulnerabilities. Free VPNs tend to have poor security and privacy features like weak encryption, no kill switch, or IP/DNS leak protection. Even worse, they tend to log your activity and data to sell to third parties for profit. It’s much safer to try out a low-cost VPN with a money-back guarantee.

Get the Best VPN for the Dark Web

Navigating 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 identity.

ExpressVPN stands out as the top choice for accessing 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 84%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 82%!
4
9.4 /10
9.4 Our Score
Save 67%!
5
9.3 /10
9.3 Our Score
Save 82%!
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

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 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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

Anshul is a vpnMentor writer and cybersecurity enthusiast, focusing on helping readers navigate the online world with peace of mind that their data and online identity will remain private.

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