The Best VPNs for the Dark Web 2024

Learn why we selected a free VPN like ProtonVPN, as well as Surfshark and CyberGhost, as the best VPNs for the dark web.
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Best Secure and Free Dark Web VPN

4.9
Editorial Rating
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On Proton VPN's website

Proton VPN
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Best Full Dark Web Security Suite

4.9
Editorial Rating
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On Surfshark's website

Surfshark
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Best for Staying Anonymous

4.6
Editorial Rating
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On CyberGhost's website

CyberGhost
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Looking for a secure way to explore the dark web using a VPN? We have the perfect solution! Utilizing a VPN that encrypts your information and ensures your anonymity is critical for venturing into the dark web. Think of a virtual private network (VPN) as your friend who helps you stay under the radar while protecting your privacy and identity.

In our article covering the best VPNs for the dark web, we will tell you all about our top three picks: ProtonVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost. We’ll tell you all about the standout features that make them great to use on the dark web, as well as their pricing plans, supported devices, and streaming abilities. Here’s a bonus: We’ll even tell you which one offers a free VPN version. (Hint: It's ProtonVPN.)

In this article
The best VPNs for the dark web
ProtonVPN: Best secure and free VPN
Surfshark: Best full dark web security suite
CyberGhost: Best for staying anonymous on the dark web
Honorable mentions
Best VPNs for the dark web FAQs
Bottom line: The best VPNs for the dark web
How we tested the best VPNs for the dark web

The best VPNs for the dark web

Top 3 VPN services for the dark web compared

VPN
ProtonVPN

Surfshark

CyberGhost
Starting price Starts at $4.99/mo Starts at $2.29/mo Starts at $2.19/mo
Free version Yes — Unlimited GB data limit No No
Streaming support Yes — Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max Yes — Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video
Learn more Get ProtonVPN
Read Our ProtonVPN Review
Get Surfshark
Read Our Surfshark Review
Get CyberGhost
Read Our CyberGhost Review
Prices as of 06/25/2023.

ProtonVPN: Best secure and free VPN

4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Proton VPN's website
Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

Who it’s best for

ProtonVPN is an optimal choice for anyone on a budget who prioritizes privacy and is seeking a free VPN to safely browse the internet and the dark web. It is packed with security and privacy features that help you remain anonymous and safe not only while browsing the dark web, but also while using the internet and the Tor network.

Whether you are a private investigator, a journalist, or a privacy-conscious internet user, we think ProtonVPN may be a great option for you, especially if you want to save money using a VPN.

What we liked

We were really impressed by the powerful privacy and security features that ProtonVPN offers, which make it the best VPN for dark web use. ProtonVPN implements secure encryption protocols like AES-256 or ChaCha20 that can protect your data from prying eyes; a secure core architecture that allows multi-hopping, making it difficult for anyone to trace your web activities; and a strict no-logs policy that is independently audited by a third-party company on a routine basis. This shows ProtonVPN's unquestionable commitment to users’ privacy.

ProtonVPN's paid plans come with Onion over VPN servers in locations like Sweden and Switzerland.

Moreover, it’s headquartered in Switzerland, where privacy laws are stringent and there is no participation in the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes alliances, thus further boosting ProtonVPN’s privacy credibility. The added integration of Tor over VPN to facilitate anonymous browsing on the dark web makes it a powerful free VPN for Tor, giving us all the more reasons to appreciate its privacy-focused features.

ProtonVPN also lets you stream content on various streaming platforms, like Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, without any lag. It even has an alternative routing feature that is designed to help you defeat censorship by routing your connection through third-party services like AWS when connections to ProtonVPN servers are blocked. This makes it helpful for bypassing any network blocks that restrict access to streaming content.

Finally, you can use its free VPN for dark web activities, which offers unlimited bandwidth and data, making it the best free dark web VPN available for anyone who can’t afford to spend a penny.

What we didn’t like

Even though we appreciated ProtonVPN's privacy and security-oriented features, it's not without a few drawbacks that may turn off a few VPN users out there. 

ProtonVPN’s free version is a bit limited. For example, it gives you access to a smaller number of servers available in only three countries: the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands. Additionally, its free version only allows you to connect to one device at a time, versus the maximum of ten devices on its paid plans.

You'll need a paid ProtonVPN plan to access Tor over VPN servers and other premium features.

While we were able to unblock content on various streaming platforms, we were very disappointed to discover that we could not watch Netflix with ProtonVPN. This could change in the future, however, since both Netflix and VPN services are constantly figuring out ways to block and unblock each other.

The lack of 24/7 live chat support was also discouraging, which can be a big downside for those who prefer to have help available with technical problems during off-hours.

ProtonVPN specs

Price range $4.99–$9.99/mo
Free version Yes — Unlimited GB data limit
Number of servers 4,400+ in 91 countries
Number of connected devices 10
VPN protocol OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix? No
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get ProtonVPN
Read Our ProtonVPN Review
Prices as of 06/25/2023.

Surfshark: Best full dark web security suite

Unlimited Device Protection and Large Server Network
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Surfshark's website
VPN
Surfshark
79% off + 2 months free
  • All-in-one VPN app with 24/7 protection thanks to 3,200+ RAM-only servers in over 100 countries
  • Real-time malware defense, webcam protection, alternative ID creation, ad blocking, and more
  • One subscription covers unlimited devices for your entire household with access to 24/7 support
  • Headquarters in Nine Eyes Alliance

Who it’s best for

Surfshark is an excellent fit for large households or individuals who explore the dark web on multiple devices, including anyone who desires a secure VPN that can keep them safe from cyber threats and digital snoopers. 

Surfshark delivers a wealth of features that enhance online privacy and security. Plus, its competitive pricing strategy makes it an attractive choice for families who can’t afford expensive plans. This is due to Surfshark’s support of simultaneous connections on an unlimited number of devices and its multi-platform compatibility, all without compromising on security.

So whether you're a family member in a large household who wants to browse the dark web on a PC or laptop, an investigative journalist needing to keep your digital footprint under wraps, a privacy advocate, or an everyday person who wants to keep your dark web activities as anonymous as possible, Surfshark can help you keep your online activities secure not just on the dark web, but even on the internet and while torrenting.

What we liked

We were enamored by Surfshark's fusion of user-friendly design with a focus on security. Surfshark offers a variety of features that can keep you safe while boosting your privacy as you browse the internet or navigate the dark web.

With its military-grade encryption like AES-256-GCM (faster than AES-256), Surfshark acts as a security guard and protects your data from prying eyes and potential cyber threats as you navigate the dark web. 

Surfshark offers a variety of security features including multihop, or double VPN, servers for double encryption.

It supports VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and WireGuard. We appreciated its support for WireGuard, a modern, fast, and secure protocol, because it can allow you to have speedy connections, especially where audio and video streaming are involved. This makes it possible to seamlessly browse the internet or dark web, download large files while torrenting, stream video content, or play online games with little to no connection issues.

Take a look at other key features that make Surfshark the best VPN for dark web use:

  • CleanWeb 2.0: Blocks ads and malware for a safer browsing experience.
  • Double VPN with dynamic multihop: Adds an additional layer of security while allowing you to connect via two VPN servers.
  • Bypasser: A split-tunneling feature that allows you to control which applications or websites to route via the VPN server.
  • Tor over VPN support: Adds another layer of security and hides your Tor use.
  • Alerts: Provides proactive notifications about personal data leaks.
  • Supports unlimited devices: Great for users with multiple devices.
  • Multi-platform compatibility: Works on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, FireTV, Edge, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and routers.
  • Accepts cryptocurrency: Payments with bitcoin, ethereum, and more, can be made via CoinGate or CoinPayment for those who cherish their privacy.
  • Competitive pricing: An attractive choice for budget-conscious users.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee: Want to try Surfshark before you commit? You can request a full refund up to 30 days after you subscribe.

Lastly, with 3,200+ servers in 100 countries, 24/7 live chat support and helpful online guides, an independently audited no-logs policy, and the ability to unblock content on streaming services like Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, and others, Surfshark can be an attractive choice for anyone.

You can get added protection with Surfshark Antivirus, which comes with the VPN in a Surfshark One bundle. Find out why we rated it five stars in our Surfshark Antivirus review.

What we didn’t like

Despite checking most of the boxes, Surfshark isn't without a couple of hiccups. We found that Surfshark was unable to unblock geo-restricted content on Netflix. And features like alerts, including antivirus protection and a private search engine, cost extra at checkout. Additionally, it is headquartered in the Netherlands, which is part of the Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliances. This can be a dealbreaker for some users concerned about their privacy.

Surfshark specs

Price range $2.29–$21.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 3,200+ servers in 100 countries
Number of connected devices Unlimited
VPN protocol WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix No
Torrenting support No
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Our Surfshark Review
Prices as of 06/25/2023.

CyberGhost: Best for staying anonymous on the dark web

Leading Protection, Even on Smart TVs and Gaming Consoles
4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On CyberGhost's website
VPN
CyberGhost
Save 83%
  • High-speed global servers offering industry-leading 256-bit AES encryption and no data logs
  • Unlimited bandwidth, DNS and IP leak protection, and automatic kill switch available for up to 7 devices
  • Configurable with your router, smart TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, or gaming console
  • No split tunneling feature

Who it’s best for

CyberGhost is an excellent option for those who wish to navigate the dark web anonymously — like a ghost. It is considered one of the most anonymous VPNs, if not the most, for navigating on the dark web. It has notable features that enhance your security and privacy while giving you access to a plethora of servers worldwide, making it easy to connect anonymously to the dark web.

CyberGhost is appealing to any dark web explorer who wants to avoid being tracked, monitored, and snooped on by nosy third parties, making it a fantastic option for anyone who prioritizes protecting their privacy. With its affordable pricing options starting at $2.11 per month, those of you who want to save money on a VPN may agree.

So whether you are simply curious about checking out the dark web or you’re familiar with the dark web as a security researcher, a journalist, or a cybercriminal investigator, CyberGhost may be the best VPN for the dark web for you.

What we liked

We appreciated CyberGhost's wide range of servers — over 9,500+ worldwide — that provide reliable access to the dark web, along with the highest possible VPN speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Furthermore, we liked that it supports secure torrenting with its offering of VPN servers optimized for P2P, 256-bit AES encryption, strict no-logs policy, and secure VPN protocols. By providing features that add extra layers of privacy and security, it ensures your activities remain your business alone.

Another standout feature is the automatic kill switch, which is a lifesaver if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly. The last thing you want when browsing the dark web is to unintentionally expose your activities, and this feature ensures that won't happen.

CyberGhost has over 9,000 servers in multiple locations across the world, including Central and South America.

Other features that make CyberGhost a great option for the dark web include:

  • Split tunneling: This allows you to choose which websites and apps you want to route through a VPN tunnel so you can encrypt and protect their data.
  • Secure VPN protocols: Supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard for various needs.
  • Servers optimized for P2P: Allows secure torrenting, uninterrupted downloads, unlimited bandwidth, and blazing-fast speeds.
  • Compatible with multiple platforms: Works on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, AppleTV, FireTV, Chrome, Firefox, gaming consoles, routers, and more.
  • Unlimited bandwidth and traffic: Allows for smooth and unrestricted browsing.
  • Headquartered in Romania: Has laws that protect your privacy and doesn’t participate in intelligence-sharing agreements within the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes alliances.
  • 24/7 live chat support: Provides assistance via chat anytime you need it.
  • Dedicated IP: This feature lets you have an IP address that’s exclusively yours, rather than a shared IP, so you can bypass CAPTCHA questions and network blocks.
  • Accepts cryptocurrency payments: Great for privacy-focused VPN users who want to keep their identity anonymous and pay for plans with crypto.
  • 45-day money-back guarantee: Most VPNs offer 30 days, but CyberGhost ups the ante with a longer refund period.

What we didn’t like

Although we liked CyberGhost’s affordable plans, we didn’t like that CyberGhost will only support up to seven devices, while Surfshark offers support for unlimited devices. If you are an individual with multiple devices or have a large household, this limit could be a drawback. However, we don’t think this can be a deal breaker if you are a single person or you live in a small household with only a few devices being used.

Moreover, we were disappointed to find that CyberGhost was unable to unblock streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and HBO Max compared to competitors like ProtonVPN and Surfshark during our testing. Since streaming service providers are tightening down on VPNs, it is becoming increasingly difficult to unblock streaming content.

Keep in mind that streaming service providers’ restrictions and blocks can change over time, and sometimes it’s just a matter of trial and error until you select the right server that bypasses them. Or you can use a dedicated IP address to access content from your favorite streaming platforms, but CyberGhost charges an additional fee at checkout to include one in your subscription plan as an add-on.

CyberGhost specs

Price range $2.19–$12.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 9,500+
Number of connected devices 7
VPN protocol OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix Yes
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get CyberGhost
Read Our CyberGhost Review
Prices as of 06/25/2023.

Honorable mentions

Although ExpressVPN and NordVPN have robust security features and are well-known in the VPN world, they didn't make our top three for the dark web. We’ll cover more details and get into why.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN was a close contender with its offering of essential VPN features, such as split tunneling, a kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and secure VPN protocols like its proprietary Lightway, alongside L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. It also uses TrustedServer technology, supports private DNS, and adheres to a strict no-logs policy. Unfortunately, during our internal tests, we found ExpressVPN to be slower than our top three picks.

But our main turn-off? The price. Starting at $8.32 per month for a year's subscription and going up to $12.95 per month was a bit steep for our taste. For its high price, it only supports up to five devices, which is disappointing when you can opt for other VPNs like Surfshark, which is much cheaper and supports unlimited devices. Finally, ExpressVPN does not offer support for WireGuard, unlike our top picks.

Read Our ExpressVPN Review

NordVPN

NordVPN was another runner-up that didn’t make it to our top three picks. Although it’s loaded with security goodies like threat protection, Meshnet to create your own secure local area network (LAN), and a double-VPN feature for extra encryption, it didn’t make the cut. First, NordVPN wasn't as speedy as our top picks. The extra security from the double encryption can slow things down, which isn't ideal for navigating the dark web.

Furthermore, NordVPN only supports up to six devices, which is less than our top contenders. Plus, NordVPN’s pricing plans can be a bit mind-boggling. So while its price ranges from $4.49 to $5.49 per month and is less expensive than ExpressVPN, NordVPN didn't snag a spot in our top three picks for the best VPN for the dark web.

Read Our NordVPN Review

Best VPNs for the dark web FAQs


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Is it illegal to use a VPN on the dark web?

In most countries, VPNs are legal and essential to use when navigating the dark web, as they can serve as a protective guard that maintains your anonymity while securing your data. However, some countries, like China and North Korea, may ban or restrict the use of a VPN, which can result in hefty fees or imprisonment.

Always check the laws within your jurisdiction, even while traveling, to avoid accidentally breaking any laws. And as a final reminder, keep in mind that using a VPN doesn't give you a free pass to commit illegal activities on the dark web.


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What happens if you get tracked on the dark web?

Getting tracked on the dark web can lead to some unwanted outcomes, like identity theft or even legal trouble if you've dabbled in things you shouldn't have. This is where the best VPN services show their worth, helping you to maintain your anonymity on the dark web.


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Is it safe to use a VPN on the dark web?

Yes, it is! The magic of a VPN lies in how a VPN encrypts your data and masks your IP address. With strong encryption, it is like putting on an invisible cloak that makes it challenging for prying eyes to track your online activities.

Keep in mind that even the most anonymous VPN isn't an absolute shield. So, ensure you maintain wise browsing habits, especially when delving into the dark web, and stay safe out there.


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What are the risks of using the dark web?

As with all other aspects of life, there will always be risks. Venturing into the dark web is no stranger to that, and it can even feel like entering a digital Wild West. 

However, while it is a haven for privacy, it can also be a breeding ground for criminals and illegal activity. This can put you at risk of identity theft, scams, and threats. And if you're not careful and engage in illegal activities on the dark web, you could end up in a sticky legal situation as well. 

A secure VPN can act as your digital bodyguard, but you still need to tread carefully.


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How do I use a VPN with Tor browser?

To use a VPN with the Tor browser, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install a reputable VPN that offers robust features for privacy and security while adhering to a no-logs policy.
  2. Fire up your VPN and connect to a server.
  3. Once you've got your VPN running, open the Tor browser.
  4. Voila! You're now ready to explore the dark web with robust security.

Bottom line: The best VPNs for the dark web

If you’re going to dive into the dark web, you want to do so with the best dark web VPN service to keep you secure and anonymous. Our top picks for the best dark web security are ProtonVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost. Each of them offers affordable pricing, Tor over VPN support, multi-platform compatibility, and robust features for security and privacy like military-grade encryption and secure VPN protocols that aid and assist you in remaining safe on the dark web.

ProtonVPN, starting at $4.99 per month, is our favorite pick for those needing maximum security on the dark web without breaking the bank. With its offering of a free VPN packed with security and privacy features and headquarters in the privacy haven of Switzerland, we can agree that ProtonVPN’s free version is hard to beat on the market.

If you're the kind of person who wants to explore the dark web on an unlimited number of devices that support a multitude of platforms, Surfshark, starting at $2.39 per month, is your go-to VPN. Plus, it’s super flexible and won’t make a dent in your wallet, which is great for anyone living in a large household filled with family members or friendly housemates.

Lastly, for those who value their anonymity, CyberGhost, starting at a very affordable $2.11 per month, almost makes a great choice to browse the dark web like an invisible ghost, or a “Ghostie,” as they call their customers. With its automatic kill switch, strict no-logs policy, acceptance of cryptocurrency payments, and home base in Romania, you can surely stay private.

Although some VPNs didn’t make the cut, when it comes to the best VPN for the deep web, these three champions stood head and shoulders above the rest. So go ahead and give them a whirl. Your dark web experience will thank you.

3 best VPNs for the dark web

Starting price Best for Learn more

ProtonVPN
Starts at $4.99/mo Best secure and free VPN for the budget-conscious Get ProtonVPN
Read Our ProtonVPN Review

Surfshark
Starts at $2.39/mo Best for households with multiple devices Get Surfshark
Read Our Surfshark Review

CyberGhost
Starts at $2.11/mo Best for privacy buffs who want to stay anonymous Get CyberGhost
Read Our CyberGhost Review
Prices as of 06/25/2023.

How we tested the best VPNs for the dark web

When we tested the best VPNs for the dark web, our priority was to find user-friendly VPN services that offered strong privacy and security features. We looked for features like military-grade encryption that can protect data from snoopers, a vetted no-logs policy that has been independently audited, secure VPN protocols, and support for Tor usage. We felt these features were particularly important for safely accessing the dark web.

Take a look at the key features we evaluated:

  • Military-grade encryption (e.g., AES-256)
  • Number of servers
  • Secure VPN protocols (e.g., OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard)
  • No-logs policy
  • Support for Tor usage
  • Streaming support
  • Speed
  • Ease of use

Finally, we considered other factors like the number of servers, speed, ease of use, and streaming support. After evaluating a multitude of features with various VPNs, we concluded that ProtonVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost were our top choices as the best VPNs for the dark web.

4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Proton VPN's website
Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost
Author Details
Mars is a cybersecurity professional and writer based in California. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity, he serves as an Advisory Board Member for WEBGAP, specializing in browser isolation. With an interest in OSINT, ethical hacking, and threat intelligence, Mars enjoys writing security content and has experience as a Security Researcher, Cybersecurity Analyst (WEBGAP), and Editor-in-chief (Secjuice).