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There is still a lot of confusion on whether it is more safe to use Tor in combination with a VPN or not. It seems that everyone's favorite phrase to answer this question is "it depends on the use-case". My specific use-case is that I am planning on running and managing a hidden Tor service.

Which means that I will a) use Tor a lot, so my ISP will notice a unusual amount of Tor traffic coming from me. And b) I will be visiting the same Tor-website a lot. c) I won't only use Tor a lot, but my sessions will also be active for a long time (managing takes time).

So for this use-case, would it be advisable to combine a VPN with Tor? I think that in this case it would be somewhat advisable because otherwise my ISP would notice the big amount of Tor traffic and may notify authorities.

Would it be smart to purchase a privacy-respecting off-shore VPS who can be paid in crypto and host a VPN-server there using OpenVPN? Of course the hosting provider for my VPN would be a different one then the one for my Tor service.

And by hosting my own VPN: Wouldn't that also mean that I for example could cancel my VPS each month and take another one, resulting in a dead-end for everyone trying to trace my connection? E.g, my connection: Me > VPN > Tor 1 > Tor 2 > Tor 3 > My hidden service. If someone would try to trace the connection back to Me (by for example having control over the used Tor nodes) they would still stumble on a dead-end at "VPN" because I'd often take it down/change server?

Or is it just a better idea to host my own bridge relay?

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  • Tor traffic - if noticed - does not disclose what's inside it, so your ISP can notify authorities, neighbors or holy God himself - it's legal to use Tor
  • VPN traffic is like a Tor one, but it can be investigated by authorities you're worrying about if they will request the VPN server's hoster where the packets are going, but they need a fully-built criminal case to make such a request. If you're doing nothing illegal - just be calm about that
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard are the best, so use any of them. If you're using OpenVPN - make sure to set up your own easyRSA certificates with all checks enforced!
  • Changing VPS changes nothing :)

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