Ever considered getting better privacy with a browser that’s been designed to shield online browsing sessions from prying eyes? Tor has been around for a long time and is widely considered one of the most popular private browsers out there. But the competing newcomer, Brave, has provided privacy-oriented people with a strong alternative.
Both are free, open-platform browsers that aim to do away with censorship and trackers for safer and more private online browsing. So which is better? Read on for a full breakdown of the good and bad attributes of each.
Why Are Private Browsers Important
Browsers, search engines, and websites collect data for different purposes, though they mostly hide behind the “better user experience” excuse. Whenever someone uses a non-private browser for searching up things online and visiting websites, they tracked. Not only by the search engine and browser but also by third parties and other unknown actors.
It’s gotten so bad that when Princeton University did a study of the top 1 million websites currently in existence, they found troubling data. Websites use a boatload of trackers in the background – some as much as 40. A lot of these trackers are owned by Google, but there are still plenty of third-party trackers from unknown sources. Not even “incognito” or “private” mode protects users from being tracked by a whole bunch of entities.
This is why privacy browsers like Tor and Brave exist. They serve to protect users from having every online action collected and stored. Even when browsers or websites gather data for non-malicious purposes, that data can still be used by more unsavory characters.
Tor vs. Brave: Which Revenue Platforms Do They Use?
No company is going to provide a free service without making money back somehow. Before trusting a free browser service like Tor or Brave, it’s important to make sure that they aren’t making money off of their users. Because that usually involves selling their data – which goes against what a privacy browser is trying to achieve.
Tor started out as technology developed by the US Navy but is now run by a non-profit organization. They rely solely on contributions and donations, as well as volunteers, to stay up and running.
Brave, on the other hand, does have a revenue model in place. They have an ad structure called Brave Rewards, which shows targeted ads to people who have opted-in. These people then receive BAT token that they can send to content creators or cash out at a cryptocurrency exchange. This system is optional and rewards-based, but it does raise some questions around privacy.
Tor vs. Brave: How Do They Handle Safety and Privacy?
Both Tor and Brave block all ads and third-party cookies. They also use NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere (though NoScript has to be turned on in Brave). But that’s mostly where the similarities end.
When it comes to privacy, the Tor browser takes things to the next level. Tor’s proprietary technology, onion routing, encrypts network traffic and then sends it through an entry node. Thereafter, the connection gets bounced off of multiple relays hosted by volunteers, before exiting through the final node. This makes it seem like the user is in a different physical location than where they actually are.
Privacy seems to be a lesser concern with the Brave browser, however, which ended up causing controversies. The company decided to whitelist certain domains and ad-tracking, including that of Facebook and Twitter. Uproar ensued, but the company didn’t reverse this decision, opting to simply release a statement instead.
In the end, Brave decided to add the ‘private window with Tor’ option that lets users browse through Tor. How does that differ from just using the Tor browser? Well, it’s a little less private and receives delayed security patches behind the actual Tor. That said, it does make browsing a little more convenient.
One caveat to using Tor is that many popular websites block access for those who use it. Some websites that don’t block the browser show multiple irritating captchas instead. So Tor isn’t that great an option for people who like to visit social media and news websites regularly. Using Brave with the occasional Tor tab for more privacy might be the best choice for some.
Tor vs. Brave: Which Platforms Do They Support?
Tor and Brave are both available for all the popular platforms, including Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. Just keep in mind that Brave’s new ‘private window with Tor’ feature isn’t available for mobile platforms yet.
Brave might be a great privacy option for some, but Tor still comes out on top as the go-to browser for safety and security. People who use Brave will have a safer experience than using, say, incognito mode on their regular browser, however. Plus, getting rewarded for watching ads is still better than having ads without any rewards at the end of the day.