Opera vs. Tor: A Comprehensive Comparison for Online Privacy Seekers

Opera and Tor are two distinct internet browsing tools aiming to provide users with a safe and private browsing experience. While both of them possess features to enhance online security and user privacy, they differ in their methods of achieving these goals. In this article, we will delve into the primary differences between Opera and Tor, and explore how each one caters to the varying needs of internet users.

Opera is widely recognized for its built-in free Virtual Private Network (VPN) that masks the user’s IP address and encrypts their internet connection. This feature enables users to access geo-restricted content and maintain some level of anonymity while browsing. On the other hand, Tor (short for The Onion Router) is a specialized browser that utilizes a network of volunteer-operated servers to route the user’s internet traffic through multiple layers of encryption. This complex process makes it extremely difficult for third parties to trace the source or destination of the user’s data.

When comparing the two, it is crucial to consider the level of privacy and security required by the user, as well as the browsing speed and user-friendliness of each platform. As we progress through the article, we will further examine the pros and cons of both Opera and Tor, allowing readers to make an informed decision when choosing their preferred tool for a secure browsing experience.

History and Development

In 1995, the Opera browser was released by Norwegian company Opera Software. Opera aimed to provide a fast, user-friendly, and secure browsing experience. Early versions of Opera included innovative features such as tabbed browsing, speed dial, and a built-in ad-blocker. Over the years, Opera has continued to evolve, introducing additional features such as a free VPN service, cryptocurrency wallet integration, and more.

In contrast, the Tor Project, a non-profit organization, began developing the Tor browser in 2006. The focus of the Tor Project was to protect users’ privacy and online freedom, primarily through the use of onion routing. This technology enables users to browse the internet anonymously by bouncing encrypted data through a network of relays, making it difficult for anyone to trace activity back to the user. The Tor browser is built on top of the Mozilla Firefox browser and is maintained by a group of developers committed to preserving user privacy.

Year Event Browser
1995 Opera browser released Opera
2006 Tor Project begins development Tor

While there are some similarities between the two browsers, such as the focus on user privacy and security, they serve different purposes and audiences. Opera is geared toward providing an all-inclusive browsing experience, with numerous built-in features and functionalities. This attracts users who are looking for a browser with an extensive feature set and a focus on user experience.

On the other hand, the Tor browser is specifically designed to protect user privacy and anonymity. Users who prioritize these aspects, or those living in areas where internet censorship is an issue, are more inclined to use the Tor browser to ensure their online activity remains secure and untraceable.

Having covered the history and development of both the Opera and Tor browsers, we will now explore their features and how these browsers compare in terms of performance, usability, and security.

Features and Functionality

Opera’s Unique Features

Opera is a well-known browser that is focused on providing users with a streamlined experience and a handful of unique features. It can be installed on multiple devices and platforms, from desktops to mobile devices. One of these unique features is the Speed Dial, which allows users to quickly access their favorite websites by displaying customizable bookmarks on the browser’s start page. This functionality enables fast and efficient browsing.

Another distinctive feature is Opera GX, a gaming-specific browser that allows users to limit the amount of RAM and CPU usage dedicated to the browser. This way, gamers can maintain better performance while using the browser alongside resource-intensive applications.

Opera also offers a native ad-blocker, which not only helps in removing unwanted ads but also reduces page load times. Additionally, the browser is known for having a built-in VPN for increased security and privacy and a lightweight design for faster browsing.

Tor’s Unique Features

On the other hand, the Tor browser is focused primarily on privacy and ensuring that users can access the internet without leaving a trace. It is built upon Mozilla Firefox’s secure infrastructure and aims to provide an anonymous browsing experience.

One of Tor’s most notable features is its ability to route user data through multiple proxy servers in the Tor network to maintain anonymity. This feature prevents the tracking and monitoring of users’ online activities by making it difficult to trace the user’s location and identity.

Moreover, the Tor browser is known for automatically clearing cookies and browsing history as the user exits the application. This feature gives the user the confidence that they don’t leave any digital footprints while browsing the internet.

Another essential aspect of Tor is its support for onion services, enabling users to access websites with .onion domain extensions. These websites are considered more secure as they can only be accessed through the Tor network, further supporting anonymous browsing.

In the next section, we’ll explore some key differences in the user experience offered by both Opera and Tor.

Privacy and Security

Opera and Tor are two popular web browsers, each with its own approach to ensuring user privacy and security. Protecting online privacy is crucial as it prevents unauthorized access to users’ personal information, prevents trackers and ads from following their activity, and shields their IP addresses from prying eyes.

Opera focuses on providing a secure browsing experience without necessarily sacrificing ease of use. It offers a free, built-in VPN that helps hide the user’s IP address and encrypts their browsing traffic. While this provides a reasonable level of privacy, Opera’s VPN is not as secure as Tor. Opera also includes an ad-blocker, which prevents ads and trackers from following users across the web.

Tor, on the other hand, is designed from the ground up with privacy and anonymity in mind. The Tor network routes users’ web traffic through multiple server nodes known as relays across the globe, making it extremely difficult for ISPs or other entities to track their activity. Access to hidden .onion sites is only possible using the Tor network, providing an additional layer of privacy protection.

When it comes to search engines, Opera mainly relies on its users’ preferred engine, which can expose them to potential privacy issues if sensitive data is logged by the search provider. Tor, however, makes use of the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo search engine to ensure user data is not collected or shared.

Customizability is another factor when comparing Opera and Tor. Users have more options to tweak and personalize the Opera browser, while Tor is primarily focused on providing a safe and secure browsing environment by default.

In conclusion, both Opera and Tor offer privacy and security features that cater to different needs and preferences. While Opera is a more user-friendly browser with modest privacy protection, Tor excels in providing users with strong privacy and anonymity online but may be less convenient for everyday browsing. This sets the stage for further comparison of their performance, features, and niche areas, leading to informed decisions on the right browser for the users’ specific requirements.

Pros and Cons

When comparing web browsers, it’s important to understand the pros and cons related to user experience and security. Opera and Tor are two popular browser options, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Opera Browser


  • Speed: Opera is known for its fast browsing experience, with a built-in ad blocker and data compression technology that reduces the amount of data needed to load web pages.
  • User-friendly interface: Opera offers a sleek and modern user interface, making it easy to navigate and customize.
  • Integrated VPN: Opera offers a built-in free VPN service, allowing users to maintain a level of privacy and security while browsing the Internet.


  • Privacy concerns: Despite having an integrated VPN, Opera has been criticized by privacy experts for having a weaker privacy policy than other browsers, such as collecting user data for advertising purposes.
  • Limited extensions: Opera’s library of extensions is smaller compared to other web browsers, which may limit the customization options for users.

Tor Browser


  • Anonymity: The Tor Browser is designed to provide a high level of anonymity by routing web traffic through multiple volunteer-operated servers, making it difficult to track a user’s location and identity.
  • Privacy: Tor Browser is built on Mozilla Firefox and has stricter privacy settings by default, such as blocking third-party trackers and disabling browser fingerprinting techniques.
  • Access to the deep web: Tor enables users to access .onion sites, which are part of the deep web and cannot be accessed by traditional browsers.


  • Slower browsing speeds: Due to the additional routing and encryption of data, Tor Browser can be slower than other browsers.
  • Limited compatibility: Some websites may not work correctly or may block Tor users due to the nature of the browser’s anonymity features.

While both Opera and Tor offer unique features and cater to different browsing needs, it is essential to weigh their strengths and weaknesses based on individual preferences and requirements. In the next section, we will explore other web browsers for further comparison.

Technical Comparison

When comparing Opera and Tor, it is important to consider their technical aspects, especially in relation to the operating systems and web technologies they support. Opera is a web browser built on the Blink rendering engine, which is also used by Chrome and Brave. On the other hand, Tor uses the Gecko rendering engine, powering Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Firefox ESR.

Opera supports various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, providing a seamless browsing experience across multiple platforms. Meanwhile, Tor is also available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android, but it lacks an official iOS version due to restrictions imposed by the Apple App Store.

Being an open-source project, Tor’s code is publicly available and licensed under MPL-2.0. This allows developers to contribute to its development and review its code for security vulnerabilities. In contrast, Opera is a closed-source browser with its codebase not publicly available, limiting the possibility of public review and community-driven improvements.

As for the web technologies and engines, Opera utilizes the Blink rendering engine and the V8 JavaScript engine. Conversely, Tor is built around the Gecko rendering engine, which includes the Stylo CSS engine and the SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine. Both browsers support most modern web technologies, ensuring compatibility with the majority of websites.

Browser Rendering Engine JavaScript Engine Open Source Supported Platforms
Opera Blink V8 No Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Tor Gecko SpiderMonkey Yes Windows, macOS, Linux, Android

In terms of privacy and security, Tor has a significant advantage due to its integration with the Tor network, which provides anonymity and obfuscation of user traffic. Opera, although providing a VPN service, does not offer the same level of privacy protection as the Tor browser.

This technical comparison between Opera and Tor highlights their differences in support for various platforms, rendering engines, and their open-source status. It’s clear that each browser has its unique strengths and weaknesses, which should be taken into consideration depending on the user’s requirements and preferences. The following section will further explore the practical implications of these differences.

Browsers’ Built-in Features

Opera and Tor are both popular web browsers with distinct built-in features that enhance user experience in terms of privacy and security. Opera, for instance, is well-known for its built-in ad blocker and free VPN service. The ad blocker effectively removes intrusive advertisements, while the free VPN provides a virtual private network that aids in maintaining user privacy. Opera primarily utilizes Google as its default search engine. This helps ensure accurate and reliable search results.

On the other hand, Tor is a privacy-oriented browser based on the Firefox codebase. A primary feature of Tor is its built-in tracking protection that prevents advertisers and websites from tracking users across the internet. Tor utilizes DuckDuckGo as its default search engine, which is preferred by privacy-conscious individuals due to its commitment to not tracking users or collecting personal data.

Some key features of Tor include HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript extensions, which are installed by default. HTTPS Everywhere enforces the secure HTTPS protocol for all websites, while NoScript offers users the ability to block potentially unsafe scripts from running. In addition, the Tor network obfuscates users’ online activities by distributing their connections through multiple nodes.

Feature Opera Tor
Built-in VPN
Ad blocker
Default search engine Google DuckDuckGo
Based on Firefox
Tracking protection
HTTPS Everywhere ✓ (installed by default)
NoScript ✓ (installed by default)

Given their unique value propositions, it is important to consider how these built-in features contribute to user safety and privacy when deciding between Opera and Tor as a preferred web browser. While Opera excels in ad-blocking and free VPN services, Tor offers greater online anonymity and advanced security options through its diverse set of features and Firefox-based infrastructure. Proceeding to the next section, we will examine the performance and usability aspects of these browsers.

Customization and Interface

Both Opera and Tor are desktop web browsers that offer unique features, with a focus on user interface, privacy, and customization. While Opera provides a more vibrant and user-friendly interface, Tor is designed for users who prioritize privacy and security.

Opera’s interface is easily customizable, allowing users to personalize the browser with different themes, fonts, and even gaming features. The built-in sidebar offers quick access to important features like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, RSS feeds, and various other plugins. Opera also supports a wide range of add-ons and extensions, giving users the ability to tailor their browsing experience to their specific needs and preferences.

Tor, on the other hand, has a more basic and minimalistic interface, reflecting its primary focus on privacy and accessing the dark web. Tor is based on the Firefox browser and uses a similar interface, but customization options are limited as compared to Opera. Add-ons and plugins that can potentially compromise privacy are restricted, and the browser’s use of incognito mode is embedded in its functionality.

In terms of pricing, both Opera and Tor are free to use. However, Opera offers a built-in free VPN and ad-blocker, which further enhances privacy and security for its users. Tor establishes a secure web browsing experience by routing users’ internet traffic through a series of encrypted nodes, ensuring anonymity and minimizing the risk to the user’s data.

When comparing the use of these browsers in an organizational context, training and support could become a factor. Opera is more intuitive and easier for a wider range of users, while Tor might require specific training for individuals who are not familiar with its unique privacy-centric features.

Overall, both Opera and Tor provide secure web browsing experiences. However, if customization and user experience are the main priorities, Opera is the better option with its diverse features and vibrant interface. For users primarily interested in privacy and security, Tor offers a platform well-suited for navigating the online world with minimal exposure risk. While the choice between the two browsers ultimately depends on individual preferences, each offers unique advantages for users with specific priorities. Moving forward, we will discuss other aspects to consider when choosing a browser.

Ownership and Trustworthiness

Opera, a web browser developed by Opera Software AS, is currently owned by a Chinese consortium, comprising Qihoo 360, a security software provider; Kunlun, a mobile game developer; and Yonglian Yixin, an investment firm that focuses on the Internet industry. This acquisition, which took place in 2016, may lead to concerns about Opera’s security and trustworthiness. On the other hand, Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is an open-source project that provides online privacy through anonymity. Unlike Opera, Tor is maintained by a nonprofit organization called The Tor Project and is funded by donations and grants from various sources.

When evaluating trustworthiness, it is essential to consider the reputation of the owning organizations and their intentions. The Chinese consortium that owns Opera consists of companies with a focus on providing security, mobile gaming, and investments in the Internet space. While this ownership does not inherently compromise Opera’s security, it may raise concerns about data handling and user privacy, especially considering the stricter regulations in China.

In contrast, the Tor Project’s mission is to provide secure and anonymous communication for individuals across the globe. As a nonprofit organization, it tends to focus more on user privacy and network security. Its open-source nature ensures that many developers and researchers can scrutinize the code, leading to continuous improvements and a higher level of trust in the software.

In summary, users should assess the ownership and trustworthiness of Opera and Tor based on their respective organizational backgrounds and intentions. Opera’s Chinese ownership may raise concerns for some users, while Tor’s nonprofit foundation and open-source project structure prioritize security and transparency.