Proxy vs VPN: What Is The Difference, And Which One To Choose To Protect Your Privacy Online?
Security and privacy on the Internet are key aspects for any user. If you want to improve them, surely you have considered using a proxy or VPN.
These two options can indeed improve security when browsing and offer other advantages (such as access to content restricted to some areas). But these tools do not work the same way, and each has advantages and disadvantages.
Therefore, we will tell you the fundamental characteristics and differences of the proxy vs VPN. So you can choose the one that best suits your needs and what you can achieve when browsing: that everything goes well, and make it safe.
In the choice of proxy vs VPN, the first thing you have to know is that both increase the security of your Internet connection.
But how exactly do they work, and how are they different?
What Is A Proxy Server?
A proxy is a server that acts as an intermediary between a user and a destination on the Internet, usually a web page.
That is to say: when a user makes a request over the network, instead of connecting directly to the website, this request first reaches the proxy server. It then sends the request to the website and returns the response to the user.
This provides an additional layer of security for anyone and can balance the traffic load. Proxy servers may also be able to increase browsing speed and reduce the amount of bandwidth used, especially if it is a business. Not an unimportant aspect!
Uses Of Proxies
On a corporate network, if multiple users access the same website, the proxy server can cache the web page and send it to users instead of downloading it multiple times. This reduces the amount of bandwidth used and improves browsing speed (a much-appreciated issue today, even among those who use the best hosting providers ).
On the other hand, these servers can also be used to bypass different restrictions on access to content determined by your location. By working as intermediaries, they can hide the user’s original IP and show the proxies, which can be found anywhere else.
However, it is important to note that not all proxy servers work in the same way and therefore do not have the same benefits. But don’t worry; we’ll talk about it in detail later.
What Is A VPN Network?
We discuss the second alternative in the next point of the proxy vs VPN topic.
A VPN network is a technology that allows devices to connect to a private network over the Internet, which offers many benefits.
In addition to protecting the privacy and security of information, a VPN network can improve the speed and stability of the Internet connection and allow access to certain content that, due to geographical restrictions, would be prohibited.
How Does A VPN work?
In a simplified way, the operation of a VPN network supposes a kind of “secure channel” between the user’s device and the private network.
All data transmitted over the Internet is encrypted and sent through a remote server. The data then reaches the remote server, is decrypted, and is sent to its final destination. This way, anyone trying to intercept the data will be unable to read it, as it is encrypted.
Uses Of A VPN network
The most popular uses are related to data protection and privacy, but it can also be used to access geographically restricted content.
For example: If a user is located in a country where certain websites are blocked, they can connect to a VPN in another nation to access those sites. This is especially useful for people who need to access information from other countries for work, study or entertainment.
What Are The Differences Between Proxy And VPN?
Proxy servers and VPN connections are two tools with certain similarities, sharing utilities such as protecting the privacy and security of online users.
The truth is that both services have advantages and disadvantages that you should consider. Come on; there is no correct answer. Rather, you should consider choosing the right security tool for your needs.
Next, we will tell you the main differences between a proxy server and a VPN :
A proxy server intermediates between the user’s device and the accessed destination server. The proxy server receives and forwards the user’s requests to the destination server.
On the other hand, a VPN establishes a private and encrypted connection between the user’s device and the server in question. This connection is more secure and guarantees greater privacy than a proxy server.
2. IP Masquerade
A proxy server and a VPN can hide the user’s IP address. However, a proxy server only masks the IP address of the web browser, while a VPN hides the IP address of the entire device (unless it involves browser integrations or a specific app).
With a VPN, users can surf the web anonymously and protect their privacy.
3. Data Encryption
A VPN encrypts all of the user’s Internet traffic, which means that the data is protected and cannot be intercepted by third parties. Also, as it is a paid service, the data encryption of a VPN is very strong and difficult to crack. It can be done by proxy, but it requires incredibly sophisticated technology. It is unlikely to happen.
On the other hand, a proxy server does not encrypt Internet traffic, which means that data can be intercepted.
A VPN’s data encryption is especially useful for users looking to protect their financial and personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. In that sense, it is the safest thing that exists.
4. Connection Speed
A proxy server typically works faster than a VPN since it acts as an intermediary and does not encrypt traffic. However, if the VPNs have high-speed servers, they can also offer you a fast connection.
Also, the connection speed of a VPN can be improved by choosing a nearby VPN server. And by the way, if you use a free VPN, don’t expect the same level of speed and security.
5. Location Of Servers
The location of the servers is another key aspect of the proxy vs VPN issue.
Proxy servers are often located in data centres spread across the globe. A VPN, meanwhile, can have private servers worldwide and in different countries, allowing the user to choose a specific server location.
This is especially useful for people who want to access geo-restricted content like TV shows and websites.
6. Access To Restricted Content
As we have seen, proxy and VPN can allow users to access geographically restricted content.
However, a VPN is more effective for accessing blocked content since it not only masks the IP address but also encrypts the traffic and allows you to bypass different restrictions.
On the other hand, having a larger number of servers in various parts of the world makes the possibility of accessing content much higher. It is more likely to allow us to do what we want with our browsing.
7. Device Compatibility
Proxy servers are compatible with various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. They usually even configure themselves.
However, a VPN can be more complex, as it involves installing a third-party app. This usually involves paying for the service and requiring configuration, depending on the device. If you’re not so tech-savvy, it can be a problem.
Although many VPNs have easy-to-use and configured apps that work on different operating systems and devices, this is not always true. It is important that, as a user, you consider that the VPN is compatible with your equipment and operating systems.
8. Cost Of Proxy vs. VPN
Almost as a rule, proxy servers are cheaper and often free, while a VPN involves monthly or per-use charges.
However, some VPNs offer free or trial plans, allowing users to experience the service before purchasing a subscription. However, as I told you, the speed and performance are usually low-quality.
Thus, although proxy servers are cheaper, they do not offer the same protection and security as a VPN. It is worth noting that free proxies are not necessarily secure: hiring a reliable, premium service would be ideal. This type of proxy can be very similar in cost to most VPN options on the market.
From that point of view, in general, it tends to be a better option to hire a VPN service since, for a similar price, it will offer you many additional features.
9. Many VPNs Do Not Keep Browsing Logs.
One aspect that adds to privacy is that, depending on the company’s policies that provide the VPN service, it may (or may not) record users’ browsing traffic.
I also have to tell you that most VPN services do not. However, in a free or open proxy, accessing the traffic and using user data that is not encrypted will be possible. Be careful with this, as it is a major vulnerability.
So Which Is better: Proxy vs VPN
The two tools are useful in different contexts since they were designed to fulfil different functions. It is good that you value your case well, especially considering what I will tell you now.
If your goal is to hide your IP address, both tools are worth it, but proxy servers achieve higher browsing speeds and do not require you to install any application or program. They are ideal if the priority is to hide your IP address.
Instead, when you are looking for maximum privacy, a VPN is ideal. The reason is that your browsing data is encrypted, which means greater security and discretion. The disadvantage is that the browsing speed is usually lower, but also the associated costs.
How To Choose A VPN?
Choosing a VPN service is a task of research until you find the right one. There are many, many. So we have to choose carefully.
A crucial aspect is the data policies that the company has when offering the service. Does it store your browsing data? If so, watch out. It doesn’t seem the safest.
In addition, you can look at the speed, the number of countries in which they have servers and, of course, the price of the service.
Do I Need A VPN Or A Proxy Server?
In some cases, it may make sense to supplement security. You will not need to set up a proxy server if you have a VPN service on your computer. The VPN network fully covers this function and provides others, such as those described above.
On the other hand, if you have a proxy server and want to improve privacy, you can opt for a VPN connection to achieve it.
Can You Use A VPN And A Proxy At The Same Time?
Although it is possible, it would not make much sense. In such a case, it would be best to simply make use of the VPN connection, as it can be difficult to set up both and not cause delays in your Internet connection speed. You would almost always be buying (or paying) for more than you need, either with money or sacrificing speed.
Are All Proxy Servers The Same?
There are different types of proxy available, each with unique characteristics.
For example, a web proxy differs from a reverse proxy, while a transparent proxy differs from an anonymous proxy. You have to be clear that some proxies are more secure than others and offer greater privacy and anonymity.
Another thing to keep in mind is that proxies are used for different purposes. Some are used to access geo-blocked content, while others are configured to filter unwanted web content. Some are also used to increase browsing speed.
Proxy vs Free VPN
A free VPN or proxy is not a solution in terms of quality but only purely economically. Although this is not always the case, payment usually implies greater security of your data and reliable service.
A free public proxy and VPN will hardly protect or stop your data from being sold to third parties. That, of course, without mentioning the threats to which you may be exposed by connecting to a server that does not provide you with any guarantee.
A paid VPN or proxy allows the company to invest in a service that guarantees security and optimal operation. That, in addition to updates, is good servers and confidentiality.
Therefore, we encourage you not to be seduced by free proxy or VPN services advertisements, as they can be much more expensive in the long run.
Final Thoughts On Proxy vs. VPN
We can conclude that, in most cases, a proxy does not compare in quality of protection and security to a paid VPN, even when the proxy server is paid.
Proxies are suitable for a quick solution to access blocked content for specific geographic locations. It is worth mentioning that some platforms look at the IP to determine the location and other data that proxies do not modify and VPNs do.
For this reason, VPNs seem to be the best option in the long term and operation, even if they involve a higher cost and initial configuration time.