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What Is the Difference Between a Proxy And a VPN?


The Internet can be frightening even if it is a place of limitless potential. This is due to the threat to users’ privacy posed by the almost continual attack of ransomware, hackers, or trackers. As a result, people are relentlessly looking for the best security tool to protect their identities. People want to be safe when they browse instead of wondering if hackers, companies, or government agencies can track the sites they visit, downloaded files, or clicked links.

This brings about two privacy concealing tools: VPN and Proxies. A lot of people are yet to understand what is a proxy server and what are the purpose of using ether a VPN or a proxy server.

This is why we have come up with this post so you will understand the difference between a proxy and a VPN.

Proxy Defined

A proxy server acts as an intermediary (bridge or middleman) between your computer, the Internet, and you. They communicate between the devices you use and the servers of the websites you access. Therefore, your browser establishes a connection with the proxy, which then links your browser to the Internet.

Proxy servers allow for anonymous online browsing by hiding your IP address. They reduce or control the complexity of a request and offer other advantages like load balancing, privacy, and security.

Proxy services are the best option for low-risk operations because they evade content filters and IP-based service restrictions. Also, a proxy server can do much more than hide your IP address. It could be configured as a firewall and an internet connection filter to block malware attempts.

How Does a Proxy Server Work?

A proxy server works like a web filter. On the browser you use, the web proxy settings are applied. Then, a remote server makes it easier for you to browse the web.

Proxy servers give the impression that you are browsing from an unidentified server. Once you start browsing, the IP address changes into the browser of your choice. The proxy service is a great way to unblock any content.

Types of Proxies

There are four main types of proxies

  • Data Center Proxy

Data center proxies exist in a physical data center, and the user’s requests are forwarded through that server.

They are a good choice for people who want an affordable solution and quick response times. They are also good for people who wants to quickly get information on a person or organization. Their benefit is that they give users the ability to quickly and inexpensively harvest data.

  • Residential Proxy

Residential proxies gives you an IP address that is associated with a particular physical device.

Residential proxies are ideal for customers who need to verify the advertisements on their website in order to block suspicious or unwanted adverts from rivals or dishonest users. The reliability of residential proxies is higher than that of other proxy types.

  • HTTP Proxies

This proxy only functions with web pages; it does not support internet-based programs. They are great for accessing the web and give you access to websites that are geo-restricted.

  • SSL Proxy

An SSL proxy offers decryption. The proxy hides its presence from both the client and the server since the data is encrypted.

These proxies are best suited for businesses that require high-leveled security against threats that the SSL protocol detects and blocks. Due to Google’s preference for SSL-enabled servers, using an SSL proxy with a website may improve its rank in the search engine.

VPN Defined

Like proxies, VPN (Virtual Private Network) also covers IP addresses and offers browsing security. VPN generates an encrypted ‘tunnel’ between the host server and computer devices. They funnel your internet traffic through an encrypted connection (VPN tunnel). This is where all internet traffic and communications pass. This makes them an effective to ensure users network security. It also securely and privately access websites and allows you use your programs and apps.

Because the transmission between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted and cannot be read or encrypted by hackers, your personal information cannot be compromised

How Does a VPN Work?

VPN works by using the data encryption method to protect your identity, mask your surfing activity from prying eyes, and stop the majority of hacker pranks. Your information is encrypted by the system, making it easy to browse the internet from different locations without worrying about who might be able to view your online activities.

A VPN service encrypts all incoming and outgoing internet data at the operating system level. This implies that it redirects all of your traffic, whether it comes from a background app or your browser.

Types of VPNs

There are two main types of VPN

  • Remote Access VPN

While linked to another network, you can connect to a private network using this kind of VPN. These VPNs are well-liked among remote workers. Through the Internet, a connection tunnel is built between the user and the VPN. This absolutely secures and protects the connection. This VPN is beneficial for both home and business users.

  • Site-to-site VPN

This VPN is also known as a router-to-router VPN. It is used mostly by big businesses with offices in various locations. This enables these businesses to establish a private network connection between the networks of their various office locations

Differences between Proxies and VPNs

Proxy servers and VPNs may appear to be similar, but they they have key differences. These include

  • Usage and Permissions

To use a VPN server, more permissions are required on the local device. Therefore, users are required to install a separate app before they can use the server. In contrast, to use a proxy server, every single application might be separately configured, and reconfiguring again may be needed if the desired proxy server changes location

  • Security

A web server connection made using a browser is more secure than one made using a public proxy server. VPNs are secure since they encrypt data before transmitting it to the client.

  • Data Encryption

The primary method by which a VPN differs from a proxy in terms of security is through the ability to encrypt data. While VPNs encrypt, proxies do not. A VPN hides your online activities and protects you from ISP tracking, spying, hackers, and online criminals. In contrast, your information won’t be encrypted by a proxy server; it will just hide your IP address. Therefore, the handling of sensitive information should not be done with proxies.

  • Privacy

Proxy servers and VPNs both mask the user’s IP address, but they handle privacy in different ways.

Proxy servers serve as an “intermediary” between users and the Internet. Although they don’t protect the sent and received data, they hide the user’s IP address from a web server the user visits. 

A VPN hides the user’s IP address and location, preventing their identity from being known. The user is guaranteed complete privacy because it uses end-to-end encryption to prevent an ISP or router from accessing user data.

  • Speed

Your home network can benefit from additional protection provided by VPNs and proxy servers. To help protect your connection and data, these services establish connections to external servers.

Because a proxy is a single server, it may be used by many people at once. This can slow down the connection speed. could also be slower and less secure because there isn’t any money coming in to pay for maintenance and infrastructure. However, because of web caching, paid proxies provide greater overall performance.

VPN servers that are far where the user is can also result in a slower connection speed. However, delays will be less noticeable if you use a VPN provider with the right maintenance protocols and technology.

  • Pricing

Proxy servers are mostly free, while VPN services are paid for. Maintaining a reliable VPN network is expensive, so a good VPN service usually comes at a good price.

Although free proxy servers and VPNs exist, it is usually best to go for a more secure, paid alternative. You will get greater privacy and performance.

  • Protocols

The protocols used in VPN are L2TP (Layer 2 tunneling protocol) and PTTP (Point to point tunneling protocol). In contrast, the protocols used in Proxy are SMTP (Simple mail transfer protocol), HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol), and FTP (File transfer protocol).

  • IP Address Hiding

VPN does not hide the client’s IP address. In contrast, the proxy hides the client’s IP address by using the anonymous network ID rather than the real IP address.

  • Connections

While a proxy connection is extremely inconsistent, a VPN connection is seamless and reliable.

What is Better: Proxy or VPN?

There’s no Proxy vs. VPS argument. In most cases, you’re better off with either a VPN or a proxy server. If you wish to encrypt data as a security measure, this is something a VPN can do. Likewise, if you want to block certain sites, proxies are best.

It is up to you if you use a proxy or a VPN. It is all determined by your individual needs.

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