What is the fundamental difference between VPN and Proxy?
Both Proxies and VPNs are reliable tools for protecting personal data, as well as for secure access to the Internet. These two terms are often confused with each other, since both of them work to secure your internet connection and traffic. The bottom line is that only one of them protects your privacy. What are the differences between VPN and Proxy? This article will will describe those differences below.
Definitions of VPN and Proxy
A proxy is a tool that protects your software (application layer) traffic, while a VPN works on all traffic without exception. Their similarity lies in the fact that your IP address will be hidden. However, only with a VPN will your data be passed through fully encrypted.
VPN technology is considered the most secure for connecting securely to the Internet.
By connecting to a VPN, you not only increase your security, but also get some other useful benefits. Let's take a closer look at why the debate about Proxies and VPNs is so heated.
A Proxy server. What is it?
Proxy servers are a kind of transmitter between you and the Internet pages that you visit. A host server is used as a transmitter, through which traffic is passed. The proxy helps to conceal your real IP address with the address of the web proxy server (in outdated versions, with the IP addresses of other users of the proxy server). But proxies do not work with the flow of all traffic, only the redirect traffic from the application the proxy is connected to use. Furthermore, encryption does not happen with a proxy.
As a general rule, a proxy is used when trying to access something specific that you might not otherwise have direct access. For instance, a website might be blocked at work, so you use a proxy to get viewing access.
Basic types of proxy servers:
HTTP proxies operate on HTTP connections and when viewing web pages. You can redirect all traffic from your browser if you use the HTTP server directly in your browser.
SOCKS proxies operate at a broader level that includes applications in addition to websites. Such servers are often overloaded due to their high popularity and therefore pass traffic more slowly.
Transparent proxies are a tool that few people know about, and fewer know they are in wide use. These types of proxy are widely used in parental controls and by employers to ensure access to certain sites is blocked, or to monitor traffic. Public places, such as airports and train stations use this type of proxy to save traffic, and it can also be configured for a home network.
VPN. What is it?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN for short) is very similar to a proxy in its essence, as it also redirects traffic through some server in such a way to hide your IP (and hence location) from outsiders, be it a hacker or a website. However, the advantage is that VPN operates globally on all your traffic, redirecting and encrypting it from every application or browser.
Traffic encryption also occurs in the opposite direction, from a web page or application to you and your device. This means full protection of the incoming and outgoing traffic flow from the eyes of the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Only the fact that you have a connection to a VPN will be available to prying eyes. Encryption provides you with reliable protection from government agencies, website trackers, as well as from cyber scammers intercepting your personal data. The most thorough protection and privacy can only be provided with VPN.
Before choosing a reliable VPN provider, carefully study the market for this service, as not all VPN providers have an impeccable reputation. Your IP address and bank details can be leaked due to unscrupulous shady providers intercepting and recording personal data instead of providing security. In the event that this data is leaked from the VPN server, hackers can easily access such information about you, so you should be especially careful when choosing a provider.
Proxy and VPN, the key difference in the way they work
A proxy does not provide traffic encryption, unlike a VPN. A VPN protects you from any surveillance attempts, be it hackers or ISPs. Proxies do not provide such protection, so limit the processing of personal data on a proxy.
VPN operates globally, at the level of the entire connection, redirecting and encrypting all traffic without exception. Proxies operate locally at the level of the applications, browsers or web pages, only routing specific ports and traffic.
Encrypting all of your traffic can result in slower speeds when using a VPN, but there are tricks to improve internet and web browsing speeds.
Often access to VPN servers is paid (by connecting to a free VPN, you run the risk of facing restrictions or losing your confidential data). Proxy servers, on the other hand, are often free.
Proxies often break their connection; the VPN connection is more stable.
What is better to choose Proxy or VPN?
By far, a VPN is the best choice if you value your security. A VPN securely encrypts your traffic by passing it through encrypted tunnels, which strengthens the security and privacy of your personal data. A proxy, on the other hand, acts in a different way, it simply acts as an intermediary between you and the network, and its protection is mediocre at best. A VPN works globally, at the level of the entire connection between you and your VPN. If you are choosing between a VPN and Proxy, then the choice is obvious.
I have a VPN, can I add a Proxy too?
This would make no sense, as the Proxy performs only a small part of the function that VPN is capable of. To change the IP, use a proxy as the fastest and most affordable method. However, be careful with the choice of proxy, unscrupulous servers can collect and store your data.
Do I need to use both Proxy and VPN?
Theoretically, it is possible to connect both a proxy and a VPN, but this may affect speed and performance. You may find that your connection will become significantly slowed, without much privacy protection. We recommend using them separately and for different purposes.
Free VPN and Proxy, do they make sense?
Despite the fact that this technology is designed to keep your personal data safe and private, some free VPNs and Proxies can expose your data. Unscrupulous providers may use your data for annoying ads or deliberately slow down your connection speed.
Paid VPNs, or as they are often called Premium VPNs, value their reputation in the market for such services by providing encryption protection without compromising speed. Such services can not only provide all the necessary encryption protocols, but are also client-oriented, providing 24/7 technical support. We advise you not to fall for free services if you can avoid privacy troubles for the price of a cup of coffee a month.
Despite the fact that Proxies and VPNs may seem like the same thing, VPNs have a number of significant advantages over Proxies. We suggest you always choose a VPN if you want complete and thorough protection for your internet connection.