A proxy and a VPN can be misunderstood, and that is very understandable. Here is the proxy vs VPN differences and use cases.
- Both are used to access the privately
- When considering proxy vs VPN, they have their best use cases
- You need to be careful when using either service
Proxy vs VPN? Know The Differences, Uses, Pros and Cons
Using VPN or proxy can be a good option for those who want to use the internet without worrying about an invasion of privacy or for those who want to gain access to blocked websites.
Although the two alternatives offer similar solutions to the same problem, some fundamental differences expose their advantages and disadvantages. Next, you will learn about VPNs, proxies, and their characteristics to determine whether proxy vs VPN is best for you on your computer.
What Is VPN? Learn All About the Virtual Private Network
Before discussing the differences between each method, it’s good to refresh your memory about the basic structure of the internet: for example, when you access this website without using a proxy or a VPN, your connection to the website is direct with the website.
In theory, this relationship can leave data such as the location of your access and other details about what you do on the internet exposed to be collected by companies, individuals, and even governments.
The idea of using a proxy vs VPN when browsing the internet is to put an intermediary in this process, capable of introducing a layer of noise and making your browsing data more difficult to be intercepted.
What Is Worth For?
Comparing proxy vs VPN, the use of both methods is very popular for two types of situations: desire to hide the source of your access and seeking more privacy while using the internet, and access to content blocked in certain countries, such as the foreign stock of services like Netflix, geo-restricted videos on YouTube, and even services that aren’t offered in all countries, such as Amazon Fire and Pandora.
How Does Proxy Work?
The word “proxy” can be translated as “power of attorney.” To browse by “proxy” is to use some service capable of putting itself as an intermediary between you and the content you consume on the network.
In this sense, when you decide to apply this method to browse your computer, it connects to an intermediary server located anywhere in the world. Returning to the previous example, it is like this server accessing this website for you, making your visit seem to originate from other places in the world than your home.
The effect of this intermediary element in navigation is the possibility to hide some information about your activities. If someone intercepts your access to this website while you are using a proxy, it would appear that you have accessed the website from another country.
Proxy Disadvantages and Limitations
There are several types of proxy, many of which are public and free, and companies offer proxy browsing for a fee.
In either case, proxy usage should be viewed with skepticism. Services of this kind can store logs, records of user activities while browsing with the proxy.
Ultimately, this data can be sold, and, in addition to ending the idea of private browsing, the feature that would have been used for security becomes even more insecure.
Another problem, especially for those seeking privacy, is that many services end up using your IP, your Internet address, to access the sites you browse, significantly reducing the effectiveness of hiding your browsing.
Also, proxy servers don’t usually apply encryption, which means ISPs and authorities can see what you’re doing on the internet, even when you’re hiding your origins from the rest of the world.
Another recognized disadvantage of this method is that it does not work well outside of internet browsers. Processes such as torrents and messaging apps, for example, may not work correctly or not be well hidden by the use of these tools, especially the free ones.
There are paid proxies that use a technology that allows them to be effective in all internet activities, not just browsers. But to work, the user needs to configure each application individually, and this type of proxy is admittedly slower than more straightforward proxies.
Finally, it is worth remembering that in proxy vs VPN, using the proxy is equivalent to lengthening the path the information needs to travel until it reaches your device, which decreases your connection speed.
How Does a VPN work?
In our proxy vs VPN comparison, the term VPN is an acronym for “Virtual Private Network.” Its operation uses the same principles as those employed by the proxy system: hiding information about your access, keeping it away from curious people through a dynamic that creates noise to hide your data.
In this method, your computer establishes a kind of virtual tunnel with a VPN server, causing all Internet browsing to go through it. This makes all the data and statistics regarding your network activity undetectable to prying eyes, as even the lowest quality VPN services offer 128-bit encryption (higher protection level platforms can even apply 2,048-bit encryption).
With a VPN, location data, IP, visited websites, etc., are entirely hidden. Even your Internet provider will be unable to verify the activities you perform while browsing. Another advantage is that, unlike proxy, VPNs work well not just with browsers but with any application that relies on the internet to function.
Disadvantages and Limitations of VPN
When compared with proxy vs VPN, Good VPN services usually charge monthly fees that can be considered salty, as these platforms tend to charge prices in dollars, and the values tend to be higher than those found in proxies.
Another determining point regarding this method is the service provider’s commitment to collecting data and usage logs. While hiding your information from the rest of the world, a VPN can keep records related to your type of network usage.
In the hands of less ethical companies, this data may end up being sold to third parties or in the hands of government officials who may use court orders to access records saved by the service.
Therefore, when signing up for a VPN, the user needs to be convinced that the service does not log the activities of its users.
There are also potential issues with network speed. The data encryption process, the more secure it is, the more processing power it will require from the server the user connects to. In high-demand situations, internet speed can drop considerably.
Which would you choose between proxy vs VPN? We’ll be happy to hear from you.