Concerned about your online privacy? Do you ever wonder if hackers, government agencies, or corporations can monitor the websites you visit, the files you download, or the links you click? You might be wondering if it’s time to join a virtual private network (VPN) or use a proxy server to mask your location and ISP address from prying eyes. But keep in mind that a proxy and a VPN are not one and the same thing.
While both programs secure your identity, only a VPN encrypts your data when you access the internet. This implies that only a VPN can protect your online activities from hackers, government agencies, and businesses interested in learning more about how you use the internet.
What are Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Proxy Servers?
While browsing the internet, sending emails, reading online message boards, streaming video, and downloading files, both VPNs and proxy services can help keep your activity private. Both of these privacy-protection tools, however, operate in different ways.
When you access the internet, a proxy server lies between you and the server, acting as a gateway. You can connect to a proxy before connecting to a certain website, video streaming software, or file sharing program from your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other devices. You’ll be connecting to the site or app through an external host server once you’ve done this.
If you want to conceal your identity, this has a clear advantage. The proxy server’s IP address is the only one that the website you’re viewing — or the streaming service or file-sharing site you’re utilizing — will see. It will not be able to view your address. This will hide your true location and identity from these sites and apps.
Popular Types of Proxy
Proxies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Three of the more prevalent ones are listed below.
1) Proxies for HTTP
These proxies would be used to access websites. This proxy can also be used to access content that is geo-restricted. For example, a video may be not available for viewing in your area. You can use a proxy server to access the video’s host site, masking the fact that your IP address is blocked from viewing it. Keep in mind that this may violate your content provider’s user agreement.
2) Proxies for SOCKS5
These proxies aren’t just for websites. To access video streaming services, file-sharing sites, or online games, you can utilize a SOCKS5 proxy. However, because free proxies sometimes have fewer configuration choices and less support and infrastructure, connecting to an app over a SOCKS5 proxy may be slower.
3) Proxies that are transparent
It’s possible that you were using a transparent proxy without recognizing it. That is precisely the point. Employers, parents, schools, and libraries may use a transparent proxy to censor user content when they connect to the internet or to prevent users from accessing specific websites.
What are the Differences Between VPNs and Proxies?
A VPN is similar to a proxy, but instead of working with individual apps or websites, it works with every website or app you visit. When you visit a website after first signing into a VPN, your IP address is disguised and replaced with the IP address of your VPN provider, just like when you visit a website after first logging into a proxy.
This conceals your true identity. Unlike a proxy, however, this protection will remain in place as you browse new websites, watch videos online, write emails, and download things.
You can use free VPN services to access the internet. However, they might share your data with third-parties. Providers who charge for VPN access, on the other hand, are less likely to share information with third parties.
There are several differences between VPNs and proxies. Here are four key differences between VPNs and proxies:
1. VPNs Encrypt Your Data, Proxies Don’t
What is the most significant advantage of a VPN over a proxy server? Your browsing, as well as any data you send or receive, will be secured if you use a VPN. This is significant since it implies that no one, including hackers, government agencies, corporations, or others, will be able to see what you’re doing online.
Assume you use a VPN to access your online bank account. Hackers won’t be able to hack and access your bank account because your information is encrypted. The same is true if you log onto your credit card provider’s online portal. Hackers won’t be able to steal your credit card information or the password you need to log onto the portal because your data is encrypted.
2. Providers of Virtual Private Networks Encourage Internet Privacy
Use a VPN service with a no-log policy if you want complete privacy. “No log” signifies that the service provider promises not to track or save your activity while you use it to connect to the internet.
This implies that these companies will have no information to give to anyone else who wants to know what websites you visit or what things you share. A free proxy, on the other hand, may monitor traffic and sell data to third parties for obvious reasons.
3. Connections Through Free Proxy Servers May be Slower
Depending on how many people are using these services, both proxy servers and VPNs can slow down your browsing speed. Because of the lack of support, configuration choices, and infrastructure, free proxy connections can be slower and less secure.
4. Using a VPN May Cost You (More) Money
Free VPNs can be used to connect. Many IT experts, however, recommend paying for a VPN service because paid options often give more data protection, secure connections, and consistent performance.
Because many providers use only one VPN connection, known as point-to-point tunneling technology, the security of free VPNs can be inconsistent (PTTP). A commercial VPN service, on the other hand, can provide consumers with more secure data encryption. Is it essential to use a proxy if you already have a VPN?
No. Your IP address is hidden by both a VPN and a proxy server. A VPN encrypts all of your data, but a proxy server does not. If you’re currently utilizing a VPN, connecting to a website or app through a proxy server is a waste of time.
Is it Better to Use a VPN or a Proxy Server?
When it comes to choosing between a proxy and a VPN, knowing the distinctions between the two might help you decide which the best option for you is.
If you want to hide your IP address, you can do so by using a proxy server or a VPN. A free proxy server would suffice if you’re concerned just about browsing speed and merely want to hide your IP address from a particular website or app.
If cost is a concern, using a proxy server to access individual websites, apps, or file-sharing services may be the best option. It’s not difficult to find free proxy services that will hide your IP address.
However, getting onto the internet through a VPN is the best option if you want to keep your browsing activities secret from prying eyes. Again, encryption is key: VPNs encrypt your data while you’re online. Whereas, proxy servers do not.
A VPN gives extra protection if you plan to browse many sites while online, especially if you’re connecting to sites with sensitive financial data, like the website of your bank account or credit card portal.
While many of the most popular VPN providers may charge for their services, this may be a minor price to pay if it means that your most sensitive personal and financial data is protected from online threats.
Both VPNs and proxies are excellent tools to hide your IP address while browsing the internet. VPNs, however, are superior when it comes to going anonymous while ensuring that you enjoy browsing at a good speed. Most proxy servers, however, are free to use.
Hi! I am Pankaj, a full-time content specialist and a part-time programmer and marketer. I love to explore new places and also new ideas. I am an inquisitive person with a passion to learn new skills through every possible opportunity that comes in the way.