Proxy servers and VPNs can both increase your online security. They are both online services that will reroute your web traffic through a remote server to hide your IP address.

However, there are many significant differences between the two. A proxy server works through a single service or app. A VPN or Virtual Private Network, on the other hand, secures all your web traffic and encrypts it. This provides extra privacy and security. So, only a VPN will be able to hide your internet activity from government agencies, hackers, and those who want to know how you spend your online time. A VPN also hides your IP address and replaces it with the IP address of the VPN provider.

Does this mean a VPN is better? It is important to know that proxy servers, too, offer their own advantages, which is why they are so popular. Let us take a detailed look at them and try to determine which is better.

  • VPN – Virtual Private Network or VPN is an encrypted connection on the internet from your device to a network. This encrypted connection will make sure that data is transmitted safely. The network will prevent organizations and people from tapping into your traffic and accessing data illegally. It allows you to work safely online.
  • Proxy – A proxy server will work as a gateway between the internet and the user. It is an intermediary server that will go between you and the websites or web pages you visit. It will stop cyber attackers from entering into a private network. When you use a proxy, the web traffic will flow through this server and then go to the address you want to visit. The request will come back in the same way, through the proxy server.

A proxy server is adequate for most internet users. They provide varying levels of security, privacy, and functionality.

  • Forward Proxy – This sits in front of the client. It is used to provide data to various users in an internal network. When it receives a request, the server will examine it and then decide whether to make a connection. It works for internal networks where a single entry point is needed. The server provides IP address security for the users in the network and allows administrative control.
  • Transparent Proxy – It makes the user feel like using their home computer. The user experience is seamless. However, there can be security threats. This is a good option for businesses that don’t want their employees to know that a proxy server is being used.
  • Residential Proxy – When you buy residential proxy, you will have an IP address that belongs to a physical, specific device. The requests will then be channeled through this device. It helps users block unwanted and suspicious ads. These proxies are more trustworthy than many other options.
  • Anonymous Proxy – This proxy will make internet activity untraceable. It will access the internet on your behalf and will hide your computer information and identity. An anonymous proxy is a good choice for those who want to remain completely anonymous while browsing the internet.
  • Public Proxy – Anyone can access this proxy without any payment. It will give you free access to the proxy’s IP address and will hide your identity when you are visiting websites. However, you won’t get the best speed and security. These proxies are slow because there are many free users on the server.
  • Shared Proxy – These proxies provide IP address access to many users at the same time. You can be online and appear to browse from any location you choose. It is a cost-effective option. But websites may ban you for the misdeed of someone else as more than one person is on the proxy at the same time.

There are four main differences – 

  1. Security

With a Virtual Private Network, any data you receive or send over the internet is going to be encrypted. Businesses, government agencies, hackers, and others won’t be able to access your data as the information you are receiving and sending is encrypted.

On the other hand, proxy servers change your IP address. However, they don’t encrypt online activities.

  1. Privacy

According to this report, 74% of Americans have serious privacy concerns. A VPN offers complete data encryption, which makes it more difficult for unauthorized people from accessing it. You will be protected even if you are using an open Wi-Fi network. Even the router and your ISP won’t be able to access anything. A VPN will also hide your IP address.

A proxy server, on the other hand, is a go-between. It will hide your IP address from the server you are visiting.

For best results, use a VPN service with a No-Log policy where the provider won’t track and store information on your activities.

  1. Cost

A proxy server will always cost you much less. And if you decide to use a free proxy, then you don’t need to spend anything. But as already discussed, there are some drawbacks of free proxy servers.

There are some free VPN services as well. However, tech and data security experts always advise using a paid VPN service because the connection is more secure, and you will have more data privacy. The performance will also be more reliable. Free VPN services can be unreliable as these providers just use one VPN connection, which is called PTTP or Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol. On the other hand, the data encryption in a paid VPN service will be more secure.

  1. Connection Speed

A proxy is a single server used by many people at the same time. As a result, the connection speed can be slow. It will be even slower for a free proxy. A VPN server that is located far from your location can also be slow. The encryption in a VPN can also cause delays. However, this delay may matter only for professional streamers and gamers. If the VPN server has the right maintenance protocol and technology, then you won’t be able to notice these delays.

Advantages of VPNs

  • Better security as the data is encrypted and the IP address is hidden.
  • You can access geo-restricted content.
  • Masks your location and identity, and so the trackers cannot monitor your internet behavior.
  • You can use a VPN with many operating systems and devices.
  • You can access the company’s network remotely so the employees can work from any location.

Disadvantages of VPNs

  • Constant data encryption and decryption can slow down the speed.
  • A VPN service will cost you more money.
  • In some VPN services, there can be malware and other security hazards.

Advantages of Proxy

  • A proxy server will hide your IP address. It will be difficult for advertisers and websites to track your online behavior.
  • You can access geo-restricted content.
  • It is cheaper.
  • There is no need to install a proxy server.
  • A proxy server can increase your browsing speed. It will cache frequently visited web pages.

Disadvantages of Proxy

  • Security is less than a VPN as data is not encrypted.
  • You won’t have the same level of privacy. Your location and identity won’t be masked to the same level with a VPN.
  • Free proxies are not very reliable.
  • Some proxy services won’t work with some operating systems or devices.

It may seem that the two are the same as they both provide online security. But the fact is that VPNs and proxy servers are different solutions.

If you just want to hide your IP address, then you can use either a VPN or a proxy. If you care a lot about your browsing speed and just want to hide the IP address from one app or website, then even a free proxy might work. Those worried about the cost can connect to file-sharing sites, apps, and websites through such a proxy server. You will get good proxy servers that will do the job well.

However, it will be better to use a VPN if you want to stay totally secure and hidden. Remember, a proxy won’t encrypt the data. A VPN would. Organizations that have to protect sensitive data should use a VPN.

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