VPN vs Proxy: What's the Difference?
The purpose of using both VPN and proxy server is to conceal the user's identity or to spoof a specific geo-location. Let us study the differences between VPN and Proxy.
Virtual Private Networks create an encrypted 'tunnel' between computer devices and the host server. A VPN is a private network that uses a public network to connect remote sites or users. The VPN network uses "virtual" connections routed through the Internet from the enterprise's private network or a third-party VPN service to the remote site.
Your ISP or government authority can only see that you have connected to the VPN server and cannot track your activities or IP addresses you have visited. All data will remain completely hidden with the help of 128-bit encryption.
In this tutorial, you will learn:
- What is VPN?
- What is a Proxy?
- How Does a VPN Work?
- How Does a Proxy Server Work?
- Types of VPNs
- Type of Proxy Servers:
- Difference between VPN and Proxy
- Advantages of using VPN
- Advantages of a Proxy Server
- Disadvantages of using a VPN
- Disadvantages of a Proxy Server
- When to Use VPN and when to Use Proxy
A proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the Internet. Any traffic routed through a proxy server's will appear to come from its IP address and not from your computer. Your browser connects to the proxy, and the proxy connects your browser to the Internet. Proxy servers communicate with the Internet using one of two different protocols: HTTP or SOCKS.
Proxy servers act as a bridge between the website you are visiting and your computer system. Your web traffic goes through a middle-man, a remote machine that helps you to connect to the host server.
In the communication with the VPN server, the VPN client uses the data encryption method. This helps you to access the data or website that you want to access.
In VPN, the client hides your query from your router and ISP, while the VPN software hides your identity from the webpage or web application that you are using.
It enhances your security when you are using any public WiFi network. VPN services are widely used for Online shopping, banking, or sending official emails using an open network to secure your Data. It also stops your ISP or hackers from spying on your traffic and your online activities.
You can use a Proxy server to access geo-restricted websites and pages with the help of your browser. However, unlike VPN, your proxy connection isn't encrypted. It also acts as a mediator between your computer and the final server. As a result, an HTTP proxy hides your identity from the website and provides privacy but never secures any sensitive data.
Here are some important types of VPNs:
1) Remote access VPN
A remote-access VPN helps the user to connect to a virtual private network and access all of its services and resources while being remote.
The connection tunnel created between the user and the virtual private network is established via the Internet. This makes the connection completely private and secure. This type of VPN is useful for both home and business users.
2) Site to site VPN
A site-to-site VPN is also known as a router-to-router VPN. It is used mostly by large companies or organizations that have offices in different locations. This helps these companies to connect the network of one office location to the other office location.
OpenVPN is an open source VPN that allows wide range of encryption algorithms.
PPTP is a fast and easy-to-set-up yet very insecure VPN.
It is secure and easy to up, but it is slower than OpenVPN.
This type of VPN server is faster compared to PPTP and L2TP. It supports AES 128, AES 192, AES g56. However, it is not supported on many platforms.
Here are three types of Proxy Servers:
These only cater to web pages. If you want to set up your browser with an HTTP proxy, all your browsing traffic will be rerouted through it. They are useful for web browsing and also allows you to access geo-restricted websites.
The HTTP protocol is designed to interpret traffic at the HTTP level. That means it can only handle the traffic that starts with HTTP:// or HTTPS://, i.e., web pages. So it is only good for web surfing. Since it is only handling HTTP requests, so it is faster than either SOCKS proxies or VPN servers.
SOCKS proxies are not limited to Internet traffic but still only work on the application level. For example, you can set up these types of proxies on a game, video streaming app, or P2P platform. SOCKS servers never interpret network traffic at all, which makes them much more flexible. However, as it handles more traffic, it tends to be slower.
Private Proxy Servers:
These proxy servers are, of course, not open to the public and are generally paid. For example, VPN's offers both an HTTP and SOCKS5 services, while TorGuard and BTGuard offer SOCKS5 'torrent' services.
These services are much more reliable and are run by companies with good reputations and provide comprehensive support. They often provide customized software. For example, BTGuard and TorGuard offer pre-configured BitTorrent clients.
Public Proxy Servers:
Public proxy servers can accept multiple connections from diverse users at the same time. Many public proxy servers have sprung up, which allow even unauthorized users to use them. But, unfortunately, public proxy servers are not stable and varying hugely in the speed they offer. Moreover, you have to trust these anonymous servers' owners with your sensitive information, which is not secure.
Here is a difference between VPN and proxy server:
|IP Address||Completely hidden||Hides, but still proxy owner can see|
|Encryption||It has a strict encryption policy.||It has a medium level or no encryption.|
|Speed||Provides maximum speed||It depends on Proxy Server.|
|Connection||It provides a seamless connection.||The connection is unstable.|
|Price||It is chargeable||Mostly free|
|Streaming||Highly preferred||Not preferred|
|Integration||VPN servers are created only for personal use. Therefore, require only a few clicks to install and use.||The integration process is complicated, as it is designed to keep business in mind.|
|Purpose||Mostly oriented for a single client for personal use.||Best for large-scale data gathering for business purposes.|
|Security||It depends on the VPN provider. VPNs offer WiFi protection, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, etc.||None|
|Good for torrenting||Yes||Yes, but not recommended because it lacks security.|
|Encryption||VPN encrypts your traffic.||The proxy server does not encrypt your traffic.|
|Reliability||VPN connection is more reliable.||Proxy server connections can drop frequently.|
|Working model||VPN works on the operating system level.||Proxies work on the application level.|
|Ease of use:||VPN servers are easy to use.||It requires some expertise.|
|Good for streaming:||Yes||Yes, but only if it can bypass proxy blocks.|
Here are the pros/ benefits of choosing a VPN:
- VPN software hides your IP address and provides you with a new one.
- A VPN allows safe use of public WiFi.
- A VPN tool uses end-to-end encryption to secure your data.
- Suppose a VPN is installed in your system. In that case, all the Internet activity on your device will remain secure and anonymous.
- It provides unrestricted access to a wide range of streaming content and services.
- VPN servers prevent hackers from stealing your personal information as it is encrypted.
- VPNs work on multiple devices; therefore, you are not restricted to watch streaming services only from computers like Macs or Chromebooks.
- VPN-friendly phones, Smart TVs, and tablets provide you more choices to watch content online.
- Internet activity can't be spied on by ISPs or governments.
- All Internet activity is masked once VPN is set up on the device.
Here are some pros/ benefits of having a Proxy server:
- A proxy server hides your IP address, which provides a solution to remain anonymous.
- Proxy servers are usually free, so you do not require paying to use one.
- These types of servers can be faster than VPNs because proxies do not encrypt your data.
- It helps you control your employees' Internet usage by configuring your proxy server to deny access to particular websites.
- A proxy server helps you to guard against malware sites by blocking your access.
- A proxy server helps you to access geo-blocks services or websites.
Here are some cons/drawbacks of using a VPN:
- It may slow down your Internet connection.
- The potential reselling and logging of your activity to third parties.
- It may create connection-breaking issues.
- The user will see an expired file if the cache expires time is too long.
- In the case of many users using the same proxy server, it will slow down the Internet speed.
- VPNs aren't free. You need to pay for a good service provider.
- Your security is only good as the software you're using, so make sure you do your research before choosing VPN software.
- VPN services are more expensive compared with proxies.
- It can be a little slow during peak times.
- If the VPN provider keeps logs, then these may be obtained by the authorities.
Here are some cons/drawbacks of using a Proxy Server:
- Your web traffic is not private, as the server owner can see it.
- Proxies are configured to particular browsers or programs and not the entire network.
- A proxy server never encrypts traffic or any of your data which puts you at risk.
- Connection speeds can be slowed down when the proxy server is shared with multiple people.
After comparing VPN and proxy, we can say that VPN is by far superior in almost every way to proxies. It provides improved online anonymity and gives a solution to protect your online presence. Moreover, ISPs cannot monitor your online activity. It is a method of bypassing ISP throttling. The only real reason for choosing Proxy or VPN is cost.
Here are scenarios that explain where you need to use VPN or proxy.
|Use a VPN||Use a Proxy|
|When you are concerned with insider threats or getting your data stolen.||Proxy is useful for streaming region-restricted content.|
|When working with sensitive information—for example, username and password.||Proxy is useful to play a video game with limited anonymity.|
|When you are browsing the web on a public WiFi connection.||When you are using an outdated operating system.|
|When you live in a country with strict censorship and online surveillance.||When parents filter out the content that children can access.|
❓ Do you need a proxy if you have a VPN?
No. A VPN and proxy server both mask your IP address. However, a VPN server also encrypts the data and receives it. In case if you are already using a VPN, then connecting to a website or app using a proxy server would be unnecessary.
⚡ Can I use VPN and proxy together?
You can use a VPN and proxy together to add an extra layer of anonymity to your network connection. However, you need to remember that that you should have a stable Internet connection. For most cases, there is no practical advantage of using a VPN and proxy together.
🏅 How do I choose a good VPN?
Here are the important selection criteria to choose a VPN:
- Fast Speed: VPNs can be slow, and therefore, it may be hard to stream video online. You need to first try out the VPNs. If the server speed is good, then you can buy it.
- Large server network: It is good that you choose a VPN having more proxy servers at multiple locations. This will provide you enough choices to locate server locations.
- No traffic restrictions: Many VPNs block P2P networks and movie streams. This will also restrict your downloading bandwidth per month. It is crucial that you go for VPNs that do not have such limitations.
- Zero-logging policy: If your VPN does not have a zero-logging policy, it is potentially harmful to your privacy. You need to make sure that a virtual private network must not store any information that belongs to you.
- Kill switch: This is an important security feature that helps you to instantly disconnect from the Internet. Kill switch can keep your IP address and identity secure. Ideally, you can check such a feature before choosing a VPN.
- Ease of use: VPN software should be user-friendly so that you can easily get stress free experience. It must be easy to install without having technical knowledge.