VPN and Proxy: What’s the Difference?

By: Marcus Stern

What’s the Difference Between a VPN and a Proxy?

Many people think that a virtual private network (VPN) and a proxy are the same thing when looking for anonymity and security of their data.

However, although they are similar and appear to come from another location, there are differences with proxies a poor substitute for VPNs.

Let’s take a look and find out what a proxy can actually do for you.

For starters:

A proxy server will be able to hide (mask) your internet IP address, with some providing a Firewall, data filtering, network connection sharing and data caching.

Anonymous surfing

Anonymous surfing

In layman's terms:

It functions as a middleman so that all your activities on the internet appear to come from another computer and not your own, masking your IP address one application at a time.

Addtionlally, it does not encrypt or have any built in privacy or security benefits. Your true identity can be revealed, that is way for serious tasks a proxy server is unsuitable for preventing your data from being stolen when connecting to Wi-Fi.

When it comes to choosing a proxy, you have the option of getting a free proxy (there are loads of free downloads on the internet), or opting for a paid proxy services, bearing in mind that you get what you pay for.

That’s not all...

Free proxy servers on the whole have poor uptime and are just fine for a one-off task, like watching YouTube videos or bypassing IP based restrictions on services. Due to traffic on intermediary servers, proxy servers frequently crash down.

It is also worth noting that you are relying on an unknown origin.

And did you know?

A VPN server creates a tunnel over the public networks between computer servers, with data packets using encryption protocols. A few of the protocols are PPTP, SSL, TLS and IPsec. This provides high-routing speeds for secured data transfer.

Regardless of your geographic location, with a VPN server you will get enhanced security offering protection:

  • On torrent downloads
  • Online activity on your web browser, email
  • Faster connections
  • Military grade encryption
  • Quick and easy connection and disconnection with a mouse click
  • Replaces your local ISP routing
VPN global locations

VPN global locations

Why does this matter?

Look at the scenario, where you are on a business trip (or as a tourist) and at the airport you connect to the free Wi-Fi internet service at the airport, coffee shop or even at your hotel, which is full of security holes.

Without a VPN, you are vulnerable to hacks and a very real threat of your personal data, like passwords, credit card numbers and banking details being hacked.

Having a good VPN enabled you won’t have to worry about security holes ever again.

But there’s a catch...

A VPN is not without their downsides, you will need good hardware, (computing power) and a good and robust VPN provider.

VPN and hardware

VPN and hardware

The best part, is that there are many advantages like:

  • Your privacy is protected through a VPN, by encrypting your IP address
  • No more censorship
  • Websites are accessible, even those ones that are banned in specific regions
  • Flexibility to visit any webpage from your workplace or home with the added ability to connect to your home network from afar in the event that you are traveling to a foreign country.
  • Filters are bypassed
  • Using a VPN you are able to significantly boost your internet speed
  • A VPN is stable because encryption is done only once

Bottom line?

It is entirely up to you to choose between a proxy and a VPN.

With a VPN, you can be assured of high security and anonymity together with other major benefits whereas with a proxy server, you are limited and unable to protect yourself from snooping.

The choice is entirely up to you!