The terms VPN and proxy server are not new to you. Many people have heard of them, even used one or the other, but they are not the same. VPN and proxy terms should not be used interchangeably.
Sure enough, VPNs and proxy servers are invaluable safety tools to have today. They both are tools to protect your physical identity and to provide access to geo-restricted content on the web.
The main difference between VPN and proxy is the level of protection that they offer. You can choose to use either tool depending on the level of protection you need online.
Here are the main differences between VPNs and proxies that you need to know to make an informed choice.
How VPNs and Proxy Servers Work
You can use either a VPN or a proxy server to keep your activities on the internet private.
A VPN, an acronym for Virtual Private Network, re-routes your traffic through a remote server to hide your actual IP. VPN works on the operating system level, meaning that it will re-route all your internet traffic, including browser, torrent, and background app traffic.
A proxy is a server that works on the app-level. It acts as a middleman between you and the source of your internet traffic. What a proxy does is make your internet traffic appear to come from somewhere else.
When to Choose a VPN?
The difference between VPNs and proxy servers lies in their capabilities. In a layman’s language, a VPN is a type of proxy server on steroids. These ‘steroids’ or capabilities vary with the service provider, but data encryption is most important.
A VPN can encrypt your internet traffic to make it inaccessible to middlemen such as your Internet Service Provider. Encryption is crucial if you are keen on protecting the nature of the information you are accessing.
Because they encrypt your data, a VPN is often the most preferred tool if you are concerned with privacy. If you need a secure connection to make payments or enter passwords, you must use a VPN and not a proxy server.
A VPN is necessary when downloading torrents or accessing geo-locked content on streaming sites. VPNs are also popular among gamblers who use them to get special offers and discounts on casinos such as LeoVegas India.
When to Choose a Proxy
There are different types of proxies, each suitable for a different use-case.
- HTTP proxy – Use this proxy to access web pages.
- SOCKS5 proxy – Used to access downloadable and streaming content such as file-sharing, online games, and video streaming. It does not work with websites.
- Transparent proxy – This is a custom-filter proxy to filter the user’s content. Parents can use transparent proxies to regulate the type of content their children access.
Besides lacking privacy protection, proxies are also unreliable. They may be faster than VPNs, but they are flaky and cannot guarantee a good uptime. The connection will drop often, and your real IP will ultimately leak.
On the upside, proxy servers are free, and there are many of them on the internet. This would be the right choice if you are looking to access content privately and briefly and would not wish to take any setup steps.
When it comes to VPN and a proxy server, the choice is clear: VPN is king. However, because of the level of privacy protection it offers, it comes at a price. If you just want to hide your IP momentarily to access a website or video, you can use a proxy server.
But if you plan to keep away snoops, protect your identity and password, and keep your data private from spies, hackers, and the government, the small price of a good VPN is worth the peace of mind.