VPN and proxy servers - what's the difference?
The primary goal of both VPNs and proxy servers is to enhance internet security by hiding a computer's IP address to prevent interception by malicious actors and similar threats.
How does a proxy server work?
When you use a proxy server, it sends a request to the internet when establishing a connection with a website or intercepts it on behalf of the user.
It checks the local cache to determine if the requested content is already stored. If found, it retrieves the content without sending a new request.
If the content is not in the local cache, the proxy server sends a request. Once it obtains the content, it forwards it to the user's device.
The main difference between VPN and proxy lies in the fact that a proxy server establishes an untraceable connection or completely hides the network identifier from surveillance by concealing the IP address. It may have various features, such as firewall presence, network data filtering, sharing network connections, and data caching.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN functions as a bridge between the user's device and the internet service provider. When you launch a client to connect to a VPN server, internet traffic is redirected by replacing your IP address with that of the VPN server for anonymity.
While VPNs and proxies may seem similar, they differ significantly, with VPNs offering numerous advantages over proxies. VPNs facilitate secure data transmission by creating a tunnel through the internet between computers or hosts. This is achieved by encapsulating data packets received and employing encryption protocols like SSL, TLS, PPTP, IPsec for securing transmitted data. This helps companies route data and reduce expenses on dedicated lines for safer data transfer.
What are the key differences between VPN and proxy?
There are many similarities between VPN and proxy services, as both effectively hide your IP address or online identity. However, the main distinction is that a VPN encrypts all your data.
VPNs are the more robust option, providing a high level of security using some of the most powerful encryption methods to protect data and traffic passing through them.
Proxy servers do not require any encryption and do not hide your identity. They may use SSL connections, which offer some security but are not very reliable. If you happen to access a malicious website through a proxy, your activities may end up on the proxy server without notice.
No proxy server can hide your IP address as effectively as a VPN server, which completely isolates client VPN traffic from start to finish.
VPNs offer the highest level of security to maintain privacy because all transmitted and received data is encapsulated.
With proxy servers, you don't get the same level of privacy since not all traffic is encrypted. This means your internet service provider can monitor your sessions and see what you're doing online, even if you're using HTTP through a proxy server.
Proxy servers do not impact internet speed. They use efficient encryption methods for faster access and page loading, but only when a cached page is stored locally. If a cached file is detected locally, the proxy server doesn't need to make a separate request for the file.
VPNs can slow down internet speed due to high levels of encryption. The distance between the VPN client and server is also considered a factor that can affect performance. Another advantage of using a VPN is the elimination of bandwidth throttling.
Proxies are readily available and often free. However, they may experience downtime and can be disconnected at any time. Most proxies do not use the HTTPS protocol, posing a significant data security risk.
You would typically use proxies for basic tasks like accessing blocked websites or bypassing geographical restrictions.
VPNs are the better choice in terms of reliability, support, and security.
A VPN serves as an intermediary for secure online data routing. However, if you want to eliminate geo-blocks or hide your IP address without worrying about privacy, consider using a proxy server.
VPNs are much better suited for ensuring high levels of protection and anonymity compared to proxies.
The choice is ultimately up to you.