There is some confusion between users regarding the VPN vs Proxy idea. Many people believe that these two terms mean the same, but there are subtle differences that put them apart. Both are ways to keep your anonymity intact while exploring the internet, but one is more for pure surfing while the other works for all purposes. This is the most significant difference that you must understand.
In the battle of a Proxy server vs VPN the latter usually wins. Performance means a lot when it comes to streaming media content or using a special server to download torrents. You need more bandwidth and traffic to access things like Netflix or BBC’s iPlayer.
What Is a Proxy?
Here is a straightforward proxy definition. Proxy as a word in general means something that acts as a mediator between one person and a particular entity. For example, a legal representative of a voter who votes on their behalf or an integer that represents a value of something. In our case, proxy means a remote server that you use to access the internet.
When Do You Need a Proxy?
Let’s take a look at some instances when proxies are put to use.
- Minimize targeted Ads: there are scenarios where you would be looking to avoid seeing the same ads on a regular basis. Making use of a proxy server to surf the internet would make sure that ads are not linked to your PC’s IP address.
- To gain access to geo-restricted content. Proxy servers can bypass restrictions that have been placed in specific geographical locations. Some consider this to be one of the essential functions of a proxy server. Although to get access to restricted content, you have to ensure the proxy server has the right location that can allow you to gain access to that content. For instance, if you are looking to access a content from the UK which is restricted in the UK but not in the US, you would need a proxy server from the United States to gain access to that content.
- A minimal level of protection and privacy: with proxy servers, you get some level of security which is minimal at best. That is because incoming web traffic would pass through the proxy server and the website you are requesting content from would be seeing the IP of the proxy and not the IP of your PC.
In summary, a proxy is a simple privacy solution that should not be used all the time. If for any reason you cannot make use of a VPN then you could default back to making use of a Proxy, and if you must make use of a proxy, we strongly suggest to be very careful. Also, make sure you do not send sensitive information when using a proxy.
Pros and Cons of Using a Proxy
- There are public proxies that don’t cost anything.
- Proxies help you bypass web restrictions.
- Proxies provide a minimal level of security.
- Proxy server owners know your IP address.
- The proxy server does not offer encryption services and as such data transfer is not secured and leaves users exposed to hacks.
- Proxy connections are not stable (connection tends to go off frequently) and your information can easily be accessed and spied upon.
- It is difficult to know who runs a proxy server, and as such your private information can be at the mercy of an unknown person
- Some websites can easily block access from proxy servers. You hardly find proxy servers running for a long time.
- A proxy server in most cases is set up for illegal criminal activities.
What Is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. This is a dedicated high-performance remote server that allows you to connect to the internet (not a specific website) without compromising your geographical location or sensitive personal information. This server can be situated in any part of the world granting you access to any type of content.
VPN servers usually perform much better than free public proxies and can be used for a wide variety of online activities. Proxy server vs VPN is a battle lost before it starts due to participants being from vastly different weight classes. The latter is an evolved version of the former.
Pros and Cons of Using a VPN
- VPN ensures you cannot be identified when you are online or on the internet.
- VPN can provide you with high-level security if your choice of VPN is of the best quality.
- VPN provides extra security features like NAT firewalls and private DNS to mention a few.
- A VPN connection provides high-level encryption.
- VPN gives you the flexibility to select a provider with logging policies that can match your standard.
- VPNs consumes a lot of computing resource in terms of processing power and memory.
- VPN consumes bandwidth thereby slowing down your network speed.
- Quality VPNs come at a cost.
When to Use a VPN?
Most users of VPNs either download large torrents or dodge geographical blocks. VPN is a much safer tool for working in the internet environment. Before, VPNs were mostly used to stay safe while using the public Wi-Fi spot. For example, when you are working from a McDonald’s restaurant.
The good VPN service allows you to:
- Access any type of content regardless of limitations and restrictions, i.e. watch region-locked media such as Netflix TV shows and music videos;
- Protect your devices from potentially malicious connections with public Wi-Fi spots;
- Hide your current geographical location effectively protecting yourself from ads and corporate spying;
- Download torrents completely bypassing logging of information by mediators.
Which is Best: VPN or Proxy?
Proxy vs VPN is not a competition. These are two different types of connections to the internet. Both can be used to your advantage depending on the extent of your online activities and requirements in regards to quality. If you care about your browsing and surfing experience, choosing a reliable commercial VPN is the way to go.
When caught between deciding on whether to make use of a VPN or a Proxy server, in all cases We would strongly recommend that you go for a VPN. VPNs have the same benefits as a Proxy but with the added level of security, protection, and anonymity. If you are conscious of your online privacy VPN is your choice.