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.
What Is a Proxy Server?
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.
The difference between VPN and proxy is that one is a dedicated server that allows you to engage in any type of activities online while the other is a way to browse the internet through a remote independent server called proxy. This server acts as a mediator that interacts with a website. The exchange of data happens far away. You are safe from website’s attempts to somehow trach your geolocation or inject malicious code in your machine.
VPN and Proxy are two very similar concepts. Proxy allows users to go around blocks that are used to prevent certain users from accessing specific content. You can by-pass firewalls and region locking by using a proxy.
A free proxy server can be accessed without specialized equipment or software. In many cases, you can use a simple browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. This will help you get through a firewall at work and access social media or connect to a website from a completely different geographical location.
In many scenarios, you will be offered a chance to choose a country where a proxy server is located. These servers are usually low-performance mediator machines since they don’t have to handle much. They literally accept the user’s data and use it to interact with the website. It is hard to find a good proxy to watch high-definition video.
This is why 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 VPN?
Proxy vs VPN is a ghost concept. There is no true battle. One is a more straightforward, basic way to stay anonymous and access forbidden content. The other is a more complex set of instruments for browsing, downloading, and accessing data on the internet.
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.
This is what a good VPN server allows you to do:
- Access any type of content regardless of limitations and restrictions set by owners of said content;
- 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.
Most users of VPNs either download large torrents or dodge geographical blocks. VPN is a much better way to work in the internet environment. Before, VPNs were mostly used to stay safe while working from a place with a public Wi-Fi spot. For example, when you are working from a McDonald’s restaurant. If you only need to a method to use a certain website safely or bypass a region restriction, then you don’t need to choose between a VPN and proxy. The latter is enough. However, if you want real security, VPN is a far superior choice.
Examples of VPN Uses
Millions of people all around the planet choose to use VPNs to access the internet on a daily basis. Why is this such a strong trend? There are several reasons:
- You can access sensitive business networks from remote locations. If you often travel, protecting the business network from exposure to unsafe external servers is a good idea.
- You can protect your home network. Again, when accessing your home network remotely, you can provide more security to sensitive networks.
- Don’t let ISPs spy on you. Your browsing history and even some online activities without a direct connection to http and https servers can be logged by your ISP. This can help them identify your behavioral patterns and limit your speed when you want to download a huge file.
- Ignore censorship. There are many countries where some content can be blocked due to political reasons. If you want to access such content anyway, you can use a VPN server to bypass such restrictions.
- Download huge files. Torrenting is a great way to share big files via the internet. One of the problems is that many torrent aggregators are blocked. Use VPN servers to dodge restrictions and get files without any problems. Most paid VPNs provide you with unlimited bandwidth and traffic.
The Main Takeaway
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.