proxy vs vpn

Proxy vs VPN

Differences and Use Cases

Today, many individuals and businesses use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and proxies. These tools don’t work in the same way, although they both offer privacy when using the internet. For example, a VPN uses encryption and a proxy doesn’t. Learn more about both of these tools and when to use them by reading further.

What is a Proxy?

Proxy servers function as intermediaries that sit between devices and the internet. When a user fetches data with a proxy, the request goes to a special proxy server. This then sends the user’s request to the original server. This server gets the proxy IP and not the address of the user. It sends the data to the proxy server, which sends it to the device. This indirect method offers the user privacy and can optimize performance.

There are different kinds of proxies with varying use cases. A common proxy Individuals can use is an HTTP proxy. They may use it to access geo-restricted content. For example, users may use an HTTP proxy to access an online video in another region, which restricts access to them.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) uses an encryption tunnel to give security and privacy. Routing internet traffic through this tunnel means the user’s IP address and online activities are hidden. VPNs offer more security than a privacy proxy for this reason.

Various VPN protocols are in use to create secure connections. An open-source protocol offers versatility and security. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is fast but may not be as secure as other protocols.

Key Differences Between Proxies and VPNs

  • Security and encryption: While proxies provide a level of anonymity, they don’t encrypt traffic. This means data is still susceptible to interference. VPNs offer strong encryption to secure data transmitted between a device and the server. End-to-end encryptions mean an ISP or router can’t access user data. This gives users much more privacy than when using a proxy.
  • Anonymity - Proxies can hide an IP address from websites, and therefore provide some degree of anonymity. They don’t conceal online activities from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the government. VPNs will conceal online activities from an ISP and potential hackers.
  • Speed and performance - As they don’t encrypt data, proxies usually offer faster connection speeds than VPNs. This makes them a good choice for tasks that require low latency, such as online gaming. The use of encryption and routing through servers may introduce some latency although modern VPNs are designed to minimize any impact on performance. VPN providers today have high-speed servers optimized for streaming and gaming.
  • Device compatibility - It is possible to configure proxies on web browsers or individual applications. This makes them suitable for various devices but they don’t provide system-wide protection. VPNs offer system-wide protection and installation is possible on a wide variety of devices. All internet traffic from the device is encrypted and protected.

Use Cases for Proxies

Proxies are good for use in situations where anonymity isn’t the primary concern. They are useful for accessing geo-restricted content or bypassing content filters. Users can connect through a proxy server in a different location and access content that is otherwise unavailable in their region.

In situations where content access is restricted, such as in educational institutions or work situations, proxies can bypass content filters and provide access to blocked websites or services.

Some proxies, such as content delivery network (CDN) proxies can optimize the delivery of content by caching data closer to a user.

Employers, parents, or schools may set up transparent proxies to filter content when users connect to the internet. They may block users from accessing certain websites.

A reverse proxy may sit in front of a web server and distribute incoming requests to many backend servers. This ensures high availability and efficient utilization of resources.

Use Cases for VPNs

A VPN offers more anonymity than a proxy and is suitable for a wide range of use cases. They don’t just work with single apps or websites. Users can securely browse websites, visit online streaming sites, download files, or send emails. VPNs are useful for:

  • Streaming.
  • Online banking.
  • Accessing public Wi-Fi securely.
  • Torrenting.

Thanks to encryption, hackers won’t have access to bank account details or any other sensitive information. Users can save money on flights and accommodation by connecting to other countries to prevent price discrimination. They can stop intrusive monitoring and third-party surveillance. Protecting their identity from scammers and ISPs is possible. They are also able to access work or a university network from anywhere in the world while traveling.

Users can go with a free VPN, but tech experts recommend going with paid providers. They tend to offer more secure connections and more data privacy.

Which is the Better Option?

For organizations that deal with sensitive data and need to hide browsing activity, a VPN is a great solution. Only a VPN will hide a user’s online activity from government agencies, hackers and third parties keen to track browsing habits. Those concerned about browsing speed and only worried about hiding their IP address from single websites or apps will find a proxy that serves the purpose. Connecting to single sites, apps, or file-sharing services through a proxy will cost less. Those who are already using a VPN do not need to use a proxy.