There is a growing demand for people to remain anonymous while using the Internet. For a wide range of reasons ranging from the need to keep their privacy to the fun of being an unknown face on the Internet, people are not relenting in their efforts to screen themselves off from the public eye.
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Over the years, some technologies have been designed to help people achieve their goals of anonymity while surfing the web. Two of these technologies are Proxy Servers and VPN.
Both Proxy servers and VPNs mainly being used to unblock region based websites because both work as a tunnel between you and the site that you are accessing. So, if some sites are blocked in your area, you can access them using either proxy or VPN because both connect you to the requested site using a different IP address than your actual one. You can use different country’s IP addresses to unblock blocked websites.
They both do some tasks similar, but there are many differences between both VPN and Proxy. And, this post is going to explain this in detail.
A proxy server is a service or a computer that gives you access to services or sites remotely. Thus, a proxy server serves as an intermediary between your destination and your network. As a result, a proxy server can be used to access attachments, specific files, or for downloading important files from the Internet.
As an intermediary between the Internet and your computer, the implication is that your real identity will be kept secret from others by hiding your Internet Protocol (IP) address. So, when you visit a website via a proxy server, your IP address will be hidden while that of the proxy server will be revealed.
More so, the location of the proxy server will be revealed as your location even if the server is remotely located in a place that is quite a long distance from you. For instance, if you are using a proxy server located in America while you are in China, your location will be shown as America because that is the place where the server is located. That way, your identity remains hidden from the public eye.
Proxies have proved to be valuable tools for Internet users in countries with Internet restrictions. They are also useful for performing low-stakes tasks such as bypassing content filters, watching region-restricted videos, bypassing IP-based restrictions, and what have you.
Sometimes, some people make some proxy servers available for public use free of charge. Such proxy servers are otherwise known as open or free proxy servers. Theoretically, such servers are usually run by volunteers and include encrypted (HTTPS), unencrypted (HTTP), and Socket Secure (SOCKS).
How does a proxy server compare to a VPN? Let’s discuss the benefits of using VPN as well.
Virtual Private Networks also function as proxies. They can redirect your traffic to give the impression that it is from a different source entirely. Does that imply that proxy servers and VPN are identical? Far from it! Their similarity ends with redirecting traffic to hide the identity of the use. Read more about VPN here.
Photo Credit: Praguepost
VPNs perform some major functions that make them outstanding for online privacy. The functions are:
- They allow you to hide your IP address
I have fully explained this function. Hide your identity while surfing the net. Since most VPN servers are located in different parts of the world, you can choose to be wherever you want at any time.
Through a VPN, you can also change your IP address. When you use a VPN, the result is that you will be automatically assigned a different IP address, that’s why masking your IP address is achievable. How does it do that?
According to TorGuard, “An anonymous VPN will protect your entire internet connection the moment you connect to it, disguising your use of everything from a torrent to email to basic web browsing by establishing a virtual network via our servers to reroute all your traffic and DNS.”
- You can encrypt your communications
In the face of the threat of information and data theft, there is no better way to ensure the security of your data or information that through encryption. Some VPNs are equipped with 256-bit encryption for maximum protection of your data from unauthorized people who may want to have an illegal access to the data. Thus, you can browse freely with the assurance that you can neither be monitored nor tracked. Communication encryption is a great benefit of using a VPN.
- Access blocked websites
A VPN also allows you to access blocked websites by working around the restriction. By acting as a tunnel for the conversion of your data into a value that is unrecognizable for anyone, not even machines, the VPN enables you to access websites that are naturally impossible for you to access due to the restrictions placed on them.
The proxy vs. VPN debate has been raging for as long as these two technologies are introduced into the world. Let’s put this to rest today.
While it is true that both proxy servers and VPNs allow you to gain access to the web purportedly from a different location, a proxy server offers less security than a VPN.
For instance, proxies are designed to offer security for your web browser only while VPNs do not only secure your entire online network but also encrypt it to offer you maximum security. This is one of the major benefits of using a VPN.
In simple words, when you use a Proxy server to access the internet, your browsing can be tracked by the proxy owner. However, when you use a VPN server, no one can track your browsing, not even the owner of the VPN because every activity that you do is encrypted. That is the reason, VPN is more recommended than Proxy servers.
Another important factor in the VPN server vs. Proxy server argument is privacy. When using a VPN, you don’t have to worry about using some random IP, a common feature of proxy servers because most VPN providers don’t depend on third parties for hosting their server networks but do that themselves. This ensures that you get maximum privacy while using them.
VPNs are also the right option for individuals who are passionate about encrypting their connection while using public Wi-Fi networks. It is true that proxy servers can hide your IP address, VPN goes a step further by automatically encrypting your network connection so that the insecure Wi-Fi you are using will be automatically turned into a secure network.
Connection drops also deserve mention in this Proxy vs VPN debate. Of what essence is a network if you can’t enjoy an uninterrupted connection? Therefore, it is good to note that connection drops are more frequent on proxy servers than VPNs. This is because a proxy is nothing but a single unit that has to deal with tons of unique question that has to contend with, not your connection speed only, but that of other users as well.
If VPNs are better why proxy is still being used?
A proxy server is used when you don’t care about the privacy. And, you just need to unblock a website that is blocked in your area. So for this small work, you may not want to buy a VPN, then install its desktop client and use. There are many proxy servers are there which you can open just by typing their URLs such as Kproxy.com. Also, you can get proxy server IPs from proxy sites such as hidemyass, and set that up in your browser by going to its setting, and then every request made to open a site will go through the proxy server. The biggest downside is proxy servers are quite slow.
As you already read a lot of good things about it in this post, you can figure out easily why to use it. Let’s recap it once again.
If you want to access blocked websites, and at the same time you want your personal information and browsing activities secured, you must go for VPN since everything is encrypted. No one can track your activity.
One more thing, you must not use long credentials while using Proxy because it can be compromised as the proxy owner can see everything that you do while using the proxy.
Moreover, there is a case known as DNS Leak which is one of the issues with many VPNs in which your VPN is bypassed that means even if you are using a VPN, you are not anonymous and can be tracked by your ISP. So, always query about DNS Leak while buying a VPN service. Shellfire, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN are the few ones which I have used, and they don’t have DNS Leak issue. Hence, they are highly recommended.
To conclude, I would recommend using a VPN instead of using a Proxy server since there are more benefits of using VPN.
I am sure you have a better idea about the difference between Proxy and VPN now. Share your thoughts and queries in the comments.