For the uninformed or the misinformed, it might seem like Virtual Private Network (VPN) and the proxy is the same or, at the very least, two sides of a coin. It might look like this if you consider the fact that both of them allow you to be safe while browsing the Internet and can also make it look like you’re browsing from a location different from where you are. However, it isn’t absolutely true that they are the same or even two sides of one coin. While these two services have some similarities, they are also different in many ways.
The way that they both go about accomplishing the task of trying to hide your location and how much privacy and security that they can offer users vary considerably. The differences that set VPN and proxies apart are more than the similarities that bring them together. Safety and suitability are the real factors that differentiate them. If you have to choose one of them, whether to protect your personal data or bypass geo-blocks or do both, you need to make the right decision for your privacy and security.
This article explains both VPN and proxies so that you can understand both of them, how they work and the differences between them.
VPN disguises or conceals your IP address so that it appears as if you are browsing the Internet from a location that you’re not physically present at. A VPN app encrypts all your browsing data and sends them to a remote server through a secure channel. The server then routes the traffic to its intended destination, masking your geo-location and the original IP address of your device. It appears like you are browsing from the server’s location and makes it impossible to trace back your internet traffic to you. The encryption also ensures that ISPs, hackers, government surveillance, and other third parties can’t see or track your online activity. Read more here - 10 Myths and Facts about VPN Technology.
There are many things that you need a VPN for. Some of these are:
● Data protection
VPN secures your internet connection and encrypts all traffic over your network, including private details like your search history, private messages, banking details, etc. people viewing from outside will only see random characters, nothing more. Facebook, Google, and other similar organizations are not able to access your browsing history, which saves you from targeted ads.
● Bypassing censorship, geoblocks, and firewalls
It is common for streaming services to block viewers not within a specific geo-location using the IP detection technology. VPN allows you to bypass this georestrictions and appear like you’re streaming from within the region with access.
● Anonymizing your online activity
VPN keeps you and your online activity totally anonymous. The combination of encryption and IP masking makes it impossible for third parties to trace your online activity back to your device. This gives you some more internet freedom.
● Increasing your connection speed
Although the use of a VPN reduces the speed of your internet connection as your data has to travel to faraway servers in addition to the processes of encrypting and decrypting your information. However, you might not notice this reduced speed with a high-quality VPN.
But on the other hand, if you’re experiencing ISP throttling or network congestion, VPN can help you increase your connection speed.
● Saving money
While you would have to pay to use the best VPN services, this service allows you to maximize online sales and deals that are supposedly available or open to people within a particular region. If you are looking to book accommodation or flights, for instance, this might come in handy because vendors offer different prices for different locations. Once you find a location with a favorable price, you can just connect to the server in that region. You’ll have that region as your virtual location and can enjoy the benefits.
Proxy is one way for you to make your internet traffic partially anonymous. While they also conceal your IP location, they are not as secure as VPNs. There is no data encryption and other high-end security features that are common features of VPN. Setting up a proxy can be done within the settings of your browser. It is even more useful on older systems. However, it requires some technical knowledge.
Unlike VPN, you need to repeatedly set it up every time you need to change from one virtual location to another, which might take time. After configuring and connecting your browser to a proxy, all your data and internet traffic is routed to the server. The server gets all the information you need from the website you’re accessing and routes it to your device. However, the lack of encryption means that sensitive information that is sent over the networks is vulnerable.
Proxies have more limitations that VPNs do. So it will help if you only use them for situations where online anonymity and security are not essential to you. Here are some things that you can use a proxy for:
● Bypassing firewalls
Like VPNs, proxies can disguise your IP address so that it looks like you’re browsing the internet from a different location than you’re in. This can help you bypass private network firewalls such as work and school computers, to access social media and entertainment websites. However, it lacks security, and browsing is not private.
● Bypassing censorship and-blocks
Proxies can help you bypass-blocks and access services that are limited to particular regions or countries. Although companies such as Netflix and Hulu have stronger proxy blocks, and might not bypass those.
Unlike premium VPNs like TrustZone that are updated regularly to overcome VPN blocks, proxies lack this, and in the coming years, it might be more difficult to bypass geoblocks with proxies.
Proxies offer enough to bypass censorship – even in a country like China, it is unsafe as it lacks security. Using an unencrypted connection to try bypass censorship exposes your data to online surveillance and legal consequences in some countries.
There are many differences between VPN and Proxy, and some of these are: The proxy doesn’t have encryption, but VPN offers some encryption, including end-to-end encryption.
● With VPN, you have complete online anonymity, but proxy doesn’t offer as much anonymity.
● There is no security with proxy, but VPN offers different types of security. Depending on the VPN service provider, you can get an automatic kill switch, obfsproxy, no-logs policies, DNS leak prevention, automatic Wi-Fi protection, etc.
● You might be able to stream with a proxy, but you might experience difficulty bypassing troublesome proxy blocks. VPNs, on the other hand, are ideal for streaming.
● You might torrent with proxy, but the lack of security means that it isn’t recommended. On the other hand, VPN offers you security while torrenting.
● Proxies are more technical to set up, but VPN is great for beginners as they are easy to set up and use.
● The speed on proxy depends on the server, but it’s pretty average. Encryption and decryption of data might slow down the internet connection on VPN coupled with your data traveling some distance. But if the VPN service provider is good enough, you wouldn’t even notice.VPNs can also bypass ISP throttling and network congestion, which increases internet speed.
You can make use of a proxy for bypassing firewalls and blocks when you don’t care so much about online security and being anonymous. But if you’re looking out for your security and you do not want to be known and monitored or tracked, then VPN is what you need.
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