Last Updated on July 22, 2019 by Husain Parvez
Can’t decide between proxy vs VPN when it comes to choosing the tool to safeguard your online browsing experience? Here’s everything you need to know about these two services and the uses both of them have to offer.
The inception of virtual private networks took place to fulfil the necessity of securing online activity for corporate and business entities. Over the years, improved infrastructure, faster internet technology, and the growing interest of public has led to widespread demand for VPNs all across the globe. Not only have VPN services become popular for accessing geo-restricted websites and web-based services, but also as a means to protect the user’s data and keep the prying eyes of the federal authorities at bay.
Generally speaking, a VPN service allows you to connect to a remote server, which changes your IP address, thus effectively hiding your location and user activity. However, there is yet another networking technology that allows you to do the same, which is called proxy server. Since proxy servers also allow you to mask your IP address, it would be safe to assume that the two security options are the same. However, taking a closer with proxy vs VPN reveals some key differences between the two, which every user should be aware before they choose either of these services to safeguard their internet browsing experience.
What is a VPN Service?
Imagine your IP address to be a fingerprint through which your ISP, and even government authorities can track your geological location on the map. The way a virtual private network is designed to work is that it allows you to hide the IP address of your device, effectively hiding your location of access as well. A VPN works as a software for your computer, mobile phone, or can even be installed on your wireless router.
A dependable VPN service not only changes your IP address, but secures the network connection as well. The data that is sent out and received by your computer or mobile device when using a VPN service, is first routed to a remote server, which encrypts it. The encrypted data is then rerouted, thus spoofing your location, while ensuring that the browsing data cannot be identified and traced back to you.
Pros of using a VPN:
- Premium VPN services offer end-to-end encryption along with a slew of security features that allow you to keep your browsing data on a lockdown.
- The ability to change your IP address gives you a way to get past geo-restrictions set by web-based services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
- A dependable VPN service would be available not just for the computer, but for mobile phones and media streaming devices as well.
- ISP throttling can be bypassed when using a VPN service.
Cons of using a VPN:
- Premium VPN services, although worth the added cost, can be expensive to use at times.
- VPN services are generally frowned upon by banking and legal authorities due to their close association with hackers.
- Data encryption does offer protection, but the time it takes for the data to reach the remote servers and then be encrypted before being transferred, can slow down your connection in certain cases.
What is a Proxy Server?
A means to effectively make your browsing experience anonymous, proxy servers take a simplified approach in comparison to VPN services. Generally speaking, proxy servers were introduced as a means to facilitate browsing privacy by simply acting as an extended bridge between devices and the network. Unlike VPN services which have an entire framework of remote servers that are tied together using a web-based software, proxy servers are fairly lightweight and do not require a software platform to be established.
A proxy server serves just one purpose, which is hiding your IP address, and unlike VPN which requires connecting to a remote server, a proxy can be set up on a local server as well. Proxy servers, being feasible and fairly easy to establish, are large available for free all over the internet, allowing you to access a website or online service outside of your country, with no security protocol in place whatsoever.
Pros of using a Proxy Server:
- Public proxy servers, which are easy to obtain online, are free to use and can be accessed at anytime from anywhere.
- Simplified setup allows users to bypass geo-restrictions and gain access to regional websites and online services.
Cons of a Proxy Server:
- Proxy servers can be run by any entity, who can easily gain access to the data that you’re transferring while using their proxy server.
- Most public proxy servers have no form of encryption in place, while leaves you vulnerable to phishing and federal surveillance.
- Proxy servers are barely ever established permanently, and can be blocked by websites when flagged.
Proxy Vs VPN – Which one should you choose?
The end-user who is looking for a way to bypass the regional restrictions put forth by their ISP or the government agencies is just looking for a solution that works. In theory, when you compare proxy vs VPN in terms of functionality, both of these services are able to deliver the ability to hide your IP address.
What makes VPNs better
If basic browsing is not your only purpose, and you need more than just anonymity online, a VPN service is required. Apart from barring access of your personal browsing information from prying eyes when you’re connect to a public Wi-Fi network, a VPN service also helps you encrypt every kilobyte of data that is transferred to and from your devices. Whether you want to access your financial information securely, or need multiple layers of security that is enabled at all times, a virtual private network service is what you need.
What makes Proxy better
If you’re looking for a simple and straightforward way to access a website that has been blocked in your region, proxy servers can help you with it. You can turn towards the basic options for a free proxy server that lets you connect instantaneously, regardless of the computer or mobile device you use it from. The process involves no software installation, and can be done for most of your regular browsing needs, such as watching Netflix from another region, or just browsing through regional websites on a public domain.
We Recommend ExpressVPN
If you don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for a VPN service rather than depending on an unreliable public proxy server to mask your IP address, there are plenty of service providers to choose from. We’ve sieved through the market and hand-picked ExpressVPN, not just based on its longstanding reputation in the online web security market, but the number of security and functionality features that it has to offer.
Bypassing Geo-restrictions – Depending on where you live, you won’t be able to access the services online, but ExpressVPN offer you a way around this. Allowing you to connect to hundreds of remote servers across the world, you can choose to log in from more than 60 different locations.
Avoid ISP Logging – Even if a website or service is not barred in your region, the ISP (internet service provider) can still keep an on-file record of the user data. The online activity that you perform on your devices can be logged, which poses not only a privacy treat, but the problem of being fined for unauthorized usage as well.
High-speed Streaming –When you choose a mediocre VPN service that helps you get past the ISP but underperforms in terms of connectivity, you could end up with minutes of buffering, which can impact the browsing experience. With ExpressVPN and its smart filtering of servers that rank highest on the Speed Index, you can choose a network server with the fastest speeds on your computer and mobile devices.
Native Support – The sheer popularity of ExpressVPN not only makes it a viable solution for desktop and mobile devices, but for computers, streaming devices, and even wireless routers. Easily choose your service location, and even monitor your streaming speeds for a surreal viewing experience, all from the official ExpressVPN app.
As the treat to privacy grows, and the malicious activities of phishing and data breaches become a common sight, even the end-user is looking to find ways to secure their online browsing experience. The purpose of hiding the IP address of a device is resolved by proxy servers as well as VPNs, but the two technologies perform differently, whereas as one only offer anonymity (proxy), and the other offering you encrypted data transmission as well (VPN).
At the end of the day, the competition between proxy vs VPN boils down to the what serves your need the best. So are you going to choose the affordability and ease of use that comes with setting up a proxy server, even if it does not push forth high-level security? Or would you rather spend a few more dollars but secure your network connection with the best in the business? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section right down below.