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Defending your data and online identity is imperative to staying safe in the modern age. To help internet users secure their online activities, the best VPNs encrypt data, hide IP addresses, and connect to servers worldwide. But there are alternative internet safety methods outside of VPN connections. For example, a proxy server is another standard method of staying anonymous online. To make sense of the differences, we’ll compare a proxy vs a VPN server and help you figure out which is best for you.
There are many technical services to consider when establishing a secure and reliable internet connection, such as understanding the debate between LANs vs VPNs.
There are varying types of proxy protocols that only work with specific internet traffic. For example, the HTTP protocol only works with HTTP web pages. In contrast, a SOCKS protocol supports all web and application traffic types.
Proxy servers and VPNs exist to serve the same function: to protect online identities. However, these two have critical differences regarding security, efficiency, and price.
Proxy servers do only one thing, they change a user’s IP address, so their location information becomes untraceable. Proxy connections help users access geo-restricted content by changing actual IP addresses (which show your current location) to a separate server where restrictions don’t exist.
On the other hand, VPNs do the same thing. They protect your physical location information by connecting you to the virtual private network server’s IP address rather than the one on your computer. However, VPN services add extra security to internet traffic by encrypting all of your data. This encryption means that each search, visited webpage, and transferred file passes through the VPN server, becoming untraceable.
If you want to look at more competing internet security methods, we have additional articles on Seedbox vs VPN and another explaining SD-WAN vs VPN.
As stated above, only geographic information is hidden with proxy server connections. Changing your original IP address adds some security, but data remains open to tracing. VPNs are much better for protecting online activities because they create a secure tunnel for user information that makes it hard to access and decipher.
Additionally, proxy connections only work with one web application at a time. However, VPNs automatically connect and work simultaneously with most search engines and applications. For those trying to understand more about private networks, you can find our article that answers the question, “What is my VPN’s IP address?”
Always investigate free VPN providers and proxy services before connecting. They are known to inject ads, harvest user data, or be a backdoor method for installing malware.
Theoretically, proxies should have faster connection speeds than VPNs because the overall operation has fewer data protection layers. However, most proxy services have lower data processing than VPNs and can even significantly inhibit connection speed.
STAT: A 2020 report said that 84% of internet users share a concern about their online data privacy. (source)
One of the big differences between proxy and VPN is price. A monthly VPN subscription costs users around $5-$20. Proxies, on the other hand, cost between $1-$5. There are many free proxy and VPN services. Still, cybersecurity experts warn against using them because they are reported to be widely insecure.