VPN vs. Proxy: What’s the Difference?
Both proxy servers and virtual private networks, or VPNs, are great solutions for protecting user identities. There are a lot of similarities between the two, so it’s understandable that many people mistake them as being the same, but they’re not.
VPN vs. Proxy – FAQs
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between VPN and Proxy, to answer any lingering questions you might have.
Is a Proxy Server the Same As a VPN?
Proxies and VPNs are quite similar. While they each route your Internet traffic through another server, proxy servers can only redirect web requests. On the other hand, VPN connections can route, encrypt, and make your network traffic harder to track.
What are The Key Differences Between a Vpn and Proxy Server?
Despite their similarities, there are several differences between a VPN and a proxy server. For starters, proxy servers don’t encrypt your network traffic while VPNs do. VPNs can work at the OS level, which means they reroute all of your internet traffic. Proxies, on the other hand, work at the application level, so they can only deliver traffic from a specific browser or app.
VPN services are also usually paid, but they’re surprisingly inexpensive. For example, an industry-leading McAfee Secure VPN only costs $39.99 a year. Although many proxies are free, you must deal with their limitations and take the risk of your data being leaked. A VPN is a small investment worth making.
Can a VPN and Proxy Be Used Together?
You can combine a VPN with a proxy, but we don’t recommend it. Not only can the setup be challenging to configure, but the proxy would slow your connection without providing any significant benefits.
Is Proxy Safer Than VPN?
Based on their benefits, advantages, and disadvantages, a VPN is more secure than a proxy. Reputable VPN providers host their own networks, allowing multiple users to use their IP addresses while browsing the Internet. Meanwhile, a proxy only acts as a gateway. It simply reroutes your information through a different IP address but doesn’t necessarily offer an extra layer of security.
Do I Need a Proxy if I Have a VPN?
No, you do not need a proxy if you have a VPN. Your VPN already conceals your IP address. It also encrypts your Internet traffic and hides it from potential hackers and your ISP, which a proxy can’t do.
VPN vs. Proxy – Weighing Advantages and Disadvantages
Let’s dive into each to understand the differences between the two and see why VPNs have the upper hand in the security and privacy department.
VPNs can offer protection and privacy. Let’s dive deeper to know what a VPN is, how it works, and why or when you need one.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is an app that disguises your IP address and makes it seem like you are using the Internet from another location. It does so by creating a secure tunnel that connects your local network to a server in another city, state, or country. This connection provides you with online freedom, protects your privacy, and allows you to access websites like they were in your own backyard.
How Do VPNs Work?
When a VPN app is installed and connected to your device, it will encrypt your data and transmit it securely through a tunnel to a server. This server is located remotely. It takes the data and routes it to the intended destination, making it look like it originated from the server’s location rather than your device. As a result, your device’s geo-location and original IP are secure.
Using a virtual private network protects your online privacy by keeping your internet traffic and location from being tracked. The encryption also prevents ISPs, hackers, government surveillance, and other third parties from viewing your online activity. Instead of seeing your private data, anyone snooping on you will only see random characters.
A VPN can be installed and used by anyone with little to no technical know-how. Like McAfee Secure VPN, most VPN apps can be downloaded and easily installed in only a couple of clicks. With the basic settings already pre-configured, there’s nothing to do but log in and connect.
Why Use a VPN?
As you can see, there are several reasons to use a VPN. When using a VPN, you will be able to:
Browse the Internet Privately
With a VPN, your internet activity is harder to track. Thanks to encryption and IP masking, third parties cannot track your activity and trace it back to you. So your search history and the sites you visit are hidden from outside view. For extra measure, you can also delete your browser history and install McAfee+. Know how to delete your browser history on this blog.
Protect Your Data
When securing your connection with a VPN, all of your internet traffic is encrypted, including your search history, private messages, and other private data. Outsiders will see nothing but a long string of random characters.
It might look something like this: “9fRseGu4/ridCWOFQtj33giDKTT/arKLv8X/yPBERICORfduC5.”
Most VPN services use 256-bit AES encryption, which would take dozens of supercomputers years just to decrypt a single piece of data. In other words, it’s about the best encryption currently available.
Boost Your Connection Speed
In some cases, a VPN will slow your connection speed a little due to the extra time needed to encrypt your information and arrive at the remote server. However, when using a quality VPN, this slower connection speed is barely noticeable.
In other cases, using a VPN will boost your connection speed. This scenario is especially true if you’re experiencing ISP throttling or network congestion, which unfortunately happens more than it should.
→ Dig Deeper: Looking for the Fastest VPN Available Anywhere?
VPN – Pros and Cons
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a VPN to upgrade your security, browse anonymously, and access geo-restricted content.
- Provides security features and end-to-end encryption
- Masks your IP to bypass geo-restrictions
- Provides data protection from any app or browser
- Solves problems with ISP throttling and network congestion
- Offers inexpensive subscription to unlock some features
- Slows down network connection slightly during encryption
A proxy can act as a gateway between you and a website. Let’s dive deeper to know what a proxy server is, how it works, and why or when you need one.
What Is a Proxy?
A proxy is an intermediary server connecting you to the websites you browse. Rather than connecting directly to the servers of the sites you browse online, it serves as a gateway to partially anonymize your online traffic.
How Do Proxies Work?
While they conceal the location of your IP, proxy servers cannot even compare to VPNs in terms of privacy and security. Not only is your data not encrypted, but they also lack many of the premium security features offered by a VPN.
Unlike a VPN, which requires software installation, a proxy can be set up inside your browser. Doing so, however, requires some level of technical know-how and comfort in dealing with advanced settings. You must also perform this setup process every single time you want to use a new virtual location.
After configuring your browser settings to connect to a proxy, all of your online traffic is routed to the server, which retrieves the data from the site you’re accessing and routes it to your online device.
However, since a proxy server won’t encrypt your data, any information sent over your connection is vulnerable to prying eyes.
Why Use a Proxy?
Proxies lack the privacy and encryption of VPNs, so they should not be used if you’re trying to keep your data anonymous and secure. That said, they do offer some benefits. With a proxy, you can:
Like VPNs, proxies are designed to mask IP addresses, so it looks like you are online in another location. This feature helps get around firewalls and access social media or entertainment at work, school, or on other private networks. However, unlike a VPN, your browsing activity won’t precisely be private.
Proxies are commonly used to circumvent geo-restrictions and access services locked in a certain region. This is one of the reasons they’re so popular. However, since it’s not difficult to trace a person using a proxy, you’re still likely to receive a copyright infringement notice if you use them for illegal downloads.
Proxy – Pros and Cons
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a proxy server to upgrade your security, browse anonymously, and access geo-restricted content.
- Masks your IP address
- Unblocks restricted content
- Retains loading speeds
- The connection is not encrypted
- Online activity can be tracked
- Difficult to set up sometimes
Comparing VPN vs. proxy is just a walk in the park. VPNs and proxies both reroute your internet traffic and mask your IP. However, a proxy is no match for the security and privacy afforded by a premium VPN. Therefore, if you care about either, you need a VPN with an all-inclusive service.