Proxy vs VPN: What Is the Difference?

Last Updated: October 24, 2021

Jason

Jason

Private proxies and VPNs are tools that help you keep your online activity private while you are browsing the internet.
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If you are concerned about privacy while using the internet, you might consider using a VPN service or a proxy server.

These services not only hide your location and your IP address from any potential hackers, government agencies, and other companies that track your data. 

You might think that a private proxy and a VPN are two similar services, but they are not. They both do protect your identity online, but VPNs are capable of encrypting your online data. 

Here’s all you need to know about Privacy proxy vs. VPN. 

What Are VPNs & Proxies?

Private proxies and VPNs are tools that help you keep your online activity private while you are browsing the internet.

For example, they will hide your IP and identity when you send your emails, stream videos, read message boards, or download files. But they both work in different ways. 

Private proxy server

A private proxy server is a computer between the server and you, and it acts as a getaway when you are accessing the internet. When you open a particular website, you will have to connect with the proxy server first.

After that, you will be connected to the website through the host server that is outside.

So, your identity goes under the radar. The website you are visiting will only be able to see the IP that belongs to a proxy server. So, your IP address will remain hidden along with your current location. 

Now, there are three different types of these proxy servers,

  • HTTP proxies 

HTTP proxies are for you to use for accessing different websites. These proxies also come in pretty handy if you are looking to access any geo-restricted site or content.

For example, a particular website or video is blocked in your region. 

You can use this proxy to access it as the website cannot detect your true IP address and location. But this might violate the terms and conditions that are associated with your content provider. 

  • SOCKS5 proxies

These proxies are not only for websites. You can use them for streaming services, online games, and file-sharing as well. But keep in mind that connecting to an application using this proxy might be slow.

This is because free-of-cost proxies come with lesser configuration support, options, and low infrastructure. 

  • Transparent proxies

These proxies filter user’s content when they use the internet and prevent accessing certain sites. Employers frequently use these, libraries, schools, parents, etc. You might be using such a proxy already at your home, school, or office.

VPN

Virtual private networks or VPNs are very similar to proxies. But they work with every site or app that you access and are not limited to single sites and applications. 

Just like proxy servers, as you visit a site after you have logged into your VPN, your IP will be hidden, and it will be replaced with the VPN provider’s IP address. And your identity and location will be shielded.

In addition, these protections will stay in its palace, and you can visit other websites. This is something that differentiates a VPN from a proxy server.

Of course, you can also access the internet from VPN service providers. But the providers that charge for their services are less likely to shave your data with third parties. 

How Do They Differ?

As mentioned above, VPNs and private proxies work similarly, but they are different from one another. VPNs and proxy servers differ in four different ways.

VPNs can encrypt your details

This is the most significant advantage that VPN has over a private proxy. The entire browsing data that you send and receive will remain encrypted. In addition, it means no third parties will be able to see what you are doing on the internet. 

If you are accessing your online bank account with your VPN, your complete information will remain encrypted. It means hackers won’t be able to get your bank account numbers.

The same goes when you access your online credit card portal. No one will be able to access your portal’s password. 

VPNs are all about online privacy 

If you are looking for complete privacy, go for a VPN service with a no-log policy. This means your VPN provider will pledge that they won’t track or store your activity as you are using the service. 

It means that these VPN service providers won’t have any of your data stored on their servers. On the other hand, free VPNs might track traffic and sell it to third parties. 

Free proxies tend to be slower

VPNs and proxy servers can both slow down your browsing. But this entirely depends on how many users are accessing these services.

But free proxy server connections can be a lot slower, and they are less secure. 

This is because there can be limited configuration options and a slower infrastructure. Therefore, the browsing speed you will get will be pretty slow, making you feel frustrated. 

VPNs tend to be expensive

Though you can use free-of-cost VPNs, most tech pros say you should go for a provider that charges you for their services.

This is because paid services guarantee better data privacy, more reliability in terms of performance, and even more secure connections. 

Free VPNs can be unreliable, and there can be many users using the same VPN. This is known as PTTP or point-to-point tunneling protocol.

Do I Need Both a Proxy and a VPN? 

No, you don’t need a proxy if you already have a VPN. But you might want to go for a VPN if you have a proxy based on your usage and requirements. 

This is because your VPN can encrypt data and send and receive, which your proxy server cannot do.

Therefore, if you already have a VPN, you don’t need it, and there is no point in using a proxy server to add an unnecessary step and slow your browsing down even further. 

In most cases, a VPN is a far more reliable service than a proxy server. You can use your VPN and proxies together, but the configuration is going to take a while.

But it will significantly slow down your browsing speed. 

Some people even use proxy servers, thinking that VPNs are illegal. But at present, there are no laws that prohibit you from using a VPN, either free or paid. So, it’s a service that you can use without any problems at all. 

Which One Should You Choose? 

You need to prioritize a service based on your needs and requirements. For example, if you want to hide your IP, any of these two services will work.

But if you are more concerned about your browning speed and hiding your IP from a single app or site, you need to go for an accessible proxy server. 

If cost is a problem, you should go for a proxy server to use apps, file-sharing, or browsing. It’s a much easier task to find a free proxy server that can hide your IP. 

However, if you want to keep your identity secret from third pirates, you need to go for a VPN service, but it all comes to encryption.

VPN services can encrypt your data, but proxy servers are not able to do that. 

If you are looking to access several websites and you are going to use your personal and financial information, you should go for a VPN. 

Many service providers charge for their quality services and pledge not to sell your data to third parties. In comparison to your online privacy and freedom, it’s a pretty nominal price.

All your personal and financial information will remain safe with you, and all prying eyes are side-lined. 

Which One is Better: Free Proxy or Free VPN?

Free proxies and free VPN might not have a price tag on them, but they compromise your privacy and security. Developers have to make money in a way so they can snoop on your data in the background.

In addition, they will bomb you with adware or can also limit the data on its amount. 

Paid VPNs are all about infrastructure, and they also provide you with exceptional encryption. In addition, you have access to a rich server base and can access customer support 24/7.

In addition to that, they also continue to improve their service over time. 

Therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid using free VPNs or proxies. This is because a couple of bucks that you save now might cost you a lot more in the long run.

Therefore, choose a good-quality VPN so you don’t even have to use proxy servers. 

Final Word

A proxy server and a VPN are similar as they both reroute your traffic via a remote server and mask your original IP address. But a VPN is far superior to a proxy server in various aspects.

So, if you want to take care of your privacy and security, you need to choose a VPN over a private proxy. 

And make sure you don’t go for a free if cost service in either case.

This is because you will be bombarded with adware, and your security and privacy will be at risk. So, a paid VPN is always a better option to consider.

Written by Jason

Hi! I’m the editor at EarthWeb. I have a deep interest in technology and business. I also enjoy testing products out. Contact me to be featured!