Proxy vs VPN: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: September 26, 2022
Typically, the biggest differences include anonymity and privacy levels, price, and what kind of client they’re going to suit better. Let’s take a look at our full proxy vs VPN guide.
Proxy vs VPN: What's the Difference?
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This proxy vs VPN article is going to analyze the differences between the two.

If you know anything about proxies versus VPNs, you will know that they are meant for the same purpose, to let you anonymously browse the Internet.

Despite having the same end goal, both of these options have different advantages and disadvantages, use cases, and features.

Typically, the biggest differences include anonymity and privacy levels, price, and what kind of client they’re going to suit better. Let’s take a look at our full VPN vs proxy guide.

Proxy vs VPN: What is a Proxy?

To ensure the security of your information online, proxies route your traffic through a server, which is going to send a request to a website in place of the user, which means that you can easily hide your IP address.

There are many different kinds of proxies for you to choose from, based on what you plan on doing online.

Datacenter Proxies

If you are interested in using a datacenter proxy, they source their IP addresses from data centers.

They are quick, and typically they are the cheapest kind of proxies, but they aren’t going to hide the fact that they are a proxy, which means that they are only really useful for clients that want a cheap and quick IP address and want to use it for web scraping.

Residential Proxies

As far as residential proxies go, they come from real desktop and mobile devices, which means that they have the advantage of hiding the fact that you are using a proxy service at all.

However, there is a tradeoff of speed and price, because residential proxies tend to be slower, and more expensive.

They are most commonly used for managing social media accounts, and sneaker copping.

Mobile Proxies 

Mobile proxies fall under the category of residential proxies as well, and they work in a similar way, except that instead of using Wi-Fi, they use SIM cards.

Shared/Dedicated Proxies

As this proxy’s name suggests, there are either private or dedicated proxies, where a select group of people or a single person gets to use them, or a shared proxy, where everyone has access to the proxy network and can be assigned an IP address.

Static/Rotating Proxies

As far as static proxies go when thinking about a proxy server vs VPN, these are IP addresses that you are going to use for as long as you need to, whereas rotating proxies are going to provide you with a new IP address with each request that you send online, or after a specific period of time.

When it comes to static proxies, these are primarily used for managing social media accounts, whereas rotating proxies are really good when it comes to web scraping, because they can provide you with the guarantee that you won’t be blocked.

Another thing about proxies is that they come in different kinds of protocols, including HTTP proxies, HTTPS proxies, and SOCKS5 proxies.

These transfer data without reading it, which makes them more versatile, and quicker. This is a good proxy to use for gaming.

Proxies are primarily used for business reasons, including social media management, web scraping, and buying limited items.

This is because proxies can get quite expensive and some of the high-quality options out there can be as much as $50 per gigabyte.

Proxy vs VPN: What is a VPN?

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To ensure that a user stays anonymous online and thinking about an anonymous proxy vs VPN, a VPN is going to route their traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel.

This makes sure that no third party including the government, or a hacker can see what data is being transferred in the tunnel.

A high-quality VPN provider is going to offer clients a no-logs policy, and have independent audits to prove this, which means that they won’t store any information not only that is personally pertaining to you, but to do with what you are doing online.

VPN IP addresses come from datacenters, which means that they are cheap and fast, and you are typically able to choose from thousands of different options from different locations around the world.

VPNs can also provide their clients with specialty servers, including an Onion Over VPN, and a double VPN, so you’ve got to think about SOCKS5 proxy vs VPN as they offer similar protocols.

Typically, people who prefer VPNs want to be able to protect their online identity, access content easily, and avoid being taken advantage of when accessing a public network.

Proxy vs VPN: How Do They Compare?

For the most part, VPNs are typically cheaper, because you are given access to an entire network of servers, instead of being charged per gigabyte, or per IP address.

As well as hiding a user’s IP address, a VPN can encrypt your traffic as well, which means that no third party can monitor what you’re doing.

Typically, VPNs are easier to install and don’t require you to know more than the basics when using them.

VPNs are also app-based, which means that all online connections are automatically protected.

Usually, proxies are browser-based, which means that requests coming out of the specific browser are routed through a proxy server.

Certain kinds of proxies hide the fact that you’re using one, which does allow for more tasks where data center IP addresses are being blocked.

Datacenter proxies tend to be the quickest option, and like with VPNs, IP addresses like these come from data centers, but they don’t encrypt data, allowing for a faster speed, but a lower level of protection.

Proxies typically have more specific use cases, while VPNs tend to be a bit broader.

Proxy vs VPN: Which One Is Right for You?

When you are trying to choose between a proxy and a VPN, you need to think about what you’re going to be using it for.

However, for a typical Internet user, a VPN is almost always the better choice.

As we’ve already mentioned, proxies are best for businesses as they have features that a typical user is probably never going to use.

The additional features that you get with a proxy usually make them more expensive as well.

VPNs offer a higher level of security and privacy as a result of data encryption protocols, which is of course something that is really important for people like journalists, political activists, and other people that are working in authoritarian countries that tend to abuse human rights.

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One of the things that we love about NordVPN is that they have their own Wireguard-based protocol which is called NordLynx so that you can enjoy high speeds without having to worry about privacy risks.

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They also have a lot of information on their website about how they work, and what you can expect from their servers, which is really helpful if you want to learn as much as you can about them before you sign up for anything.

If you have any initial queries about their services that go beyond the information they have on their website, there is a customer support team that is available 24/7 that you can reach out to.

They offer a no-logs policy that is twice audited, to make sure that your online activity remains confidential, and they continually update their services, which means that they roll out updates every few months, so that you can feel confident that your online security is being constantly maintained.

Proxy vs VPN: Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a few specific differences between a proxy and a VPN, but at the end of the day, they both offer a certain level of encryption and security when it comes to browsing online.

Ultimately, you have just got to work out which option it’s going to be best for your personal needs so that you can protect yourself and your personal information online.

We suggest that you have a look at NordVPN as well and see why they are easily one of the most popular VPN services in the world.

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Written by Trevor Cooke

The only safe internet is a private internet. You’ll see me at parties talking about cybersecurity, privacy, and VPNs. Yes, I’m that guy.
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