Proxy vs VPN? Which is better?
When discussing discoveries made by mankind, the internet will definitely rank high on the list. Active internet connection has been responsible for a lot of things in recent times, including making the world an even smaller place via search engines, social media, internet banking, among other things. We could as well describe the internet as the ‘The Great Equalizer’ and we won’t be far from the truth.
Being all of these and more, the internet has become a major part of our lives, hence the need to be constantly connected. Now, getting and staying connected is one thing, your mode of connection is an entirely different thing.
And that’s what this blog post is all about.
We’re assuming (and we hope we’re right) that you’re here because you’d like to settle that argument in your head; the argument of whether to connect to the internet via a proxy or to use a VPN.
These days, the media is rife about leaked data, stolen data, elections being interfered with and privacy being breached, among other digital concerns. With this kind of news making the rounds every now and then, it’s no surprise that you’re reading this blog post, trying to make a decision as to whether to use VPN or proxy to help beef up the security of your internet connection.
How about we demystify both tools in order to help you to understand each one better, how they work as well as their advantages and disadvantages?
A proxy server is a tool that serves as the intermediary in the flow of your internet connection. Very commonly used to by-pass filters, using a proxy involves you being connected to the internet via a remote computer (also called the proxy server), thereby shielding your IP from being discovered and allowing you to appear as if you are connecting to the internet from another location entirely different from your current one.
Are you trying to access region-restricted content? Using proxy is the way to go!
While some come with their own software, the set-up of a proxy server connection usually depends on an internet browser. Due to this, only the internet connection of the specific application will be redirected, not your entire connection. Whichever browser you choose to use, connecting to the internet via proxy servers is way cheaper than using a VPN. But it doesn’t come without its own disadvantages.
While a proxy server is perfect for users who need to bypass one restriction or the other, it also requires that you repeat the configuration settings every time so as to direct your traffic to an appropriately located server. This is a whole lot of work.
Shielding your IP address will reduce the targeted ads that you’ll see. But you’re still very much vulnerable to the owner of the proxy server, who is also anonymous to you and could well be gathering your personal data for use. Proxy servers do not encrypt the traffic between your computer and the server, meaning that there’s no additional security for your information which can be accessible to anyone who has access to that line of data.
The two most common proxy server protocols are HTTP and SOCKS.
Just like a proxy server, a VPN also helps you to remotely access the internet too. But the mode of operation of VPNs is entirely different from that of proxy servers.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the cloning of your private local area network which in turn extends across a public network which is the internet. VPNs which come in the form of a software, connect you to a VPN server on the internet which then transfers all your data anonymously this time around, to your required destination.
During this process, your data is encrypted. Unlike proxy servers, the traffic going from your computer to the network is encrypted, making all of your browsing data seem like it’s coming from the virtual private network, instead of from your location.
We’re not talking about just the data from your browser. VPNs, unlike proxy servers, are usually set up at the operating system level. What this means is that traffic being shared between your entire device (and all the applications running on it) and the internet is fully encrypted.
With this feature, a VPN obviously sounds like a more viable option compared to a proxy server. But there’s more.
For torrent users, you will discover that a VPN is just perfect for you. ISPs, in a bid to combat piracy, usually analyze data and clamp down on the speed of internet connections which they think are being used for torrent services. As VPNs encrypt your data, it becomes impossible for ISPs to analyze your data.
While proxies are free, VPNs are mostly not. Good money and computing power are the two major requirement needs if you’re to afford your entire connection being encrypted. While there are free VPN services like Tunnelbear, the really good VPN services – like ExpressVPN and NordVPN - come at a cost.
Besides having to pay for the package, running a VPN requires good hardware. Since it requires software, and with all the encryption involved, there’s a likelihood that you will require a VPN that won’t be more than what your system requirements can handle. There’s also the tendency of your internet speed slowing down: thanks to the encryption which your data has to go through.
Proxy servers are great, but with everything that comes with it, using a VPN to bolster your internet security is still the way to go. You may be tempted to jump on the internet to start searching for the most suitable ones.
But there’s no way we’re writing a blog post about VPNs without giving you recommendations. So, if you’re pumped up about the efficiency of VPNs, you may as well as start with these two really good VPNs: ExpressVPN and NordVPN which we think will give you great value.
Did you find this blog post useful? Was it able to answer your questions? Leave us your comments and share your thoughts with us.