VPN vs. Proxy: The Differences You Must Know

Both VPN and proxy can connect a user’s device to a remote server. Due to this reason, some users tend to confuse one with the other. But despite both these tools fulfilling the same objective, they are distinct from one another due to some differences. Thus, a paid or free proxy version is different from that of a VPN and vice versa.

In fact, several points draw a line of distinction between both these tools. So, which one is a better option for you between a VPN and a proxy? Read on to find it out.

What Is VPN?

VPN is the acronym for a virtual private network. Its full form makes the definition of a VPN crystal clear. By definition, it is an encrypted network that offers anonymity or privacy to users by turning their public network into a virtual private network.

When you try to visit a website through a VPN, it redirects the traffic from your browser to a remote server. Thereafter, it takes you to the website that you wish to visit. By doing so, it hides your actual IP address. VPN performs its functions at the operating system (OS) level. So, whether you use a browser or an application on your device, it redirects the traffic of both through a remote server.

As a result, your activities in a session remain hidden from the tracking of your internet service provider. Also, your data remains safe and secure from the prying eyes. In other words, VPN shields you from the surveillance activities of hackers and others. Thus, VPN provides you with security and online privacy. Furthermore, it protects your device from being intercepted by others.

What Is Proxy?

In layman’s terms, a proxy acts as a medium through which you can visit a website on a device that is connected to the internet. The device connects to the host server through a remote machine which acts as the middle man. In doing so, it hides the actual IP address and shows up a different IP address to the website. 

When you consider the function performed by proxy, you may think it is the same as that of a VPN. Yes, on paper, it is true to a certain extent. But the biggest difference between VPN and proxy is that the latter only helps hide the IP address through rerouting on a single app. Furthermore, unlike what VPN does, a proxy does not encrypt the traffic from a device to a host server. As a result, the security of the traffic stands exposed to the risk of being compromised.

A proxy is useful only for web browsing without disclosing one’s actual identity to view content that is not available in a particular location. However, it may not prevent data tracking of your internet service provider or protect your data from hackers.

Proxies exist in the following three forms:

  • HTTP Proxies
  • SOCKS Proxies
  • Transparent Proxies

5 Main Differences Between VPN & Proxy

A VPN differs from a proxy network in many ways. These include the following:

  • Encrypting Information 

A VPN encrypts users’ data over a virtual private network that is not available in the case of a proxy server. The latter only helps hide IP addresses so that a user can visit and access a restricted website or a piece of content on such a website that is restricted in their geographical location.

  • Online Privacy

A VPN helps users in turning a public network into a virtual private network. Doing so not only takes care of users’ data but also helps hide their online activities. On the other hand, a proxy server only enables users to access content on a website that is not available in their location.

  • Connection & Browsing Speed

A VPN is more secure than a proxy server as it encrypts user data. No doubt, this feature boosts data security, but it slows down a virtual private network. Due to no data encryption, a proxy server typically offers a higher browsing speed to users.

  • Reliability

A VPN connection is more dependable compared to a proxy server as it encrypts a user’s traffic and protects them from hackers, government surveillance, and ISP monitoring. As a result, a VPN handles sensitive information in a better way than a proxy server. 

  • Costs

Usually, a VPN is more expensive than a proxy server due to its operational cost and maintenance. The cost factor for a VPN comes to the fore primarily due to its management which is not as simple as a proxy server. 

Conclusion

Despite rerouting a user’s traffic to mask the actual IP address, a VPN is different from a proxy. A VPN offers some additional features compared to a proxy, though. Thus, it is the superior option between the two. But you can decide your preferred option depending on whichever meets your requirements in the best possible way.

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