Proxies Vs VPN – Which is Best?

There is great debate as to the ultimate tool that each Internet user should prefer, in order to gain benefits that are related to privacy, freedom and utter security. The best tools to this date are none other but the VPN (or Virtual Private Network) and the proxy. There are fans of both these alternatives, either worrying about the overall protection layering or about the speed of browsing and streaming content.

What goes without even saying is the acknowledgement that hackers and snoopers have become a lot more sophisticated than they used to be in the past and therefore preserving the rights for privacy, freedom and security can be really hard.

Apart from the exceptionally important privacy concerns and security issues, there is also the concern about censorship and geographically based restrictions. For example, an Internet user living in India will find it extremely difficult to overcome the prohibitions applied by several US websites (including Netflix, Hulu and other entertainment options). With VPN use or with the use of Proxy, though, such difficulties can be handled effectively.

An image featuring the Security Gladiators logo comparing proxies vs VPN concept

Below, we are going to take a closer look at both of the methods referred to in the title; all at once, we will shed some light at the pros and cons of each alternative towards finding out which the best solution for us should be. Let’s get started with the use of VPN:

What Is VPN?

VPN or else Virtual Private Network is a tool that many people use nowadays, in order to create a safe pathway for their data to be tunneled online. This tool allows you to send your information online through a protected channel, using encryption and therefore shielding your data.

Your IP is masked and so there is no actual danger of having your personal information compromised in any way. Any web server that gets a query from your computer will think it is coming from the VPN server that you have connected to rather than your actual computer. This enhances internet privacy.

Pros

  • Overcomes Geo-IP Restrictions Efficiently
  • Enables Anonymity and Protects You from Prying Eyes
  • Encryption Helps You Stay under the Radar
  • Freedom when Sharing and Downloading Data or Torrents

Cons

  • Can Be Pricey
  • Can Slow Down Performance at Times

What Is Proxy?

An image featuring a person using cool proxy concept

Proxy is another tool that helps you bypass geographical restrictions online and access web pages from literally everywhere in the world. The proxy server connects you with the Internet, altering your IP and enabling you to change your personal information towards gaining the access you have been wishing to gain. There are numerous different types of proxy servers, including public ones that are offered for free and others that require some monthly fee.

We’ve already established that both proxy services and VPN providers offer tools that help users keep their online activities private and their IP addresses secure.

Depending on the user case, VPN services and proxy services can provide differing levels of protection while users are sending emails, surfing the web, streaming content, contributing to message boards or downloading files.

Readers should understand that both tools are able to take care of the activities mentioned above. We’ve already talked about VPN services, now we’ll talk about the different types of proxy services that you can sign up for.

HTTP Proxy Services

HTTP proxy services are the most commonly used proxy services when the main goal is to access websites. Not only that, but HTTP proxy services are also very good at getting around geo-restrictions that are present on various websites. HTTP proxy services may not unblock the most popular websites in the world for you but they will work with lesser-known websites like news sites and blogs.

HTTP proxy services should be your first choice if you want to watch an online video that’s blocked in your location. Some HTTP proxies are even able to allow users to log in to multiple websites that host video content. In such cases, the HTTP proxies are successfully able to hide your IP address and unblock blocked content.

Note:

With that said, readers should understand that using proxy services to view restricted content may or may not violate the terms of use agreement between the website and the user. This is true for any type of content provider.

SOCKS5 Proxy Services

The second type of proxy service that we’ll discuss are SOCKS5 proxy services. These proxy services are better than other types of proxies at unblocking websites, streaming platforms, online video games and file-sharing services.

While SOCKS5 proxies work quite well when it comes to unblocking different types of content, they usually require some sort of an app to work best. This requirement has the unfortunate side effect of slowing down the user’s internet connection.

The vast majority of SOCKS5 proxies are free and because they’re free, they don’t offer the kind of configuration tools that modern users need to get things done on the internet without someone looking over their shoulder.

In addition to that, SOCKS5 proxies don’t offer any meaningful customer support. If you’re using a free SOCKS5 proxy, then the infrastructure will also slow down everything else.

Transparent Proxy Services

These services, true to their name, work mostly in the background. In fact, we’re confident that you might have used one and not known about it. That’s how transparent proxy services work.

Transparent proxy servers offer tools to filter content on the internet for specific users. They act as a web filter for the user. Most of the time, you’ll see organizations such as libraries and schools using these transparent proxies.

Parents also find them extremely useful when they want to control the experience their child has when they connect to the internet. Transparent proxy servers work both ways in the sense that they can help you access different types of content but can also block different types of content.

Pros

  • Devours Censorship Internationally via Your IP Amendment
  • Deals with Sharing and Downloading Torrents Freely
  • Can Come for Free or Truly Affordably
  • Fast

Cons

  • No Encryption Involved and Therefore No Security Layering
  • Can Be Dysfunctional
  • Requires Manual Configuration to Browsers Every Time
  • Your IP Can Be Exposed

What is The Difference Between a Proxy And a VPN

As we have stated above, there are two major options when it comes to gaining the benefits of anonymity, privacy, freedom from any restriction and security that you want for your internet connection. The first option has to do with an online Virtual Private Network service provider and the second one involves the use of a Proxy server. After having outlined both the advantages and the disadvantages of VPN and a proxy service, it is high time we summed them up and went ahead with the ultimate comparison of VPNs vs Proxies irrespective of operating system.

An image featuring a person using a button and connecting to a VPN instead of connecting to a proxy server

First of all, there is the matter of security that should be a priority. When it comes to the VPN use, there are different protocols for encryption that allow the data to be perfectly secured. In the case of Proxy service though there is no such thing involved.

So, practically there is no security added to the data sent or received via the proxy server that you are using. This can be a red flag for many Internet users, especially when VPN provides such benefits. The aspect of encryption can slow down the performance of the computer while web surfing and therefore the VPN appears to be slightly slower at times than the Proxies.

Moving forward, there is the aspect of cost that needs to be taken into consideration. Proxies can be found for free and generally they are truly affordable. VPNs on the other hand always come at a price and sometimes this price is not at all affordable.

Nevertheless, the features of the VPN justify the difference in the cost. Whereas the Proxy only offers the chance to unblock restricted websites internationally, the VPN is an integrated solution that aims at fortifying your security while allowing you to surf the web freely and without any restrictions. VPN server providers have got extensive guides and apps that will help you install and start using the VPN in all browsers, while the Proxy server connections require manual configuration when changing browsers.

An image featuring cyber security concept with a person holding out his hand on a lock with code on the bottom

Generally speaking, VPNs give users better app level control. Proxies require a bit of work if the user wants application level control.

A VPN provider and a good proxy service would have no problems in enabling access to a company-owned and restricted remote machine for an office employee working from home.

But if the same employee wants to download something from a platform like Google Cloud, a VPN is the better choice since proxy servers can be compromised relatively easily.

Proxies may offer better connection speed but when it comes to critical things such as data encryption, bypassing geo blocking and content restrictions along with hiding one’s internet activity from government agencies, a VPN client is more suitable.

VPNs provide protection to one’s email address and social media profiles as well. Proxy services offer a more limited browsing experience with less focus on data security and data privacy.

Finally, VPNs offer the longer money back guarantee when compared with proxies.

What Should You Use: Proxy vs VPN?

It’s clear that both proxy server providers and VPN providers work well when the main goal is to hide one’s IP address. Users looking for a fast internet experience while their IP address is hidden should go with a proxy service.

Note:

Keep in mind that proxy services work best for people who aren’t overly concerned about security.

Proxy services are also more specific in the sense that they work well with a particular app or a specific website. As a result, use a free proxy service if what we’ve described applies to you when it comes to web traffic.

For people who don’t have a budget for purchasing privacy tools but still want to access specific apps, sites or file-sharing services then the better decision would be to use a proxy server. As mentioned before as well, you can easily find free proxies on the internet with a simple search.

On the other hand, if you value your internet activity a lot and don’t want anyone snooping around trying to log your internet history then a good VPN service is the way to go. We’ve already alluded to the fact that proxy services don’t encrypt your connection while VPN services do. Moreover, if you want a seamless experience when unblocking multiple websites and apps at the same time then VPNs are the right choice for you.

Pro Tip:

You should use VPN services if you know you’ll frequently access your debit card services or bank accounts. VPN services are known for offering enough security tools to protect such transactions and activities via their fast and hidden VPN servers.

Of course, you’ll find it hard to go with the VPN option if you don’t want to pay. VPN services, at least the good ones, don’t come for free. But if you look at the bigger picture, you’ll come to the conclusion that for what VPN services offer (including protection at the operating system level), the price is typically very reasonable.

Should You Use Proxy Servers if You Already Have Access to a VPN Service?

Not really. After all, a good VPN service (by tricking any website’s host server) will offer pretty much everything that any proxy service would and then adds a ton of other security stuff on top of that.

Proxy services can change your IP address very quickly and without any speed penalty, but they don’t have the same advanced security features as a VPN.

Moreover, free proxy services don’t have a good reputation when it comes to dealing with the data collection processes of their customers.

Should You Use Proxy Servers and VPN Services Together?

Theoretically, you can use both a proxy and a VPN together without any problems. However, you’ll have to configure them the right way. Since that requires some technical skills, we don’t recommend users to get into it if they don’t know what they’re doing.

Warning:

A VPN and proxy combination that’s not configured properly can not only slow down the speed of your internet connection but also introduce opportunities for hackers to launch MiTM attacks.

Generally speaking, you should use either a VPN service or a proxy service and switch between the two depending on your needs. This should provide you with the optimal experience while delivering the privacy required for different tasks.

Conclusion: Proxy vs VPN Providers For Internet Traffic Security

As you can see, there is a significant difference in what each of the two solutions highlighted in this article gets to offer. If you just need to unblock prohibited websites in your country and you are not interested in shielding your computer against prying eyes and hackers, Proxy servers will do the trick for you.

In any other case, VPN is the suggested solution for any operating system that will enable you to lift all geographical barriers (while offering a great user experience) and at the same time preserve your computer safe and wi fi protected. It is up to you to decide what matters the most!

Stella Strouvali Stella is a certified writer and zealous wordsmith, a true fan of Placebo, technology, Panionios and wellness. Still, her true passion has to do with eagerly learning new things and passing them on to others. “An unexamined life is not worth living”, to quote Socrates.
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