What is the Difference between a Proxy and a VPN?
Anyone looking for some kind of anonymity on the Internet can find a free, open proxy server.
Proxy servers have been around for over a decade, and these servers are great to hide your IP address while surfing the web.
However, proxy servers don’t provide true anonymity or privacy methods. Where these servers fail, a virtual private network (VPN) offers true anonymity on the Internet.
A Proxy versus a VPN
Proxy servers were the underground way to hide your IP a decade ago, and VPN services were expensive solutions only available for big businesses. Proxy servers can be open to Internet users, or you can have a proxy server within your corporate network.
The main difference between a proxy server and a VPN is how the two servers handle data. First, a proxy server allows anyone to connect, but it’s typically only for a web browser. A user can set up a browser to connect to a proxy server. The result is that the browser first connects to the proxy server, and then the proxy server connects to a website and downloads the website’s content. The downloaded content is then rendered in the user’s browser.
A VPN is much more advanced than a proxy server. A proxy server is mainly for web traffic only, but a VPN encrypts and protects all traffic. The main difference is that a VPN server encrypts the data, but a proxy server does not. A VPN also lets you use more than just the Internet. A VPN user can also use applications, and even connect directly to data within the private network. A VPN acts in the same way as a local, private network. The user can work with internal data, run internal applications, and the user can connect to the Internet using the VPN’s IP address and router.
The Advantage of VPN over a Proxy Server
Proxy servers are usually free and available from several different websites. Typically, free proxy servers are the result of a poorly configured server found on the Internet. Once the “hole” is found by the server’s administrator, it’s closed and the proxy server is no longer available.
The proxy server’s disadvantages are not a problem for a VPN service, but VPN service is usually not free. Even though the service is not free, it’s much more valuable to the user who needs anonymity and encryption for Internet communication and data. The first advantage of VPN is the encryption. Proxy servers only let you mask your IP address, but a savvy hacker can still gain access to the data. VPN encrypts the data, so it is useless to a hacker who is able to intercept any communication.
Secondly, a VPN lets you use any application, because it emulates a real, local network connection. This means you can use applications stored on the server, and use any of the services available on the server.
If you need some protection on the Internet, a VPN connection is more advantageous than a proxy server. Find a VPN from our top 10 list that is secure and reliable, and you can protect your data and identity.