Published on August 27, 2020 by SatoshiVPN in Tools 101.
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The difference between a VPN and a Proxy

VPNs and Proxies are sometimes used for similar purposes but under the hood they operate very differently.

The difference between a VPN and a Proxy

"What should I use, VPN or proxy?"

You might be asking yourself this question if you're trying to get around censorship or other blockers between your device and the open internet. And we know it can be difficult to decide between the two, so we'll be focusing on the differences in this article between VPN and proxy services.


What is a Proxy and how does it work?

A proxy is a tool that lets you mask your IP address and so that you can visit websites that are censored in your location or restricted by firewalls. The proxy itself is typically an application that serves as a middleman between your device and the internet.

It's fairly straightforward: when you are using a proxy server, the proxy intercepts the request you send to the internet (for example, a request to visit a website). Then, one of two things happens:

(a) The proxy will search its local cache to see if the information you requested is stored in the proxy already. And if it is stored in the local cache, the proxy will return content without sending the request to the internet.
(b) If the proxy doesn't have the information you want in its local cache, it sends the request to the web. Upon obtaining the data, the proxy returns the data to your device.


What is a VPN and how does it work?

A Virtual Private Network is a service that creates a secure tunnel from your device to the internet. It principally serves as a tool for encrypting the data sent between your device and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Like a proxy, a VPN also lets you circumvent censored websites and firewalls because by tunneling your traffic through a VPN server, the IP address appearing to come from your device is changed to that of the VPN server IP address.

First the VPN client on your device encrypts all your connection requests, then it will send them to the VPN server. The VPN server decrypts your request and then forwards them to the web. Similarly on the return, the VPN server encrypts incoming requests and sends the data back securely to the VPN client on your system. Your VPN client then decrypts the incoming requests so they appear as normal to your device.


So what's the difference between a VPN and Proxy?

While VPN and proxy services appear very similar, they do function differently. Put simply, all VPN and proxy services will somehow conceal your IP and identity online, with the main difference being that the VPN will encrypt all your data.

If you want to know the in-depth differences between VPN and proxy services, you must see how each works in the specific performance areas that follow:

Online security

You will achieve a higher degree of internet privacy with VPNs because they often use strong, military-grade encryption to protect your data. The industry standard is known as Advanced Encryption Standard 256, or AES-256.

Speed

Typically, a proxy server has no direct effect on your internet speed because it usually does not use strong encryption (or any encryption whatsoever). What's more, a proxy might be able to load the requested web pages more quickly if they are cached locally because they wouldn't require forwarding the requests to the internet. Nonetheless, you must know that proxy servers are often overcrowded. As a consequence, there's always a possibility that you'll end up experiencing slower speeds.

A VPN, on the other hand, due to its encryption, is likely to slow down your speeds a bit sometimes. Another thing worth noting is that a VPN will help you circumvent bandwidth throttling as it encrypts your traffic. That means you can be sure you'll be able to visit your favorite websites without facing reduced bandwidth speeds.

In both cases of a VPN and a proxy, you'll need to account for the latency that's required to connect to the server. If the server is nearby, the difference shouldn't be noticeable. However, if you're connecting to a VPN or proxy server across an ocean, you may notice 1-2 second delays from all requests to the server.

Internet privacy

A VPN will give you a higher degree of privacy online because all of your internet traffic is encrypted, which means that no one will be able to monitor the traffic to and from your device. And particularly when you use an anonymous vpn like SatoshiVPN, you'll be able to get the benefits of fully encrypted traffic without sacrificing revealing information to your VPN provider.

Proxies simply use SSL encryption for sites that offer SSL connections. This provides no additional privacy protection. In many cases with free proxies, the proxy provider actually sells your browsing data to internet research firms or marketers. While the data sold is rarely identifying at the individual level, the possibility exists, and so that's something you should be comfortable with should you use a proxy.

Pricing

Often, proxy servers tend to be free to use — particularly the proxies that are publicly available. Free proxies, however, often tend to be run by volunteers, meaning the service can randomly go offline. Or to monetize their user base, proxy providers will sell your browsing history to advertisers, marketers, and internet researchers.

As for VPNs, while free services are available to you, they're not usually valuable because you'll end up sharing resources with tens of thousands of other users simultaneously, leading to slow speeds. Using paid VPN services is considerably better (and safer). Unlike free VPNs and proxies, paid VPNs deliver greater speed, reliability, assistance, and safety.


VPN vs. Proxy - which is the best for you?

Judging by what we've just talked about, we recommend VPN services if you'd like a terrific online experience. In the end, of course, it is up to you to decide. Nevertheless, if you want to ensure that your data and traffic are secured properly, want consistent support, and want to ensure that no one can spy on your internet activities, a VPN is the way forward.

On the other hand, if you only want to circumvent censorship and mask your IP address, and are not concerned about the state of your privacy on the Internet, you might consider using a proxy server.


Additional considerations when selecting a VPN or proxy

Now that we're finished with the VPN vs. Proxy, let's take a close look at some aspects you need to consider when selecting the best service:

Encryption standard
Make sure the service you are opting for has a strong encryption method. For example, a VPN provides you with 256-bit encryption that is also used to secure military communications.

Anonymous IPs
The service must be able to provide you with a substantial portion of IP choices, so you have a multitude of IPs available.

Global Server Network
Having a global server network spread across regions implies you have plenty of options, including servers nearby, to choose from when selecting your IP location.


Conclusion

A VPN and a proxy are similar in that they both redirect your traffic through a remote server and mask your original IP. That said, a VPN is the best choice in terms of reliability, though. VPN's have the power to encrypt traffic from all browsers, while the proxy may monitor only one particular browser or app.

If you're concerned about your security and privacy when dealing with sensitive data, you should go for a VPN. Otherwise, just use a proxy, as it can also mask your IP and help you get around censored content.

Bear in mind that nothing is 100% secure and even the most diligent internet users make mistakes that reveal identifying information. Thus, you should be careful about what you're doing online, even when you're using a proxy or VPN.



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