Do you want to elevate your online security by encrypting your activity? Or do you simply wish to change your IP address? If the answer is yes, then you have probably heard about VPNs and proxy servers. However, not everyone knows those are not the same.
Deciding which service to use could be tricky because both have advantages and disadvantages. Luckily, we will break down all the proxy servers and VPN pros and cons to help you make the right choice. Let’s begin!
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and has numerous features for safe web browsing. For instance, a VPN will reroute your traffic and hide your IP address. This option is convenient for people who want to access geo-blocked websites or content on streaming services.
Additionally, a VPN can encrypt the data you send or receive, which can be helpful in numerous situations. Those who want to keep their internet activity private or don’t want your Internet Service Provider to collect their data could benefit from this feature.
Let’s not forget that VPN and encryption are becoming popular ways to protect devices from cybercriminals. It allows users to connect to open Wi-Fi networks in airports, cafes, and public places without the fear their data might be stolen.
It is good to mention that a VPN will work on your whole device regardless of the applications you use. Once you launch your VPN, your IP and web traffic will be hidden.
What is a Proxy Server?
Proxy servers are essentially middle-man between your computer, tablet, or phone and a web address you want to visit. Your real IP address is replaced by the proxy’s IP. Unfortunately, a proxy server can’t cover your whole device. It means a proxy will work for a single application you set it up on.
While a proxy server is great for hiding your IP address, it won’t encrypt your web traffic. Therefore, it is not a great online security option if you use unsecured Wi-Fi networks. There are three types of proxy servers available:
- SOCKS5 Proxies: This type of proxy can be used for web browsing and other applications. They are slower than HTTP proxies because of their popularity. SOCKS5 proxies are well-liked in the gaming community. Others use them for file sharing and streaming.
- HTTP Proxies: HTTP proxies only work on web browsers. They are great if you want to access geo-blocked websites. Plus, this proxy is faster than SOCKS5.
- Transparent proxies: As the name suggests, this proxy is invisible and can block specific websites or monitor traffic. You have probably encountered them in libraries or at work. Additionally, parents often set them up to restrict content for their children.
Proxy Server vs. VPN
Now that we have covered the basics of proxy servers and VPNs, it is time to compare them and highlight the main differences and similarities. So let’s explore the features and proxy server and VPN pros and cons:
Hidden IP Address
If your only concern is hiding your location, you can use either of these services. VPNs and proxy servers will conceal your IP address by connecting you to a remote server. But bear in mind that a proxy server will work on only one app, while VPN is on the operating system level, meaning it will cover the whole device.
You will be able to access geo-restricted websites with VPN and proxy server. There is no need to be disappointed because a show or movie is not available on the streaming service of your choice. You can quickly change your IP address and watch it. Furthermore, if your government has banned certain websites, you may access them with a proxy server and VPN.
Slower Browsing Speed
New users are sometimes concerned that a VPN or proxy server might significantly slow down their internet speed. While this is partially true, you won’t notice the difference when using a VPN. A proxy server might increase your loading time if it is overcrowded.
When we compare VPNs and proxy servers, it is clear the former has one extra feature that makes all the difference – encryption. Unlike proxy servers, VPNs will keep your online activity hidden and ensure your connection is fully secure. The information you send and receive is encrypted; no third parties can see it.
All good VPNs require some form of payment or subscription. Of course, there are free options, but these feature ads. Free VPNs limit the data you can use daily, weekly, or monthly. When it comes to VPN pros and cons, some users will claim that a proxy server is better because it is free of charge and without data limitations.
But proxy servers still need funds to stay free, so some sell user data to advertisers. Those who want an extra layer of security and value their privacy won’t mind paying for a trusted service that can keep them safe online and much more.
Which Should You Choose?
Now that we have covered all the differences and similarities between proxy servers and VPNs, it is time to decide which is more suitable for you.
VPN – Pros and Cons
Overall, VPN is a better choice for those who plan to use this service daily. Once set up, it will work on all apps. Therefore, you can be sure that your IP is hidden at all times. And let’s not forget the encryption, which is convenient for frequent travelers who often connect to public Wi-Fi networks.
The only con we can think of is the subscription. While some VPNs are free, others require payment. Luckily, you can always try out a free trial and see what you’ll get with the membership.
Proxy Server – Pros and Cons
Those who prefer proxy servers will often state they are free of charge, meaning this service is more affordable than a VPN subscription. But the truth is that proxy servers sometimes log your browsing habits and pass this information along to advertisers.
But if you want to hide your IP address on a single app or website, using a proxy server is perfectly acceptable. It is quicker than downloading a VPN. Just remember that proxy servers don’t encrypt your web traffic.