One of the most popular questions that people search the answer for online is the difference between a proxy and a VPN. Many confuse the two. This post looks into the differences between the two.
Now, the major difference between a Proxy and a VPN is encryption. Some of the proxies claim to have the ability to hide the IP address, and while, there are some that do so, not all of these are effective against services which do not allow the flow of anonymous web traffic. In simple words, a proxy is a watered-down, it is a basic privacy tool which works in a few cases but not for all. On the other hand, a VPN is far more robust as it has many servers which the traffic is routed through and if any of the servers is blocked or goes down, then there would always be a second server to take its place.
The traffic that is sent through the VPN would always be encrypted and users are provided with a second IP address to mask their actual IP address. Although a proxy works mostly with the web traffic that is sent from the browser, a VPN would encrypt each request that is sent from the computer. All of the background services which need access to the internet like update requests would also need to be encrypted. The encryption would extend to all of the desktop apps and services, rather than of being limited to just the browser (when using a proxy).
VPNs are often faster than proxy services. A good, fast proxy service that promises data encryption and a hidden IP address is a - basic - VPN service. Proxy services mainly reroute traffic so they have few servers to route them through and thus your requests take longer to complete. VPNs, on the other hand, have a much larger network of computers that can handle more requests simultaneously thus making them faster. Because a VPN is a much more robust service, you’re less prone to seeing errors or failed requests whereas a proxy service might not work well or at all if it has too many users.
By now, you should know that there is a small but distinct difference between a VPN and a Proxy and that should help you decide what you want to use. A proxy service is best used for low-level privacy needs, or when you need to fake your location for something minor like watching a regionally restricted YouTube video. If you’re trying to watch regionally restricted content on Netflix, a VPN is going to do the trick.
This is because YouTube doesn’t go to great lengths to block users who try and fake their location. Netflix on the other hand actively thwarts them and VPNs will constantly update their servers and available IP addresses to get around whatever, for example, Netflix is doing to keep you out. Similarly, for services like Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, you need a reliable VPN and a proxy simply won’t do.
With respect to privacy, a VPN is always the superior option. Proxies don’t encrypt data and those that do aren’t worth it. It’s better to opt for a VPN that will do all that and more in more or less the same price.