Since both proxies and VPNs hide users’ true identities online, a lot of people think that these two are the same. But, that’s definitely not the case. They don’t work the same, and they provide users with different levels of protection and security. So, before making a decision on which one to get, it’s important to get to know what services both of these options offer.
So, if you’re in need of this kind of service but you don’t know much about it, don’t leave this page! We are going to tell you everything you need to know about how proxies and VPNs work and what makes them so different.
How proxies work
To put it simply, proxies are mediators between users and websites they want to visit. So, every request that a user makes by clicking on a link goes through a proxy before it reaches a certain site.
That way, proxies can hide users’ real IP addresses, which is, in fact, their main purpose. When a website receives a request, it is only able to see the location of a proxy. Basically, that is why proxies are a perfect tool for bypassing geographical restrictions.
Let’s assume that someone who lives in Chicago wants to access content on a certain website. But, that website only allows entries from Sweden. The person who wants to see the content can easily get around that restriction by obtaining a proxy that is located in Sweden. As a result, the website will recognize the visit as if it’s really from Sweden instead of Chicago.
Proxy servers are easy to set up, and they are great for getting around simple filters, accessing restricted YouTube videos, or bypassing any low-risk restriction that is based on users’ IP addresses. Thus, those who need a bit of assistance with accessing websites would definitely benefit from getting a proxy server.
Users can obtain proxies for free, or they can pay for special, dedicated ones. Proxy servers often attract new customers by offering free proxies. We understand how appealing that sounds. However, we strongly advise against it due to a lack of reliability and slow down time. So, just like anything else, if you want to get a good service, you need to pay for it.
Downsides of using proxies
Unfortunately, a proxy server has its limitations. In case someone needs help with more serious tasks with higher stakes, getting proxies probably won’t be a good idea. They won’t give them the security they need for performing these actions.
The main reason for that is the fact that proxies aren’t capable of encrypting any traffic that goes between them and users’ desktops. They just change the IP address without removing any other information about the user. As a result, there’s a risk that users’ privacy will be breached in case someone with the right resources decides to scratch the surface a little bit.
In addition, we can use proxy servers for specific applications, not for our whole computer. That means that we can set up proxies for our web browsers or some apps for which proxy servers are available. But, they’ll be useless for those who want their every action or the whole internet connection to go through a proxy first.
Main types of proxies
As we just mentioned, proxy servers are good for specific actions or apps. That is why there are so many different types of proxies for various applications. The most popular ones are HTTP proxies and their newer versions — SOCKS.
If you’re looking for a proxy for all of your web traffic, then HTTP proxies will be perfect for you! When we have an HTTP proxy, all of our web requests will have to go through it first, and then reach the website. This type of proxy is great for bypassing any geographical restriction on the web. Users can easily set up their HTTP proxies either by using a browser extension or by simply plugging them in a configuration file of a browser.
But, the big question is — how private are HTTP proxies? Well, we have to advise anyone who needs to access sensitive data such as bank accounts to get additional protection.
As we already mentioned, proxy servers won’t encrypt data or provide any additional security besides hiding a true IP address. The same goes for HTTPs. So, it’s best that users get the extra protection in the form of SSL and combine it with proxies in order to protect their sensitive data.
In comparison with HTTP ones, according to BestProxyProviders, SOCKS proxies are a newer addition to the proxy family. They are different from HTTPs because they are not just designed for web traffic, but also for Torrents and FTP servers.
Sounds great, right? Well, it comes with some downsides. A huge disadvantage of this type of proxy is the fact that SOCKS can be too slow. What’s more, just like HTTP proxies, SOCKS won’t encrypt users’ data. So, we recommend getting additional protection no matter which type of proxy you choose.
How Virtual Private Networks work
Virtual Private Networks also provide users with the ability to change the location of their IP addresses. Even though it has the same purpose, a VPN is so much different from a proxy.
The main difference lies within the fact that a VPN takes over the whole internet connection of a computer. Unlike proxies, which are made for specific apps, all possible traffic has to go through a VPN first.
Furthermore, a VPN will encrypt all of the data. Therefore, users can be certain that their privacy and security are protected.
However, strong security and guaranteed privacy come with a heftier price tag. So, potential users should expect to obtain this comprehensive service for at least a couple of dollars per month.
Users should also be careful when choosing their VPN provider. Since a Virtual Private Network takes over a whole computer, it’s important that users research the right provider thoroughly. That way, they will make sure that they choose a reliable company and get what they paid for.
Proxy servers and VPNs will hide users’ true locations and help them bypass geographical restrictions. Both of these are great options for internet users, and the choice between them depends on what a user needs from the service.
Those who are looking for help with minor website restrictions or a specific app will be better off with proxies. On the other hand, for more security and data encryption of the whole computer, users should opt for a VPN.