Many of us use proxy servers and VPNs to hide our privacy, but do we know the difference between them?
It’s best to explain why we are discussing proxy and VPN difference in the first place. Well, first of all, they both share a common goal; hide your identity online. When you go online, websites’ servers can easily distinguish geo-location from your IP address. Here’s where VPNs and proxies come in, as they can mask your IP and provide the websites their own IP address. Nifty little feature, isn’t it?
Now, why would someone want to hide their IP address? Well, it depends on what the user actually wants to achieve with their anonymity. And this is where the proxy and VPN difference can be established.
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What Is a Proxy?
Think of proxy servers as a “middle man” that sits between you and the sites you visit. Usually, you can find free proxies online on a website. You simply click on them, enter the website’s URL you want to visit, and under a proxy server (with its own IP) surf the website in question.
The key benefit of using a proxy is that you don’t connect to the site directly, so its server is not able to recognize your home IP address. Instead, the proxy server’s IP is displayed, keeping your location hidden and secure.
What’s more, you can use a proxy that is attached to specific geo-location, that allows fooling websites. This practice not only masks your location but can also be used to unlock substantial savings when shopping online. For example, if you are located in France, but connect to the e-commerce site from a specific country where prices are lower, you might get yourself a bargain!
Or, if a website is blocked in your region and you want to access it, you can use a proxy located in that site’s area instead. After that, it grants the proxy access to the website, along with access to all the information and content, which are then passed onto you.
What Is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) works quite similarly to a proxy server. Your data moves to a server, which transfers it onto the destination, then gets the response and hands it back to you. The main proxy and VPN difference, however, is how the data is passed to the server initially.
You need to install a VPN software to use VPNs on your PC. Once you switch on the program, the data you send to the VPN server is encrypted by the software, making your data unreadable to stalkers. This is called a “tunnel.” In fact, you can think of it as a physical tunnel in the real world.
For instance, when you drive your car on an open road, people can easily see who’s driving the vehicle, as well as the model and number plate. However, if you drive through a tunnel, no one outside of the tunnel can tell who’s driving it, or what car model it is.
The Benefits of Proxy Servers
Most people associate proxies with unblocking Netflix US/UK or staying secure on an open Wi-Fi network. However, the reality is that proxy servers can do much more—and are vital for businesses. They can be used for a number of crucial business functions related to pretty much everything from security to customer experience.
Below are 5 key reasons to use proxy servers that every business owner should know about.
#1: Improve Business Security
A data breach is costly, can be costly, both regarding public image and monetary loss. A proxy can reduce the chances of a breach. A big proxy and VPN difference are that a proxy server adds a layer of security between your servers and the outside traffic. This way, hackers will have trouble reaching the server where your data is stored.
#2: Carry Out Important Tasks Anonymously
Proxy servers are best known for their ability to anonymize web traffic fully. Any potential hacker trying to track web traffic to find out what your business is developing will fail to track your employees if your company uses a proxy 24/7. Any sensitive tasks carried out over the internet are much more secure with a proxy.
#3: Balance Traffic
A proxy server is used to create a single web address to act as the access point. It will balance the requests to each server so that none overloads. All this happens in the background to make sure your website never crashes, and the customers have a seamless experience on your site.
#4: Control Internet Usage
When the network is accessed via a proxy, network admins control which devices can access the network and which sites they can visit. You can easily block undesirable content and pretty much any websites you don’t want your employees using on work time.
#5: Faster Speeds
Proxies can be used to boost speeds and save bandwidth on a network by caching web pages and files accessed by multiple users, compressing traffic, and stripping ads from sites. This frees up bandwidth on busy networks so that your team can access the web quickly and easily.
The Benefits of VPNs
There isn’t much to say about VPNs. They are great for masking your activity online. A VPN creates a tunnel from your device, so not even your ISP can see what you are sending over, meaning you have a secure, encrypted connection 24/7. This makes VPN more useful to a single B2C client.
With a VPN, you can send sensitive information and manage finances without a worry, even on a public Wi-Fi connection. The only downside is that VPNs aren’t cheap, but if you’re serious about your security, you’ll find them a worthy investment.
Ultimate Key Difference
What’s more, Oxylabs – a premium proxy service provider – provided interesting insight when it comes to VPN vs. Proxy debate. They indeed have a great blog that covers everything related to a proxy and how it can be used. According to them, a key difference between these two tools is that a VPN service is heavily oriented to single users that want to mask their activity online.
On the contrary, a proxy provides anonymity but is most commonly used by individuals or businesses (in substantial quantities) that are into collecting data from the web in vast quantities in order to acquire actionable insights. This practice is called web scraping, and if it is of some interest to you, make sure to check out their blog.
When it comes to the proxy and VPN difference, there’s a lot more than you might think. However, there’s no clear-cut winner. It all comes down to your web browsing habits and what you expect from an anonymizing service. For example, VPNs are an excellent option for average users, while proxies are much better for B2B clients.
If you have any queries on the proxy and VPN difference, please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and suggestions with us.