Both a VPN and proxy help users to hide their online identity. Both also allow users to change their geographical location and bypass GEO location barriers.
While both may serve a similar function, they do differ on certain processes.
To make matters even more complicated: there are multiple different types of proxy servers.
A proxy server will act as an intermediary between your computer and the internet. All traffic your traffic will appear to be originated from the proxy server instead of from your IP address/home PC.
In contrast to using a VPN server, your PC will only have to connect to a proxy server and won’t have to encrypt all your traffic.
This means a proxy server has a lesser CPU load then a VPN server and can thus be deployed for more connections than a VPN server.
Proxy servers communicate with the internet using the HTTP or SOCKS protocol.
HTTP proxy servers
The HTTP protocol (Wikipedia: HyperText Transfer Protocol) was designed for communication between a web client and a web server. This is not only used for the World Wide Web but also used for local networks (Intranet).
HTTP is a fast text-based unencrypted protocol, therefore it will be faster than SOCKS proxy servers or VPN servers.
- Cheap (Sometimes even free: list of free proxy services)
- Will hide your IP and allow access to GEO restricted content
- Only useful for access to websites
- Websites have other ways of tracking your real IP, even when using an HTTP proxy
- HTTP traffic is unencrypted, so hackers, governments and ISP’s can monitor your internet usage
When using HTTPS protocol, your traffic will be encrypted, but your IP can still be tracked
- Each browser will have to be manually configured with the proxy server
SOCKS proxy servers
The SOCKS protocol (Wikipedia: SOCKS Protocol) exchanges network packets between a client and a proxy server. The SOCKS protocol will act as a proxy to provide TCP connections to a random IP address. SOCKS will also provide a means for UDP packets to be forwarded.
- Can handle any type of traffic
- A slower than HTTP proxy connection
- All software with support for a proxy will have to be manually configured
- Same security flaws as the HTTP proxy
Public proxy servers
As proxy servers allow an incredible amount of connections at the same time, many public proxy servers have surfaced which allow free usage.
This goes for both HTTP as SOCKS proxies.
For a list of public proxy servers, you can visit either www.freeproxylist.org or HideMyAss
Private proxy servers
Private proxy servers aren’t open for public usage, but are available at a compensation.
Private proxy servers are also more reliable, as private proxies are managed by companies and also offer support and pre-configured clients.
For a list of private proxy services, click here!
A VPN or Virtual Private Network will create an encrypted tunnel between your computer or device and the VPN server. Internet traffic from all applications will be sent securely through this tunnel to the VPN server. From there the VPN server will reroute the traffic to its intended destination.
When using a VPN, no one will be able to trace your identity and online activity.
Note that you get a VPN provider with a zero logging policy to ensure they don’t log your online activity!
- The IP address is hidden
- All your traffic is securely encrypted using high levels of encryption
- Available in almost every country
- Cost more than a proxy service
- Sacrifices speed for security
A VPN is superior to proxies in almost every regard, offering superior anonymity and security. A VPN will securely protect your entire online life.