At their cores, both a proxy server and a VPN connects you to a remote server, hides your IP address, and allows you to surf the web anonymously. So, are they the same thing? Definitely not. At the end of this article you’ll gain a simple understanding of just how different a proxy and a VPN are.
As the name suggests, a proxy server acts as a middle man between you and the Internet retrieving information from content servers or websites on your behalf. In doing so, proxy servers mask your actual IP address allowing you to maintain some sort of anonymity while you browse the web.
Proxy servers allow you to access geolocked content only available in certain regions on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
How is a Proxy Server different from a VPN?
There are a couple main differences that set a proxy server apart from a VPN that we’ll discuss today.
Encryption. While proxy servers do hide your IP address they do not encrypt your connection through a secure tunnel like a VPN does. This means that any data you send back and forth on the internet while connected to a proxy is completely exposed and open to anyone with access to your connection, i.e. your ISP, the government, or even the guy sitting in the corner at the Starbucks you’re at.
Price is another big differentiator between a proxy server and a VPN. While VPN prices have come down quite a lot in recent years they’re still relatively more expensive than proxy servers which can even found for free. Although as with anything free, you should exercise extreme caution when pursuing these options.
We hope this short article helped you gain somewhat of an understanding of what a proxy server is and how it compares and contrasts to a VPN. Thanks for reading!
If you want to know what a VPN is you’re in the right place. We’ll help guide you to the understanding you’re looking for.
Chances are, if you’ve watched any videos on YouTube in the last few years you’ve probably seen an advertisement for a VPN service. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In broad terms, a VPN is an easy and affordable way to secure your privacy online.
To further understand what that means, we need to know what an IP address is. Think of an IP address like the return address on a package. No matter where that package is shipped throughout the world anyone can look at the return address and know where it came from. A VPN masks your IP address which essentially erases that return address, so that your browsing data can’t be traced back to you.
How Does a VPN Work?
To connect to a VPN your device needs to connect to a VPN client, the VPN client then connects to a VPN server through a secure tunnel, and finally to the Internet. The secure tunnel encrypts all of your data and hides your IP address, keeping you safe from prying eyes.
As illustrated below, without a VPN your connection to the Internet through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is open and unsecure. However, through the use of a VPN your IP Address and browsing data are encrypted and secured.
Why Do I Need to Keep My Browsing Data Private?
There are many entities on the web that create unique profiles specific to your IP address to track everywhere you go online. Some companies then sell this information to other companies that serve you very specific targeted ads. Remember that ad you got on Instagram for those shoes you looked at that one time? That’s just exactly what we’re talking about. There are also malicious actors that use that same data for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft and cyber attacks.
What is a VPN?
In conclusion, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN works by creating a secure tunnel from your device to their VPN server which encrypts your browsing data and masks your IP address keeping your online privacy secure.
It’s worth mentioning that everything we’ve talked about is also true for mobile devices, like smart phones and tablets. VPN services are widely available on these devices making Internet security easier than ever.