What is the difference between a proxy server and a VPN?
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.
In our previous article on VPN’s we went in depth on what a VPN is so let’s take a look at what a proxy server is.
What is a Proxy Server?
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!