VPN proxy and proxy server: one difference you must know
Are you looking for a way to protect your online identity or access a geo-blocked video? Both proxy server and VPN proxy can help you do it. But, there’s a key difference between these services. Without knowing what features do these services offer, you can be putting your data into serious danger. In this article, you’ll find how VPN and proxy services work and which one you should be choosing.
What is a VPN?
If you’ve ever searched how to hide IP address, you’ve probably heard of VPNs. VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, encrypts your traffic and helps you change your IP address. Typically, you enter websites with an IP address given by your Internet Provider. IP addresses are unique, meaning it exposes your online identity and physical location. Because of that, 3rd parties can snoop at whatever you do online. Or, you may have trouble accessing geo-restricted websites and apps. Without much hassle, you can solve all these issues by using a VPN.
A VPN proxy conceals your true IP and allows you to browse anonymously. This means two things: one, your ISP, the government or a hacker cannot track your online actions anymore. The other, the website you’re browsing is no longer able to see it is you. All they can tell is that someone, anyone on our planet Earth, is entering their website with a VPN connection on.
In addition, using a VPN proxy allows you to change your virtual location. As you know, your IP address exposes where you are physically. Because of that, you may have trouble accessing various geo-restricted apps or websites. Imagine that you’re visiting Japan and your local news website is only available in the US. Here’s where a VPN proxy can help. You connect to a VPN proxy in New York, refresh the page and a VPN does its magic – the page starts working.
What is a proxy?
VPN proxy and proxy services are often confused due to similar functionalities. Just like a VPN, an online proxy can change your IP address. If you make specific adjustments and connect to a proxy server, your IP address will be concealed. You’ll be entering websites with an IP of the proxy instead. So, how is this any different from what a VPN does?
The main difference between a VPN and proxy is that VPNs encrypt your traffic and proxy services don’t. What does that mean for you? VPNs are more technically-advanced, while proxies offer limited security functionalities. For instance, using an online proxy won’t prevent your Internet Provider or the government from spying on you. Or, it won’t help if you’re trying to protect your sensitive data from a cybercriminal.
Setting up a VPN connection requires less time and effort – most VPNs offer applications for different platforms. Usually, you only have to install a VPN app on your device and connect to one of their servers. With online proxies, it’s different: although there are system-wide proxies available, they usually run on an application level. That means proxies should be configured for each application separately through the settings of that app.
What's for you?
While most proxies work on an application level, VPN apps will protect your whole online traffic. Say, you enable an online proxy on your Google Chrome browser to access a website blocked in your area. You enter the website with your new IP. At the same time, you’ve got some apps running in the background. And, you didn’t make any special adjustments through the settings of those applications. So, they’re still operating under your original IP address.
But, if you use a VPN app, everything you do online will be protected with end-to-end encryption. Have multiple apps and browsers running? Worry not, a VPN will cover it all. Yet, since a VPN takes care of all your online connections, it takes more time to encrypt your information. Because of that, your Internet speed may be slowed down a bit. However, your speed depends on multiple factors and there are hacks to boost it – at times, a simple router reboot will help.
So, should you go for a proxy server or a VPN proxy service? It depends on your needs. If your goal is enhanced online safety and privacy, go for a VPN. Atlas VPN is great for those looking for a permanent solution: it provides end-to-end online security while maintaining fast speeds.
Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.