VPN (Virtual Private Network) and proxy servers have increased in popularity over the years as digital tools to help you get around Internet restrictions, firewalls, and any kind of service/country that is imposing heavy censorship in regards to using the Internet.
Most of us know that when we surf the Internet, it is almost impossible to remain completely anonymous. While it can be useful when websites show up in our language right away, or when we do not need to put in our current location in Google Maps, most of the time it is wiser to browse the web anonymously without letting anyone know where you are located.
So what is the difference with proxies and VPNs, and which is the best choice? With this BolehVPN guide, we are going to learn the difference between proxies and a VPN.
The premise behind proxies and VPN is pretty simple. Due to the servers’ IP addresses, we are able to pretend that we are located somewhere else. That way, we are able to exit location-restricted websites, or maybe even access websites you do not want your provider or government to know it was you.
When you surf the Internet, you device connects almost directly to the site you are accessing. Hence, a lot of your personal information is exposed (for example were you are). With this kind of information, it can be used by less than honest people who want to find out your identity or anything you do on the Internet.
Acting as a go-between tool between you and the rest of the Internet, a proxy will request to connect to the web server for you instead of directly connecting to every website. Instead of making your online activities visible to snoopers, a proxy will act as a middle shield between you and the web server, alters your actual IP address which protects your login details from being monitored by any intruder over the network, and helps you circumvent the blocked websites along with the privacy. This increases privacy and has the added benefit of being able to virtually change your geographic location just by connecting to a proxy server in a different place.
VPNs and proxies work very similarly. They both act as an intermediary between you and the web service. In theory, these websites that you connect to cannot see your location. In practice however it is a different case, because it is relatively easy for them to dig up and find your real IP address, and thus, your location.
VPNs have one defining difference: encryption.
Take for example you were in a crowded room and you wanted to pass a note to your friend. Any individual between you and your friend would be able to open your note and read through it. With a code that only the both of you could decipher, now no matter whoever opens your note, they will be unable to read your message.
This is how a VPN works; that all your Internet data that you send or receive is converted into an unreadable code from which cannot be read by any attacker or intruder even if the data is intercepted, which provides you security.
So not only do VPNs spoof your location, but they also make it unreadable for a website or outside snoopers to sniff in on your information.
With all these in mind, which should you pick to use?
Well, if you are really concerned about privacy, proxies are not enough. For comprehensive privacy and security from cybercriminals and privacy intruders, we would recommend using a VPN.
While a VPN can pretty much do everything a proxy server can, it can in fact do more. Bearing in mind that ‘go-between’ tools (especially free, public ones) can potentially intercept your Internet traffic (or even reroute it to a hostile website), it is vital to pick the right service provider to go with, as a good VPN can greatly help with your privacy and security.