Proxy vs. VPN
When it comes to unblocking sites and hiding your IP address when you go online, you might get suggestions like “VPN proxy” or “free web proxy.” You might wonder what the difference is and what makes a VPN better than a proxy. We have the answers to your questions; read on.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is a connection point between the internet and your device. Among some of the benefits and functions of the proxy server is that it increases your network efficiency, especially when connected to your local router.
In addition, it helps enforce content restrictions and authenticates any users on your network. You can find proxy servers on public Wi-Fi hotspots, like those in hotels or airports, and they often require no manual configurations before you can use them.
Other places you can find proxies are on remote servers, where their function is to bypass any local restrictions or censorships that may be affecting your local network, often imposed by your ISPs. These proxies require configuration before effectively hiding your original IP address and encrypting your internet traffic.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, also known as Virtual Private Network, allows users to change their location, stay completely private, beef up their internet security, and help bypass any censorship placed on websites.
It provides a secure tunnel as an intermediary between the internet and your device. This ensures that your internet traffic, although it passes through the regular ISP route, will be unreadable – and its intended destination will also be unknown.
A top-notch VPN, like ExtremeVPN, also restricts the websites you visit from seeing your original IP address, substituting it with the IP from its private server — regularly switched around.
What Differentiates a Proxy and a VPN?
From a technical standpoint, a VPN server is also a proxy server. “VPN” and “VPN proxy” can stand in for the same function as they are often interchangeable in meaning and function. A proxy server that utilizes HTTPS is similar to a VPN, but while a proxy server encrypts web traffic, the VPN goes the extra mile to route and encrypt all the traffic through its many servers.
Another difference is that a VPN requires more permissions than a simple web proxy to function on your device. For a VPN, you need only install one app to get started, but proxies require every application on your device to be manually configured before it even begins to function.
Advantages of a VPN vs. A Free Proxy
With a VPN, the process is not only smooth but secure as well. Once you install the ExtremeVPN app, you can easily select a server location through which all your traffic can be protected with state-of-the-art encryption. Once done, the VPN can bypass any threats to your local network and help unblock geo-restrictions on any sites you want to visit.
With a free proxy server? The story is a tad different. While some proxy servers can be safe to use, it is increasingly difficult to find the ones that are. We ran a test on over 20,000 proxy servers and found that many of them were equipped with malware.
That’s for security; as for speed, free proxies also fall short. Since they are free, they have a larger pool of users looking to get on board, and with so many limited servers, it can lead to a prolonged connection process. But a premium VPN like ExtremeVPN offers you a private tunnel to route your data, which is regularly optimized to give you speed and stability.
Common Types of Proxies
Data Center Proxy
This kind of proxy uses raw physical data centers to start and finish information requests on behalf of the user. These requests are often anonymized.
This proxy type utilizes a specific physical device to funnel internet traffic from an assigned IP address. They are generally safer.
This kind of proxy is the kind that makes a user’s IP address appear anonymous to any observing party. Its main function is to make it difficult for user internet traffic to get tracked.
This is a common kind of proxy where multiple users are utilizing one IP address simultaneously, leaving no room for privacy.
Public proxies are open to every and anybody online, and they are generally unsafe and notoriously slow.
Why are There Free Proxy Servers?
Free proxy servers exist for one simple and ironic reason: money. Free proxy web servers are often chock full of ads; worse, they sell your private data to advertisers or whoever is willing to pay enough for it. This is because although they are free, these proxy servers have zero financial rewards for letting you access their services.
Both paid and free proxies should use HTTPS encryption; this way, the traffic remains unmonitored and unaltered in transit.
Should I Use a Free Proxy?
It is advised to conduct adequate research before you commit to using a free proxy. Chief among the things to check is if it genuinely encrypts your data because some only claim to do so.