While they are similar and often related, there is absolutely a difference between a VPN and a proxy. In fact, there are several. Both have their place and you should not only know what they are, but how to get the most out of each. PrivadoVPN provides you with both to make sure that you get the the best possible connection no matter where you are.
A proxy server is a relay or middleman for your connection. Instead of just connecting directly to another computer, whether it’s to share a file or request a web page, you first go through the proxy server. Have you ever seen a movie where law enforcement is trying to “track” a hacker and they keep “following” their signal from point to point? That’s a very simplified version of how a proxy server works. Your computer connects to another computer, which then asks for the information you want as if the request coming from there.
The two types of proxies that you’re likely to encounter are HTTP proxies and SOCKS proxies.
An HTTP proxy is set up through a browser and only applies to web pages. They’re good for hiding who is accessing a particular site and for browsing the Internet safely in another region.
A SOCKS proxy isn’t limited to web browsing and can be used for peer-to-peer file transfers, online gaming, and video streaming. PrivadoVPN Premium grants you access to a SOCKS5 proxy so you can have the fastest possible connection on data-heavy transfers.
While they can be useful, you can start to see the difference between a VPN and a proxy. For one, proxies only change your IP address, so it looks like you’re coming from someplace else. While this is faster than a VPN, it’s also not as secure.
Furthermore, they also work at the application level, not at the system level. So you can set your browser to run through the proxy, or your Torrent client, or your specific game, but any other data coming in and out of your computer will be routed as normal and tied directly back to you.
There are times and places where a simple proxy is good and useful, but we recommend pairing it with a VPN.
Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) is based on the same idea as a proxy. You connect your computer to another computer in a different location, then to wherever else you want to go. There are two key differences, however.
First, a VPN operates at the system level, not the application level. While your proxy server might route all your browser traffic or all your peer-to-peer traffic through the appropriate program, a VPN sends every bit of Internet traffic through the server.
Moreover, it also encrypts your data before it sends it out or receives it. That data is sent through an encrypted tunnel so that threat actors can’t intercept your transmission, and even if they manage to get ahold of that information, they won’t be able to read it.
A VPN can be a little slower than a proxy, but the security it provides is generally worth the extra time.
What Should I Use, Then?
There is no one answer to this. We recommend using both in certain instances. For example, our SOCKS5 proxy is a great way to ensure that your peer-to-peer transfers remain super-fast and don’t necessarily point directly at your machine where it can be seen by prying eyes.
That being said, the encryption that comes with PrivadoVPN defends all of your data from point to point, giving you the most secure possible connection, preventing data leaks, foiling digital spying, and reducing your vulnerability to certain exploits.
When you take your security into your own hands, you’ll have choices to make. Those choices give you the opportunity to customize your Internet experience wherever you are in the world.
The question is less what the difference between a VPN and a proxy is and more how you can use both of them to keep your personal information secure.