Despite serving similar kinds of functions, a VPN and Proxy are not the same. Here is our VPN vs proxy comparison to know which service is better. In the end, we hope you can tell the difference between Proxy and VPN and choose what solution is suite you most.
Last updated on 27 February 2024
VPN vs Proxy: What is a VPN
We must begin this proxy vs VPN assessment by knowing what a VPN is. You can think of a VPN or virtual private network as a tunnel. Further, this virtual tunnel stretches from your device to the internet. When you connect to a VPN, the incoming and outgoing traffic to and from the device passes through this tunnel.
In addition, when the traffic flows through the tunnel, it remains coded so that any third party, even your internet service provider, does not get to see it. Most reliable VPNs use AES-256-bit encryption for powerful coding. As a result, only the source device user and the people at the desired destination can only access the data.
In addition, a VPN will keep your online identity safe by not tracking your digital footprint and hiding your IP address. So, even the trickiest hacker antics will not be able to know your browsing patterns or behaviors. Thus, when you do any online activity with a VPN, you don’t need to worry about your online safety and privacy getting compromised.
VPN vs Proxy Test: How Does a VPN Work?
A VPN works by maneuvering the traffic between your device and the internet through a server in a remote location. Further, it hides your actual IP address, and the connected server provides you with a new IP address.
In addition, a VPN functioning on the OS level redirects the entire traffic, including the ones coming from a background application or your browser. Thus, any website or other users on the internet cannot get to see your IP address.
In other words, Geo-blocking is a problem in today’s world, and a VPN can help you solve this by helping you evade all the restrictions.
Moreover, the encryption of the VPN does not let anyone know what you are doing online or collect your data. In this way, you remain protected from your internet service provider, hackers, spammers, government vigilance, or any entity trying to seize your device. Overall, a VPN works to keep your online security and anonymity intact.
Proxy vs VPN: Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a VPN
If you are looking for the best solution in the proxy vs VPN test regarding online security, undoubtedly, VPN is what we suggest. But you also must learn the minor drawbacks you may need to face, especially if you are not choosing your VPN correctly. Nevertheless, here is a brief account of the pros and cons of using a VPN, helping you decide between a VPN and proxy.
Proxy vs VPN: Pros of Using a VPN
- Bypassing Geo-blocking with the VPN server protecting your actual IP address and offering you a new IP address
- Maintaining online anonymity with no tracking of your online behavior/activity
- Protection of your confidential data through powerful encryption
- Protection against hackers, spammers, government surveillance, and third-party intrusions
- Safeguarding your traffic from your internet service provider to stop bandwidth throttling
- Better speed in gaming and torrenting
- Hassle-free remote access to devices connected to the same network
- Comprehensive protection of your online safety and privacy
Proxy vs VPN: Cons of Using a VPN
- Some VPNs may fail to offer you the desired speed.
- If you are not choosing your VPN carefully, it may log or store your data. That is why it is very important to avoid using a free VPN, which will eventually make you pay with your data in the name of offering you a free service.
- Using VPNs is banned in countries like China, UAE, Russia, North Korea, etc.
- The subscription fees may seem a little pricey.
Proxy or VPN: Types of VPN Protocols
In this section of our proxy vs VPN article, we will talk about different VPN protocols available in the market. You can consider a VPN protocol as the guideline determining how traffic traveling happens through the secure tunnel. Here are the different types of protocols used by a VPN.
PPTP is the short term for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. It is the precursor of all the other protocols used today. It was introduced in Windows 95. This protocol is still preferred because of the speed it offers. However, it is not as secure as the other advanced protocols because of its low-level encryption.
L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol encrypts data using IPSec encryption. This protocol has versatile compatibility and is very safe thanks to its double encapsulation method. However, it may make your connection a little slow, but that should be fine, considering the safety you get.
IP Security or IP Sec is the abbreviation of Internet Protocol Security. This protocol is potent enough to safeguard your data through transport or tunnel modes. Further, through its strong encryption, it can function as a protector of inbound and outbound traffic. However, the speed may be a little less due to complex algorithms.
SSL and TLS
Secure Sockets Layer or SSL is the forerunner of Transport Layer Security or TLS. It can encrypt data traveling to a VPN server with an SSL protocol.
Open VPN is very popular as it can fuse performance with speed. Also, being an open-source protocol, various third parties can constantly maintain and update it.
IKEv2 or Internet Key Exchange, Version 2 is a protocol based on Internet Protocol Security. It is safe and offers good speed. However, it may not work when there is a firewall blocking.
SSTP, or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, is a Microsoft product. It is usually at its best when used on Windows devices.
Secure Shell is another protocol used by VPNs. However, it is a less popular choice due to the complexity of the configuration.
Lightway, the Advanced Protocol, Garnering Accolades
In the midst of these various protocol types, ExpressVPN has come up with Lightway, the “next-generation VPN protocol.” It offers blazing speed, transparency of an open-source protocol, and the powerful cryptography of wolfSSL. In addition, it is independently audited for optimized security.
Also, it is easy to audit and lightweight for better performance. Moreover, it promises “always-on protection” for improved security.
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VPN vs Proxy: What is Proxy
We will discuss what proxy is and how it works in this section of proxy vs VPN assessment. A proxy is a system that, similar to a VPN, acts as an intermediator between your device and the internet connection.
Further, you can set up the proxy server system as per your requirements. For example, you can decide which sites your kids can access and block other sites. In addition, you can use a proxy server for official works where confidential file sharing is involved.
Also, you can use it for streaming blocked sites as it offers IP spoofing. Proxy offers great speed, but it does not protect your data or your digital identity, and this is where a VPN and proxy are different.
VPN vs Proxy: How Does a Proxy Work?
A proxy stands between a device and the website it is trying to access. To explain further, in a proxy setup, the traffic from your device will travel to a remote device first, and then it will go to the host server. Now, the proxy server will shield your actual IP address. So, whenever you try to access any site, it will read the IP address given by the proxy server.
Unlike a VPN, a proxy will never work on the OS level but will work only on the application level. In simple words, when you use a proxy, only the traffic from that particular application gets re-channelized. In addition, a proxy offers great speed but cannot encrypt data.
Proxy or VPN: Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Proxies
If you want to spoof your actual IP address and access blocked sites, a proxy can be a decent choice. However, is it a completely safe choice? Let’s assess the pros and cons of proxies.
Proxy or VPN: Pros of Proxy
- Proxy is helpful if anyone wants to browse anonymously.
- You can have control over which site you want to block and which one you can access.
- Especially helpful for teachers and parents in managing what children should see.
- Allows authorized users to access the internet and private files
- Many reliable proxy services are available free of cost.
Proxy or VPN: Cons of Proxy
- Only works at the application level
- Supports one device and browser at a time
- It may not be compatible with your local server network
- A proxy keeps the cache of your previous browsing activities and hence is not ideal for enjoying online anonymity.
- It does not have any encryption function, making your data vulnerable.
Proxy vs VPN: Types of Proxies
In this section of proxy vs VPN assessment, we will discuss many types of proxies and proxy protocols.
Web Proxy Server
Web proxy servers work by forwarding HTTP requests sent by the user’s device. It does not make any change in the HTTP request but ensures to pass the URL in place of a path.
Anonymous proxy setups will never provide you with a new IP address. However, it will help you maintain online anonymity by making your activities untraceable.
A reverse proxy is ideally placed after the firewall in a private network. It ensures the web request of the client reaches the right backend server. Further, this proxy type ensures an extra abstraction level and better control of traffic flow between the server and the user device.
High Anonymity Proxy
A high anonymity proxy ensures that nobody can detect the actual IP address of the user. Also, any other internet user fails to catch it as a proxy setup.
On the user end, a CGI proxy seems very similar to a web page. You can use it to access another website. In the process, the proxy will maintain your anonymity.
When read as a proxy server, this type of proxy is used for generating an IP address that is not correct. It uses HTTP headers so that the user’s IP address is never at stake.
A suffix proxy attaches its name to the URL of the content the client has requested through the proxy. However, before using a suffix proxy, you must know that the level of anonymity you will get is not very high. In addition, you can use a suffix proxy when you want to supersede web filters.
You can understand transparent proxies as website caches. Further, when transparent proxies join hands with gateways, you will get proxy servers to which you can redirect your browsing requests.
TOR Onion Proxy
TOR onion proxy is known to protect a user from anonymous attacks, blurring the line between VPN and proxy. It makes tracking the user’s IP address difficult by pushing the traffic through many networks across the globe. To put it simply, it creates difficulty in traffic analysis and identifying the actual IP address of the user. When a TOR onion proxy server redirects the traffic, the data remains protected with many layers of encryption.
DNS proxy will receive the request from a user as DNS queries. Then it will channel the request to the domain server. Further, the domain server will redirect the traffic.
12P Anonymous Proxy
12P anonymous proxy is similar to the TOR onion proxy but has better functionalities. It encrypts the communication and disseminates the traffic through many networks globally. Further, it comes with garlic routing to bypass censorship. In addition, it is open source and free to use.
Types of Proxy Protocols
Know the different types of proxy protocols to pick the best service for you.
HTTP Proxy Server
HTTP proxy servers only work with web pages. If you want to direct your browser traffic through an HTTP proxy, you will need to set it up with your browser.
Socks Proxy Server
Socks proxy does not just work for redirecting web traffic, they can re-route almost all types of traffic. However, these proxies only function at the application level.
SSL Proxy Server
It works on the TCP relaying concept of the Socks proxy for managing requests of web pages.
FTP Proxy Server
It will cache the traffic of FTP requests and works on the relaying concept.
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VPN vs Proxy Comparison
Finally, we arrive at the section on proxy vs VPN comparison. Despite the similarity of VPN and proxy, there are differences. We have compared VPN and proxy on four parameters: security, speed, ease of use, and cost. Let’s see who wins the competition.
VPN vs Proxy Comparison of Security
In the VPN and proxy comparison of security, VPN is the clear winner. The main difference between a VPN proxy is that a VPN will always transform your data into encrypted codes, while a proxy will never do that.
To put it simply, a VPN will mask your IP address and keep the data, including the websites you visit, private. A proxy server will change your actual IP address but not maintain the privacy of your online activities.
Another proxy and VPN difference is that leading VPNs always come with a no-log and data protection guarantee. However, a proxy can never offer you the same guarantee. That is why a VPN is always better in the VPN vs proxy test of online privacy.
In addition, if we compare VPN and proxy, it is very clear that a VPN offers encryption and protection at the OS level. So, be it visiting any website or app or any other online activity, a VPN will always protect you and win the proxy or VPN test. On the other hand, a proxy server will keep an application or website traffic hidden at a time.
VPN vs Proxy Comparison of Speed
In the VPN and proxy assessment of speed, the proxy gets the edge. A proxy does not encrypt user data and online activities. So, it is much faster. However, a VPN is safer, considering the comprehensive protection of your online activities and data.
Also, if you are using a VPN like ExpressVPN with an in-built Lightway protocol, you can get better speed and privacy at the same time.
VPN vs Proxy Comparison of Ease of Use
VPN defeats proxy in the VPN and proxy comparison of ease of use. Using a VPN is easier as you just need to download and install the app on your device. However, a proxy is a software that you need to download and configure on a computer.
VPN vs Proxy Comparison of Cost
Proxy is cheaper if we compare VPN and proxy. VPNs and proxies have free services, but they are not as safe and effective as the paid versions. Having said that, for a proxy server, you will only need to pay one-time fees, while for a VPN, you will need to pay monthly or annual charges.
Still, in our VPN and proxy comparison, we must tell you that many VPNs now offer free trials and refund guarantees. You can try these offers, like the 30-day money-back guarantee of ExpressVPN.
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Proxy vs VPN Comparison Summary Table
|Security and Privacy
|Ease of use
Proxy or VPN: Who Should Use a VPN?
The VPN and proxy comparison is incomplete without knowing who should use a VPN and who should go for a proxy. A VPN has many functions to perform. It can mask your IP and provide you with a new IP according to the location of the site or content you want to access. Thus, it helps you evade Geo-blocking.
So, you can use a VPN if you are trying to access a foreign site from your country, bypassing digital restrictions or Geo-blocking. At the same time, a VPN does not let anyone know about your online activities and data, which is why a VPN becomes useful in evading the control of your internet service providers, hackers, and spammers.
Overall, a VPN should be used for protection against any vigilance, intrusion, and control of your digital activity and identity.
Also, you can use a VPN if you want uninterrupted gaming and torrenting. Furthermore, you can use a VPN if you run a company where employees work remotely and daily operations involve sharing many confidential files. Know who should use a proxy in the next section of our proxy vs VPN test.
Proxy vs VPN: Who Should Use a Proxy?
A proxy should be used by someone who wants to access blocked sites. A proxy will change your IP address for accessing restricted sites, and because of that, your IP address will remain untraceable.
So, a proxy will help maintain your source device’s anonymity. This way, your online traffic can remain protected from hackers, spammers, government authorities, and ISP.
In addition, one should use a proxy server to enjoy consistent speed during online activities. However, a proxy is widely used by company administrators and parents. They can use proxies to restrict various sites which they don’t want employees and children to access.
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FAQs on Proxy vs VPN Comparison
In this proxy VPN comparison, it’s time to know answers to some frequently asked questions related to VPN and proxy. These questions and answers will help you decide proxy or VPN which is better for you.
What is the best VPN in the year 2024?
It has not been easy to find out the best VPN in the year 2024. We have considered many factors, like the number of servers, architecture, consistency, and performance. Also, we have tested the efficacy of the protocols and the strength of encryption along with the no-log policy. In addition, we have tested advanced features like Kill Switch, split tunneling, obfuscation, etc.
Nevertheless, here goes our list of best VPNs in the year 2024.
What is better VPN or proxy?
It is very difficult to tell which one is better, a proxy or VPN. VPN and proxy have their pros and cons. Yes, VPN and proxy both help you to hide your actual IP address and bypass Geo-blocking. But a proxy will not usually protect your entire traffic or encrypt data like a VPN. Similarly, you can get better speed and need to spend less while using a proxy.
So, you need to decide the VPN vs proxy test result based on your online activity. Also, a proxy will only cover a particular application or website. But a VPN will cover the entire traffic. As a result, if you are looking for a fusion of performance in bypassing restrictions and better security, a VPN definitely wins the competition of proxy vs VPN.
Is it cheaper to use a VPN or a proxy?
If we talk about the proxy or VPN debate of price, a proxy will always be cheaper. Many leading proxy services come for free. Also, the paid ones usually ask you to pay a one-time subscription charge.
Conversely, a VPN will make you pay handsomely on a monthly or annual basis. At the same time, using a free VPN is never a safe idea, considering the poor security and privacy mechanisms and limited server base. In other words, mostly free VPNs make you pay through your confidential data and not money.
However, premium VPNs like ExpressVPN now have money-back guarantees. Now, you can try ExpressVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee to save some money. So, though proxy wins the VPN vs proxy comparison of price, you can try the free trials.
How safe is proxy?
A proxy hides your original IP and helps you access blocked sites. However, it only protects a particular application or website at a time. Further, it does not protect your online activities, digital footprints, or data. So, if you compare a proxy or VPN for online safety, a VPN is always a better choice.
Is VPN slower than proxy?
Yes, a VPN is slower than a proxy. But it is also safer than a proxy. So, you need to decide wisely regarding proxy or VPN. A VPN encrypts all your data and protects your entire traffic, which a proxy won’t do.
Having said that, there are VPNs like ExpressVPN that do not let you face a major dip in speed thanks to advanced protocols. So, even if a proxy is slightly better than VPN in the proxy or VPN comparison of speed, going for a VPN is always better.
Do you need both a VPN and a proxy server?
Who needs to decide on a proxy or VPN when you can use both for a better online experience? A VPN already helps you access blocked sites and protects your online privacy and safety at the same time. However, if you use a proxy server in which some sites are blocked, you may need a VPN to unblock those.
Conclusion of Proxy or VPN Comparison
To sum up the proxy or VPN comparison, we can say that both services can hide your original ID and help you evade Geo-blocking. Further, a VPN ensures your complete online anonymity and encrypts your traffic for safety.
However, a proxy only offers protection at the application level and does not encrypt your data. Again, a proxy promises better speed than VPN.
Still, if you seek our recommendation regarding VPN vs proxy, we recommend using both for better online privacy, safety, and accessibility. In this regard, you can use ExpressVPN, the best VPN service with an impressive proxy server list.
Further, this VPN has the most advanced Lightway protocol, AES-256-bit encryption, and servers in 94 countries. Most importantly, it now offers a 49% discount and a 3-month free subscription on its 12-month plan.
In addition, it has a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. So, what are you waiting for? Subscribe to ExpressVPN today and end the VPN vs proxy debate.