If you’re just one of the many internet users confused about the differences and functional similarities between VPN and web proxies, you’ve come to the right place.
Many VPN providers also offer proxies in addition to their main service, but you also have the liberty to chose from a wealth of free public proxies available all over the internet with just a few clicks of a button (although we really don’t recommend the use of proxies, specially the free ones). Here we’re going to take a closer look at both VPNs and proxies, and explain their various uses.
The technical term for a proxy is an ‘open proxy server’, and acts as a middleman between a computer and the web. When you connect to a proxy server in Germany for example, it will reroute your traffic so it appears to flow from that server’s location. An example of this would be connecting from Paris to a proxy IP in New York, making it look to an outsider as if you are accessing the internet from a physical location in New York. You can use these proxy services to unblock BBC iPlayer for example, and other services you wouldn’t be able to view otherwise.
There are public proxies, although it’s not recommended you trust them with any sensitive information. Private proxies are typically available to access via a paid subscription service. These will offer enhanced stability and anonymity, along with much faster speeds.
Web proxies can easily be accessed directly via your browser and have the benefit of not requiring any manual configuration. You can access this type of proxy using companies like HideMyAss and Hide.me, who offer convenient free gateways – however, they aren’t very reliable with Flash content or Java scripts, they are also slow.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide a fully-encrypted tunnel between the VPN server and the user; this is the main security difference between proxies and VPNs, and the reason why they are much more expensive.By using a VPN service you will make your traffic and web browsing harder to track, leaving almost no visible trace behind (this also depends on the VPN provider you chose to use).
VPNs also allow you to hide your online data on your computer or phone, instead of just covering up one app at a time, and they can also handle high speeds (of up to 1Gb/s allowing you to take advantage of secure VPN protocols without compromising on your connection speed.
Check out our list of the Best Top 5 VPNs of 2018, and pick the right VPN for you.