What is a VPN and what is it for? What is a proxy? What is the difference between a proxy and a VPN? Both options will mask your IP, so many people might think they are the same, but they are really different. In the following table, you can quickly see what a proxy does and what a VPN does:
|Use in only one APP||YES||YES|
|Use throughout the computer||NO||YES|
A proxy acts as a gateway for the software where you are using it. Normally it is not encrypted. A VPN will protect your entire Internet connection, establishing a connection through a virtual network to certain servers to redirect all traffic and DNS.
What can a VPN do, different from a proxy? The answer is simple: A VPN will encrypt all your traffic while a proxy will not (it will only hide your IP).
What is a proxy? What is a proxy for?
- It works with web browsers, torrent clients, etc.
- It protects a single program
- Easy setup
- Encryption if ssh is used
Think of a proxy server as a gateway. You have control over the proxy configuration, which only affects your torrent client (Utorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, etc.) or any other program that is compatible with socks5 proxy servers.
A proxy only provides IP masking to one application at a time and does NOT encrypt communication unless it is an https proxy.
When you use a proxy with torrent downloads, you get all the benefits of it – including security, speed, geographic location, and an anonymous IP.
What is a private proxy?
As said previously, a proxy is an IP address that acts as a kind of intermediary between your PC and the rest of the Internet to make requests to websites on your behalf. When you use a proxy, your computer sends requests to the proxy, and then it processes your requests and shows you what you are looking for.
It also hides your real IP address and protects your privacy, allowing a more anonymous web browsing.
As the name implies, a private proxy is a dedicated IP address that is anonymous and can be used only by you during the entire service subscription. This means that you have full control over the use of the assigned private proxy. No one is going to ban you unless you are the one who makes mistakes. Private proxies are not much more expensive than the shared ones (usually these must be purchased in large packages of 50 or more).
You can use the proxies with each browser on your computer, with each computer or with specific programs such as Scrapebox, SenukeX, etc. (SEO programs) or games like Pokemon Go (for this you will need a dedicated proxy).
What is a VPN? What is a VPN for?
- It works with Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, iOS
- You can use OpenVPN
- Easy setup
- It protects and encrypts all your communication, not just a program
Unlike a proxy, which only secures your torrent client or web browser, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted tunnel that secures 100% of your internet access. Also, it changes your IP address.
With a VPN server, you can enjoy greater security, regardless of your geographic location. Not only does it protect your torrent downloads, but it will also do it with all your online activity (email, browser, and other applications). You will also get faster connections and encryption.
VPNs are used, for example, to connect to Netflix and watch TV series available in some countries only.
Proxy vs VPN: What are the main differences? What service should I choose?
Let’s summarize everything in a few words so that it becomes more clear:
Security and privacy
- Proxy: they hide your IP address (free proxies can compromise your computer with malware, so it is better to go for paid ones). It is better to choose HTTPS or SOCKS proxies.
- VPNs: offer greater security and privacy than proxies. Your traffic is completely encrypted and your IP is hidden. You have to choose a good VPN provider. Free ones are not recommended as they “sell” your privacy.
Connection and encryption
- Proxy: they connect to the Internet through web traffic and their requests. They will not protect other types of connections such as scraping programs or torrents.
- VPNs: fully encrypt your entire connection. Normally, ýou connect through some sort of programs provided by the VPN provider.
- Proxy: they are usually much faster than VPNs – overall private proxies. A free proxy does not give you any speed.
- VPNs: are slower than proxies by their own technology. You have to choose a paid provider and carefully select the servers to which you connect.
What are they used for
- Proxy: they are often used by hackers, small business owners or people who want to hide their IP in torrent or P2P downloads. You can hide web traffic when using scraping tools such as Scrapebox.
- VPNs: are a great choice for the general public. They are better for occasional users who want privacy, avoid geographical location restrictions, and download torrents or watch Netflix. They are easy to use and configure.
- Proxy: a single proxy usually costs as much as a VPN. If you increase the quantity (for Scrapebox you may need from 10 to 100 or more, the price increases significantly). 10 proxies usually cost between $10 and $20.
- VPNs: usually cost between $3 and $5 per month, but their annual plans or for several years come at a way lower price.
Can you use a VPN and a proxy together?
Yes. And many times it is recommended. They serve different things. You put a proxy in your browser, SEO program or torrent to change your IP and then use an extra layer of security with your VPN to encrypt all traffic and change your IP again. It is important to use good providers for both to not lose much speed.
For example, you are using an app like Scrapebox, you start your VPN, you set up ScrapeBox with all your proxies and it starts working. All good so far, but… if for some reason the proxy fails, you lose your anonymity. In such a case, rather than revealing your real IP address, only the VPN IP address will be displayed.
Normally, you are not going to need to use both options; a VPN may be better for you, but be aware that you can combine proxies and VPNs without any problem – the speed of your connection will decrease, yet your privacy and online security will be higher.