Security has gradually become an important part of using the internet, especially today when users are concerned about their privacy and safety.
Hackers, online blackmail, government tracking, surveillance, and corporations trying to create online profiles of their users to sell that data to third parties have become our new normal.
One of the ways to guarantee privacy and security is through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and proxy servers.
Although they work towards accomplishing a similar goal – privacy and security – they are fundamentally different in how they do it.
It is important to understand both VPNs and proxy servers before deciding which one to use for your peace of mind when browsing the internet.
In this article, we will help you compare the two options and choose yours based on the pros and cons of VPN and proxy.
Keep on reading!
Differentiating between a Proxy server and VPN
A Proxy server acts as an intermediary between a user and the internet, disguising internet activity to appear to come from a different location from the user.
It does so by concealing and masking your IP address. For instance, if you are using your laptop in Chicago, you can access a YouTube video geographically restricted to London by using a proxy server.
Furthermore, proxy servers monitor and filter network activity, which prevents eavesdropping and logging of your activity. Using a proxy server can allow you to access web services anonymously while also securing your identity from spammers and hackers.
On the other hand, VPN creates a virtual version of a private network and uses this network to connect to the internet. It uses different methods to do this, which include network encryption, authentication, and tunneling.
Check the benefits of using a VPN at home
When you send a request for a website, it encrypts your IP address before it reaches the VPN, authenticated by the VPN then sends the request to the website.
This allows the user to remain anonymous. Furthermore, the VPN server is always online and has great connectivity, which can significantly improve the user’s browsing experience.
Given you now understand how both VPN and proxy servers work, it is important to understand the differences so you can choose the best security and privacy solution for your needs. The table below highlights the technical differences.
|Definition||Simulates a private network over a public network through encryption and authentication||Acts as an intermediary between the user and public network (internet)|
|Protocols||Uses Internet Key Exchange (IKEv2) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols||Use file transfer protocol (FTP) and Hyper text transfer protocol (HTTP)|
|Use of firewall||Used with a firewall to ensure protection||Does not use a firewall|
|IP masking||IP address is from the VPN keeping the user hidden||IP is hidden over the network|
|Encryption||Offers 2048-bit or 256-bit encryption||Does not encrypt user data over the network|
VPN vs Proxy: Choosing the best solution
The best solution depends on what you will use it for.
When you are looking for a solution that offers the best security and privacy, VPNs provide the best option. VPNs offer superior security due to the combination of IP masking, encryption, and the use of a firewall.
These three security techniques ensure users are protected from hackers, and tracking by governments and corporations. They also give you anonymity by protecting your IP address and location through encryption methods.
Outside of security, VPNs allow you to select different locations to mask your IP address. Some countries have laws that can compel VPN and proxy server providers to show your identity.
VPNs provide you with a multitude of countries that do not have such laws in place. VPNs also offer significant speed advantage over proxy servers, even though proxy servers have the added advantage of not affecting bandwidth or latency. The protocols and remote technologies that VPNs use allow users to access sites faster.
It is important that you choose your next VPN wisely to realize these advantages. You should make these considerations during your selection.
- Trust and security: ensure you can trust your VPN provider with your traffic to ensure that they will not breach or disclose your privacy. Furthermore, your VPN should use the latest protocols and encryption technologies to keep your data private. Your VPN provider should be invested in your security as much as you are.
- Speed: VPNs can be slow if you do not select the best VPN provider, which we will highlight below. Make sure your VPN provider uses remote technologies and protocols that guarantee fast network speeds.
- Data logging: research if your VPN provider logs your data, as data logging defeats the point of using a VPN. VPNs that log your data will most likely sell it to advertisers or partners.
- Restrictions: some VPNs are blocked in airports, train stations, and hotels. When planning to use a VPN when traveling, make sure that your VPN is not on the restricted lists.
Best personal VPNs
Based on the criteria above, here are consumer VPNs that are considered best in class. Although all of them have a free or paid subscription service, they offer fantastic value.
- ExpressVPN – based in British Virgin Islands and with servers in 94 countries, Express offers great coverage and security, as it does not log data and uses high-end encryption. It also works well in multiple locations.
- ProtonVPN – developed by MIT scientists, Proton offers a trustworthy and secure VPN service. Proton does not log data and offers a free service, although this comes with reduced speeds.
- NordVPN – with servers in 60 countries and services on all imaginable devices, Nord offers impeccable service and has the best speeds in this list. It allows you to connect six devices and does not log your data.
Learn about the differences between personal and business VPN
VPNs and proxy servers work in different ways but both can be used to guarantee safety when browsing the internet.
Depending on your activities, choosing the best option means looking at costs, security, speed, and trustworthiness.
VPNs will offer the best experience in all these categories, making it the easy choice to cater for your security needs. Picking the best VPN will also depend on what you are looking for.
This guide should come in handy when you make your decision.