Proxy vs. VPN: What’s the Difference & When to Use Which?

Proxy vs. VPN: What’s the Difference & When to Use Which?

Digital privacy and security have become a pressing concern for the 4.9 billion people around the globe who use the Internet for work and entertainment.

With the increase in cyberattacks (+38% in 2022), identity theft (in 2021 alone, the US Federal Trade Commission registered 5.7 million reports of fraud and identity theft), and other malicious activities, people seek ways to anonymize their online activity and secure data.

Two popular tech tools that help people accomplish this goal are virtual private networks, known universally as VPNs, and proxy servers.

But how do they differ, and when should you use them?

Proxy vs. VPN: Where Does the Line Fall?

Disclaimer: As the company behind VPN for Android, a reliable VPN with a strict no-log policy, a wide choice of servers, and strong encryption, we’ve written plenty of articles about virtual private networks; you can check them out on our corporate blog.

You can also use the VPN for Android IP checker tool to learn whether your browsing activities are anonymous.

Without further ado, let’s solve the VPN vs. proxy riddle.

What You Need to Know About Proxy Servers
Proxy servers are intermediaries between your Internet-connected devices and web services. Your traffic flows through these servers before reaching its final destination. As a result, the hosting company does not see your factual IP address, which the proxy server replaces.

Proxies may function as firewalls and web filters, protecting your devices against hacks. Additionally, they can improve your browsing experience by compressing traffic and caching files.

There are several types of proxies you could use to anonymize your online activities:

Forward proxies, which facilitate data exchange in groups of users and assess requests before establishing connections
Public proxies, which merely give you another IP address and lack protective mechanisms
Anonymous and high anonymity proxies, which take extra steps to hide your activities — for instance, by deleting your data before connecting to websites
Secure socket layer (SSL) proxies, which, besides giving you an alternative IP, render the traffic traversing the network unreadable to third-parties
Our list is not exhaustive; however, it should give you a general idea about proxies — and complicate the VPN vs. proxy matter even further.

The thing is, while many proxies encrypt data similarly to VPN products, the process is handled by the proxy server operator. Since almost 70% of free-of-charge proxies are managed by criminals, we recommend avoiding using proxies unless you can vouch for the company behind them.

Conversely, proxies — especially those lacking encryption capabilities — can be faster than VPNs since they simply redirect your traffic, requiring less computing power.

What You Need to Know About VPNs
A VPN is a service that encrypts your internet traffic and passes it through remote servers. This way, the website or service you access doesn’t know where you are.

Essentially, that’s how proxies work, too — but there’s more to VPNs than concealing your location.

First and foremost, VPNs use advanced encryption technologies, so no one can intercept or manipulate your data, even if you join an unsecured Wi-Fi network. As a result, the cyber protection offered by VPNs is hands down stronger than that of proxies.

Additionally, since a VPN tunnels your internet traffic, it can be used for miscellaneous internet activities, from video content streaming to gaming and surfing the web.

At the same time, proxies are best suited for casual browsing.

When to Use a VPN vs. Proxy

Now that you know how the two online communication technologies differ,

let’s figure out whether you should use a VPN or proxy and in what circumstances.

Proxy Server Use Cases Proxies are useful when you don’t want to

reveal your IP address but do not care much about security. Such instances include:

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