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VPN vs Proxy: Which One Should You Choose?

by Staff writer
13 Dec 2019 at 17:33hrs | Views
Meta description: VPNs and Proxies are two similar tools you can use to increase your privacy and security online. But do you know what are the differences between the two?

VPNs and proxies are two tools used to protect privacy and security in the online world. In short, proxies are a quick solution for a modest privacy boost while VPNs provide more comprehensive coverage. But their differences run deeper than that.

On some occasions, a VPN is the right tool to use. In others, you may want a proxy instead. Read on to learn more about proxies and VPNs to find the best solution for your online needs.

What are Proxies and VPNs?
Both VPNs and proxies create a higher level of privacy by allowing you to access the internet anonymously. They both hide your IP address — the essential way your computer communicates with other networks, servers, and devices. The difference is how they do it.

Proxies are a gateway suited for simple functions. It works well for staying anonymous while surfing the web or bypassing network restrictions. They cover processes like IP masking and misdirection. It helps users to bypass geo-blocks and other restrictions. Yet, there are no security tools beyond this. And, if a hacker or government wanted to know your IP address, it wouldn't take too long anyway.

A VPN (Virtual private network) software runs on your computer. You can find them as browser add-ons, mobile apps, or configure them on routers. They create a secure tunnel from your computer to a VPN server circumventing local ISP routing. As a result, it encrypts the traffic from any device with a working VPN, making your connection to any site private and secure.

A VPN is an excellent option when you need to use public WiFi, for example, in cafes or airports. They make your overall internet experience more private and secure. They can save you from hackers observing data traveling from your device to any website or app. That includes your credentials and credit card digits.

Which One Should You Use?
Both VPNs and Proxies have pros and cons. One can be more useful or convenient in one situation, while the other in another one. Keep in mind their pros and cons, and you will know which one suits your needs better.
VPN Pros and Cons
Pros:
-    Unlike proxies, VPNs offer end-to-end encryption and extra security features
-    VPNs mask IP address to bypass network restrictions and geo-blocks
-    The best services can access Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other streaming options
-    They can bypass throttling and congested networks
-    VPNs are available for every device, including smartphones, routers, smart TVs, and many other
Cons:
-    They use computer resources like bandwidth and RAM though not too much if you choose the right VPN service
-    Premium VPNs need a paid subscription, while free ones can be selling your bandwidth or data
-    They can cause a slight reduction in speed. It's especially prevalent when using advanced security features like Double VPN or Onion-over-VPN
Proxy Pros and Cons
Pros:
-    Lightweight, quick solution
-    It can bypass firewalls and network restrictions
-    Proxy also hides your IP address
-    You can find many free options

Cons:
-    It only partially anonymizes internet connection. Experienced parties can discover your real IP address
-    Proxies don't offer security features
-    Changing server locations requires an individual setup that takes extra time
-    Proxy users often can't access streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu
-    Free proxy servers can be slow. You may need a paid option.

When to use VPNs vs. When to use Proxies
It's better to use a VPN for long-term privacy and security needs. But there are some circumstances where it might be better to use a proxy. They don't offer much protection against online threats, but they do have practical use in some situations:
-    If you need a quick solution to bypass network or geo-block restrictions. You don't want to use it if you're logging into your bank account, but if you need to access a website, proxies are the right choice
-    You're using a system where you don't have access to download privileges, so you can't use your VPN of choice
-    You're running an older system with limited resources. Since proxies don't have client software, they won't affect device performance
-    You can use proxy servers to increase device performance by caching your most visited websites. Though the information won't be up to date, so it's not a good alternative when it comes to social media feeds or the news.

These are some of the times you should use a VPN:
-    Anytime you want to protect your privacy AND security online
-    You don't want your ISP keeping a log of your internet activity
-    If you want to access streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and others when you're abroad
-    Anytime you connect to a public or unfamiliar network
-    If you live in a country with heavy censorship and online surveillance
-    You want to find better deals on software, airline tickets, and many other online products.

VPN vs. Proxy: The Final Verdict
The online world can be a dangerous place. Both VPNs and proxies offer additional privacy and security benefits. Not only do they help you to have a safer but also more open and freer internet experience.

Of course, both services have their strengths and weaknesses. VPNs are a better option for long term use. But if you need a quick solution or use someone else's computer, proxies will often do just fine.

Source - Byo24News

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