Proxy vs VPN: Which Is Better?
We untangle the strengths and weaknesses of each.
You’ve probably seen the word “VPN” almost everywhere by now. “Protect your privacy, your identity” and all that. Alongside all of this, you also see “proxies” being thrown into the mix. Then you start seeing VPN vs proxy everywhere. It starts to get all confusing, which one protects your identity, which one gives you access to geo-blocked content… It’s ok, we’re here to de-boggle any confusions you may have.
But first, let us rethink the question entirely. Usually, most people search “which is better, proxy or VPN?”. But that’s not the question you should be asking. Both proxy and VPN have their advantages and disadvantages, so to say “proxy is better than VPN” can be incorrect. It all goes down to what are you using them for. Let’s disentangle what they are and their best application methods.
What is a Proxy?
“It is a secure gateway between you and the internet” is the short answer. I’ve seen this explanation used in many other blogs. So did we when answering the question How to Browse the Web Anonymously? It simply makes things easier to imagine, so excuse us for using it over and over again.
Now that you have that image ingrained in your head, what happens when you use a proxy? When you send traffic to other websites, it goes through the proxy you are using, and the proxy acts as a filter here. This filter hides your real IP address, and your internet identity will show up as a completely different IP.
To simplify – a proxy is used for anonymity online, usually for gathering data in copious amounts. There are different kinds of proxies, some are better for buying sneakers, and some for gathering data from Google. The most common proxies are:
- Residential proxies – proxies that are assigned by an ISP to a homeowner. Highly anonymous as when they hide your IP address, it is hidden behind another legitimate IP.
- Datacenter proxies – run in a datacenter, on an IP address that belongs to a block of IP addresses that are used commercially, but not by an ISP for residential internet access.
So, proxies are known for their high anonymity. But be mindful of the provider you choose as it all goes down to whether they are trustworthy or not. We have a lot of information on our website all about different proxy providers, but if you want to know the best ones, read the 2019 Proxy Service Awards.
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a service that allows you to access the internet securely and privately. Much like a proxy, it hides your IP address. A VPN simply uses encryption to secure your data. So let’s say you need to make a payment online, but the network you are using is not secure. By enabling a VPN, you won’t need to worry about sensitive data leaking out, and your connection will be safe.
It also works as a filter when you use an open Wifi (we see you coffee shop work addicts). So when you connect to free wifi, your traffic can be easily seen to those who look for it. So a VPN will work as would sunglasses that protect your eyes from direct sunlight. So without further ado, let’s dive into VPN vs proxy battle and see what is what.
Proxy vs VPN
Having read all that, initially one would think that a proxy and a VPN does the same thing – hides your IP address. That is true. However, they are used for different purposes. Here are their main differences.
Most commonly used in large quantities by businesses that wish to gather data, apply it for ad verification, SEO, market research, brand protection and much more.
Usually used by an individual who wishes to protect data, access geo-blocked content, etc.
The main difference is that a proxy can do what a VPN can, but a VPN can’t do what a proxy does. A proxy can be used individually to protect data, access geo-blocked content and so on. With a VPN however, you won’t be gathering any data nor will you be able to buy sneakers with it. Only proxies can do that.
By the looks of it, it seems that a proxy is better than VPN. However, a VPN will work a lot faster and better for individual use, whereas proxies, even though have the power to do so, are best when used in bulks to gather data or any other business needs. You can find out who are the best proxy providers in our market research, or you can read up all about them in our blog.