Anonymous browsing has become a commonplace in a world where people are highly concerned about privacy. However, appearing online, without announcing who you are, also increases your flexibility and widens your range of choices. Virtual Private Networks – commonly known as VPNs – servers and proxies can help you achieve this to some extent. But which one is the best among these two?
The answer is not a straightforward one. Many things determine whether one or both of these choices will suit you. Before going to the details, it is good to know what differentiates proxies from Virtual Private Networks:
What is a Proxy?
In the general sense, a proxy is a server that communicates your requests to another server, receives feedback, processes it, and sends the feedback to the user. When you browse using this channel, you do not send direct requests to your information source; instead, you use a “middleman” that is the proxy server.
There are many kinds of proxy servers, which people use for different purposes. However, this article is specifically about the kinds that hide your browsing details from a third party- the ones that “cheat” websites.
What is a VPN?
You can compare a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to a private lane on a main road. The lane is fenced and only you have the permission to drive through it. The road in this case is the internet. Unlike a private lane however- if any such exists- nobody can see or hear you as you pass through it.
As you know already, a lot of eavesdropping goes n in the internet. What you might not know, however, is that the situation is more serious. It is not only the “bad” hackers; governments, advertisers, data service providers, and many other organizations (including charities) are also looking for your information.
Benefits of Proxy Services over Virtual Private Networks
It is important to remember that with all other factors constant, an average proxy service is faster than an average Virtual Private Network. This is because proxies do not deal with the heavy information processing like vpns. Users of proxies are more interested in accessing content rather than things like encryption, heavy authentication, and compression of files; without this much weight, a normally working proxy server will do its things quick.
Secondly, proxy services do not require download and program installation (in some cases even hardware changes) as experienced with vpn services. If not careful, a person might interfere with their firewall settings when implementing vpn, thereby compromising on their security. With proxies, there is no possibility of such errors since no much setting is involved.
In addition, if your hard disk space matters so much, then proxies would suit you. To be fair however, some vpn programs do not consume substantial space. Unlike the 90’s when 5MBs cost an arm and leg, hard disks in this error are quite affordable; 200- 300MBs of your space should not even worth a mention.
Pay proxy services tend to be cheaper than pay vpn services. It is however important to point out that there are free Virtual Private Networks and proxies; everyone can access these using mobile phones or PCs without paying a single cent. Most of these free services however are not quite reliable; but then if you look in the right places, you could still find the best free proxy or vpn service.
Disadvantages of Proxies in Comparison to VPNs
One disadvantage of proxy services is that they do not guarantee privacy. Their intent is to help you access restrictive websites, not to protect you from hackers. If there is any eavesdropping going on, it will continue whether you use a proxy or not.
On the other hand, vpns put your security on the top of the list. Through implementations like tunneling, encryption, frequent server refresh, kill switches, and spam detection among others, nobody can see what you are up to. Even your own internet service provider will not know much about you except your location and IP address.
Another problem with most proxy servers, especially those that do not implement friendly user policies, is that they tend to appear in blacklists of many websites. This is because of the high abuse rates by users.
VPNs on the other hand do not face many such restrictions. Few websites would risk blocking a vpn server because many of their potential customers and partners, including the website owners themselves, use these channels.
Hopefully this has answered your question. If you have any other query about proxy or VPN, you can ask below.