Proxy vs. VPN - When and Why You Need to Use Them

Maintaining your online privacy is getting increasingly important nowadays. Websites and applications might use your information for advertisement purposes and even track your activities even if you are outside of their app or website. ISPs or Internet Service Providers can also track your activities whether you like it or not.

Fortunately, there are methods you could use to prevent any type of tracking. The most popular are Proxy Servers and VPNs or Virtual Private Network. Both can hide your IP address by giving websites you visit a different IP address based on your setting.

While both can hide your IP address, each has distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider. If you are serious about online privacy, check out these tools for online privacy.

Proxy Server for Hiding Your IP Address

A proxy server, as the name suggests will be your substitute or intermediary with a website you want to check out. Instead of using your IP address to access the website, the proxy server will provide their IP address to the site. No personal information will be stored in the website if the user opts to browse the site without providing any additional details.

The biggest advantage of a proxy server is its ease of access. There are a good number of proxy sites you can use right now without additional set-up. This is a perfect solution for testing out access to geo-blocked websites.

The disadvantage of a proxy server is its limited features. A proxy server can only be used on one website at a time. There are also three types of proxy servers to use depending on the online activity:

  • HTTP - Used for Basic Internet Browsing
  • SOCKS5 - For Streaming, File Sharing and Gaming (slower internet access)
  • Transparent - A Type of Proxy Server that Blocks Access to Websites

VPN for Total Online Privacy

A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is one of the most popular tools for online privacy. It's the highly recommended tool because of its system wide privacy which means any interaction you do online will not be monitored due to encryption. Proxy servers hide your IP address from websites you visit but it's not encrypted.

Encryption is basically a method of protecting your online activity online by scrambling your connection - making it impossible to read by outside sources without the proper key. In the case of VPNs, all online activities are kept private and will not be monitored even by ISPs because of its ability to encrypt connections.

The main drawback of VPNs is the fact that it can slow down internet connectivity. In fact, free VPNs purposely slow down internet connectivity to entice their users to subscribe to their paid services. Paid services through VPN are often recommended for those who want to access blocked websites and online services because of the users' location. Premium VPN accounts also have a wide range of server options to choose from which means they can hide their IP address and tell websites they are trying to access a site from a different country.

While proxy servers will require additional set-up for various types of services, a properly set-up VPN can protect every online activity such as gaming and online streaming. In fact, a VPN is highly recommended for those who want to access video streaming sites in other countries. It's also the ideal solution for accessing normally blocked videos due to geo-restrictions.

Proxy servers and VPNs each have their advantages. If you're looking for a quick resolution for IP address masking, a proxy server is the perfect solution. However, those who want complete privacy in every online activity should choose to subscribe to a VPN service.

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