Proxy vs. VPN: Which Is Best For Everyday Users?

Alex Alex 31 October 2022 Follow
Proxy vs. VPN: Which Is Best For Everyday Users?

Online security is no longer only for large corporations or the tech-savvy. Various threats lurk behind website links, spam emails, and other corners of the internet. It is even worse when you consider the intrusions on your privacy by marketing companies and the government.

Out of all the tools that can safeguard you online, proxies and VPNs are the most common options. However, deciding which one to choose isn’t an effortless feat. The differences aren’t easily noticeable and can impact your browsing experience significantly. What is more, your needs can change over time.

What are proxies?

A proxy server, or simply a proxy, acts as a getaway between your devices and the world wide web. It can take your requests, forward them to websites and send back the data. Since proxy servers have an IP address of their own, your IP is concealed from the website’s server.

Using proxies increases security mainly because it creates an additional layer between you and the internet. Without it, everyone on the internet can know your approximate location and internet service provider (ISP) from the numbers in IP address alone.

There's a large variety of proxy types out there, but, for starters, it’s enough to know two main distinctions. The first one rests on the origin of IP addresses.

Residential proxies source their IP addresses from physical devices and ordinary home connections verified by ISPs. So you will be able to blend in better, and it will be more difficult for websites to know you are using a proxy.

Datacenter proxies are created in secondary companies providing data center services. The IPs are not tied to ISPs and are produced in large quantities. Although it’s easier for websites to notice, they are a faster and usually cheaper choice.

Proxies can also differ by their access type. Shared proxies can be accessed by many users concurrently, while semi-dedicated limit the number of connections to a few. Dedicated proxies give exclusive access to only one customer. Shared ones are the cheapest option, but a private connection is better for performance and security.

What are VPNs?

VPN (a virtual private network) is a popular piece of technology used by businesses and individuals to secure remote connections and ensure privacy. It works by creating a secure "tunnel" from your device to other networks, which can be used to send and receive data.

Similarly to proxies, VPNs use intermediary servers to forward your requests and change your IP in the meantime. Often, VPNs are promoted for their encryption capabilities, and most providers pledge to a "no logs" policy. As a result, your requests are not only routed but also hidden.

Although you cannot purchase IP addresses with VPN services, they will allow you to show a different location to websites. Consequently, users can bypass most geo-restrictions and access more content, making VPNs perfect for streaming and web browsing.

In addition to that, VPNs are a preferred choice for businesses that need to ensure easy and secure access for their employees working outside of the office. They can be set up to allow remote access to network infrastructure from somewhere else.

VPNs usually work with additional software, which automates most tasks and makes the set-up easy, even for those who don’t know much about technology. In addition, the software can come with additional features, such as malware protection and ad blocks.

Features to consider

Proxies and VPNs might seem similar in their purposes as the essential privacy characteristics are a given with both. So comparing proxy vs. VPN requires digging deeper into their features. Here are the top aspects you should look for:

  • Ease of use. No one wants to spend too much time setting up the connection to do some menial task. However, the time spent depends on your knowledge, and sometimes a good set-up is worth it.

  • Performance. A selling point for those who don’t want to wait long on loading screens and can’t spare much computing power from their system. It is a deal-breaker in many everyday situations.

  • Data protection. Usually, our daily uses aren’t that important or complicated to be overly secure. Still, decent data protection should be in place, together with privacy measures.

  • Applicability. For most uses, hiding your IP address is enough. But having a flexible tool is always better as you can never know what other tasks might come up.

  • Geo-location capabilities. Changing your location is essential for accessing more content. The choice and quality of countries are one of the priorities for smooth everyday use.

  • Pricing. Even if you rely on a privacy tool daily, you shouldn’t overpay for it. Too often, good tools are paired with features users won’t be using that much.

Comparing proxy vs. VPN

Now that we have defined the features you should look for, we can compare proxy vs. VPN and see which is better.

 

Proxies

VPNs

Ease of use

 

Performance

 

Data protection

 

Applicability

 

Geo-location

 

Price

Ease of use is a win for VPNs. Providers are putting a lot of effort into making them accessible to everyone. It usually only takes a couple of clicks through the installer, and you are ready to go. Moreover, various other solutions, such as mobile apps and web add-ons, are also available.

Proxies are behind in convenience as you only receive the IP address, port number, and password. You have to figure out the rest yourself, which might be challenging for some. Although, to be fair, most browsers and operating systems have proxy settings. So it won’t take much effort for casual use.

Proxies, especially dedicated datacenter ones, are better performing than VPNs. They can forward more requests and work best with traffic-intensive tasks. In addition, not having any software becomes a plus as fewer resources are required from your device.

While VPNs are still fast enough for everyday tasks, they are more sensitive to factors concerning your device and location. If your hardware lacks processing power, the VPN software will not run properly, and the farther you are from the servers, the more the connection speed will diminish.

Encryption grants an extra point for VPNs in data protection. It’s a step that does not require much from the user’s perspective but makes it significantly harder for intruders to access your data. However, some caution is needed here as there are providers with poor encryption or none at all.

Proxies can have encryption, but you will need to put in some extra effort and choose the correct type (SSL proxies) for it to work. In some cases, the encryption with proxies can be even better than with VPNs, yet the know-how required is not for most everyday users.

Applicability of VPNs is limited only to the most basic everyday tasks, such as browsing, watching videos, or downloading files. Using them for something more is painstakingly hard or not allowed by the provider. The ways we use the internet are expanding, so fewer people are satisfied with what VPNs can offer.

Proxy servers, on the other hand, are made to be applied wherever you need them. Whether it is automation software, a web scraper, or a market research tool – there are no limits. On top of that, all the everyday tasks can be done just as successfully as with VPNs. Applicability is a win for proxies.

If geo-location is an essential factor for your day-to-day activities, residential proxies should be your first choice. Their location targeting is more accurate than solutions based on data centers like VPNs. You can even target specific cities and access the internet as if you were from there.

While the location choice from VPN services is more or less comparable to proxies, it might not be enough if you need one specific location every day. Most VPNs are not specialized to provide dedicated IPs, and it is more convenient to purchase proxies.

Pricing highly depends on personal preferences and should be considered equally good with both VPNs and proxies. Buying VPN can be great if your only need is to disguise your IP address and acquire some privacy tools. However, many everyday users are interested in defending their privacy by changing their IP addresses.

In such a case, proxies are a better option. Paying for fancy software and additional privacy tools you might never use is a waste of money. Proxies might seem expensive at first, but if we evaluate the price per IP address, it is a cheaper option.

Conclusion

Either proxy or VPN is better than no privacy and security measures at all. But if you aren’t keen on web scraping and don’t need a versatile solution, go with VPNs. However, proxies are superior when you need more applications than streaming movies or wish for better performance.

In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the author by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.

Comments (2)

  1. David Turner
    1 month ago

    In fact, I only recently thought about starting to use vpn. My friend recommended me to try using clearvpn, since he himself uses it quite a lot of time. I think this is good advice and soon I will also try to use such a vpn for myself. Hope this is really helpful! I recommend you to check it out too!

    0
  2. Billy Tomson
    1 month ago

    Hmm, thanks for your advice, very interesting and useful! I think I will use it soon!

    0
You must be logged in to comment.

Sign In / Sign Up