Difference Between VPNs and Proxy Servers

In an increasingly interconnected digital landscape, safeguarding online privacy and security has become paramount. You might have considered utilizing a VPN or proxy server if you’re concerned about privacy. Both increase your internet connection’s safety, but how precisely do they accomplish this, and how are they unique? Knowing the differences between VPNs and proxy servers will aid you in selecting an appropriate tool for the job.

The modern web compromises individual privacy, as giant corporations sell data for profit. Cybercriminals are stealing data. Authorities are spying on valuable information. Sensitive particulars must be protected now more than ever. As a result, the use of VPN and proxy servers in 2018, around 26%, rose to 33% in 2023.

VPN and Proxy Servers Defined

Each solution hides your IP address and reroutes your internet traffic. Both also come with advantages and disadvantages. This guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate critical differences between the two to make a quick and well-informed decision.

VPNs and proxies increase your anonymity by allowing you to conceal your IP address in various ways. However, they differ substantially in how they do it and how many extra privacy features they provide.

Proxy Server

A proxy server is a gateway server that connects a client (like a user’s computer) and a destination server (like a website or an online service) across the internet. When a client sends an internet request to access a resource, the proxy server processes the request before forwarding it to the target server on the client’s behalf.

In this manner, proxy servers allow users to get around content restrictions and surveillance by concealing IP addresses. Users can watch geographically restricted content, for instance, by connecting to a US proxy server to browse UK Netflix content if they are US Netflix customers.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN establishes a safe and secure connection across a public network, like the Internet. It allows users to create a secure virtual tunnel via which data can pass from their device to a remote server or network using a private network connection.

VPNs function on the operating system level. This implies they redirect all your traffic from a browser or an app. They additionally encrypt traffic between your device and the internet. Because of this, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) cannot tell what you are doing online but can only check out that you are connected to a VPN server. Also, this encryption shields you from government monitoring, website tracking, and any hackers who might attempt to snoop on your device.

Difference Between a Proxy Server and VPN

While both a proxy server and a VPN can provide privacy and security, there are some fundamental differences between the two that, include:


A proxy does not necessarily encrypt any of the data you send or receive. It may provide some level of security by acting as a buffer between the client and the destination server. Still, the data transmitted between the client and the proxy server is not encrypted. In contrast, a VPN encrypts all data shared between the client device and the VPN server, providing a secure and private connection.

This encryption ensures that the data remains protected and unreadable to unauthorized parties. This provides added security for important transactions like online banking and shopping since it prevents thieves from spying on your credit card information or login passwords.

The slower speed of free proxies

VPNs and proxy servers both have the potential to impede browsing speed depending on how users reach them. However, as free proxies are widely accessible to many users, they can become overcrowded, leading to slower connection speeds and increased latency. Decreased speeds are also related to a lack of infrastructure, reduced configuration options, and less assistance. In contrast, VPNs are generally faster, resulting in better overall performance.

Paid VPNs vs. Free Proxies

Many users choose paid VPNs for comprehensive security and privacy benefits despite the cost. Paid VPNs offer stronger encryption, advanced features, and better privacy protection. However, they typically require subscription fees, making them a more expensive option than free proxies.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL VPN)

This type of VPN uses a secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol to establish a reliable and encrypted connection over a less-secure network like the Internet. With the increase in the remote workforce, SSL VPNs have become critical in keeping employees connected to the work applications they need and for IT to guarantee that only authorized users are granted access.

Enhanced Security with SSL VPN:

Organizations can increase the security of their network infrastructure by implementing such VPNs as the SSL VPN meaning (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Network). This VPN signifies the establishment of encrypted connections that protect sensitive data and ensure secure communication between users and networks.

Also, SSL VPNs require no additional software installations, utilizing widely used web clients across various operating systems. Updates are automatically installed through popular web browsers, eliminating the need for manual updates and ensuring the solution stays secure and up-to-date. This streamlined maintenance process reduces the burden on network administrators and provides a hassle-free experience for users.

Which should you use: a VPN or a proxy server?

When deciding between a VPN and a proxy server, it is advisable to choose a VPN due to its comprehensive security and privacy features. Your traffic is routed through a secure VPN server and encrypted, giving you privacy and security. A proxy server just simply routes your traffic via a mediating server. Unlike proxies, VPNs reliably safeguard all your traffic at the operating system level. VPN prevails in the proxy vs. VPN comparison.

Can I use a free VPN or a free proxy?

Your privacy and security would be at risk by using free proxy and VPN services. Developers can spy on your data as they have to earn money somehow. Hence, the best option is to use premium VPNs offering top-notch encryptions.

They provide a wide range of servers, the quickest VPN protocols, round-the-clock customer assistance, and ongoing service enhancement. So, avoid Free VPNs and proxies because a few dollars saved upfront may cost you considerably more in the long run.

Key Takeaways

Both VPN and proxy servers reroute your data through a distant server and hide your IP address. VPNs, however, offer more comprehensive security and privacy features, making them the recommended choice. While proxy servers can help bypass content restrictions, they often lack encryption and do not provide the same level of protection as VPNs.

VPNs encrypt all data shared between the client device and the VPN server, ensuring secure and private connections, which is especially important for sensitive transactions. Hence, choose a VPN if you are worried about your online privacy.