VPN vs Proxy – What Are the Differences?
VPN vs Proxy is an age-old debate that persists to this day. The primary reason for that is the general lack of understanding about how both of these technologies work. Free proxy services have dominated the discussions because not only they don’t cost anything, proxy services are accessible through the web browser. It’s convenient for many, but as you’ll learn in this blog, convenience often comes at a cost. In this case, it’s your privacy.
What is a Proxy?
Proxy – as the name suggests – is something that works as an intermediary. In the web context, it’s a server that allows you to push traffic through it and spoof your IP address. Proxy servers let you connect to websites indirectly. The benefit is that the websites read the proxy server’s location and IP address instead of yours. All back-and-forth communication occurs through the proxy server.
Proxy services have been popularly used to unblock websites. Many don’t require a manual setup; all you have to do is type in the desired web address on the proxy service’s webpage and start surfing.
The Differences – VPN vs Proxy
VPN works on the same principle, but the technology is vastly superior. Unlike proxies, VPN uses encryption for security. Encryption converts plain-text into cipher-text for making it indecipherable to any third-party.
When we talk about VPN vs Proxy, it is the single biggest advantage that VPN has over proxies. Encryption relies on a mathematically derived key to encrypt data, and a key is required to decrypt. The process ensures that data transmission between the user and the VPN server cannot be monitored successfully. Building on encryption, VPN services have incorporated several other features with the sole purpose of enhancing privacy and security.
Why Encryption Matters
The importance of encryption in the modern world cannot be stressed enough. It is the only thing between you and a hacker on some public Wi-Fi network. It’s the reason why lawmakers want control over it.
Encryption is the process of converting data into an unreadable format. The server and client authenticate before communicating to send/receive data. iProVPN uses AES 256-bit for symmetric encryption. Once authentication has passed, your data will be secured with the toughest symmetric encryption standard. Anyone intercepting will be unable to see the contents of the data packets. The ISP cannot see what websites you visit and cannot deny service to you under censorship laws.
The proxy server relies on HTTPS encryption, which does provide security, but it does not ensure protection against tracking. It is not the kind of iron-clad security that a VPN’s encryption provides.
Proxy Services Are Unreliable
Making something an intermediary has its advantages and disadvantages. The proxy allows you to spoof the IP address, but because the server handles every internet request, it has a history of every web activity. Giving proxy server the delegation to handle DNS queries allows them to keep track of activities.
There is always a cost attached to running a service. A proxy server is a computer that has been set up to forward internet requests. Free proxy services make up for the revenue not earned directly from the user by selling user data to advertisers.
Advertisement is a hot business. And advertisers are willing to pay top dollar to get their hands on data such as a user’s browsing habits. And that goes for free VPN services, too. As the saying goes, if something is free, then you are the product.
How VPN Ensures Privacy and Security
Any proxy service – free or paid – will fall short of providing a truly private internet experience. iProVPN incorporates several features that have a direct impact on privacy and security. Its IP/DNS leak protection ensures that your IP address is not revealed while connected to the VPN server.
iProVPN servers also have malware detection. Domains flagged as malicious are blocked before they have a chance to pose as a threat. Kill Switch is an ever-active mechanism that disconnects the VPN server before your IP address leaks out if VPN connectivity is lost. Split Tunneling allows you to use the VPN for selected apps only.
These are just some of the many features you cannot expect from a proxy service or even free VPN services. The number of servers available worldwide and the ability to switch between them is largely exclusive to paid VPN services.
Always Demand Zero-Logs Policy
A zero-logs or no-logs policy promises that the service will never record your web browsing activities. As a tool meant to provide privacy, it would not seed confidence if it was tracking every session.
iProVPN guarantees a zero-logs policy as part of its service. It is a promise that user activity will never be tracked or recorded. It is the kind of commitment that free services are not capable of delivering. For example, iProVPN operates from the British Virgin Islands – a territory known for its privacy-friendly laws. It is governed by its own laws and court and does not partake in intelligence sharing even though it’s canonically associated with Britain.
It translates to complete privacy on the internet. Your internet activity will never be tracked or recorded.