What is the difference between a VPN and a proxy?

Have you ever seen a message “this video is not available for your country” on YouTube or Netflix? Or do you simply want more privacy on the internet? A VPN or proxy offers an easy solution for this. Both hide your actual location, making it look like you are using the internet from a different location than the one, where you actually are. How exactly does it work and which of them do you need to use?

What is a VPN or proxy?

To better understand VPN or proxy, it’s good to get a global picture of how the internet works in general. In order to view a website on your computer, you submit a series of requests on the internet, for example by typing “google.com” or clicking on a link.

Such request will consist of several steps and will use several different types of devices. Via the router at your home or office your web request reaches the server, where the website is stored. Along with your web request, you also send information like the IP address of your computer and your location, in order for the web server to know where to send the requested content.

If you don’t want the web server to know that you sent the request, but still want to see the web page, you can use a VPN or proxy server. Both work as an intermediate station that ensures that the request can’t be traced back to you. This makes your internet browsing a lot more anonymous and helps you maintain more privacy.

How does a VPN work?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It creates an encrypted tunnel for the entire internet traffic from your computer. This means that all internet requests you make through this tunnel go to the VPN server.

Your encrypted internet traffic then looks like a collection of unreadable characters and only your computer and the VPN server can decipher the code, unreadable for others.

When do you use a VPN?

When you’re connected to a public WIFI network, other people may track your internet traffic without permission. If you are using a VPN, all communication between you and the VPN is encrypted, so viewers can not see which websites you are trying to visit.

Another common reason to use a VPN is to access your work computer remotely or to open a website that is not available for in your location. Have you ever tried to watch a Netflix show on a vacation, but it was blocked for the country where you were in? By connecting to a VPN in your own country, you can still watch your shows because it looks like you’re watching it from home.

It is important to find a good and reliable VPN that does not keep track of your data. An unreliable VPN can still track your traffic or even spread viruses. Read more about the risks of a free VPN.

How does a proxy work?

A proxy is, just like a VPN, an intermediate station between the user and the internet to make your location look different. Again, you send a request for a website to the proxy server and it then forwards it to the web server. If the web server tries to trace back your request, it can only go back until the proxy server.

The difference with a VPN is that a proxy is simpler and less secure. You have to install proxy per application (your web browser, mail, agenda, etc), while a VPN makes all your internet traffic anonymous.

Moreover, a proxy only hides your IP address by replacing it with the IP address of the proxy. Proxies are not encrypted, which is why your anonymity is not always guaranteed. Your internet provider or someone searching the Wi-Fi network on public transport can still see or intercept your internet traffic.

The advantage of a proxy is that it is not as heavy for your computer as a VPN, and therefore does not make your internet slower. Having a VPN can have a considerable effect on your Internet speed, because it must encrypt and decrypt every request.

A proxy can easily be used for simple, less privacy-sensitive tasks. It is important to use a reliable proxy for safer use of the internet. Unreliable proxies can sell your data or inject viruses.

Difference between VPN and Proxy

A proxy and VPN are very similar, but there are clear differences. We have briefly summarized the main differences below.

VPN  Proxy 
Encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic making it seem like the VPN server makes the request.  Hides only your IP address. Internet traffic can still be visible to the internet provider or hacker 
Secures all your internet traffic from your computer  To be installed per application (web browser, online game) 
Is heavier and can slow your internet  Little difference in internet speed, if the proxy is good. 

With vBoxxCloud you do not need a VPN or proxy to access your files from another location. You can open and edit your files anywhere and on any device through fast synchronization. In addition, your files are stored in highly secure data centers with an ISO 27001 certification.We  also work entirely in full compliance with the GDPR privacy regulations.

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