There are significant differences in technology between proxy and VPN services.
We have listed some important points for comparison here. Proxy servers are “proxies” and VPN services are “secure tunnels” through the Internet. But what’s the difference?
Proxy servers are “representatives” and know as much about data communication as the users themselves. In addition, you can collect or even change and forward modified information.
A few differences to normal VPN services therefore:
- Proxy and VPN connections each establish a connection via an anonymous IP address.
- VPN encrypts the entire data transmission, while connections to proxies are limited to certain protocols (such as the use of the browser).
- The proxy hides all users behind its own proxy IP address, but the data is not fully encrypted or backed up. VPN encrypts all data sent or received, including that of other applications such as e-mail, software, games or any other applications running on the device and communicating over the Internet. In many cases, each user also receives a temporary, anonymous IP address.
- Proxy usually do not use their own software and can be simply specified in the browser settings. VPN requires access software to connect, which also encrypts or decrypts the data accordingly. The software can also change connections to different locations in a few seconds.
- Proxy can also decrypt, view and manipulate encrypted data between the user and a website (e.g. bank website) unnoticed. VPN services are based on NAT technology, which cannot view or store transmitted data.
- Free proxy servers from the Internet are not secure to use because they are either simply misconfigured to allow access by other users or deliberately put into operation to hack or spy on users or to steal passwords or credit card data etc.. Professional VPN services are based on another technology which does not allow to view, store or manipulate the secured data of the users.
- Trusted VPN providers do not store user data or activities and, in addition, their own Internet provider can no longer view or store their own customers’ activities due to encrypted transmission via VPN. Transfers to proxy servers can still be tracked and stored by your own Internet provider.
- Proxy servers can allow hundreds or even thousands of users at the same time. Therefore proxy services and especially free proxy servers are usually very slow.
- In order to be able to use file sharing, proxy servers do not help at all to hide the own identity, this only goes through VPN services.
- VPN services require a clear authentication of the users by user name/password and in many cases also security certificates, only by this the data can be transmitted and received accordingly secure. Proxy servers often do not use authentication, so connections can be intercepted directly or used for spying or fraudulent data theft.
Summary proxy vs VPN services:
In most cases it is much safer NOT to use a free proxy and thus be connected directly to the Internet without further protection. Proxy services represent one of the biggest current threats to users on the Internet, through data theft, espionage and fraud.
VPN services can offer significant added value and protection against espionage and hackers.