With the increasing use of Wi-Fi at cafés, restaurants, hotels, schools and offices, the need for internet security has automatically increased.
Most people are aware of that when using Wi-Fi or LAN internet, there is a continuous unsecure stream of data flowing between their computers and the internet gateway. This stream of data contains your emails, messages, passwords, credit card details and all that other information which is supposed to be for-your-eyes only. The unsafe part is that anyone with a little know-how about hacking or even a stalker can easily penetrate that data stream to violate and steal your information.
This is where the guards, namely Virtual Private Networks and Proxies come in. In the following post, we will be delving into the VPN vs Proxy debate to see what separates these two widely used privacy guards.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) service creates a sort of pipe between you and the host server with all the internet traffic being re-routed through the host server. There are a lot of services out there – paid and unpaid – dedicated to providing VPN services.
When accessing the internet through a VPN all the data you transfer online, emails, passwords or credit card details, each and everything is encrypted. This ensures an ultimate secure solution. So that whenever you are using the internet and someone tries to access your information, the VPN will show them the ‘access denied’ message. This means you can use any hotspot or any Wi-Fi connection without worrying about data security.
What is a Proxy?
A proxy, also called a proxy server, is basically used to anonymously surf the internet. A proxy server serves as a hub through which all your information is processed. Once you type in a website address and press enter, the request is re-routed through the remote proxy server which might be at the other end of the world.
The IP address of your home computer or laptop is camouflaged with the IP address of the proxy server, therefore making you anonymous or ‘invisible’ to any website looking for your location or address. Instead the website or hacker is shown the IP address of the proxy server.
A proxy is a purely browser based option. If you want to visit any websites restricted in your country due to strict censorship rules or you want to visit a website which is solely based for its home country, using a proxy server might be the best option. However, what the proxy server lacks is the encryption part. A proxy lacks in data security, anyone can easily tap in to the data stream between you and the local Hotspot to steal or misuse information.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN), provides the security you are looking for. All the data which you enter in the forms online – name, personal details, passwords, messages, bank account and credit card details – is encrypted. VPNs create an encrypted connection between you and the network, allowing you to surf, browse or buy online safely.
Are Proxy Servers Safe?
Proxy servers are unsafe. Although they provide you the secrecy you are looking for from home ISP’s or censorships, they are still being used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world at the same time. Using the same server without data encryption can leave your information out in the open to prey on.
On the other hand VPNs provide data encryption as a part of their services. It could be ranging between 128-bit and 2048-bit encryption. Once you start to use a virtually private network, you automatically start benefitting from encryption which makes it impossible for anyone to view your information, even the people using the same VPN.
Java and Flash Based Content Support
When using a Proxy server, it can be often hard to view websites which include Flash or Java based content. The basis of the designed between Java or Flash based content can reveal your true IP. Most of the proxy servers stall when you wish to view websites including videos or a lot of interactive content.
However, VPNs are a complete package. In fact, a large amount of people go for VPNs due to the unmatched performance they provide even with Java or Flash content. Streaming is also easy and fast while using a VPN.
Both Proxies and VPNs can be a bit slow and irritating in peak hours. It can be really agitating to have to wait up to a few minutes for a webpage to load. But in some cases it is unavoidable. Premium VPN services do provide faster streaming and comparatively faster speeds over all.
What To Go For? VPN or Proxy?
When wanting to surf the web anonymously or trying to visit a restricted or banned website, both Proxies and VPNs can be helpful. If you are looking for data security, VPN is a better option. The only reason why people prefer to go for proxies is that they are free, although using a premium VPN service could cost you anywhere between $5 to $10 monthly.