In this day and age, one of our biggest concerns is how our privacy is being infringed by businesses and corporations accessing our data through our internet usage. Facebook, Marriott hotels, Cambridge Analytica, just to name a few are some businesses that have made headlines over the last year as they failed to keep their users’ data safe, but how can you help yourself when you are online? Proxy and VPN are often used interchangeably by people, whereas they are, in fact, two very different things, both serve a purpose but have different outcomes. If you want to stay anonymous online, let us help you decide between a proxy and a VPN.
What Is A Proxy?
If the terms proxy and VPN are new to you, let’s take it back to basics and start at the beginning. Think of a proxy as the computer that sits between your device and the internet. Your device has its own Internet Protocol address or IP address, this unique number means that you can have your actions traced back to you via this number.
The proxy that sits between you and the internet can hide this number and make sure that you stay invisible online. Sounds good right? In its most basic form, yes, a proxy is a very good idea and will keep you relatively safer than not using a proxy. However, it is worth noting that most proxies are free to use, and in the world of the internet, free isn’t good.
Whilst your IP address will be hidden from other people, it won’t be hidden from the owner of the proxy, and there is nothing stopping them from looking through the sites you’ve visited as well as any personal information you may have parted with whilst using the proxy. But don’t discount the humble proxy, they are free, and they can be really useful if you are trying to access blocked content in other countries such as Netflix or BBC IPlayer.
What Is A VPN?
More and more people are getting on board with using VPN’s or virtual private networks, but most aren’t entirely sure how they work. First and foremost, a VPN creates a private network for you to use. A good way to think about it is that it creates a secure tunnel for you to access the internet, but no one is really sure where that tunnel starts, and people can’t check up on what is happening in that tunnel. By using a VPN, it will show that all of your data is coming from a different server rather than your own private device. VPNs can come in handy for multiple problems; for example, QuantumMarketer has a great guide for using a VPN with YouTube.
Proxies are a good go-to if you are just quickly browsing and want to access IPlayer or Netflix in a country where you can’t. For anything more sensitive, it will be a VPN, and one of the main reasons is the encryption aspect. When you use a VPN, all your data is encrypted end to end, meaning that it is scrambled. Nobody can read this data, and you can be sure that your data won’t be sold on to third parties or criminals because if it can’t be read, it’s valueless.
Proxies Vs VPN’s
If you are looking for an easy way to access content in your country that you can’t normally get to, a proxy is a good way to do this, but don’t expect that you will get the best level of security possible. Unlike a VPN, your data won’t be encrypted, and you are at the mercy of the owner of the proxy server who may or may not go through your data.
Proxies also don’t keep you anonymous, they will hide your IP address, but this again can be easily uncovered by the server’s owner. From the moment you start using a VPN, any action you then take is encrypted and can’t be accessed, your actions are hidden, and you can be sure that you are secure. There is an offset here though, the higher the level of security you have, it can slow your browsing speed slightly, but it is worth it to ensure that you keep your anonymity and your data private.
To keep your data safe and keep you anonymous online, a VPN is your best option. A proxy is good for small tasks, but do not expect the same level of security from a free platform as you would a premium service. Make sure that you pay for your VPN, though, as free on the internet is not a good thing, and a free VPN can end up costing you far more than money in terms of your data being sold to third parties and used for malicious reasons. Anonymity online is more important than ever, so make sure you invest in the best product you can afford.