Proxyrack - July 11, 2023

Proxies vs. VPN - What’s the Difference?

Digital security should be your number one concern when you're browsing.

When you're surfing the web, you're at risk for identity theft and interacting with harmful content. Luckily, there are a few services you can use to keep safe online.

It's easy to get confused between the functions of proxies and a Virtual Private Network (VPN). In this guide, we explain the different uses for these servers and discover the best choice for you.

So, VPN or proxy server? Read on to learn more about online security.

What is a proxy?

Think of a proxy server as a middleman between the website you're visiting and your device. It's a remote server that engages online safety by hiding your IP address and separating you from the website.

A proxy server doesn't encrypt traffic; they reroute it to come from an application. Information from a website travels through the proxy server to you, and vice versa.

You can find a free proxy server online. However, free proxy servers are often not as efficient as paid packages. Free proxy connections also often come with a risk. This is because free proxies don't offer HTTPS connections, resulting in a lack of encryption.

There are many different types of proxy server connections. These are two main proxy server types:

Residential proxies

Residential proxy servers use an IP address from your internet service provider. They are used to change your geographical location online. These proxies are connected to places all over the world. This makes it harder for websites to block proxies, as they look like regular users.

Static residential proxies are attached to one IP home address, while mobile residential proxies make use of devices that are connected to a mobile network. Mobile proxies are generally more versatile, but static proxies are ideal if you need to use the same IP address over several surfing sessions.

It's important to evaluate multiple proxy service providers to find the right one for you. Proxyrack offers great bandwidth options on their residential proxies, and they boast the highest success rate with residential IP addresses.

Datacenter proxies

Unlike residential proxies, datacenter proxies assign an IP address belonging to third-party cloud services or data center proxy pools. They are not related to internet service providers. Shared DC proxies can be used by many people simultaneously. This makes them a cheaper option to hide your IP address.

There are also dedicated DC proxies, which are not shared at all. They offer IP addresses to customers from a specific location and are utilized by one user. This allows total control over the activity and boosts performance. It's best to use a service offering many proxy servers to choose from.

If you're looking for faster speed and availability, Proxyrack's datacenter proxies have more than 20,000 proxies in their pool.

Other common proxy servers:

  • Forward proxy: There is an internal network where data is shared amongst a group of users. When there is an information request, the proxy evaluates the data and decides where it should go.

  • Reverse proxy: These servers face websites. They evaluate requests from a browser, and the proxy receives them. Then the information is redirected.

  • Transparent proxy: Transparent proxies intercept connections between the user and the internet. A transparent proxy server uses a real IP address that is made public in the HTTP header. This is a way to verify your connection, but it does not protect you.

  • HTTP Proxy: HTTP proxies are a content filter for internet traffic, and the HTTP proxy server routes requests from browsers to the web. HTTP proxies also offer rapid data caching.

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What is a VPN? 

A Virtual Private Network creates a secure connection for you, particularly if you are using public networks like libraries. VPNs encrypt internet traffic. This is how a secure VPN server protects your identity online. Your VPN provider should be dedicated to your online safety, and stop data thefts online in real-time.

VPN services hide your IP address and let whatever network you're on redirect traffic through a VPN client remote server. Your internet provider can't access your browser history data, and what you do online. VPN providers encrypt your data to the point where it cannot be deciphered by third parties.

Whenever you connect to a website, your browser takes a look at your domain and gets your IP address. A good VPN server protects your sensitive data.

There are four types of VPNs:

  1. Personal VPN server: A personal VPN connection is usually used to hide your home IP address from an ISP. The VPN service will direct network traffic through the server.

  2. Remote Access VPNs: This is generally for organizations, and allows specific people to connect to a private network remotely. Your company may have a remote access VPN to allow employees to access the web server even if they're not in the office.

  3. Mobile VPNs: This allows you to access a VPN on your mobile device. This is useful if you need to protect sensitive data and internet activity on public WiFi.

  4. Site-to-site VPNs: These VPNs create a safe connection between two networks, rather than routing web traffic from one IP address to the internet.

On the other hand, you could invest in a residential VPN connection. Proxyrack simplifies this process for you in their Residential VPN Package by connecting to residential nodes with ease.

What’s the difference between a proxy and a VPN? 

Although both a VPN and proxy offer more security on your internet connection, they are quite different. The main difference between the two is that VPNs encrypt your data, but proxies don't.

When you have a VPN enabled, all of your browsing data will be encrypted. This has clear security benefits. It creates an encrypted tunnel where nobody else has access to your online activities.

However, a proxy server sits between you and the web and is specifically used to hide your identity. This works well if you're just surfing the internet, but proxies don't offer the same security levels and features as VPNs.

Proxy vs VPN process comparison - How do they work?

You may be wondering how a VPN and proxy server work. When you're comparing a proxy vs VPN, it's important to look at the differences in their processes.

With a proxy server, the process involves a web app on your device. The proxy server stands in the way between your device application and the internet, providing you with anonymous browsing. It also offers the distribution of web traffic and scans against safety policies.

With a VPN service, your device has a VPN, and the server protects your data. The process involves encryption to hide your IP address and data. This way, potential attackers cannot decipher your information. A VPN is available to you based on your operating system level.

What does a proxy do?

Proxy servers have a lot of functions. They are mainly used for privacy and security purposes, but there are a lot of other benefits, too. Here are some functions of proxy servers:

  • Load balancing: Proxy servers can spread incoming web traffic across several servers. This balances the load and allows for optimal performance. 

  • Geolocation Control: Proxy servers can get around geolocation limitations. This is done by passing web traffic via servers in various regions. It enables users to access services and information that are only available in certain locations.

  • Filtering Content: Proxy servers follow content filtering regulations. This is intended for content or websites that have restricted access. It's typically used for internet activity in large organizations.

  • Firewalls: Proxies filter both incoming and outgoing internet traffic, providing security and firewall protection. This can prevent scams and hacker efforts. Additionally, they offer SSL termination and data encryption.

  • Caching: Proxy servers can supply information from their cache if you frequently request the same thing on web pages. This reduces bandwidth use and speeds up surfing.

  • Conversion of Protocols: A proxy server is capable of converting between HTTP and HTTPS. This enables secure communication for clients that do not have pre-configured HTTPS capabilities.

What does a VPN do?

When comparing a proxy vs a VPN, it's clear that a VPN offers many advanced features: 

  • Encryption: VPNs use an encryption key to protect your data. It enters a tunnel and returns to the original format at the end.

  • Split Tunneling: This allows you to choose which applications you want to secure with VPN connections. It keeps your internet traffic private and allows you to save bandwidth.

  • Zero-logs: A VPN service does not record any of your online activities. This is one of the main reasons most users prefer VPNs over proxies. However, not all VPN servers offer this function.

  • Leak Protection: Sometimes your IP and data can get accidentally leaked. Most VPNs have built-in leak protection to prevent this from happening.

  • Bandwidth Caps: A VPN will usually employ bandwidth limits to control the rate of data over a network. This prevents congestion and slow internet speeds.

  • Simultaneous Connection: With a VPN, multiple devices can connect to it simultaneously. You can even use an operating system-level virtualization to create more than one connection.

  • Access Geo-Restricted Content: When you're online, it's normal to come across certain websites where content is blocked in your region. A VPN can bypass this and allow your access.

Proxy vs. VPN - Which is better?

When it comes to choosing between a proxy and a VPN, determining which one is better largely depends on the specific task the user wants to perform. Both proxy servers and VPNs offer different functionalities and benefits. 

If the goal is to access region-restricted content or maintain online anonymity, a VPN might be the preferred choice. 

On the other hand, if the focus is on improving web browsing speed or bypassing simple geo-blocking, a proxy server can be more suitable. 

Proxies act as intermediaries between the user and the internet, allowing for faster access to websites but offering limited encryption. 

Therefore, the decision between a proxy and a VPN ultimately depends on the specific requirements and priorities of the user.


Do you need both a proxy and a VPN?

No, you don't need to use a proxy if you have a VPN. Although both can work together, you can use either a proxy or a VPN.

Can you use both together?

Yes, if you want to step up a VPN through your proxy, you can use both a proxy and a VPN at the same time.

Should you use a free proxy or a free VPN?

You can, but free proxies and VPNs are not as effective. This is because they lack security and do not offer the same functionality as free proxies and VPNs.

Find the perfect Proxy Product.


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Datacenter proxies

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View all options available →

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