What is the difference between a VPN and a proxy?

When you dig into your computer’s or smartphone’s network settings, you often see `VPN` or `Proxy` options. Although they do some of the same work, they are very different. Our article will help you to understand the difference between them and why they are needed. You may want to use some of them[4].

What is a proxy?

Typically, when you browse the Internet, your computer connects directly to that site and starts downloading the pages you read. It’s very simple.

And when you use a proxy server, your computer first sends all the web traffic to it. The proxy redirects your request to the desired site, downloads the relevant information, and then returns it to you back.

Why is this all necessary? There are several reasons for this:

You want to browse the sites anonymously: all traffic that comes to the site comes from a proxy server, not from your computer.
You need to overcome the filters that restrict access to certain content. For example, as you know, your subscription to Netflix in Russia will work in the United States. But if you use a proxy server from Russia, it will look like you’re watching TV while you’re in Russia, and everything will work as it should.

Although this scheme works pretty well, there are still a few problems with proxies:

All web traffic that goes through the proxy can be viewed by the owner of the proxy server. Do you know the owners of the proxy server? Can you trust them?
Web traffic between your computer and the proxy server, as well as between the proxy server and the site, is not encrypted, so an experienced hacker can intercept the transmitted confidential data and steal it.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is very similar to a proxy. Your computer is configured to connect to another server and your web traffic is routed through that server. But if the proxy server can only redirect web requests, then the VPN connection is able to route and provide complete anonymity to all your network traffic.

But there is another significant advantage to VPN – all traffic is encrypted. This means that hackers cannot intercept data between your computer and the VPN server, and therefore your sensitive personal information cannot be compromised.

VPN is the safest option

By encrypting and routing all of your network traffic, VPN has a clear advantage over proxy servers, offering additional features.