What’s The Difference Between VPN and Proxy?

What’s The Difference Between VPN and Proxy?

The number of people concerned about their online activity being tracked by businesses or individuals grew from 41% to 58% between 2022 and 2023. As well as taking more steps to protect their devices against viruses and malware, people are looking for ways to limit the amount of legal spying that can be carried out on their online activity. That’s why more and more people are using VPNs (virtual private networks) and proxy servers to act as a barrier between their devices and the internet. But when it comes to privacy and the battle that is proxy vs VPN, which tool is more useful? Your choice will likely depend on your specific needs.

What do people use VPNs and proxy servers for?

Both VPNs and proxy servers can be used to add a layer of anonymity to your online activities by masking your IP address. There are lots of reasons why someone might want their IP address masked, including:


  • Secure Data Transmission: Because your online activity log isn’t saved when using a VPN or proxy server, it means that sensitive information can be shared safely. This is especially useful when using public Wi-Fi, which can make your device more vulnerable to threats.
  • Accessing Blocked Content: Particularly useful for those traveling for business or leisure, VPNs and proxy servers can allow you to access restricted content while abroad. This means you can enjoy an open internet experience even in locations with internet censorship.
  • Removing Geographical Restrictions: Similarly to the previous point, a VPN or proxy server can enable you to access online resources that otherwise wouldn’t be available in your region, such as some streaming services.


Let’s take a more detailed look at how VPNs and proxy servers work.


VPNs create a secure connection between your device and a server operated by the VPN service. This connection diverts your internet traffic through the VPN server, concealing your IP address and encrypting any data exchanged between your device and the internet. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of VPNs:


Advantages Disadvantages
VPNs are very secure and can provide total anonymity by masking your IP address and encrypting your internet traffic. VPN plans vary in price, with the most secure global networks usually requiring a paid subscription. Premium prices can be an uncomfortable expense.
There are lots of VPN services to choose from worldwide, making it easy to bypass geographical restrictions. Not all devices support VPN connections. You’ll need to check that your device is VPN compatible before investing.
VPNs can be used by businesses with employees working from different locations. The encryption that VPNs provide may also slow down your connection speed.


Proxy Servers

Similarly to a VPN, a proxy server acts as an intermediary between your device and the internet. Where they differ is that the IP address the website sees is that of the proxy server, instead of your device. They are often used by businesses because they provide a private server that is hard for cyber threats to access, and easily monitored. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of VPNs:


Advantages Disadvantages
Proxy servers are easily configurable to control access to specific websites and content. This makes them incredibly useful for businesses and corporate environments. Proxy servers are secure, but not as anonymous as VPNs, as they don’t offer the same level of encryption.
In general, most people consider proxy servers easier to set up than VPNs. Due to the lack of encryption, exchanges between your device and the internet aren’t protected. This information could be intercepted by hackers or, in a work environment, your colleagues.
Some proxy servers can cache frequently accessed content, speeding up load times and making it quicker for people on the same network to access the same content. Free proxies can be overloaded by excessive traffic, making them susceptible to lag.


Proxy Server vs VPN – which is better?

As mentioned in the introduction, whether or not you need a VPN or a proxy server depends on what you intend to use it for.

If you’re looking to mask your IP address for personal uses, such as streaming and other forms of global browsing, a VPN might be the better choice. VPNs are the more secure of the two options, and can give you total anonymity when online. If you’re an individual looking to enhance your online security, a VPN can add an extra layer of reassurance to your online activities.


A proxy server might work better for you if you’re intending to use it in an environment that requires access controls, such as a place of work or a school. They’re also more accessible, in the fact that they are cheaper and easier to use, but the price you pay for that accessibility is reduced security.

A quick summary

  • Both proxy servers and VPNs mask your IP address, allowing for anonymous browsing.
  • A VPN encrypts any data that is transferred between your device and the internet; a proxy server does not.
  • Proxy servers need to be configured to each individual app you intend to use it with; VPNs do not, as they operate at a system-wide level.
  • Both VPNs and proxy servers run the risk of slowing down your connection speed.
  • Proxy servers are often more accessible in terms of price and usability, but overall VPNs provide more security benefits thanks to the way they encrypt data.


However you prefer to ensure your privacy online, iolo has the tools to help.

Browse confidently with iolo

If you’ve seen the arguments for proxy vs VPN and think you might be leaning towards using a VPN, ioloVPN is an affordable and easy to use option. We value your privacy and security, and our VPN plans are a great example of the way we want to empower our customers to use the internet autonomously and safely.

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