Are you amazed and somewhat taken aback by the amount of VPN providers that also offer a proxy service? You should be! However, one thing you shouldn’t be is confused because we aim to make this as simple for you as possible.

Proxies and VPN

If you are one of those who likes to remain hidden when online then you need to consider using a VPN and proxy server. This will also hide your location allowing you to visit websites that you shouldn’t be visiting and by that we mean the websites that are blocked by certain countries. So what is the difference between the two?

They are both the same in one way but they both offer privacy in another way so don’t get in a flap about which one is right for you or how you can use both without blowing your brains because our aim is to help you to understand. Are you sitting comfortably?

So what is a proxy server?

This is a kind of a middle man, the kind that perches itself right between your PC and the internet. It then works by concealing your identity much like an invisible cloak would, if they existed, but they work by making the traffic that is routed through it look as though it has come from its own IP address.

A proxy server is not resource heavy like a VPN is when it comes to decrypting the traffic that passes through it. Therefore, it allows a huge number of connections to pass through it simultaneously. Communication with the internet is achieved through the use of two protocols known as HTTP or SOCKS.

HTTP Proxy Servers explained

A HTTP proxy server is very much a one trick pony when it comes to dealing with traffic because it can only handle traffic that begins with http:// or https:// and these are known as webpages. This protocol has been developed to understand traffic at this level which makes it suitable for browsing the web.

Many of these services are FREE!! Yes we said free, thought that might grab your attention a little more but apart from this leaving a few pennies rattling around in your pocket it will help to hide your IP address. No more prying on your personal information – very reassuring!

As mentioned, this is only used for accessing websites and this could be seen as a disadvantage – making it very limited. It is also not, 100% secure as the use of Flash or JavaScript makes it possible to detect your IP address. The traffic is not encrypted and this means that the government can monitor traffic as well as your ISP.

SOCKS Proxy Servers explained

SOCKS proxy servers are a lot busier than a HTTP proxy server as it does a grand job of handling lots of traffic. There is no requirement to read the traffic from the network which gives it more flexibility than a contortionist, however, this is carried out at a slower rate.

It has the ability to handle a wide range of traffic from the internet such as POP3 or SMTP and this is a huge advantage. The downside to this is that it is slower and software has to be configured in order for it to work correctly, it also has the same problems as HTTP when it comes to security.

Take a breath – there are other types of proxy servers….

Public proxy servers have grown in popularity in recent years but they do not offer the same level of stability which means that connections are lost regularly. The connections also offer different speeds and this can be extremely annoying when you need a quick connection……well …quickly!

There is a large amount of trust required when using these because you could be submitting sensitive data through these servers which could be easily intercepted but the good thing is that they cost you nothing.

As the title suggests, a Private Proxy Server is not open to the public but they can be accessed at a cost – airport and certain restaurants might ring a bell here! They offer both HTTP and SOCKS while reliability is extremely high as they are operated by companies that have experience and a good reputation with the support available when required.

Web Proxies work online and can therefore be used form within your browser without the need to download any software which is great for those who are not so technically gifted. They allow you to connect to the internet by connecting to a public HTTP server and they are free to use.

Are you annoyed by adverts? Then prepare yourself because this option is likely to annoy you and it often struggles to handle content such as aFlash or JavaScript which could also………annoy you!

By now you should be wondering what a VPN is – let us explain

This is a Virtual private network that creates a tunnel between your computer and the host server and this encrypts any data that passes between the two.

It is secure from the point that your ISP and government can only see that you are connected to it but they cannot monitor activity or an IP addresses that you have visited and this is achieved using a 128-bit encryption. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief!

However, don’t just start using a VPN service and think that you may be hidden because you might not be. Some providers keep logs and others don’t – you need to pick one that does not keep logs.

A VPN does require the download of software and this will have to be configured but you do not have to be an expert to do this as there are guides available.

There are several advantages to using a VPN and the main one is the fact that internet activity cannot be monitored by your ISP or the government….hooray we hear you shout. This is because it uses increased levels of encryption and this means that all activity is disguised.

The downside to using a VPN is that it can prove costly and during times of high traffic its speed can be compromised while the provider could keep logs which could be passed onto authorities.

So what does it all mean?

With both explained, it is clear to see that VPN is ahead of proxies – we hope that you have realised this by now! This is down to the fact that it offers the correct protection from an anonymity perspective as well as an activity perspective. If you decided to choose a proxy service instead then the only real reason would be because of the cost.

However, it is worth remembering that when it comes to online security or anonymity nothing is completely secure so remember to be cautious.

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