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What is the difference between VPN and Proxy [2018]

In this post, we will see what is the difference between a VPN and a Proxy.   We will also see…

In this post, we will see what is the difference between a VPN and a Proxy.   We will also see different versions of VPN and Proxy.  And also some of the alternatives for both VPN and Proxy.  Please read on VPN vs Proxy.

Both VPN and proxy are used to hide the tracks of the internet users.  Both server the same purpose but the way they work are different.  The proxy used to be a popular technology in earlier days but the world is moving towards VPN more and we will find out why.

To understand VPN vs Proxy, let’s see What is VPN, What is a Proxy and what is the difference between them.

What is VPN:

VPN starts for Virtual Private Network.  It refers to a network that is located to elsewhere.  Keep note that it is a network that is located elsewhere.  In a VPN the user’s computer is connected to a network and therefore every outgoing and incoming connection to the user’s computer happens through the network.  Usually, a VPN is very secure.  Popular VPN uses multiple layers of security by encrypting the user’s traffic.  It usually uses the SSL encryption to encrypt the traffic.

Using encryption, the user is able to connect to the VPN from any internet connection that is available to him.  Therefore, the network traffic is encrypted at the user end and sent to the VPN for the VPN server to decrypt it.  The VPN server then sends the request to the internet outside.  The response is also received by the VPN server and encrypted by the VPN server.  The VPN server then sends the request to the user for the user computer to decrypt the response.

By using VPN, no matter what type of request it is, may it be HTTP, HTTPs or UDP, all the requests are sent to the VPN server only.

What are the uses of VPN:

Imagine that the user works at an office where all the sensitive data is stored.  The user is able to access the data from inside the office without risking the data theft.  But when the user is at a far away location he does not have the access to the data stored in the office.  If the office makes the data available over the internet, it becomes prone to attacks and spying.  To solve this issue, the user can make use of a VPN.  The VPN lets the user connect to itself and access the contents in the office without risking any data theft by using its multiple layers of security.

It is immune to attacks and theft because the entire network of the user is connected to the VPN and so if any kind of attack that occur must occur through the VPN itself and it is not likely as the server is located somewhere unreachable by anyone.

How to set up a VPN:

Setting up a VPN is very easy these days as the user can simply subscribe to one of the best VPN services that are available.  Or do it manually.  Setting up VPN is a very straightforward technique as it needs only to set up the VPN server and access it through the user computer.  It needs to set the port value through which the request is forwarded or received.

To know how to set up a VPN please check out How to Set Up a VPN

Types of VPN:

VPNs are classified based on the types of security used to protect the users.  There are many types of VPN such as L2TP, PPTP etc.  It should be noted that these technologies use different types of security but the idea is still essentially the same.

To know more about types of VPNs and the alternatives Types of VPN

What is a proxy:

A proxy is a middleman between the computer that makes the request and the computer that responds for the request.  Its purpose is to hide the computer that is using the proxy service.  In the case of an average user who wants to hide his identity form the server to which he sends his request, he uses the proxy.

A proxy server is just a server located geographically elsewhere.  The point of using a geographically distant server is to use an IP address that does not originally belong to the end user.  To understand this, consider that a particular user is connected to the internet.  The connection to the internet happens using the IP address.  These addresses are unique and are used to identify individuals connected to the internet uniquely.  That means that the server that receives a request from the user can tell that this particular user is who made the request because the server can see the IP address of the requesting user.

To stop this from happening the best way is to use a different IP address.  This is achieved by either manually changing the IP or using the IP of a different computer.  Using the Proxy server is the idea of using the IP of a different computer.

In a Proxy, the user sends the requests to the proxy server and the proxy server understand the request and makes the request the destination server and receives the response.  The proxy server then sends the response back to the user and so the server will only see the IP address of the proxy server and will not know that the user is the one who makes the request originally.

Types of Proxy:

There are many kinds of proxy and some of them are so lax at hiding the user information from the destination server that they do not serve the purpose of being a proxy at all.  But we should note that we can classify proxy server based on many factors.  One is the type of vendor based on which we can classify it as the Public and Private proxy. And based on the type of connection we can classify proxy as HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS.   And depending on the purpose of the proxy we can classify it as Forward or Reverse Proxy.

Based on the Vendor:

Based on the vendor, the proxy can be classified as a Free/Public proxy or Private Proxy.

Free/Public Proxy:

These are the proxy set up for general public free of cost.  These are usually not very secure and is not recommended.

Private Proxy:

These are proxy set up by individuals themselves.  A user can set up a server in a different country and use the IP address of that server to make requests.  Since the user himself sets up the server, he should be able to trust it himself.

Based on the type of connection:

HTTP proxy:

These are proxy that use basic Hypertext transfer protocol to make request and response.  In this case, the request makes to the proxy server is not encrypted and the person hosting the network can easily see the request made by the users and is not recommended at all.

HTTPS proxy:

These are the proxy that uses SSL encryption for the connection.  Therefore the person hosting a connection will only be able to see the encrypted data, not the actual data.  This keeps the data more safe and secure.  The encryption and decryption of the data happen at the proxy server and the user’s computer.

SOCKS proxy:

It stands for Socket secure proxy.  It works at a level deeper than the level at which HTTP is located.  This allows SOCKS to add more kinds of protocols that it can support.  It can support HTTP, FTP, SMTP, HTTPS and makes it support even torrent.  For this reason, this proxy is also called torrent proxy.

Based on the purpose:

Forward Proxy:

When a server acts as a middleman when an end user is requesting a server, the middle server is called the forward proxy.  When a server acts as a middleman when a server is responding to an end user the middle server is called the reverse proxy.

Reverse Proxy:

Yes, reverse proxy exists and its concept is not complicated.  The reverse proxy is used when a server receives huge amounts of traffic.  When a server receives a huge amount of traffic, multiple servers are set up to handle the traffic.  In that case, a different server will have a different IP address but they are serving the same purpose.  When a user is requesting he does not know which server to choose from and he just sends the request to the reverse proxy.  The reverse proxy will receive the request and forward the request to a server that is free and send the received response to the user.

The end user will be under the impression that the reverse proxy is the main server but actually, he is seeing only the IP of the middleman (reverse proxy) and still gets the response from one of the main servers anyways.  And thus proxy goes both ways.

VPN vs Proxy:

In VPN the user’s computer is connected to an entirely different server while in Proxy only one specific application is connected to a different server.  When a user is using VPN, all the network traffic is routed through a different server while in Proxy only a part of the network traffic is routed through a different server.

To understand this, just internet search for free proxy (https://www.kproxy.com/) and use it.

Here we google search using the proxy.

vpn vs proxy
vpn vs proxy

And then we browse mypcupdates.com

vpn vs proxy
vpn vs proxy

And in case of the VPN, not only that the traffic from one page is sent over from a different server but every traffic is sent using the VPN server.  So browsing from one tab, or from a different browser, will see the data sent through the VPN server.

Conclusion:

VPN is becoming cheaper and the internet is becoming an everyday technology.  Gone are the days people think twice before on a service provided over the internet.  Along with that, the service is delivered to the user’s computers securely using technologies like VPN.  There are many free VPN services and also paid premium services out there that the users can make use of.  Since VPN is becoming more secure and cheap VPN is recommended above proxies.  But if the user is just looking for accessing nonsensitive information, proxies will just do fine.

 

VPN vs Proxy
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