What is the difference between VPN and proxy


author: Jeremy Roderick

Fact-checked by Ruben Olav

UPDATED: July 27, 2023

You might be wondering whether it is better to use VPN or you will be good only with proxy. In short, VPN are usually a better option as they are encrypting all traffic and works on application level rather than within your browser, however, there are more differences you should consider. In this article we will go over the main differences. 

Proxy vs. VPN: Key Differences

  • A proxy acts at the application-level while a VPN does the same thing at the device level. Your browser’s traffic goes through the proxy server.
  • A VPN that encrypts your data will be a better choice than proxy services. Third-parties cannot spy on your activities when you use VPN, but they can if you use proxy.
  • A proxy can be quicker than a VPN, but VPNs are more reliable and stable.
  • While a high-quality VPN service is expensive, most proxies are free

Five Key Differences between a proxy and a VPN

It can be difficult for the average user to distinguish a VPN from a proxy server by using only technical terms. We have highlighted the main differences between VPNs and proxy servers in terms of security, privacy, speed, cost, and speed.

1. Proxy vs VPN: Security

Are proxies safe? The short answer to this question is no. Proxy servers are preferred over VPNs, especially if they are free.

Proxy servers that are public and unencrypted hide your identity from the site you are visiting. They do not encrypt the connection to the proxy server.

You may experience a less secure connection if you use a public proxy server.

Proxies: Good or bad?

In a landmark study of over 13,000 proxies, 79%% of the tested public proxy servers were either not safe, with no HTTPS traffic allowed, or directly harmful with injected HTML or JavaScript.

Paid proxy servers that offer HTTPS connections and password protection are generally safe. They are still not as secure as professional-grade VPNs.

Let’s now take a closer look into VPNs and their impact on your security.

Are VPNs Safe?

The vast majority of commercial VPNs can be used safely. The VPN loads data from the server-end, then encrypts it before sending it to your client.

It only decrypts the data once it has been sent to the client. Your identity is not hidden on the site or service you visit. However, your ISP or network does not know what data your are loading.

They can only see that you are loading encrypted data via a VPN. It protects your data against malicious hackers and the prying eyes from the government and your employer.

It will protect your IP address and prevent it from being revealed. This will help you to defend your computer against DDoS attacks as well as other brute force attacks.

Although all this protection sounds complicated, it happens in a matter of seconds. It won’t affect your browsing experience. It’s possible to stream HD movies without lag and play online games with no latency.

A VPN service can only be trusted by its provider. You should always do your research before choosing a VPN.

You are giving your company complete access to your internet traffic. Look for a VPN provider that has a great reputation and uses privacy-friendly practices.

2. Proxy vs VPN: Privacy

VPNs that are installed locally offer complete encryption of data, from the time it leaves your computer to its destination. This makes it much harder for others to spy on your data.

Even if you are on an open WIFI network the encryption protects your data against being intercepted and used by malicious hackers.

The VPN uses end to end encryption so your ISP router, employer, government, and/or employer can’t access your data.

That’s part of the reason why the Chinese government is trying to restrict the public’s access to VPNs. Because even an ISP cannot monitor traffic and determine if it’s blocked or not, it’s impossible to control whether you’re accessing them.

VPNs can also hide your IP address from any website that you visit. This makes it difficult to identify you.

Proxy servers are used to hide your IP address from any web server that you visit.

3. Proxy vs VPN: Costs

It is important to know that most proxies are free and openly available, and that VPN services can cost anywhere from $5 to $12 per month. There are some free VPNs but often there are limited to certain bandwidth or have data limits.

You will need to use a premium service if you want to safely use proxy servers. IPVanish is a premium SOCKS5 proxy service that costs $5 per month. Other options are priced similarly.

A VPN is still the best option for security if you are serious about it.

4. Proxy vs VPN: Connection speed

Your connection speed can be reduced by encrypting your data or routing your traffic through a VPN. However, even the fastest VPNs available should not have any impact. Web caching can make proxies perform better than others. 

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”. This article explains how to create a secure network connection while using public networks. VPNs protect your internet traffic and hide your identity online. Third parties cannot track you online or steal your data, making it harder for VPNs to be used. The encryption is done in real time.

VPNs hide your IP address by redirecting it through a VPN host. The VPN server is the source of all your data when you surf the internet with a VPN. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and any third parties, cannot see what websites you visit online or the data that you send and receive online. VPN acts as a filter to turn all your data into “gibberish”. It would not matter if anyone had access to your data.

What is a Proxy server?

Proxy servers are computer systems or routers that act as relays between clients and servers. This is one of many tools that can be used to create a firewall.

Proxy is a term that means “to act for another”, and a proxy server acts for the user. All Internet requests go first to the proxy server, which then evaluates them and forwards them to the Internet. The proxy server then sends back the responses to the user.

  1. HideMyAss (HMA) – https://www.hidemyass.com/
  2. UnblockMate – https://unblockmate.com
  3. NordVPN – https://nordvpn.com/
  4. CyberGhost VPN – https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/
  5. Hotspot Shield – https://www.hotspotshield.com/
  6. ProxySite.com – https://www.proxysite.com/
  7. KProxy – https://kproxy.com/
  8. Proxysite.club – https://proxysite.club/
  9. FilterBypass – https://www.filterbypass.me/
  10. UnblockSite.org – https://unblocksite.org/
  11. Zend2.com – https://zend2.com/


A VPN performs all the same functions. It can be used as a proxy but also boasts many other features. Safety, security and reliability. If you’re looking for a long-term solution that will protect your security and data, then a VPN is the best option.

You can bypass firewalls and access something. A proxy can be used to bypass firewalls and check Facebook if you don’t need to use it for longer time. 

You can use a paid proxy tool to help you, if you decide so, choose a good proxy such as SOCKS5. You’ll spend the same or more on the proxy than you would for a VPN and still get only a fraction the benefits.

A VPN is a better choice if you are looking for online anonymity, speed and streaming or bypassing censorship.

We are confident that you will be better off spending a few dollars per month and enjoy all the benefits of a VPN.

About the author

Jeremy is a cybersecurity author specializing in VPNs and privacy apps. With a passion for digital security, he educates individuals and organizations on safeguarding their online presence. Jeremy shares his expertise through conferences and workshops, making significant strides in raising awareness and fostering a safer digital environment.

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