Virtual Private Network is basically an extension of a private network across the internet that allows users to receive and/or send data across public/shared networks as though their computers are connected directly to a particular private network, thus effectively benefitting from the management policies, functionality and security of that private network. It’s created by setting up a point-to point virtual connection by using dedicated connections, traffic encryption or virtual channeling protocols.
A proxy (proxy server) is an application or a computer system that works as a go-between for requests that originate from clients seeking services from secondary servers. The services sought may be files, web pages or connections. The principal function of a proxy is encapsulation and addition of structures to distributed systems.
VPN vs. Proxy: which is better?
With regard to online security, VPN provides high levels of encryption (sometimes up to 256 bits). It works like a safe vault by completely securing all communication. On the other hand, proxy provides low levels of security. Complete encryption is only possible in SSL connections, leaving non-SSL connections susceptible to cyber threats.
Concerning online privacy, VPN ensures complete encryption of data such that nothing/nobody can invade the user’s privacy. However, it’s easier to intercept private data if one is using a proxy server.
With regard to online freedom, VPN allows a user access to virtually any website while surfing from any location in the world, while a proxy server is subject to geo-restrictions. This means a user may have difficulty in accessing censored websites or bypassing strong firewalls.
Concerning internet speeds, VPN doesn’t interfere with internet speeds. A user also has the option of boosting speeds by using SmartDNS and other applications. On the other hand, a proxy server slightly affects internet speeds, especially if the server is overloaded.
Another important factor is about compatibility. VPN is compatible with a wide range of devices, browsers and operating systems (e.g. Windows, Mac, Android, Linux and iOS). However, Proxy is only compatible with a limited number of devices, browsers and operating systems.
As far as reliability is concerned, VPN is quite sophisticated and very reliable in ensuring online security, freedom and privacy. Proxy is less reliable in comparison because it only functions by bypassing channels that are geo-restricted.
With regard to stability, VPN is extremely stable and therefore provides a user with optimum up-time. However, proxy is less stable and quite susceptible to frequent crashing.