VPN Vs. Proxy - Top differences and how each functions

Today, many people online care about privacy and safety when surfing the web, and usually hear of proxies and VPNs as the two main options for protection. A staggering 84% of online consumers care about the privacy and security of their personal information, according to a 2019 survey by Cisco. Clearly then, a proxy or VPN is optimal when it comes to safeguarding one’s data since there's another element of protection between users and any websites that attempt to siphon a person’s data. 

Yet, many people are not sure what exactly each solution does or how it functions, nor the differences between the two. So which option is suitable to you, a VPN or proxy? Which best protects your personal data?

This article will answer all the questions on this topic, and clearly emphasize the differences between the two solutions. 

VPN - What is it and how does it work?

A Virtual Private Network-VPN for short-is a type of private system that encodes all data (web traffic)  transmitted and acquired from the web. It helps a person access a website safely and privately on their electronic devices like their smartphone or laptop, or access other internet softwares like applications or download programs despite whatever system-network-a person uses. A VPN also has the ability to conceal a person’s IP address as well as change it, so that a website does not have the physical approximate location of the user and a person can access content around the world that is banned in their specific country. 

How a VPN functions 

A VPN server relays encoded information with a VPN client which privately accesses a website a person enters. The VPN client also conceals one’s searches on the website from their internet service provider-ISP for short-and the router they use in order to prevent surveillance of internet activities. In addition, the VPN server conceals a person’s identity from the accessed website--creating a double amount of protection. This protective measure is especially important if one is surfing the web outside with public WiFi, because sensitive information can be compromised by hackers since the connected server is not encoded and secured without the VPN. 

Proxy - What is it and how does it work?

A proxy is a remote server entered through the medium of a software application or website which enters websites for a person themselves. Proxies operate at a basic surface level as opposed to protecting data at the OS level, and proxies only behave as an agent for an application in a single session. Also, many proxy servers are not automatically safe to use. 

How a proxy functions 

The conventional type of proxy that is used is called a HTTP proxy. These types of proxies are internet servers that gain admission to website pages which is then relayed to a person’s own browser. Just like with the VPN, a proxy server can access content that otherwise would be blocked in the user’s country. This granted access however is not encoded and therefore protected like the VPN,  since it is just a surrogate between the web server and the person’s electronic device. 

Major differences between VPNs and Proxies

To help illustrate the differences between the two solutions in order to help an ordinary person clearly understand each one, we have showcased the significant distinctions that separate a VPN and proxy. 


Most data breaches that occur could have been prevented with simple online safety practices. This is apparent particularly when using public WiFi. However, how does a person know which choice is the best in protecting their data? 

Proxy security: Private Residential Proxies only offer more amount of protection against foreign interference or tracking. Proxies do not encode the connection or search activity of a user, they only shield the IP address. Therefore, it can be a risky option to use when handling or distributing sensitive data. Because of this, proxy services tend to be paid while a VPN tends to be free, at least lower quality ones.


In the US, Privacy is a huge concern. This is for various reasons, but the biggest one is identity theft, since it is the largest cyber crime Americans worry about-- around 63%. Cyber crimes are a serious issue as over 31% of households have reported these attacks when owning over 5+ electronic devices. But, with a VPN, there is complete end to end encoding of a user’s data from their electronic device to whatever digital end destination. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to conduct surveillance. With a residential proxy, a user’s IP address and geographical location is hidden from the website they access.


Given online security policies passed by numerous governments that focus on privacy, such as GDPR in the EU, many internet users still worry about websites or advertisers  using cookies to track or store user information. However, with GDPR laws, websites must ask and be granted access by the internet user to use cookies to trace their activities on the web server. Because cookies become deposited on a person’s electronic device hard drive, it will get downloaded onto the device either through the proxy or VPN.  When using both  the VPN and a proxy, a cookie will believe the address used by the VPN or proxy is the user’s actual IP address, which then offers some security against the website's tracking processes. It is important in advance to clear one’s cookies across their devices before using one of the options, because that prior data will still be stored on all the accessed websites, which can counteract the new added protective layers since the cookies can be used to track a user’s original  IP address and geographical location. 


Now when it comes to pricing good quality proxies and VPNs usually cost money. However, greater safety and security with proxies will usually require paid versions, which comes around to a similar price as VPNs ($5-15$ monthly). Both are therefore cost effective. 


A final big difference between the two solutions is the speed of connectivity to a website or application for the user. With proxy servers, they commonly provide a couple of megabits per second, while VPN servers normally provide higher Mbps, hitting up to 50 Mbps with the high quality VPN companies. 


While both services provide security, protection, and privacy, a private proxy offers greater levels of each component to a free VPN, but is generally more expensive as a result. Additionally, it is beyond worthwhile to use premium paid VPN or proxy services-such as our own Spider private proxies-in order to be free of worry from cyber attacks, since both options offer enhanced security and privacy for internet users or companies. Moreover, Protecting one’s  web traffic/activities isn't just about  accessing restricted data or hiding critical information from surveillance, it also concerns the liberty and absence of repercussions when collecting or distributing data.

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