VPNs vs Proxies? Which Should You Choose?

VPN vs proxies

As online privacy and security concerns continue to increase, people are actively exploring different ways to safeguard their online activities. Two popular tools that internet users rely on to protect their privacy are Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Proxy servers.

This article explores the differences between VPNs and Proxies, the types of proxies available, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that enables users to create a secure, encrypted connection between their device and the internet. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic passes through a VPN server, which encrypts your data and assigns you a new IP address, hiding your real IP address from prying eyes.

Who Uses VPNs?

VPNs are popular among internet users because they offer three core benefits, namely security, privacy, and anonymity when browsing the internet. Individuals and businesses commonly use them to protect sensitive data and online activities from hackers, cybercriminals, and government surveillance.

What is a Proxy Server?

A proxy server is an intermediary server that acts as a gateway between your device and the internet. When you access a website through a proxy server, the server retrieves the content from the internet and passes it on to you.

Who uses proxy servers?

Proxies are commonly used to bypass internet censorship, access geo-restricted content, and hide your IP address. They work by masking your real IP address with the IP address of the proxy server.

Types of Proxies

There are several different types of proxies available, each with its own unique features and advantages. The most common types of proxies include:

  1. HTTP Proxy: A proxy server that handles HTTP requests from your device. Primarily used to access websites and web pages.
  2. SOCKS5 Proxy: A proxy server that supports the SOCKS protocol, enabling users to route internet traffic through an intermediary server. Most commonly used for P2P file sharing, online gaming, and streaming.
  3. Transparent Proxy: A proxy server that does not modify your IP address. Frequently used by businesses to monitor and control internet usage within the organization.

VPNs and proxies are powerful tools that can help protect your online privacy and security. In the next part of this article, we’ll explore their main differences.

VPN vs Proxies: What’s the Difference?

Let’s take a closer look at how VPNs and proxies are similar and different.

Similarities Between VPNs and Proxies

There are significant differences between a VPN and a proxy. While both can help mask your IP address, a VPN goes a step further and encrypts the data you send and receive. Conversely, a proxy server does not offer this level of encryption. 

Hide IP Addresses

Both VPNs and proxy servers can help hide your IP address. By using either of these tools, you can mask your true IP address and make it harder for others to track your online activity.

Streaming / Gaming Compatibility

Both VPNs and proxy servers are compatible with streaming and gaming. By using either of these tools, you can access geo-restricted content and bypass censorship.

Bypass Geolocation-Based Blockers

VPNs and proxy servers can both help bypass geolocation-based blockers. For example, if a website is blocked in your country, you can use a VPN or proxy server to access it from a different location.

Slow Down Browsing

Both VPNs and proxies can slow down browsing due to the additional steps that internet traffic must go through. Here’s how:

  • With a VPN, data is first encrypted and then sent through the VPN server before reaching its destination, which can result in slower loading times.
  • Proxies work by rerouting traffic through a third-party server, which can also add additional steps to the browsing process and lead to slower speeds. Some free proxies may also be overloaded with traffic, resulting in even slower speeds. 

It’s worth noting that the degree of slowdown can vary depending on the quality and location of the VPN or proxy server being used. Some VPNs and proxies are optimized for faster speeds, while others may prioritize security over speed.

Key Differences Between a VPN and a Proxy


VPNs encrypt all data you send and receive, while proxies do not. This means that VPNs offer a much higher level of security and privacy than proxies.

Online Privacy

A VPN encrypts all data that passes between your device and the internet, making it impossible for anyone to intercept or read your data. This is particularly useful when using public Wi-Fi or when accessing sensitive information, such as online banking.

A proxy server, on the other hand, acts as an intermediary between your device and the internet. When you make a request, the proxy server sends it on your behalf and then returns the response. This can be useful for accessing blocked content in your location, as the proxy server may be located in a different country with different restrictions.


VPNs can be more expensive than proxy servers, especially if you opt for a high-quality service with advanced features. However, there are many affordable VPNs available, and some are even free.

Alternatively, most proxy servers are free to use, but some paid options offer additional features or better performance. However, even the best proxy servers cannot match the security and privacy protections VPNs offer.

*It’s important to note that free proxies can be slower than paid proxies. This is because they may be overloaded with users or simply have a less powerful infrastructure.

Security Coverage

VPNs are generally considered to be more secure than proxies. VPNs use encryption to protect your data, which makes it harder for hackers or other third parties to intercept and access your information. Additionally, VPNs often have built-in security features such as a kill switch or DNS leak protection, which can help prevent data leaks if your VPN connection drops.

Proxy servers do not provide encryption, leaving your data vulnerable to interception. Proxies may have some security features, but they are usually more limited in scope and effectiveness than VPNs. 

Traffic Logging

VPNs typically do not log any user activity or traffic, while proxy servers sometimes keep logs of user activity or connection data. This makes VPNs a better option for users particularly concerned about privacy.

In summary, while both VPNs and proxy servers can help mask your IP address and bypass geolocation-based restrictions, VPNs offer much higher security, privacy, and encryption. While proxy servers may be a useful tool in some situations, they cannot match the capabilities of a good VPN service.

Do You Need Both a VPN and a Proxy?

In most cases, using a VPN alone is sufficient for most users’ needs. A VPN provides encryption and tunneling protocols that a proxy server does not, giving you an extra layer of security and privacy. Using both a VPN and a proxy server can lead to performance issues, and the added benefit of using both is often negligible.

However, there may be situations where using both a VPN and a proxy server is necessary. For example, some users may need to use a proxy server to access specific websites or services that are blocked in their region. Combining a VPN with a proxy server can help bypass geolocation-based blocks and censorship.

Advantages of Combining VPNs and Proxies

VPNs and proxies have their own unique advantages that make them popular among users who are concerned about online privacy and security. According to Varonis, a cybersecurity company, some of the key advantages of VPNs include:

  • Encryption: A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it virtually impossible for anyone to intercept or monitor your online activities.
  • Privacy: A VPN masks your IP address and makes it difficult for websites, advertisers, and other third parties to track your online behavior.
  • Security: A VPN provides an extra layer of security to protect your data from hackers and cybercriminals.

On the other hand, proxies are known for their advantages, such as:

  • Free: Many proxy servers are available for free, making them a popular choice among users who are on a tight budget.
  • Easy to use: Proxies are easy to set up and use and do not require any special technical skills.

Use Cases for VPNs and Proxies

Some common use cases for VPNs include:

  • Remote work: With more and more people working from home, VPNs provide a secure connection to company networks and data, allowing employees to access files and applications while ensuring that data remains private and secure. On the other hand, proxies are used in the business world to improve performance by caching frequently accessed data or filtering out unwanted traffic, thus saving bandwidth and resources.
  • Gaming: VPNs can help reduce lag and provide faster connections to servers by connecting to VPN servers located closer to the gaming server. Similarly, proxies can help improve online gaming performance by filtering out unwanted traffic and reducing the number of hops needed to reach the gaming server.

Unlock the Top Level of Security with Perimeter 81

The choice between a VPN and a proxy depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you value security, privacy, and the ability to access content from anywhere, a VPN is likely the better choice. However, if you simply want to mask your IP address and don’t require encryption, a proxy server may suffice.

Ultimately, it’s important to do your research and choose a solution that best fits your individual needs. Want to learn what Perimeter 81 has to offer? Book a demo with us today.


Does a VPN override a proxy?
Yes, when you connect to a website or app through a VPN, the VPN will override any proxy server that you have set up. This is because a VPN is a more comprehensive security solution that encrypts your traffic and provides you with a new IP address, whereas a proxy server only masks your IP address.
Is it cheaper to use a VPN or a proxy?
In general, proxies are often free or relatively inexpensive compared to VPNs. However, proxies are not as secure as VPNs and do not provide the same level of privacy and encryption. So, while it’s true to say that a proxy might be cheaper, it may not be the best option for protecting your online activities.
What is VPN vs proxy vs firewall?
A VPN, a proxy, and a firewall are all different tools that can be used to protect your online activities. Here are the main differences:
– A VPN provides encryption and a new IP address, making it an effective tool for protecting your online privacy and security.
– A proxy server masks your IP address, but it does not provide encryption. 
– A firewall is a tool that can be used to block unwanted traffic from entering your network or device.