Proxy server or VPN software?
Anonymity on the Internet – many seek it, but only a few chosen ones know how to cover up their digital traces permanently. The so-called IP address plays a central role in the matter. With the help of this unique address of the computer within a network, all activities can are traceable and assignable. Whoever succeeds in disguising his IP address is a big step closer to his desire for anonymity.
Both proxy servers and VPN services obscure the IP addresses, but the question arises as to which variant is better suited.
What is a proxy server?
A proxy server, Latin: “proximus” (“the next”, “proxy representative” or “deputy”), functions as a communication interface within a network. It takes on the role of a postman who transmits information between a computer and a server – personal contact between both parties is undesirable in this scenario. In this way, there is no direct connection between sender and recipient.
A pleasant side effect of this constellation is that the IP address remains hidden, since network participants will only see the IP address and the location of the corresponding proxy server. The use of a proxy server does not require any additional software installation as relevant settings are made directly via the internet browser. But this is also a major sticking point of proxy servers: they never protect or encrypt the entire data exchange but are limited to certain protocols – the internet browser, for example. E-mail programs remain unaffected, since they communicate via a different protocol.
Especially at peak times the connection speed collapses with alarming regularity. This happens because anyone in possession of the access data can use the proxy server. In addition to the poor connection speed, however, it is their deputy status that represents a considerable disadvantage. Proxy servers have all the information about the data exchange and can possibly change it or even forward it in a modified form. Since no unique authentication is required for using the proxy server, the entire connection has to be classified as very insecure. Therefore, security is a futile search here.
The advantage of VPN services
If you compare a proxy server to a postman you may, accordingly, use the image of a tunnel through the internet for a VPN service. Since VPN services are usually fee-based and require a unique authentication, the connections are generally considered secure.
The NAT communication protocol guarantees additional security. Unauthorized third parties cannot view, store or modify the data transmission. This means that outsiders can identify neither the receiver nor the sender of the data transfer.
Unlike proxy servers, VPN programs always encrypt the entire data transfer – regardless of its transmission form, be it an internet browser, an e-mail program or any other software. Another decisive difference concerns the IP address. While users of proxy servers hide behind the IP address of the server, VPN programs assign independent, temporary and anonymous IP addresses. However, that requires an independent access software to establish a bugproof connection – furthermore, you can change the server location in no time.
A small summary
Both variants are suitable for disguising the IP address, but users should refrain from using a free proxy server as these usually cause problems and involve a high-risk potential. Those who pit on security and high connection speeds, on the other hand, should buy proper VPN software.