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What’s The Difference Between a Proxy and a VPN? – Varonis
The Internet can be a scary place: we’re under near constant attack from ransomware and botnets – on work computers, personal devices, even smart home devices like thermostats and baby monitors.
If you’re security conscious, you might be thinking about setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a proxy server.
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Proxy and VPN Defined
Both VPNs and proxies enable a higher degree of privacy than you might otherwise have, allowing you to access the internet anonymously by hiding your IP in various ways. But how they do that is quite different.
A proxy acts as a gateway – it’s ideal for basic functions like anonymous web browsing and managing (or circumventing) content restrictions. Proxy servers excel at IP masking and misdirection, making them good for viewing geographically limited content. They allow users to bypass content restrictions and monitoring, or enforce website content restrictions – so that you can’t log into certain web pages on company time.
A VPN client on your computer establishes a secure tunnel with the VPN server, replacing your local ISP routing. VPN connections encrypt and secure all of your network traffic, not just the HTTP or SOCKS calls from your browser like a proxy server.
VPNs are great when you need to use the WIFI at a local coffee shop: using a VPN instead of the potentially completely unencrypted local WIFI adds another layer of privacy – who knows who is lurking on that network, just sitting in the corner sipping coffee and waiting to steal your credit card digits?
Proxy and VPN Drawbacks
If you’re using proxy servers to mask your internet activity, you might see performance issues that prevent you from streaming or downloading the thing you are trying to get. High ping times and other traffic on the proxy server can cause web pages to load slowly. For this reason, some users pay for a private proxy server which limits the number of users that access it, speeding up your connections.
Proxies are also vulnerable to security exploits: they can be open to attack, allowing the bad guys to infiltrate networks or steal private data. Some proxies can still track (and store) your browsing habits, as well as recording usernames and passwords – rendering that promise of anonymity null.
VPNs can also suffer from performance issues, depending on proximity to the VPN server you’re connecting with. VPNs use a local client to create the connection to the VPN server, so any local CPU or memory issues will slow down the connections. VPNs are typically more expensive to use (and maintain) than a proxy server, and they are often more complex to manage.
Just like proxy servers, VPNs can’t guarantee anonymity while browsing. Neither of these services will always encrypt your traffic all the way to the web server. A VPN only guarantees an end-to-end encrypted connection if you use the HTTPS protocol when you go to a new web address. Your data will be encrypted to the VPN, but from that point on, it could be unencrypted to the web server. For some sites, this may be irrelevant: an information-only webpage with no login or payment options for example, but for any sites that require a login or online payments – or any sensitive data – make sure the website is enabled to use HTTPS. Remember, the S stands for moderately more secure.
Proxy and VPN Benefits
The biggest argument to use a VPN instead of a proxy is the total encryption for all traffic you get with the VPN. Dollar for dollar, a VPN is more secure than a similarly priced proxy. VPN providers maintain their own networks and you use their IP addresses for your connections. The top VPN providers advertise a logless policy, which means they don’t have data to provide to anyone about your browsing habits.
If you’re an IT business owner charged with the security of data and users, there are advantages to both, and you likely have both configured for your company. For users in the network, you might route traffic through a proxy server to log web traffic, protect the organization from malware or other attacks, and enforce a web content policy.
When users are operating out of the office, you will want to use a VPN to create a secure connection to access the company resources (email, internal shares, etc. ).
Proxy vs VPN: Which is Right for me?
Privacy and security matter these days, regardless of if it’s your company data or your own personal data you need to protect. Make sure you’re investing time and money into the correct tools for your security goals: both proxies and VPNs add an additional layer of security and privacy to your data.
If you want to enable your team to work remotely with secure access to the company resources, set up and maintain a VPN users to access the network with the VPN.
If your concerns are more around “what websites are my users hitting, ” a proxy server is a better tool.
To get the most bang for the buck (and to protect your data as a security-aware citizen), sign up for a well-regarded VPN service. For the most part, VPN services allow you to use servers in different locations to work around content restrictions. If you need to use a free proxy server occasionally for that purpose as well, just be aware of the risks.
If you’re just starting to implement your data security strategy on an enterprise level, there are more complex attack vectors to account for. Insider threats, APTs, privileged account escalations – along with plain old social engineering – are just as dangerous to your data as an unencrypted data stream.
Neither a proxy nor a VPN will protect you from 100% of the cybersecurity threats your company will encounter: they won’t stop an insider from stealing personal data, a ransomware attack, or a coordinated infiltration effort.
Varonis Edge adds perimeter telemetry to security analytics – monitoring proxy, VPN, and DNS to help bridge that gap: you’ll be able to see when an attacker breaks through a VPN, get alerts when sensitive data is uploaded to external websites, more. See how it works with a 1:1 demo – and discover how Varonis helps secure your data from perimeter attacks.
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Proxy vs VPN: what are the main differences? – NordVPN
ContentsWhat is a proxy server? What is a Virtual Private Network? The main differences between VPN and proxy servicesIs VPN better than a proxy? Do you need a proxy if you have a VPN? Can I use VPN and proxy together? Should I use a free proxy or a free VPN? ConclusionWhat is a proxy server? Proxy servers act as relays between the website you’re visiting and your device. Your traffic goes through a middle-man, a remote machine used to connect you to the host server. The proxy server hides your original IP address so that the website sees the IP of the proxy (in some cases, the computers of other proxy users are used for this). However, proxies only work on the application level, meaning it only reroutes the traffic coming from a single app you set your proxy up with. They also don’t encrypt your are three main types of proxy servers:HTTP Proxies – These only cater to web pages. If you set up your browser with an HTTP proxy, all your browser traffic will be rerouted through it. They are useful for web browsing and accessing geo-restricted Proxies – These proxies are not limited to web traffic but still only work on the application level. For example, you can set it up on a game, video streaming app, or a P2P platform. Although they can handle all kinds of traffic, they are usually slower than HTTP proxies because they are more popular and often have a higher ansparent proxies – These are a different kind of proxy because their users are usually unaware of their existence. These proxies can be set up by employers or parents who want to monitor users’ online activity and block access to specific websites. Hotels and cafes use them to authenticate users on public Wi-Fi and companies or home users might also set them up to save bandwidth. What is a Virtual Private Network? Like a proxy, a VPN also reroutes your internet traffic through a remote server and hides your IP address so websites can’t see your original IP or location. However, it works on the operating system level, meaning that it redirects all your traffic, whether it’s coming from your browser or a background app. A VPN also encrypts your traffic between the internet and your device. That means the Internet Service Provider (ISP) monitoring your internet activity and collecting data about you can no longer see what you’re doing online – just that you’re connected to a VPN server. The encryption also protects you from government surveillance, website tracking, and any snoopers or hackers who might try to intercept your device. A VPN provides you ultimate online privacy and ’s important to note that both VPN and proxy providers can log user data such as user IP addresses, DNS requests, and other details. You should avoid such providers because they can give this information to law enforcement agencies, advertisers, or hackers if their servers get breached. To keep your activity online truly private, look for a provider that has a strict no-logs main differences between VPN and proxy servicesHere is a quick comparison between the two:VPNs encrypt your traffic while proxy servers don’t. A VPN service protects you from ISP tracking, government surveillance, and hackers. Proxies don’t, so they should never be used to handle sensitive information;VPNs work on the operating system level and reroute all your traffic while proxies work on the application level and only reroute the traffic of a specific app or browser;VPNs can be slower than proxies as they need to encrypt your data; however, there are ways you can improve your connection and browsing speeds; VPNs are usually paid (you shouldn’t trust free VPN services as they have limitations and tend to mine your data) while many proxy servers are free;A VPN connection is more reliable while proxy server connections drop more VPN better than a proxy? Yes, a VPN is better as it provides privacy and security by routing your traffic through secure servers and encrypts your traffic. A proxy simply passes your traffic through a mediating server but doesn’t necessarily offer any extra protection. Moreover, unlike proxies, VPNs work on the operating system level to secure all your you need a proxy if you have a VPN? No. Premium VPN services do the same things as proxies and much more. You could use a proxy for a quick IP change, but keep in mind that not all proxies are safe, and some of them may collect your I use VPN and proxy together? VPNs and proxies can be used together but this can take some work to configure. We also advise against it as the proxy would simply add another middle-man that slows down your connection without significant benefits. It’s better to switch to one or the other when using I use a free proxy or a free VPN? Free proxy and VPN services might come at a cost of your security and privacy. Since developers have to make money somehow, they can snoop on your data in the background, bomb you with adware, or limit the amount of data you can emium VPNs invest heavily in their infrastructure and provide you with top-notch encryption. They offer you a rich server base, 24/7 customer support, and continuous improvement of their services. We recommend avoiding free proxies and free VPNs, as a couple of saved bucks might cost you much more in the long nclusionA VPN and a proxy are similar because they both reroute your traffic through a remote server and hide your original IP. However, a VPN is superior to a proxy server in many respects. If you care about your privacy and security, you should, without a doubt, choose a otect yourself online with NordVPN. Try it now with a risk-free 30 days money-back guarantee!
Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.
Can I use VPN and proxy together? How to set it up – Windows Report
Elena started writing professionally in 2010 and hasn’t stopped exploring the tech world since. With a firm grasp of software reviewing and content editing, she is always trying new things to improve her skill… Read more
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Posted: August 2020
A proxy server changes your IP address and redirects your network traffic to another server. A VPN does that and also encrypts your data to protect it from eavesdroppers.
You don’t really need to use a VPN and a proxy at the same time for privacy and security unless you receive specific proxy instructions from your system administrator.
To set up a VPN and a proxy simultaneously, you can use a VPN client that has native proxy support. It’s the easiest and most convenient solution.
It’s also possible to configure proxy settings on Windows 10 without installing anything else. Or, you can set up a proxy on Firefox for browsing only.
A VPN comes with numerous benefits, such as privacy and security.
But if you want to become more anonymous online and hide your true identity even from your VPN provider, then you can use a VPN and proxy server together.
By redirecting your proxy connection to a VPN server, you will hide your true IP with a proxy, and the proxy’s IP with a VPN.
This way, you gain two layers of online anonymity.
Wait, aren’t VPN and proxy the same?
Although they work similarly, VPNs and proxies are not the same. A lot of computer users and Google itself often fails to tell them apart.
Both hide your IP address to protect your genuine identity over the Internet. However, this doesn’t automatically ensure privacy and security.
If you use a proxy server to change your IP, it won’t also encrypt your data.
That means that a hacker is capable of intercepting your network traffic to get hold of your email account credentials or banking details, for example.
However, a VPN not only spoofs your IP address but also encrypts everything that flows in and out of your computer.
In case of a man-in-the-middle attack, a cyber-criminal won’t be able to decipher your data even if it manages to acquire it.
Do I need a VPN and a proxy?
In most cases, no, you won’t need a VPN and a proxy at the same time.
If you equip your computer with a premium VPN that has a zero-logging policy, you should be able to connect to a wide range of VPN servers and regularly swap your IP address.
Nevertheless, if you want to raise your anonymity level, it’s possible to reroute your VPN connection through a proxy server.
How can I use VPN and proxy together?
A VPN client with built-in proxy
Sign up for a VPN subscription plan (we recommend PIA)
Download and install PIA on your PC
Right-click PIA’s systray icon
Go to Settings > Proxy
Choose Shadowsocks, click Configure, and pick a location
Or, select SOCKS5 Proxy and specify the Server IP address, Port, User, and Password if required
Left-click PIA’s systray icon
Press the big power button to connect
If you’re interested in SOCKS5, discover how to set up PIA SOCKS5 proxy the right way.
Connecting to a VPN with integrated proxy support is the best way to use both a VPN and a proxy simultaneously.
We used Private Internet Access in our example above because it’s the best VPN with a built-in proxy, offering support for Shadowsocks and SOCKS5.
PIA supports OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, 256-bit military-grade encryption, native port forwarding, a kill switch, split-tunneling mode, and exclusive DNS.
More about PIA:
+3, 300 VPN servers in 48 countries
No logs or leaks
10 simultaneous connections
24/7 live chat support
30-day money-back guarantee (no free trial)
Private Internet Access
Set up PIA on your PC to easily use a VPN and a proxy together.
Firefox proxy settings
Get a VPN browser addon for Firefox (we recommend PIA)
Install the PIA browser extension for Firefox
Go to Firefox Settings
In the General tab, go to Network Settings
Choose the proxy type and configure settings
Connect to a VPN server
Using a proxy server at the browser level is different from the previous method because it only protects your browser traffic.
Any other Internet-enabled applications will be excluded from the proxy and VPN protection.
Windows 10 proxy settings
Set up a manual VPN connection on Windows 10
Right-click Start and go to Network Connections > VPN
Select your VPN connection and click Advanced options
Scroll down to VPN proxy settings
Select from Automatically detect settings, Use setup script, and Manual setup
Enter the required information and click Apply
Connect to the VPN
If you don’t have a VPN client or if it doesn’t have native proxy support, the next best thing is to manually set up the proxy settings on the Windows 10 VPN connection.
Keep in mind that it’s a different setting than configuring a global proxy server on Windows 10.
You can also set up SOCKS5 proxy on Windows 10 using Internet Options.
To sum up, you can use a VPN and proxy together to add an extra layer of anonymity to your network connection. Just keep in mind that you need a stable Internet connection.
For instance, you can use a VPN client with an integrated proxy server since it’s the easiest way to make changes later.
In this case, we recommend using Private Internet Access (buy here). It’s easy to use and supports both Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 proxy.
Alternatively, you can configure proxy settings in Mozilla Firefox or Windows 10.
Did you manage to set up a VPN with proxy simultaneously? What method did you use? Let us know in the comment section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can two VPNs work together?
Yes, but it’s rare. You can have two VPN apps installed, connect to a VPN server in one app, and then connect to another VPN server in the other app without disrupting the first connection. But it’s more reliable to use a service that supports multi-hop VPN connections, like NordVPN.
Is VPN better than proxy?
Yes, a VPN is better than a proxy. A proxy masks your IP and redirects your traffic to another server. A VPN changes your IP and also encrypts your data to protect it from hackers.
Do I need proxy if I have VPN?
Not really, since a VPN can already do what a proxy does. If you’re looking for a solution to protect your online privacy, a VPN is enough.
Frequently Asked Questions about difference proxy and vpn
Which is better VPN or proxy?
Is VPN better than a proxy? Yes, a VPN is better as it provides privacy and security by routing your traffic through secure VPN servers and encrypts your traffic. A proxy simply passes your traffic through a mediating server but doesn’t necessarily offer any extra protection.
Should I use a proxy and a VPN?
You don’t really need to use a VPN and a proxy at the same time for privacy and security unless you receive specific proxy instructions from your system administrator. To set up a VPN and a proxy simultaneously, you can use a VPN client that has native proxy support. It’s the easiest and most convenient solution.Jan 14, 2021
Can you use a proxy and VPN at the same time?
Therefore you cannot use both proxy and VPN at the same time. The reason of the slower speed of VPN is due mainly due to the encryption between the VPN client and VPN server. So you simply cannot enjoy the speed of proxy while the data encrypted by VPN.