Proxy or VPN How to Choose the Best One

Here you are. Wondering which one works best, VPN or Proxy services.

Maybe you’ve downloaded some torrents and received a threatening letter (DMCA) from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) saying that they saw what you did and they don’t like it.

Maybe you’re worried about hackers gathering your information via WiFi.

Maybe you want to access Netflix, Hulu, or another streaming service of or from a foreign country.

Maybe you want to just check your Facebook at work, but your damn boss doesn’t like for his/her employees to have fun.

Whatever the case, you landed here. You’ve done enough research to know that you need a Proxy or VPN service to bypass some obstacle on the internet. Or to provide security. So it comes down to proxy vs VPN. You’re asking the question, ‘which is best for me?’ Both VPN and proxy services achieve the same end result, but the way they go about it is vastly different. So the next question is…

What are the Differences Between Proxy or VPN Services?

A proxy service is like a VPN’s smaller sibling. It can achieve only some of the things that a VPN can, but for some it fulfills all of their needs.

There are a few different kinds of proxies.

A basic proxy service is best at simply routing your traffic through another computer to make a website accessible. These are called HTTP protocol proxies. HTTP proxies are limited in that they can only connect you to your typical websites: other applications and programs like bittorrent clients and most websites using Javascript or Flash will not work properly with a proxy.

HTTP proxies serve as the middle man, retrieving information from the end site you are trying to access and then relaying the information back to you. Because of this, they are typically faster than more advanced proxy and VPN services.

In short, basic HTTP protocol proxies will unlock geoblocked websites and allow you to access Facebook at work/school.

There are also plenty of free HTTP protocol proxies to choose form.

What About More Advanced Proxy Services?

If you are looking for a little more than your basic HTTP protocol proxies, then a SOCKS protocol proxy may be best for you. The most current SOCKS is SOCKS5.

SOCKS servers, as compared to HTTP proxies, may be slower. This is because they are usually handling more traffic as well as more advanced data. Unlike HTTP proxies, SOCKS proxies can handle the full range of internet traffic, including POP3 and SMTP required for email, as well as torrent files.

A SOCKS proxy differs from an HTTP proxy in that instead of transmitting and relaying information as a middle man, it opens a hole in the obstacle, or firewall, and allows you to communicate with the end site directly.

It’s important to note that like HTTP proxies, SOCKS proxies only route your information differently, they do not offer any kind of security. This means that your ISP can still see what you are doing when you are online. They only allows access.

When using proxy servers, especially public ones you must choose carefully. For example, it was recently discovered that idle users that had the free and popular Hola Better Internet installed on their computers had their resources used for hacking. At the same time it was also discovered that Hola was selling off its free users’ resources for a nice profit.

Private proxies are a better option. But if you are going to pay for a proxy, in most cases you might as well pay for ultimate privacy, with a VPN.

Uses for VPN Over Proxy Services

How do VPN services compare to proxy services? Like mentioned before, proxies will grant you access to geoblocked sites, and SOCKS proxies will allow you to use applications like email, and transfer torrents; but they won’t hide your activity.

You will need a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, service to hide your identity and activity.

A VPN like LiquidVPN, essentially creates a private expressway for your internet traffic. Furthermore, while traveling your car has completely tinted windows and no license plate. And even beyond that, there is no way for anyone to track where you are going.

A VPN is the Holy Grail of Privacy

More technically a VPN service encrypts all your internet communication so no outsiders can know anything about you or your traffic. VPNs work universally across the whole spectrum of internet connectivity: bittorrent clients, email, simple web surfing, etc. Once you are connected the only thing that your ISP can see is that you are using the internet.

Therefore, because of the private and encrypted tunnel that VPNs provide, an added use for VPNs is the ability to ward off hackers over unprotected WiFi networks.

The only caveat to this comes from which specific VPN provider you choose. Some VPNs keep logs of where you go online. Usually just for their own records, so they can offer better services. However, this becomes a problem when the government, namely the NSA and GCHQ want to know what a particular user is doing. At this point the VPN provider is obliged, by law, to cooperate and hand over any records they have.  Making the whole point of using a VPN useless.

Furthermore, unlike basic HTTP proxies and some SOCKS proxies, VPN services are not free. But they are a premium, cream of the crop service that offer the most protection and privacy

feature image courtesy of flickr user luckey_sun