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From unblocking YouTube to browsing securely – your guide to VPNs and proxies

Posted by on February 1, 2018

Internet privacy is huge — especially if you’re downloading music or trying to sidestep geographical limitations. But, are you sure when you should be using a VPN vs. a private proxy? Most people don’t know the difference—sure, both options give you a private space for browsing, downloading, and securely using the internet—no matter where you’re at. But, there are some critical differences between your two private browsing options. Here’s the lowdown:

With VPNs, you’re paying for a single IP address to use in place of your own. Should the IP become compromised at some point, you might get a new one, but generally speaking, the address stays the same. Proxies, on the other hand, function as a means of hiding your online identity. They hide your IP address, instead, giving you a big old batch of IP addresses you can hide behind and operate under the radar. Proxies burn out over time, so, you’ll need to rotate them out every now and again to keep your activities from being traced. Proxy packages range from a single IP address to 100+.

In most cases, proxies give you the protection you need to conduct your business online without any unwanted attention. But, sometimes they fail. VPNs, overall, are a more secure process, better for those concerned with sensitive data. VPNs create a tunnel—obscuring all online browsing. Any time you open your VPN, your data is safe.  That said, you’ll want to ensure your VPN provider does not keep logs, otherwise, your private browsing data could be compromised.

While VPNs and proxies sound kind of similar to the uninitiated, they both have their purpose. If you’re torrenting some obscure metal albums, for example, you’ll want to make sure your VPN is turned on before you open uTorrent. This ensures that the whole process—from opening the program to seeding and completion — is encrypted.

If you’re trying to game the system—i.e., you’re avoiding IP address tracking, you don’t want to use your VPN. Private proxies change up the IP address, while a VPN only gives you one. If the VPN company catches you spamming comments sections, they’ll have to change your IP over and over, which will likely get you banned.

If you’re downloading a LOT of say, your favorite songs from 2017, you should use your proxy, to not draw attention to the IP address associated with your VPN.  Can you use a VPN and a proxy at the same time? The answer is yes. So, what does this mean? Well, using both tools at the same time will increase the security of your online activity, as you might imagine. Your device needs to go through both protocols, as well as the encryption process—making it kind of a slog.

But, this can majorly slow your connection speed. So you might be able to unblock YouTube videos with relative ease, but good luck watching them without interruption. Some VPN companies offer proxies as part of a package deal, making them pretty easy to use altogether—but even if you’ve paid for two separate services, all you need to do is turn both devices on at once.

Should I Pay for Privacy?

Both types of services offer both a paid and free version. In general, you’re better off with the paid option, as free VPNs and proxies may not give you the same level of security. Free services open up the risk of the company selling your data to turn a profit, as well as malware or an insanely slow connection. Additionally, you’ll want to consider how much you want to invest in private browsing—this will depend on whether you need it for business purposes or primarily using it for entertainment purposes.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Categorised in: Technology