VPN vs. Proxy: What’s the Difference?

Oleg Peshekhodov
Oleg Peshekhodov
Community manager @ SOAX13 October, 2020

Both VPN and proxy allow you to securely and anonymously access web resources from any location. Despite having this in common, the two services have their own pros and cons, and work best each in their own specific environment.

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So, what should you opt for, a proxy or a VPN? The short answer is: it depends. Read on to learn more about the differences between VPNs and proxies.

What’s a VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network. Let’s say you’re on vacation or working from a coffee shop and you need to connect to your corporate server that puts certain restrictions on incoming traffic. There’s no way you could access your corporate resources directly from a public network, and that’s where a VPN comes in handy.

In general, VPN allows you to access restricted web content and hide your identity by creating a secure, encrypted connection with a remote server. This allows you to connect to your office environment on the go, bypass geo restrictions, and browse the web anonymously.

Keeping your local resources, including all content and personal information, secure is at the core of the VPN technology. Where proxies act as intermediaries rerouting specific application traffic, a VPN can easily hide the whole operating system.

All this makes VPN an ideal solution for businesses seeking to provide their employees with a secure way to access corporate web resources. With VPN configured on their personal laptops, remote employees can seamlessly retrieve files or access any other important information without the risk of compromising their connection in any way.

However, despite all the obvious advantages, there are two biggest drawbacks to using a VPN. The first one is its speed. Establishing an encrypted connection takes time, which makes VPNs unsuitable for large-scale web scraping where every second counts. The second one is the inability to access multiple websites using different IP addresses for the purpose of data collection.

What’s a proxy?

There are several types of proxies, and every one of them has its own specific features and advantages. Residential proxies, for instance, allow you to hide your identity under genuine IP addresses tied to real devices and owned by real network providers all over the world.

One of the basic purposes of proxies is to help you bypass geo restrictions on the Internet. That is, if you want to access a website that’s not available in your country, or simply pretend to be a user from Australia when accessing a UK-based website from your home location in Dallas, Texas.

On top of that, proxies offer you full anonymity when browsing the web as they allow you to hide your real IP address and store your traffic on a proxy server instead of your local device.

When to use proxies instead of a VPN

Although not as deadly secure as VPNs, proxies still ensure high anonymity and security, and are invaluable when it comes to data collection of any scale. Here are some of the known scenarios where you should opt for proxies instead of a VPN.

Conducting market analysis

As a marketer, you need to harvest and analyze a vast amount of data to keep up with your competitors, monitor prices, improve your overall marketing strategy and uncover the hidden potential of your business. By using a large pool of proxies you can easily mask your real IP and access an unlimited number of internet resources from various locations. Automatic IP rotation, in turn, ensures that you will always work with a live, genuine proxy no matter what.

Verifying ads

To ensure the best possible results of your advertising campaigns, you need to check your links and verify that your ads are being displayed correctly across all channels. A reliable proxy platform that offers rotating residential proxies will allow you to hide your identity under IPs from various locations and appear on each website as a different user. On top of that, you can take advantage of mobile proxies to make sure that your ads perform as intended on mobile devices as well.

Testing websites

The same website content may appear differently in different corners of the world, which means that you need to create an equally smooth user experience with all target locations in mind. Rotating residential and mobile proxies can help you achieve this goal by providing the ability to test your website from any country, region, or city, and improve your content and layout where needed.