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Difference Between a Proxy and a VPN?

Ever heard of the term of a VPN or a proxy and graciously nod your head agreeing to whatever your friend or co-worker said about it? Well those days will be long gone after the of this article. This article will explain the difference between a VPN and a proxy and how they are different. We will first explain what is a proxy, then talk about about what a VPN is. And finally, we will explain the differences between the two.

What is a Proxy?

A proxy server is an intermediary server that relays your requests to your desired webpage or server. And in order to receive requests from that webpage or server, those requests must go through the proxy server first before it the requests arrives back to you. For the most part, any request is that is sent to the proxy server gets directed to its destination.

How a proxy server works.
How A Proxy Server Works Diagram

Still confusing? Imagine if you (the user) are trying to buy something from a random seller (a web server) off of Craigslist, but do not want the seller to look at your face. So, you then convince your neighbor (proxy server) to pretend to be you during transaction. You give your money (web requests) to your neighbor and the neighbor meets with the seller, where the seller thinks that your neighbor is the actual buyer. Your neighbor gives the seller the money and the seller gives the item to the buyer. Then the neighbor gives the item back to you, without you having to communicate to the seller in-person. This is what a proxy server does, but at a much faster speed. The server acts on your behalf and relays any information that it has received back to you.

Now, why do people use proxy servers? People use proxies in order to hide their IP address from web administrators and other internet users. Since proxies are widely available and can easily be found online through free proxy lists, they are perfect for bots or web scrapers. Where they can create downtimes on a service or website or even generate a bunch of spam content on your website. Having a proxy allows the user to easily get away with their harmful actions that they’ve created on the internet.

What is a VPN? And How do a Proxy and VPN differ?

How a VPN works
How a VPN Works Diagram

A VPN is almost the same thing as a proxy. There are actually two things that is different between a proxy and a VPN. One is that the user has a secure connection between themselves and the VPN server. The connection between the user and the VPN server are encrypted making it difficult for anyone who is in the same network as the user to find out the user’s information or what they are doing. This also applies to the VPN server end as well. The person who owns or manage the VPN server cannot find out what the user is doing or look at their personal information. This is why many people who are concerned about their privacy use a VPN, especially in a public area such as a coffee shop or an airport. Though, those aren’t the only people who use a VPN, also hackers and attackers use VPN in order to make themselves anonymous.

Another thing that differentiates a VPN and proxy is that a proxy server can only communicate via HTTP or SOCKS protocols, which basically means that it only hides your identity from web browsing. While, a VPN can secure everything that you do on your computer. This includes your web browser, games, video communication softwares, productivity applications, and messaging applications.

How do I Differentiate Between a Proxy and a VPN?

Differentiating between a proxy and a VPN is virtually impossible for humans alone. Determining if an IP address is a proxy or a VPN requires an API, such as our VPN & Proxy API. This can help you determine which users are accessing your server or website through a VPN or a proxy and allows you to block their access until they turn off their VPN or proxy connection.

How do I Protect My Business from Proxy and VPN users?

Now you know that many destructive users can harm your business without be identified. Protecting your business from proxies and VPNs is more crucial than ever. It can help prevent fraudulent charges or malicious users from ever entering your site. In order to prevent less headaches and automatically block these type of users, you can use our VPN and Proxy Detection API, which allows you to determine if any one of your visitors could be a potential threat to your website or business.