I often get asked the question which is better a VPN or a proxy and equally as much I get asked why can’t I just use a proxy? The answer is not singular, there are many many reasons why a VPN is better. Let me go into them in a bit of detail.
Security : When you use a proxy, you send your traffic directly to that proxy over the big scary internet world. This traffic is not encrypted and is free to packet sniffing. Packet sniffing is where the content you are sending can be monitored for type or even for its content and if using certain software all these packets can be put together and like a puzzle and opened or viewed. You are also using your IP which is transmitted and as such can be uncovered with a little effort and you will not be able to bypass geo-targeting and you will also be able to have your location pinpointed.
Configuration : Many proxys either use your standard web configuration but some rely on you to install software to use them. This software often has compatibility problems between Linux, Mac and PC and becomes a head ache. Also while some of these programs make you think your traffic is going through the proxy, they actually only monitor certain ports so your bit torrent traffic you though was being proxyed was actually just going over your standard connection.
And this is a common one, you get what you pay for! Many proxy servers are just open proxys that you found on the internet. These are notoriously unreliable and have little guarantee. I mean just imagine using these servers and logging into your internet banking… You might find you become another victim of cyber crime before long.
Using a VPN and most importantly a premium VPN service (one you pay for) you mitigate these problems. A VPN is a secure tunnel between 2 points and makes use of encryption. This means that once you connect to this VPN the traffic that is flowing through your ISP can not be monitored or sniffed. Whether you are doing email, surfing your favourite porn site or downloading a ‘Linux distro’ the ISP can not tell the different between this traffic.
One of the many untold secrets of using a VPN is to bypass your ISP’s shaping policies. Traffic shaping is a technique used by ISP’s to optimise their network. For instance if someone is downloading or watching a Netflix video, it might make loading a web page slow for another user. What the ISP does now is look at the traffic and if it is a web page give it full speed but if it is a download/bit torrent they will slow this down to make browsing the web faster. By going through a VPN your ISP can not decipher the traffic and as VPN ports are generally not throttled you get full speed for your downloads.
Many VPN services like Hide My Ass Pro VPN and VyprVPN give you multiple locations to connect to. Where this helps is you are able to effectively change your county. Hulu.com is available only with in the USA but if you want to watch hulu.com outside of USA you can connect to the VPN within the states and now your IP and your connection is essentially originating from the states and you can watch. China restricts most of its internet and many Muslim countries won’t even allow Facebook. So if you want to unblock Facebook or if you want to unblock Gmail you can simply connect to a VPN and this way all your traffic becomes unrestricted.
I hope I have highlighted why we should be stepping away from proxy’s and embrace the new VPN world. The benefits are huge and the cost these days is as little as a couple Dollars per month.