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Proxy vs. VPN: What’s the Difference? And What To Choose For Your Business

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Businesses must optimize their purchasing decisions as the wrong choice can be extremely costly. Proxy vs. VPN is a decision that can lead to failure if you are unsure of their differences. Even though their primary purpose is similar, one is a better choice for businesses. 

Proxies

Proxies are servers that can act as intermediaries when connecting to the internet. It serves as an extra layer of security because every request must reach the proxy server first. Only then is the request redirected to the target website. The data that is sent back has to go through a proxy server as well.

The website can’t know who the requester is and from where they connect. Such information is, in usual circumstances, available to websites from IP addresses. These strings of numbers can be mapped to specific locations and are associated with internet service providers (ISPs).

Thus, using proxies ensures privacy and makes it harder for websites to track your activity. As such, proxies enable many business-specific applications; online data collection (web scraping) and cybersecurity are two prime examples. 

In addition, by changing your IP address, you can appear as if connecting from another location. It is beneficial when you want to bypass geo-restrictions and access content that wouldn’t be available from your own country.

VPNs

The abbreviation VPN stands for virtual private network, and it is a service shielding your connection from online tracking. Similarly to proxies, VPNs use intermediary servers to create an encrypted “tunnel” through which your requests can travel with more security and privacy. 

Encryption sets VPNs apart from proxies and other tools, as it is the easiest way for end-users to encrypt their traffic. In addition, most VPN providers claim they do not keep any logs, so the chances of someone intruding on your privacy are slim with VPNs.

Usually, VPNs come with software that needs to be run on your computer for the connection to be established. Setting up is easy and does not require much knowledge on the user’s part. Frequently, such software has an ad block, antivirus, or other privacy features.

Businesses use VPNs when workers need a remote connection to their servers and secure access to data. However, virtual networks are more popular among ordinary users. Because of their user-friendliness, VPNs are used for daily tasks, such as gaming, anonymous browsing, or streaming geo-restricted video content.

What’s the difference?

Both solutions can ensure privacy – hide your IP address and change location. However, a few differences exist when comparing proxy vs. VPN for business use. Every business differs, so you should consider which features are relevant to you before deciding.

  • User-friendliness

Ease of use is a clear contrast between proxies and VPNs. The latter requires only a couple of clicks in an interface designed for the least tech-savvy. Good proxy providers also develop their own software and extensive explanations. However, the product is not as user-friendly.

You will need some technical know-how to start using proxies. However, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you are looking for something that will have many business-specific applications.

  • Integration with other tools

Most of the tools connecting to the internet support proxies. In fact, many of them, especially ones for digital marketing, might not even work without proxies. The load to web servers is too large, so you must rotate multiple proxy IP addresses and keep yourself safe from bans.

On the other hand, VPNs can’t work with other software, the only exception being web browser plug-ins. They usually cover the whole connection, and it isn’t easy to use them for something else. Besides, some tasks, such as web scraping, are even explicitly forbidden in the VPN provider’s terms and conditions.

  • Encryption

VPNs have encryption as their basic functionality. You do not need to put in much effort for your data to be encrypted, while most proxies do not have encryption and will only redirect your requests. Some proxies use encryption, but it requires some know-how and costs performance.

  • Performance

Proxies have superior performance compared to VPNs for two reasons. First, they do not require additional computing power from your device since no software is constantly working on encryption. In addition, proxies have many types that can be accustomed to your specific needs, thus improving overall performance.

Most VPNs use shared data center servers, which means that the same connection is available to many users concurrently. If many people connect to such a server, it can take some time to browse the internet or accomplish other tasks.

Which one to choose for your business?

Which of these points plays the most important role depends on why your business needs an online security solution in the first place. That is why the choice rests on the use cases more than anything else.

If you are looking for a simple solution to provide remote access to your employees, then a business VPN is the best solution for you. It will be relatively easy to set up and use for the team, and you will have secure remote access in no time.

However, if you are interested in a tool that can also help you perform various other tasks, VPN is a limited option. Proxies have a wider range of applications, from cybersecurity measures – such as website testing and email protection – to enabling online data collection through web scraping. 

If any of the below tasks are frequent in your company, you should go with proxies:

  • Market research
  • Brand protection 
  • Ad verification
  • Review monitoring
  • Pricing intelligence
  • SEO monitoring

If you still are unsure, here’s a great article to proxy vs. VPN in the context of business applications.

Conclusion

Choosing VPNs over proxies for your business is best when you only need to secure remote access for your employees. Although other basic privacy features are comparable, proxies have way more use cases for companies. It is always better to increase effectiveness by choosing a more versatile option.

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