Have you ever seen a message on YouTube or Netflix that this video is not available for your country? Or have you ever wondered how anonymous your Internet activities actually are? A VPN or proxy offers a simple answer to this question. Both hide your actual location so it looks like you are using the Internet in a different place than where you are actually located. How exactly does it work and what are your options?Have you ever seen a message on YouTube or Netflix that this video is not available for your country? Or have you ever wondered how anonymous your Internet activities actually are? A VPN or proxy offers a simple answer to this question. Both hide your actual location so it looks like you are using the Internet in a different place than where you are actually located. How exactly does it work and what are your options?
What is a VPN or a proxy?
To better understand VPN or proxy, it is good to get a general idea of how the Internet works in general. To display a website on your computer, you send a series of requests through the Internet at the same time, for example by typing "google.com" or clicking on a link. Such a request consists of several steps and uses different types of devices. Through the router in your home or office, your web request reaches the server where the website is stored. In addition to your web request, you also send information such as the IP address of your computer and your location so that the web server knows where to send the requested content. If you do not want the web server to know that you have sent the request but still want the web page to be displayed, you can use a VPN or proxy server. Both work as intermediaries to ensure that the request cannot be traced back to you. This makes surfing the web much more anonymous and gives you more privacy.
How does a VPN work?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It creates an encrypted tunnel for all Internet traffic from your computer. This means that any Internet requests you make through this tunnel are sent to the VPN server. Your encrypted Internet traffic then looks like a collection of unreadable characters. Only your computer and the VPN server can decrypt the code, which is unreadable to others.
How does a proxy work?
A proxy is like a VPN - an intermediary between the user and the Internet to make your location look different. You resend a request for a website to the proxy server and forward it to the web server. If the web server tries to trace your request, it can only go back to the proxy server. The difference with a VPN is that a proxy is simpler and less secure. You need to install a proxy for each application (web browser, email, agenda, etc.), whereas a VPN anonymizes all Internet traffic. Moreover, a proxy only hides your IP address by replacing it with the IP address of the proxy. Proxies are not encrypted, so your anonymity is not always guaranteed. Your Internet service provider or someone looking for the Wi-Fi network on public transportation can still see or intercept your Internet traffic. The advantage of using a proxy is that it's not as heavy on your computer as a VPN, so the Internet won't slow down. A VPN can have a significant impact on your Internet speed because it must encrypt and decrypt each request. A proxy can easily be used for simple, less privacy-critical tasks. It is important to use a reliable proxy to use the Internet safely. Unreliable proxies can sell your data or inject viruses.
Differences between VPN and proxyA proxy and a VPN are very similar, but there are significant differences. We have therefore briefly summarized the most important differences for you.
- An encrypted tunnel for your Internet traffic that makes it appear as if the VPN server is requesting
- Secures all your Internet traffic from your computer
- Is heavier and can slow down your Internet
- Only hides your IP address. Internet traffic may still be visible to the ISP or hacker
- Installed per application (web browser, online game)
- Little difference in internet speed if it is a good proxy