When people are unable to access websites in their country due to regional restrictions and censorship laws or they want to hide their identity while surfing the internet for privacy purpose and to stay safe the cyber attacks, then they use a tool which could be a Proxy service, a VPN service or a Smart DNS. Which give them anonymity and provide them the power to access blocked websites from the region where it is blocked, when more than one option is available for the purpose, people usually get confused and a question comes in their mind, which one is to use among VPN, Proxy, and Smart DNS? Or which service is the best for overall privacy plus security and also unblocks the geo-restricted websites? The purpose of this article is to compare all three services and then elaborate the differences at the end of the article so you can find the answer to your question and decide on your own which one is the best for you.
Difference between a VPN and Proxy
Generally, people categorize and take VPNs and proxies as similar, but it is not the reality the function of both is same, but how they perform the function is different. On the basis we will elaborate here, you can decide which one you want. Why I did not mention Smart DNS in the heading is because it is also a proxy service use to unblock the regionally restricted websites which we will discuss later in the article.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a comprehensive tool for privacy and security which also provides you the power to spoof your geographical location to access all the region blocked and censored content from anywhere in the world. A VPN creates an encrypted private tunnel using Blowfish or AES 128-bit or 256-bit encryption (the most secure encryption protocols). This tunnel between your computer or device and the internet server is used to transfer your internet data traffic and connects you securely to the desired web server. VPN also provides you the feature to change your original IP address and alters it to any other (desired) country’s IP address, which virtually changes your geographical location, so you can access all the region blocked websites easily. One of the important thing regarding choosing a right VPN service is a number of its server, the more the servers, the better is connectivity. Some people opt for free VPN services which have a few servers option, with heavy traffic loads which make their VPN experience worse, so if you want a real-time experience to go for a premium VPN service which offers many servers worldwide which enhance your connectivity experience.
- There are advantages and disadvantages related to everything you use, there is nothing like a perfect ideal thing, however, the number of advantages and disadvantages decide whether the service is good enough or not. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a VPN service below;
- A VPN provides you the highest level of privacy and security due to the high-end encryption.
- It creates a private encrypted tunnel which securely transfers your data to the requested web server, in code format unable to be read by anyone, hence no one can snoop on your internet activities.
- It spoofs your original geographical location by hiding your IP address and alters it with any country’s IP address, so you are able to access region-blocked websites from any country of the world.
- It allows the users to choose their desired VPN protocol by offering more than one list of protocols to select from, the most common are; PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, OpenVPN, Ikev1, Ikev2, etc.
- For additional security against cyber attacks many VPN providers run anti-malware scanning on their traffic.
- Many VPNs provide automatic protection when connected to a public Wifi.
- VPNs offer an internet kill switch, which stops your internet connection if the VPN connection drops sometimes, this saves you from IPleaks while anonymous browsing.
- It is easy to set up and uses with no hassle of long configuration and setup procedure.
- VPN is an advanced technology, hence works swiftly with all types of software, operating systems and other internet technologies like gaming servers, VoIP, torrents, etc.
- When using a VPN it is impossible for your ISP to monitor and record your internet activities due to anonymity provided with encryption.
- A VPN is a less expensive tool, especially for a corporate sector which was dependent on an expensive and complex procedure for office communication (a leased communications line from a provider, such as a T-1 or ISND line).
- Free VPN services are too slow to be good, however, a premium service works well, but still a minor reduction in connection speed is normal with VPNs, due to encryption.
- The VPN connection can be dropped sometimes, which can leak your original identity in the network, it can be risky especially when you are sharing files on P2P servers etc. to overcome this flaw many providers offer the internet kill switch option, which prevents any IPleaks.
For all the VPN beginners, our VPN guide is there to help you understand it completely.
The proxy server basically is a computer between you and the internet, when you are connected to any proxy, the internet server you request will receive the IP address of the proxy computer and not yours. There are various types of proxies that make it harder to understand it. Unlike a VPN, Proxy server doesn’t encrypt your internet data traffic while transferring through its server therefore at a time it can provide you data privacy and only your IP address can be changed. Proxy servers usually use two types of internet protocol for communication, HTTP, and SOCKS.
Types of Proxy Servers
Here are some various kinds of proxy servers with their functions, pros, and cons listed below, so you can understand them better.
HTTP Proxy Server
HTTP proxy is built in a way that it can only interpret data traffic that starts with HTTP:// or https://, which means it is only useful for the web browsing sessions and provides you secure browsing session by connecting you through HTTP server and not revealing your actual IP address but the IP address of this HTTP proxy, as it only manages HTTP requests, therefore, it is fasters than Socks proxy and VPN.
- Affordable and usually free of cost.
- It can help you to unblock some regionally blocked websites as it hides your real IP address or you can create an account using the different IP address.
- It is only useful for the internet browsing and accessing some websites (not all), it can’t manage all internet data traffic, makes it limited (only for browsing).
- The internet traffic while using HTTP is not encrypted, so your ISP and other government surveillance agencies will know what are you doing over the internet as well as that you are using a proxy server.
- You need to configure it on every browser, however; it is compatible with all the browser but not automatically configured.
- Even you are connected through an SSL tunnel and using HTTP proxy the traffic can be encrypted but the IP address is known to all the people monitoring on you.
SOCKS Proxy Server
A Socks proxy servers are way more flexible than the HTTP server. Socks doesn’t interpret data traffic which is the reason it is more useful than HTTP, but as it can handle and manages more network and data traffic, it is slower than HTTP. The good thing about Socks proxy is, it can handle all types of internet data traffic, for instance; IRC chat, SMTP, and POP3 for emails, torrent files and FTP for uploading files to websites. SOCKS5 is the latest prevailing version of it.
- Socks proxy is able to handle all kinds of internet data traffic requests.
- Due to more traffic, it is slower than HTTP.
- Each software you want to run with Socks proxy, needs to be configured individually (for e.g. BitTorrent etc.).
However, if you only wish to hide your IP address and don’t require encryption, then Socks proxy with an SSL connection combo is good for your BitTorrent.
Public Proxy Servers
As a fact that proxies can allow so many connections there are many public servers available out there over the internet which can be used by anyone. These public servers offer both socks and HTTP protocol but HTTP is more common than socks on these types of public proxy servers. You can easily get the needed IP address and port number which can be used free of charge in the free proxy list, but before you use, you need to configure your browser’s setting according to the details (IP address, port number) you get from there, so that your machine is connected to that particular public proxy server you choose. These public proxy servers are not so stable, often get on and off without notice, so you can not rely on them for long, the speed it claims is way too different the actual speed because of so many people connected to it and you also have to trust the owner (that is unknown) with all your sensitive information passing through that proxy server, no customer support for issues, but ultimately it is free.
Private Proxy Servers
Private proxy servers are way better than public servers as these are owned by reliable and reputed companies with proper structure and these are not open to anyone you have to pay a fee to get that connection. Some VPN providers like BTGuard and TorGuard provide Socks 5 torrent services. This is a better option than a public server these companies also provide customized software like, BTGuard and TorGuard offer pre-configured BitTorrent client which is quite easy to use and safe as well.
A Smart DNS is a proxy system which is mainly used to unblock the geo-restricted website all around the world. A smart DNS user needs no extra third-party software of application downloaded or installed on their device, they just can access the requested websites once they subscribe the smart DNS service. When a user is connected to smart DNS, it directs them towards approved and listed proxy servers in various locations around the world so the user is able to access the content of the requested country easily, it is not free and you need to subscribe to a smart DNS service to get it. As smart DNS provides no encryption at all, it is faster than the VPN, which is better for unblocking online streaming channels, but dangerous for your internet privacy and security, as you can be a victim of any cyber attackers hopping on the unencrypted network and looking for its prey. Some people eager to unblock and get the access of popular streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc. use smart DNS for faster-streaming speed, but they sure are not aware of the hazards it can bring to their privacy.
- Faster streaming speed.
- Dedicated unblocking tool for regionally blocked content worldwide.
- You don’t need to install any third-party software on your streaming device.
- No encryption means no privacy and security.
- The risk of man-in-the-middle attacks is higher.
The user is unaware of the data traffic when DNS hijacking occurs.
Comparison Chart: VPN vs Proxy vs Smart DNS
|Provides Encryption of AES 128-bit or 256-bit, etc.||No Encryption||No Encryption|
|Unblock Websites with complete privacy||Unblock websites with limited privacy||Unblock websites without privacy|
|Secure internet protocols are used OpenVPN, SSTP, etc.||Less secure protocols used like HTTP, Socks, etc.||No security|
|End-to-end encryption provided||No end-to-end encryption provided||No end-to-end encryption provided|
|No hectic configuration required||Device configuration is usually confusing||No configuration required|
|Safe to use on public Wifi||No protection on public Wifi||No protection on public Wifi|
|No chance of cyber data theft||Chances of cyber data theft because of low privacy||Chances of cyber data theft are the highest because of no privacy at all|
|Can affect the connection speed a little due to encryption||The speed is slow even when no encryption, due to higher latency issues||Faster than VPN and proxy, but extremely prone to attacks|
|The Highest Level of Privacy from snoopers (NSA, ISPs etc)||Low level of Privacy and snoopers can intrude easily||No privacy at all, only IP address is manipulated for connection|
|VPN works well in securing all kinds of internet traffic like Gaming servers, VoIP, etc.||Proxy has issues with gaming, VoIP, etc.||Smart DNS works well with gaming, VoIP etc. due to no security layer|
|Your ISP is unable to track your activities||Your ISP is able to track your activities and can see you are using a proxy server||Your ISP is able to track your activities and can see you are using a smart DNS|
|Best for P2P file sharing||Unsafe for P2P file sharing||Unsafe for P2P file sharing|
|Free and Paid, both options are available||Usually free, but sometimes it is paid||No free option, but Free trial is available|
|Easy to install and use||Need configuration usually||Easy to use, no app needed|
|Great Customer Support||No customer support usually||Customer support is there|
|Recommended by privacy experts, worldwide like Snowden himself||Not recommended by privacy experts||Not recommended by privacy experts|
Conclusion of VPN vs. Proxy vs. Smart DNS
In this article, we collected and jotted down all the facts related to all three VPN, Proxy, and Smart DNS. The information provided is totally based on the facts and research. You now know the idea of all these services, how they work, their pros and cons of using and there is a comprehensive comparison chart as well. It is up to you now which service do you want to choose as per your requirement and preferences. If you are only eager to get the websites unblocked at a faster speed and don’t care much about your internet privacy, then you can opt for Smart DNS which is dedicated only for unblocking websites from all around the world without the concept of internet privacy and security. However, proxies are also unable to provide encryption, therefore, no security is offered, it is used widely by people who prefer free service to spoof their IP address and connect to some of the blocked content (proxies can’t let you access all blocked websites). For the people who understand the value of their internet privacy and want to keep surfing the internet without compromising their privacy and security, simultaneously getting the access of blocked websites as well with their entire data traffic encrypted and safe from intruders, they choose a reliable VPN service.
Our Recommendation is a VPN Why?
We really believe that internet privacy and security is a thing to be taken seriously, especially after the shocking revelations of Snowden, which clearly shows that our privacy is not safe, and if we don’t take a step to improve it, you will end up with great regret. We don’t want any of our readers; people like you, to be a victim of any cyber attack by criminals or their privacy intruded by government security and surveillance agencies. We firmly believe that a VPN is a comprehensive tool which not only let you access all the censored and regionally blocked content, but it provides the highest level of privacy as compared to all the other tools mentioned in the article, however we never claim that VPN is 100%, because nothing is perfect, but when it comes to choose among other, it is the one with fewer flaws than others. We understand if you are not aware of the aspects the privacy and that is why we published an ultimate privacy guide, to help all the beginners know what internet privacy is, the threats and how it can be improved.