Many people travelling abroad, or living outside the USA, have found themselves getting blocked due to geo-restrictions on content. Some countries even restrict you from accessing basis online services like Gmail, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. This leads people to attempting to find ways to get around them and they always come to one of two choices: VPNs or proxy servers.
While these two online tools for getting around geo-based restrictions are similar, they do differ. Knowing which one is best for your needs can help you make informed decision, take back your privacy, and give you the free and open Internet which you deserve.
VPN or Proxy: Which has better online security?
What a VPN does well
Both a VPN and a proxy server change your IP address to trick websites into thinking you’re in a different location or country than you really are. That’s where the basic similarities end.
- Encrypting your entire online experience. This offers greater protection to your communications via email, Skype, and every other communication medium which goes through your VPN connection.
- Your login data, credit card info, and online downloads are also encrypted. This can save you from a DMCA notice, and from man in the middle attacks in public locations.
- Offering you the chance to download a VPN client on many different devices so you can simply turn your encryption on at any moment, anywhere.
- Hiding your website visits from nosy government spies. There are times when a proxy server can not unblock a website you want access to as governments, like China, have firewalls which can see what you’re visiting and block you. VPNs which block deep packet inspection will help you with this.
So a VPN does everything that a proxy server does, plus all of this. It’s no wonder so many people are choosing a geo-unblocking VPN for not only its geo-unblocking abilities, but for its increased online security features.
How a proxy server falls short
Proxy servers do indeed do their job of helping you unblock geo-blocked content, but only in certain situations. Here’s what you need to be aware of when using a proxy server:
- Instead of using your own IP address, the unique number assigned to your computer when you connect to the Internet, you take on the IP address of the proxy server. There’s no guarantee that these proxy servers are going to be fast as nearly all of them are free and not maintained.
- There is no additional encryption or anonymization like that which VPNs offer. So if a government is blocking with a firewall doing deep packet inspection you will not be able to unblock the website you want to see.
- There is no guarantee that a proxy server will stay connected. A dropped connection can result in you being found on a website which you’re not supposed to be on. Many VPNs have a VPN kill switch feature which prevents this from happening.
Proxy servers are popular, no doubt. This is largely due to their free nature, but in this case you get what you are paying for: Not much.
Better online security: A VPN
With the points outlined above, and especially looking at encryption, it’s not even close: You get better online security with a VPN. Not only will they help you unblock geo-restricted content while travelling abroad or living outside the USA, they can protect your data against hackers.
If you haven’t already, check out our review of the top 10 VPN providers for guidance on which VPN is worth your money.
Feature image via InesBazdar / Shutterstock