There have been a lot of controversies lately about proxies and VPNs and which one is better. After all, they do serve essentially the same purpose. Namely, they increase your privacy and grant you anonymous browsing and safeguard you from attacks from third parties.
Specifically, they are used to disguise your IP address and help you unblock sites that have banned your IP, whether based on your previous activity or your geo-location. It amounts to stopping any surveillance of your activity based on your IP address.
The answer to the questions about which one you should use, as always, depends on why you would need them in the first place. Let’s run through some activities and assess which one is best for them.
One of the major fields of activity where increased privacy with disguised IP and protection against surveillance is necessary is web scraping. Various companies employ web scraping to gather public data for competitor analysis, review monitoring, price tracking, etc.
Collecting publicly available data requires lots of requests to be sent. That is usually done with the help of automation software since manual scraping could never match the speed and efficiency of bots.
Unfortunately, many sites put a lot of effort into banning both bots and any more excessive scraping. Since all the requests come from the same IP address, it’s easy to detect bots and block any user that sends too many requests. VPN allows you to mask your IP and send requests from a different IP address.
However, that IP could end up getting blocked too, and from that point on, you can’t continue working unless you start using another VPN. That’s not a sustainable way of work.
On the other hand, proxies can provide multiple new IP addresses that rotate and can be changed momentarily, leaving no option for those who wish to block you or track your activity under a single IP address.
Therefore, you should choose proxies over VPNs if you wish to scrape the web or engage in any other activity that would require disabling any longer-term action under an IP address.
The story is the same when you want to protect your brand.
Suppose you need to check lots of resources online to ensure that nobody is using your intellectual property or any kind of product without your authorization. In that case, you will need multiple IPs to keep yourself anonymous while searching for these malicious practices.
With a VPN, you would get blocked soon enough, and you will not be able to complete this task. Proxies will help you bypass all geo-restrictions and check all publicly available sites while remaining active without getting banned.
If you need to encrypt your traffic and add an extra layer of security to your browsing, VPN is a good solution. It encrypts all your traffic and allows you to keep hackers away from any data that you might be sharing with other servers.
For instance, if you are shopping online, you should look at whether a site uses HTTPS protocol to protect your personal data and credit card information. VPN adds additional security to that.
That is probably the main advantage of a VPN. However, there are SSL proxies that make up for this advantage and have other features that trump VPNs. SSL proxies encrypt your traffic the same way and leave no options for hackers to read your encrypted data.
Other types of proxies usually don’t encrypt your traffic, so if you need a solution for your personal or business purposes, you should choose VPN.
Retail reselling & travel fare aggregation
Suppose you need to get your hands quickly on any limited offers, be it retail items of limited edition or travel bookings. In that case, you will not manage without using multiple IPs varying in their indicated geo-locations.
You need to bypass geo-restrictions and keep your IP address clean in the eyes of the sites that provide these offers. You will get banned if you try to exceed the number of purchases allowed to a single customer.
With multiple IPs, you will not be identified as a single user. And any block that could be laid upon your IP can be revoked with another IP. That is crucial if you are using bots. And without them, you could not keep up with other customers fighting for these offers with all the available resources they have.
If you would use a VPN, you cannot get far since it can be tracked and blocked, leaving you no other choices to continue. Not to mention, you would be sharing your IP with other clients of the same VPN, so if any one of them tried to do the same as you, you would get double attention on the IP, thus compromising your goals
As you can see, proxies are a better fit for any bigger scale projects where you must access more geo-locations, such as:
- Social marketing;
- Web scraping;
- Building your brand online;
- Engaging in any speed-requiring activity involving automation software.
VPNs were initially built for use within smaller companies to communicate better and access internal resources. VPNs are still suitable for this task.
Keeping in mind VPNs’ primary purposes, they are still the best option when you need to add additional security to your browsing, remain anonymous and avoid being tracked under your original IP address, or if you wish to protect yourself against malicious activity.
You should always choose a proxy when you need to engage in any business online on a large scale. Whether it is web scraping, social marketing, using bots, or protecting your brand, you will need a vast amount of IP addresses to cover your identity and disable surveillance that could result in a ban. On the other hand, VPNs will do just fine when you need to disguise your original IP without using multiple substitutes or you need to encrypt your traffic and gain general anonymity.