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What is the difference between VPN and proxy?


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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. Both hide your actual location, making it look like you are using the internet in a different place than where you actually are. How exactly does it work and what options do you have?

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. To view a website on your computer, you simultaneously send a series of requests through the internet, for example by typing "" or clicking on a link. Such a request consists of several steps and uses different types of devices. Via the router at 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 don't want the web server to know that you sent the request but still want the web page to be displayed, you can use a VPN or proxy server. Both work as an intermediary to ensure that the request cannot be traced back to you. This makes surfing the internet much more anonymous and gives you more privacy.

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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 all 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 intermediate station between the user and the internet to make your site look different. You send a request for a website to the proxy server again and forward it to the web server. When the web server tries to trace your request, it can only go back as far as the proxy server. The difference with a VPN is that a proxy is simpler and less secure. You have to install a proxy for each application (web browser, email, agenda, etc.), whereas a VPN anonymises all internet traffic. In addition, 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 ISP or someone looking for the WiFi network in public transport can still see or intercept your internet traffic. The advantage of a proxy is that it is not as heavy for your computer as a VPN and therefore the internet does not slow down. A VPN can have a significant impact on your internet speed as it has to encrypt and decrypt every request. A proxy can easily be used for simple, less privacy-related tasks. It is important to use a reliable proxy to use the Internet securely. Unreliable proxies can sell your data or inject viruses.

Differences between VPN and proxy

A proxy and a VPN are very similar, but there are significant differences. We have therefore briefly summarised the most important differences for you.

An encrypted tunnel for your Internet traffic that makes it appear as if the VPN server is making the request
Hides only your IP address - internet traffic may still be visible to the ISP or hacker
Secures all your internet traffic from your computer
Installed per application (web browser, online game)
Is heavier and may slow down your internet
Little difference in internet speed if it is a good proxy

Alternative to VPN and proxy - leitzcloud

With leitzcloud you don't need a VPN or proxy to access your files from another location. You can open and edit your files anywhere and on any device through quick syncronisation. Furthermore, your files are stored in highly secure data centres with ISO 27001 certification. We also operate in full compliance with the data protection provisions of the GDPR. The security of your data is our highest priority.

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