Proxy servers and VPNs are similar in many ways. They are both most commonly known to help protecting user identity and accessing geo-restricted content. Since they are predominantly used for these two purposes, VPN and proxy are often mentioned interchangeably in speech, but they are not at all the same.
We’ve compiled the most important information about the two to help you once and for all confidently differentiate between proxy and VPN, as well as learn how they work with 4K Video Downloader and 4K YouTube to MP3.
What is VPN
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a connection method that provides online privacy and anonymity. It involves one or several computers (or in other words, a network of servers) being used as an intermediary for all traffic between your device and the Internet. The initial user IP address is replaced with one from the servers of a VPN provider.
In case that server is located in a different country, it will appear as though user connection is coming from that country. It opens up the potential to access sites and content that isn’t otherwise available in the actual user location. For example, users can watch and download regionally blocked YouTube videos or visit geo-restricted sites.
The connection between the VPN server and user device is highly encrypted. It prevents the government, ISPs and hackers from intercepting, decoding the connection tunnel and reading user Internet activity. Encryption is exactly what makes VPN private and helps successfully masking real identity and physical location. Because of that, VPNs are widely used among users from China to access sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many other foreigh services and tools due to the Great Firewall.
What is Proxy
A proxy server is a middleman server between a user device and the Internet. A proxy acts as a gateway as it sits between a real server and an application (or browser extension) run by a user. It intercepts all user requests, then provides responses from its cache or resends the requests to the real server.
Proxy could be useful in case a user wants to hide IP address, access region-blocked content and firewall-restricted sites (on school or work computers, for instance). Depending on the proxy type, it could also provide anonymity online.
The Difference Between VPN and Proxy
Though VPNs and proxy servers are used for the same purposes, there are many differences between the way they operate. Below are the main differences between VPN and proxy all users should consider when choosing between the two.
Proxy servers work on the application level and reroute traffic of a specific browser or application (proxy setups in downloaders, web extensions). VPNs, on the other hand, work on the operating system level and reroute all the traffic.
VPNs encrypt traffic, proxy servers don’t. Users can’t rely on proxies for handling sensitive data. Only VPN services can actually grant online anonymity and protection from ISP tracking and government surveillance.
VPNs are more likely to cause latency on the Internet connection due to the amount of time and resources needed for data encryption. There are ways to improve the speed, but proxies don’t require users to go into this trouble to begin with.
Proxy servers are less reliable when it comes to connection sustainability. In comparison, VPN connections drop less frequently than those of proxy servers.
Proxies require having an understanding of how to set up a proxy connection and change server locations. VPNs are more user-friendly, as no beginner would find it difficult to download and run a VPN client.
VPNs and proxy servers can be free, but the quality of the free services is lacking. It’s especially relevant for VPNs — beware when you see a good VPN option that advertises as being free of any charges, behind the beautiful packaging there is most likely either a service with tons of limitations or malicious software that mines your data.
Free proxies that do the job without doing any damage are much easier to find.
What’s Better For You – VPN or Proxy
VPNs is a pricier option that is best suited for users that prioritize safety and security. VPN is the only way to go for those who want to avoid online surveillance and ensure complete anonymity.
Proxy servers are good for simple tasks that don’t require extra-protection. If you are only looking for a way to access geo-blocked sites, there is no need to pay extra for VPN — proxies will do just fine.
What's Better to Download Geo-Blocked Content
For audio and video downloaders, such as 4K YouTube to MP3 and 4K Video Downloader, there is no difference between the method a user chooses to change the IP address with.
Both applications have a built-in proxy module that allows users to insert the proxy server data and set up the connection. Both applications also download geographically blocked YouTube videos once a user enables the VPN utility.
The bottom line here is that if you can watch a YouTube video in your browser, you can download it, regardless of your method of choice.
The following lists feature VPN and proxy providers that we recommend together with (and without) our downloaders. All of them were tested and proved reliable and compatible.
Recommended VPN Providers