VPN Alternatives: Proxy Servers
If you’re looking for a way to access regionally-restricted websites or browse anonymously, a proxy can help you manage the job. So long as you’re willing to operate with limited security, this cheap – and often free – system can solve your problem.
What is a Proxy Server?
There are multiple kinds of proxies you can choose from. The most common, especially for an average user, is the web proxy. This manages any traffic that comes from an http:// or https:// address. Basically, all webpages are routed through one of these.
When we use the internet, our computer links directly to our targeted website. A proxy serves as the middleman, allowing you to connect first there and then to the site. This hides your true location and can let you browse anonymously.
Many commercial and non-commercial organizations (like school districts) will use proxies that monitor and filter content, stopping users from accessing certain data. By using a different proxy, browsing is harder to track, and you can do what you want online without worrying that your every move is being spied upon.
Pros of Using a Proxy
Proxies are often free for use and only require the user to find the correct information for setup. Be wary of who hosts the proxy, though, as they could have bad intentions.
Using a proxy can allow you to browse the internet anonymously because it conceals your IP address. This is useful for anyone who don’t want their digital activities tracked. This is because an anonymous IP can actually stop you from being tracked with cookies or restricted to certain content.
Although your speed can be reduced, using a caching proxy can drastically increase it. The server works by storing previous information and using it as a reference to process your request. This is extremely helpful for large organizations that complete similar transactions daily.
Cons of Using a Proxy
Proxies aren’t encrypted like VPNs, and all it takes is a shady host to steal your information. Unfortunately, you’ll have no way of telling if your data has been breached because all of your information goes through that proxy host that you choose.
Using a proxy can reduce your browsing speed significantly compared to regular use. Some have found decreases by up to 50%. That may seem high, but depending on your connection and the proxy you’re using, it’s entirely possible. But it’s also feasible that your speed reduction will be significantly less than that.
If you use multiple programs for your internet surfing, you’ll be forced to configure the proxy’s information for each specific browser. While this isn’t difficult to fix, it’s an annoyance compared to the easy setup of VPNs and Smart DNS proxies.
Using a VPN
If you want to add security to the connection, consider a VPN. They work generally the same as a proxy, but they offer enhanced privacy, are simple to setup, and can still give you access to regionally-limited sites.
The only downside to using a VPN over a simple proxy is the higher cost. Still, this could be worth your money if security is a concern.
Proxies can give you access to regionally-restricted data and allow you to browse anonymously, but these features can lead to slower browsing speeds and a definite lack of security. Be sure you’re using a trusted source before selecting a proxy or find a VPN that can keep your information safe.