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As of late, I’ve been receiving a lot of pushback from people who keep telling me that there is no point to using premium VPN services when you can just use a free proxy. Now for those who are unsure what proxies or proxy servers are, these are computers that sit in between your computer and the internet. So, it works as an intermediary between you and the internet. What this does is help to hide your real IP address and consequently your actual physical location.
It goes without saying that there are also paid proxies but which are arguably cheaper than their VPN counterparts. However, there is a reason why I choose to use VPN services and continue to recommend it to everyone who values their privacy… actually there are five reasons.
Reason no. 1: Proxy servers are not as secure as VPNs
A proxy server may encrypt the traffic between your computer and the website you’re accessing, but the person running the server can see that traffic. Now even though you may come across proxy servers with anonymity ratings, these are just rated based on what information websites can see. Those who own the server know exactly what your IP address is, they can monitor and log all non-HTTPs traffic. So, they are not anonymous, and the ratings can best be described as those for privacy.
The most highly rated are level 1 proxies which will hide your IP address and also ensure that websites don’t know that you’re making requests through a proxy. Though websites you’re accessing still know the proxy’s IP address. Then there is also the fact that even though the elite servers are the best but are also the slowest.
Since I need both speed and a high level of privacy, proxies don’t fit the speed bill.
Reason no. 2: A huge hassle to configure
I personally like my browsing to be hassle-free. The ability to simply connect and still be assured that I’m anonymous online is something I take for granted. However, switch to a proxy server, and soon you’ll need to be going into internet settings and pasting a series of addresses. That’s not easy for someone like me who often wants to switch from one virtual location to the next.
For instance, for some websites, I want to appear as though I’m accessing them from Hong Kong, for others like Netflix I want to appear as though I’m accessing them from the UK. With my VPN service, I simply right click and pick a country flag. Though with a proxy server I’ll need to use a totally different proxy address that I then paste into internet settings.
Reason no. 3: Proxies turn out to be more expensive than VPNs
When you buy a proxy server service, you get to choose from three types. The first is free also known as general proxies. You often share these with hundreds of other people. Then there is the semi-shared proxy, which means that you’re sharing it with three others. A little better than the previous one but semi-shared proxies are not free. Though they are cheaper than VPNs but way slower. The third type is called Dedicated Proxy. You have the proxy all to yourself and are often referred to as ‘exclusive proxies.’
A dedicated proxy means that you get a single, static IP address, it performs better than other types of proxies but still not on par with VPNs. You can also evade IP blocks like those set up by services like Netflix, but they are far less anonymous owing to their static IP address which is tied directly to your computer. However, you pay far more for a dedicated proxy than with a premium VPN service.
After having used dedicated proxy services, I can safely say they are slower than VPNs, far less secure, a hassle to handle and most of all expensive.
Reason no. 4: Proxy server encryption sucks
I know all the fancy numbers and terms may lure you into a sense of security with proxy servers, but they mean nothing. It has been proven time and time again that the encryption algorithms used even by the most secure proxy servers are flawed. I for one will never rely on a flawed encryption algorithm to protect my personal information.
There are literally hundreds of technical papers describing how the encryption is flawed. However, you’ll either need to be super smart computer geek or have a degree in cryptography to figure out what they are proving. Though Google and you’ll see that cracking a proxy server is easy!
Reason no. 5: Proxy servers crash and then you’re stuck!
Proxy servers are infamous for crashing when you need them the most. However, unlike a VPN server which when it crashes you simply cannot switch to the next available one with the click of a mouse button. Also, if you happen to be using a dedicated proxy server, then you’ll just have to wait till its back up. Not exactly a fun thing to experience.
Servers are known for crashing, and there can be various reasons for it. But with a VPN there are redundancies in place where as with proxies there aren’t any. That’s perhaps one big reason why I’ll never trust a proxy to keep me connected!
I’ve heard a lot about proxies, used some of the best and know that they can be useful. But the reason why you shouldn’t use them outweighs the potential financial benefit you may get from saving a few cents. Though even those savings aren’t there if you want to use a proxy server like a level 1 for work and want something that’s reliable. So, I would never recommend either free or paid proxies. You’re better off using a free VPN service if you want to save money. Though if you have $5 to spend each month use a premium VPN service of which we recommend many.