You’ve probably excitedly typed a URL into your browser or clicked on a link you found on social media, only to see the familiar text This site is not available in your area. What you have encountered before or more often is called geo-restriction or geo-blocking.

Geo-restriction limits licensed content to specific geographic locations; prevention of fraud; the need for companies to comply with the tax laws of their respective countries or to avoid self-bribery, particularly where the price of their goods depends on location or time; and prevention of gambling in countries that prohibit such practices. Of course these are rational reasons, but it still seems discriminatory.

Fortunately, you can get around this problem. Websites offer geo-blocking via IP addresses. An IP address is a unique number that identifies a specific computer on a network. It also contains benchmarks. To avoid being geo-blocked, all you have to do is change your IP address. Proxy servers or VPNs do this effectively, but because they are different, you need to understand what each option entails and which one to choose.

What is a proxy server?

A proxy is an intermediary between a user’s personal computer (PC) and the Internet. It is called a gateway because it intercepts web traffic and essentially stops direct communication between the web client (browser) and the web server. The stop (proxy) assigns a new IP address to web requests from a PC before forwarding them to the destination website. This way the proxies hide the real identity (IP address).

These tools play an important role in circumventing geographical restrictions by assigning an IP address from a region where content is not blocked. If you z. B. you need to access content that only people in Germany can see, you can use a German proxy server. This proxy assigns a German IP address to your computer and makes the web servers believe that you are in Germany. Finally, they rely solely on IP addresses for location information. Visit the Oxylabs website for more information on proxies.

Benefits of Proxy Servers

In addition to being able to access content that is geo-blocked, proxy servers offer the following additional benefits:

  • They improve security by filtering content sent over HTTP (HTTP proxies), preventing phishing emails (home and data center proxies), and blocking access to malicious websites.
  • They prevent server downtime by balancing Internet traffic – in this scheme, proxy providers distribute business content across multiple servers so that visitors connect to the closest server, effectively preventing server congestion.
  • Save bandwidth by caching frequently used files, freeing up bandwidth for other important tasks.
  • They provide anonymity on the Internet and prevent intruders from tracking your business or online activities.
  • They promote productivity in the workplace by blocking access to certain websites.
  • You make web scraping easier

Disadvantages of proxy servers

  • They do not encrypt internet traffic or files.

Virtual private networks (VPNs)

A virtual private network is a secure tunnel between your network or computer and a VPN provider’s server (the originating host) thousands of miles away. More importantly, the secure tunnel is the result of encryption, which means VPNs are more secure than proxies, but this comes at a price, as we explain below. When you use a VPN, your computer receives the IP address of the source host. If, as in the other example, you choose an exit node located in Germany, you will be assigned a German IP address.

Benefits of VPN

VPNs have the following advantages:

  • You bypass geo-restrictions
  • You increase security with encryption, which means your IP address, location, data, files and passwords are protected from hackers or even your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • You prevent data and bandwidth throttling by your ISP and protect your internet traffic. This way, your provider cannot easily determine data usage or web traffic volume.
  • They provide network scalability, especially in an enterprise environment. Any employee with a password can access and use the VPN application, which means VPNs have more bandwidth available to meet the needs of users.

Disadvantages of VPN

VPNs have the following disadvantages:

  • Encryption slows down connection speed
  • Some VPN service providers keep their customers’ communication logs, which they can sell to the highest bidder or turn over to the authorities at the request of the courts.
  • They usually require a complex configuration and are therefore not ideal for beginners.

In comparison, the disadvantages of a VPN are greater than what you can expect from proxy servers. Moreover, the usefulness of VPNs is not as diverse as that of proxies. In this regard, proxy servers are a better choice than VPNs. Let’s take the example of the German proxy, which allows access to geographical content and retrieval of data from German sites. However, you cannot do the same with a VPN.

frequently asked questions

Do I need a proxy if I have a VPN?

No, you don’t need a proxy server if you’re already using a VPN. A VPN already hides your IP address from the servers you access. It also encrypts data and hides it from your ISP and potential hackers.

Can I use a VPN and a proxy together?

In short, you can use a VPN and a proxy together to add an extra layer of anonymity to your network connection. Remember that you must have a stable internet connection. For example, you can use a VPN client with a built-in proxy server, as this is the easiest way to make changes later.

Is it better to use a proxy server?

Proxy servers act as firewalls and web filters, sharing network connections and caching data to speed up frequent requests. A good proxy server protects users and the internal network from the nasties that live on the wild Internet. Finally, proxy servers can provide a high level of privacy.

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