A VPN acts as an intermediary between you and the Internet. When you use one, you send your encrypted web data securely to the VPN server. From there, the VPN service relays that data to the wider web without encryption. This way, websites will not be able to trace any web-based inquiries you send to us. On a larger scale, VPNs are configured at the operating system level and capture everything that comes through your device. So, for example, if you enable a VPN on your smartphone, all of your web browsing, social media apps, games, and even app store updates go through the VPN.
It also means that VPNs are better for privacy and security than proxies. For example, if you are visiting another country and need to access your banking apps or emails, VPNs are an ideal choice here. VPNs are usually paid for in the form of a subscription; some free options do exist, although they tend to come with heavy restrictions and may not be as private as you would like.
Proxies work the same way as VPNs, except they don’t offer any type of encryption. This means it’s much easier for websites and apps to detect that you’re not physically located where your IP address says you are. Proxies work best for more mundane tasks like bypassing the video streaming quality restriction that some wireless carriers have in place. But generally speaking, you don’t want to use a proxy if you’re trying to access sensitive data like your banking apps.