When surfing the Internet, most people simply insert the desired website in the browser and hit Enter. By doing this, they connect directly to the host server of that webpage. When people are concerned about their privacy or they need to access something restricted for their region, they route the requests through an intermediary server or a proxy server. But what can you use instead of a proxy server? Let’s see the alternatives to a proxy server and when should you pick each of them.
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Free web proxies for browsing
Most Internet users have gained comfort in the convenience of web proxies as a method to enter the Internet anonymously. Most of these web proxies are granted for free as open proxies. It is a kind of proxy that allows you to anonymously surf the Internet.
For each request, the proxy reaches out to the website and pulls the requested web page. It then transfers it back to you and you can see the website. The benefit is that the website sees the proxies IP address and not yours. It is a good alternative to surf the Internet without exposing your real IP address to the websites you reach.
However, the primary problem with using free web proxies is that you don’t know who is running them. They could be hackers, honeypots, or even a real company with dishonest business methods. The owner of the open proxy can see everything you are doing online. This raises trust questions. Ask yourself why would someone pay so much cash to set up a web proxy just to give it for free? Can such an entity be entrusted with your data?
VPN for personal purposes
But if you want to use it for personal purposes, such as accessing blocked, limited or restricted content like Netflix, YouTube, HBO then you can check out a VPN. A VPN is very similar to proxies, helping to go around different geo-restrictions, hiding your IP address, and also helping with online privacy concerns. VPNs are more affordable and broadly used by many people throughout the globe.
When looking for a VPN, make sure that the traffic transferred between your PC and the VPN is fully encrypted, and the VPN does not keep logs about your activity. Encrypting the exchange between you and the VPN makes it almost impossible for your ISP to tell what you have visited, what you have downloaded. The ISP only knows that you have connected to a VPN.
A free and good VPN is almost impossible to find. Most good VPN providers have some sort of monthly fee. There are, of course, occasional subscription plans with free traffic, but, in general, that is 1 GB of data/ month. This is not a good solution, because usually with 1 GB of data you do nothing.
TOR for hiding the IP address
This is probably the safest way to hide your IP, but unfortunately the slowest. Just browsing a website is much slower, and downloads are often so slow that it is not worth the effort.
Tor is a global decentralized anonymous network operated by thousands of volunteers. Traffic is encrypted while being routed through a random sequence of nodes, which is somewhat similar to proxies.
The website you are visiting can only see the IP of the last node through which your traffic was routed. And the nodes being many, and chosen randomly, makes it very difficult to detect the original source of the visit.
Keep in mind that Tor is often associated with criminal activity because it can be used to access the darknet and other illegal websites.
It is also worth mentioning that some servers block connections from known Tor nodes from the start, and even network providers sometimes take a closer look at your activity when they see activity through these nodes.
Dynamic IP for changing the IP address
I left this alternative last because it is not really a method to hide your IP, but just to change it.
If you have a dynamic IP, when you restart your modem or unplug it for a few minutes, you will receive a new IP address. This can also happen at predefined intervals, it depends on your internet provider.
This means that the old IP no longer refers to your internet connection. However, this does not offer extra security. It can help if you got your IP banned. IP ban is not such a practical method for a server administrator. There are better methods, and you will probably be caught up in them.
Your traffic is not encrypted or masked, everything is normal. So you only have another IP and that’s it. Websites and applications can see your location, your current IP and everything else.
Your behavior will still identify you: it’s pointless to have another IP if you do the same things. You log on to the same Facebook and Instagram accounts, browse the same links, basically doing the same stuff over and over again.
Proxy servers are an excellent method to unblock limited content on the web without getting noticed. It also enables you to navigate the web fully anonymously, so no one can identify what specifically you are visiting.
Now, you know what you can use instead of a proxy server. When should you use a proxy? The answer is simple: when you need confidentiality, pass over content restrictions, test features for web development and performance. The best proxy providers make all their efforts to prevent the user from being tracked and also help them to overcome censorship. Some of them use industry-leading algorithms to protect your data from hackers and corporations that are watching you while remaining inconspicuous.