Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Four Great Proxy Servers and VPNs (and When to Use Them)

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There are a lot of reasons someone might use a proxy server, like keeping a client
machine anonymous, logging usage, scan for malware, or to bypass security controls
that block certain sites (for when you really need Reddit at work). Proxy servers are an
intermediary between your computer and another server that anyone can set up and
use. A proxy server is like a stripped down version of a virtual private network (VPN).

Proxy servers are much simpler to configure, but they offer less protection for data.
VPNs can be slower than proxies because they encrypt all data coming through the
connection, whereas proxies only affect web traffic (that is, the internet as accessed
through a browser). Many companies that offer proxy servers also offer VPNs for
enterprise customers or people who have a strong need for encryption.


Astrill has services in 48 countries and works with just about every operating system.
Astrill allows users to set proxy settings up in their browsers (Internet Explorer,
Chrome, and Firefox). Their main service is actually a VPN, which is like a proxy, but
much more secure and limited to the machines on which it has been installed. Astrill
encrypts data and keeps it anonymous which is particularly useful for people working or


Hamachi offers a free, do it yourself proxy for those interested in learning how to configure their own network security. It is primarily used for limiting access to data
sent over an open Wi-Fi network or to bypass firewalls or filters. In order to set up
Hamachi, two computers (one to be the proxy server and one as the client) are required.
Hamachi is free as long as you don’t intend to use it for commercial purposes. It is easy
to configure and budding network geeks will have fun working with it.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is another service offering Web-based privacy protection.
It uses multiple security layers and VPN tunneling to make a secure connection.
Private Internet Access offers gateways in lots of countries and features gigabit VPN
port speeds. Its IP cloaking feature hides the computer’s real IP address, replacing it
with an anonymous one to create a private, undetectable connection. Private Internet
Access also offers 128bit encryption that is based on Microsoft MS-CHAP V2. Like the
other proxy servers, it provides advanced firewall features both in terms of maintaining
firewalls and circumventing the ones you don’t want in your way.


WiTopia is primarily a VPN provider, but it has a proxy service that is currently in
beta. The proxy service is faster than using a traditional VPN and is free for current
WiTopia VPN subscribers. Using the proxy server, a user’s location and IP address
becomes protected and anonymous to the server to which it is connected. It works for
all standard Web traffic (i.e. not VoIP or other non-browser internet-using applications;
that’s what VPN is for). WiTopia has built an auto-configure installer for users who want
to set up the proxy.


About Guest Author.

Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, where you can find tips on anything from
personal financial literacy to saving money with Oakland Airport parking.


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