Difference between proxy and VPN according to our privacy detection

We recognize five types of IP privacy services for anonymous IP database:

  1. VPN
  2. Tor
  3. Proxy
  4. Relay
  5. Hosting / Bot / Data Center / Cloud

Our methodology and criteria for the five anonymous IP types are quite distinct; however, there is a bit of subtlety for VPN and proxy services. Our privacy detection data is based on behavior-based detection. We measure the entire internet, and in that process, we identify IP addresses that show the attributes of an anonymous IP address.

Proxy IP address example:

curl https:/ipinfo.io/$token | jq .privacy
  "vpn": false,
  "proxy": true, <---------
  "tor": false,
  "relay": false,
  "hosting": false,
  "service": ""

VPN IP address example:

curl https:/ipinfo.io/$token | jq .privacy
  "vpn": true, <---------
  "proxy": false,
  "tor": false,
  "relay": false,
  "hosting": true,
  "service": "TunnelBear"

With proxy and VPN IP addresses, we can not only discover traffic patterns but also identify the underlying protocols of these services. Moreover, with our service coverage data, we can pinpoint the anonymous IP service provider.

Proxy IP addresses differ from VPN IP addresses in the following ways:

  • Encryption: While VPN traffic is always encrypted, proxy traffic can be encrypted or unencrypted.
  • Protocols and software: Proxy services use HTTP or SOCKS protocols and often do not require dedicated software. For VPN services, dedicated software such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, IPsec, PPTP, etc., is available.
  • Functionality: A proxy usually routes only web browsing traffic, while a VPN can route all internet traffic through its servers.

Feel free to explore our IP to Privacy Detection data via the API or data downloads.