The Private Internet Access (PIA) proxy is a nice feature offered only by some VPNs. What is more, not only is it included in the price of the VPN, it protects your privacy much better than any “free proxy” you can find on the web. But is there any reason to use the Privacy Internet Access proxy when you have already bought a good VPN like PIA? Read on to find out.
How is the Private Internet Access proxy different from its VPN?
Some of you will have heard both about proxies and VPNs, but the difference between these two is not always immediately clear. For starters, both direct your internet traffic via a remote server, effectively hiding your real IP address. But this is (more or less) where their similarities end.
While the proxy server can be set up to work on your browser, torrenting, or streaming app, unlike the VPN, proxies never cover your entire internet connection. What is more, a proxy doesn’t necessarily offer any level of encryption, which usually depends on the site you’re connecting to. If the site has a valid TLS/SSL certificate (you will notice a green lock symbol or a green zone appear in your browser’s address bar), your traffic will be secured. If not, anything you send to the server, such as passwords or credit card details, could be intercepted by anyone who comes between your browser and the server you’re contacting.
Those who have already visited PIA’s website or read our PIA review might remember that their proxy is a so-called SOCKS5 proxy. Essentially, it’s a basic HTTP proxy that can route web traffic not only through your browser but also via other popular software, like torrent clients or Netflix. Again, using the SOCKS protocol doesn’t mean it covers all of your traffic. So is there any reason you should use the Private Internet Access proxy instead of a VPN?
When should you use a PIA proxy instead of a VPN?
While a VPN encrypts all of your traffic and offers much more than just hiding your IP address, there are certain cases when using a proxy is more beneficial, especially if it’s a SOCKS5 proxy.
First of all, VPN-based security comes at a price. All that elaborate encryption inevitably takes its toll on the connection speed. And because PIA’s speeds are pretty average, there will certainly be cases when you simply need more bandwidth. This is more likely to happen outside the US or Europe, where PIA has fewer servers, meaning those several servers on other continents can get overloaded. This is where a SOCKS5 proxy can help.
The Private Internet Access proxy works faster than the VPN, therefore you can use it when you only need to protect one particular app – your browser or torrent app, for example. While VPN is more secure due to its all-encompassing nature, the proxy may be especially good if you don’t have the best connection and need to conserve resources.
Since PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy masks your IP, it may be enough to access otherwise geo-restricted content. And if the NSA sees you streaming House of Cards Season 6, they will probably not mark you as a person looking to disrupt the US political landscape in the foreseeable future.
Last but not least, you might just want to access your country’s version of news portals and other websites while abroad. As funny as it may sound at first, seeing ads from your home country while away is another feature where using a proxy is enough. This might be important for parents who don’t want to miss special Christmas deals or for marketing people who need to monitor the competition.
Configuring your Private Internet Access proxy
If you’re happy with the speeds you get with Private Internet Access VPN, there’s probably no point in trying the proxy. But if you want to compare the two, just configure the latter using the instructions below.
First, you will need a new username and password to use PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy. It can easily be generated from the Client Control Panel by following these steps:
- Log in to the Client Control Panel on privateinternetaccess.com
- Find the Generate PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS5 Password section
- Click the Generate Password button
- Your Generated Password and Username starting with “x” will be displayed
- Go to proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com:1080 and connect to the PIA proxy
Note: The generated username and password should also be used for logging into PPTP and L2TP
Basically, there are two types of Private Internet Access customers. Those who know why they need a SOCKS5 proxy have probably installed it already. Others have hopefully learned something from this article.
To conclude, if your connection speed while using PIA is adequate, there’s no point in configuring a proxy. But if you need faster loading times or want access geo-blocked content while abroad, you might want to give it a try.
Have more questions about PIA’s proxy vs VPN? Having trouble connecting to the service? Hit us in the comments section below, and we’ll be more than glad to answer you.