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I came across an article at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081127175551AAQvL01 however am unsure how a VPN operates when using a service such as HideMyAss and if there is a difference?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

a VPN is essentially a tunnel; if you VPN into a remote system, all your traffic goes via that system, so it is as if you were actually there, plugged directly into it (minus the bandwidth and latency of course) - a VPN will typically be exposed at the OS level as a virtual interface and all applications running on the system will operate through it transparently.

A proxy on the other hand will generally only act as a relay for a specific protocol such as HTTP/HTTPS and is something you usually need to configure at the application level; so whilst you could configure say... Firefox to use a proxy for HTTP, another browser on the system won't automatically start using it (unless it has a shared config)

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Thanks Olipro. Correct me if I am wrong in understanding what you said. So if I were to use VPN I am essentially accessing a remote server securely (not sure if the type of encryption matters e.g. 128 bit, 256, etc). This connection is made via a virtual interface on the the computer I used to access the remote server. All the applications on the former will then access all services on the remote server transparently. Is that correct? –  PeanutsMonkey Jul 21 '11 at 7:53
    
If I am using a proxy essentially any request I am making e.g. HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, etc is routed via a proxy server i.e. I connect to the proxy server and the proxy server makes send the request to the appropriate server with the IP address of the proxy server. Is that correct? –  PeanutsMonkey Jul 21 '11 at 7:55
    
Now assuming I have understood you correctly, what is a VPN Proxy? I have seen the term thrown around a fair bit. –  PeanutsMonkey Jul 21 '11 at 7:56
    
just as it sounds, a proxy for vpn connections. You can proxy the vpn traffic to a vpn endpoint. –  Sirex Jul 21 '11 at 8:48
    
a VPN Proxy is more often than not an erroneously used term; it usually just means "A VPN". If you are using a proxy, then whatever program on your computer is configured to use it will use it, this is the key difference; once you connect to a VPN server EVERYTHING is transparently routed through it. –  Olipro Jul 21 '11 at 10:02
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