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There is more of a difference in terms of what you can do about the judgment. A default judgment might be able to be vacated if you have a good reason for missing the court date and a viable defense.
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The rule in New York is that cases should be decided on the merits, i.e. on the facts and legal issues raised. There is no difference between a judgment on the merits and a judgment by default in terms of collection (if you act quickly), but as a prior attorney's answer observed there is a much greater chance that a default judgment will be vacated (thrown out) precisely because it is not a judgment on the merits.