Do you really have to buy SOCKS proxies to use with your application? Or can you just use HTTP proxies?
If you need the former, you should know that not many providers sell SOCKS proxies. Most of them focus on providing only HTTP proxies. And those that do sell SOCKS ones, do it as an alternative to their regular HTTP ones.
Here are the providers selling SOCKS proxies together with everything you need to know before buying this type of proxies for your project.
NOTE: Before continuing, I have to mention that many users try to use SOCKS for privacy. But, this is not how you should use them because they are not a privacy tool. Unlike virtual private networks (VPNs), which are a privacy tool, SOCKS don’t provide encryption. Hence, there is no encrypted tunnel created between you and the proxy server. And your ISP and local government can still monitor your Internet traffic.
What are SOCKS proxies?
They are proxy servers that can handle any type of Internet data and connection. Comparing to HTTP proxies that handle only browsing and HTTP/S traffic, SOCKS proxies can be used for all sorts of purposes like sending mail, transferring files, online video transfer, playing games, etc.
In addition, SOCKS5 (protocol’s latest version) supports also UDP transfers, so you can use Skype and other live-feed applications that require UDP transfer (gaming or streaming).
Basically, any software connected to the Internet that supports SOCKS connections and uses these proxies as a middle-man.
Where can you find SOCKS private proxies?
As mentioned, there are only a few proxy providers selling SOCKS ones. Before buying from them, make sure your app supports SOCKS connections.
Currently, the number of private SOCKS servers is limited, but it is expected to increase, especially with the adoption of other proxies and VPN servers.
Furthermore, if you need to use a lot of SOCKS proxies IPs, you can always mix your private ones with public SOCKS servers. But, don’t expect public ones to have the same performance level as private ones. And there’s only one reason for this: the number of users accessing public ones is higher than those accessing private ones. And if the private proxy server is dedicated, then the SOCKS proxy’s performance is all yours, because nobody else will be using the same IP address as you. Thus, mix your private ones with public ones to increase the number of IPs you use.
At the same time, you should make sure that you don’t want these proxies for security and privacy because as I mentioned, this is not a privacy tool. And in this case, if you need to enhance your privacy, you should look in VPNs. Because they might handle your traffic and replace your IP address with the server’s one, but SOCKS don’t encrypt the traffic passing between your device and the proxy server. This makes it easy for anybody located between you and the server to intercept and identify the traffic you generate.
Differences between HTTP and SOCKS proxies
First, you need to know that there are two issues with SOCKS:
- There are fewer SOCKS proxies (IPs) available online
- Not many apps support this type of connection
SOCKS is a protocol created to operate at a circuit level. When connecting to a server, your device creates a new connection similar to the physical connection to your ISP.
Another major difference is that HTTP servers forward your HTTP requests, performing the HTTP request for you. Whereas SOCKS proxies don’t interpret nor perform the request for you.
In other words, using SOCKS is like creating a direct network connection to the server, making your requests look as they originated from the proxy server.
From this difference springs the next one: privacy. Because HTTP servers can internet the requests on your behalf, they also can log and monitor all the traffic passing through them. Whereas SOCKS proxy servers don’t interpret traffic, thus they don’t know exactly what data passes through its server.
Another difference worth mentioning is that SOCKS proxies connect at a lower protocol level that HTTP ones. This allows them to bypass firewalls on networks where TCP connections are restricted.
What programs support SOCKS?
There aren’t many applications supporting SOCKS proxies, but here are few that do support it:
- Mozilla Firefox
How can I use SOCKS proxies?
You either do or don’t need socks proxies. This isn’t something similar to an HTTP proxy or VPN, where you might need one.
Actually, before considering buying SOCKS proxies (either SOCKS4 or SOCKS5) you should check if your apps support this protocol.
Moreover, SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 (the protocols available today) can be used with various tools that allow connection through them.
For example, Scrapebox allows SOCKS connections, as well as gaming platforms like Pokemon Go or Minecraft.
Furthermore, they are also heavily used for P2P downloading or torrenting. In this case, they aren’t used as a privacy tool (like a VPN), but they are used for bandwidth and speed, in cases where regular Internet connects throttle P2P bandwidth.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about SOCKS proxies
- Can I use free SOCKS proxy servers list?
Yes, you can. Actually, you might need to mix your private proxies with free public ones, because the number of private proxy providers and their IP ranges are limited.
- Is it safe to use SOCKS for torrenting?
It depends on what you are torrenting and from where. If torrenting is illegal in your country, then SOCKS proxies can’t really do much for your privacy. However, if torrenting and P2P downloads are allowed, then you should use SOCKS4 or SOCKS5 only for increasing your bandwidth and masking your real IP address for network peers. But don’t expect that SOCKS protocol will hide your torrenting traffic from your ISP or local government.
- How effective are private SOCKS proxies?
They can be very effective. Depends on what you are trying to achieve and how. Most often you might better off using regular HTTP proxies.