For any modern internet user, proxies are a must. These tools ensure anonymity and safety and offer better browsing performance. In a world where both big tech and cybercriminals are hunting for data, it’s essential that you know which proxy to have installed on your network.
Unfortunately, it can be very tricky to deal with proxies. They can be too technical to dabble into if you aren’t familiar with the terrain.
For starters, you must understand that there are different types of proxies. The different types are categorized based on various factors. When you’re looking to secure your network protocol, two proxies come to mind – SOCKS5 and HTTP(S).
Choosing between the two is a challenging task. In this article we will compare SOCKS5 Proxy vs. HTTP(S) and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each.
What are Proxy Servers, and How Do They Work?
Proxy servers are software or hardware devices that can be installed on a network, serving as an intermediary between computers on the network and the internet.
Fundamentally, proxies work by replacing the IP address of a user with another one from its pool. As such, if the internet request made by the user is ever traced, it can’t lead back to the source.
When users with proxies installed try to make an internet request, it first goes to the proxy server. There, the IP address (the digital identity of your computer) is replaced with another. Finally, the request, bearing a new IP address, arrives at its destination.
Similarly, the response from the destination site first goes to the proxy before returning to your computer. It’s for this reason that many call proxies gateways.
However, modern proxies improve browsing performance much more than forwarding internet requests. Sometimes, they can also act as a firewall or web filter.
All of this accounts for a safe internet experience, and these perks have become the minimum expectations for proxies.
Since we now understand the fundamental processes of how proxies work, let’s take a closer look at SOCKS5.
Features and Characteristics of SOCKS5 Proxies
As the name implies, a SOCKS5 proxy operates on the SOCKS5 communication protocol. This protocol allows users to establish a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) with another server right from behind a firewall. In layman’s terms, SOCKS5 provides for the transfer of data between a client and a server.
The peculiarities of SOCKS5 make it one of the most reliable types of proxy. Here are some features to note:
Support for multiple protocols
SOCKS can route any type of traffic, irrespective of the protocol from which it was generated. Even better, SOCKS works exceptionally well for protocols not designed to support proxy usage directly. Examples of this are the standard ports 1081 and 1080.
Ability to handle UDP traffic
The internet is now full of audio and video media files. Hence, being able to use a proxy for UDP traffic is essential. SOCKS makes that possible.
Use Cases for SOCKS5 Proxies
Here are some of the use cases of SOCKS proxies:
- Gaining remote access to sites
- VPN tunneling
- Anonymous Browsing
- Web scraping
- Peer-to-peer file sharing.
Comparing SOCKS5 and HTTP(S) Proxies
While we’ve seen the advantages of the SOCKS5 proxies, it’s only right to see how it stacks against HTTP(S).
Security and proxy levels
HTTP is a higher-level proxy, which operates at a higher internet security level, unlike the SOCKS5 proxy. HTTP proxy can also interpret the data shared between a client and a server. In this case, the data sensitivity doesn’t matter. SOCKS5 proxies, on the other hand, don’t interpret network traffic.
SOCKS is faster than HTTP, requiring less code to perform its functions. Furthermore, with SOCKS5, the UDP performance is even higher, as the runtime needed to convert data packets into a stream of fixed packets is drastically reduced.
On the other hand, HTTP relies significantly on the proxy’s public level. For instance, if you’re using a public HTTP proxy, you can expect it to be slower as more users are on it. Shared HTTP proxies are slightly faster, while private HTTP proxies have the highest speed of the three.
HTTP is limited in this case, as it only works with HTTP protocol. SOCKS, however, can work with several protocols and in various environments. It can also handle different types of traffic.
HTTP proxy servers only support the port 80 and 443 connections that come their way. SOCKS can, however, use both 1080 and 1081 ports, as well as other ports.
There is, however, a flip side to note, HTTP has support for more third-party tools than SOCKS. Since HTTP is the web’s primary protocol, it’s only natural that more devices have been developed for it.
HTTP proxies work on only one protocol but have several use cases. In contrast, the SOCKS5 proxy works with many protocols, but it is an improved version that has proven its innate simplicity.
There are always numerous options available when trying to configure your internet proxy. The one you choose depends on your needs. If you want a firewall, then go for a SOCKS5 proxy. HTTP(S) is your best proxy option if you need security and anonymity.