Online anonymity and security are two things that you never want to take lightly. They’re critical as they allow you to keep your sensitive data private and protected while giving you virtually unrestricted access to all the wonders of the world wide web.
Although there’s never such a thing as complete anonymity (nor complete security, depending on your online behavior) on the internet, you can get pretty close to it with the right services – namely SOCKS5 proxy and VPN services.
Both promise safe gateways between you and the internet, but does that mean they’re the same? Read on to discover the differences and similarities between SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs, and learn which is the better choice for you.
Everything you should know about SOCKS5 proxies
As you’re well aware, when you visit any website, your device communicates directly with that website’s servers. The servers can identify who you are based on your IP address, cookies, hardware and software particularities, and more.
If you want to avoid being identified by the servers, you can use middleman services such as proxies. Now, there are a couple of different types of proxies, mainly HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies.
Short for Socket Secure, SOCKS5 proxies are the latest version of internet protocol that establishes either a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or a User Data Protocol (USP) connection with servers and keeps your information safe behind a firewall.
How they work
With a SOCKS5 proxy, instead of your computer communicating directly with a website, it sends a request for information to the proxy server. Then, the proxy makes the information request on your behalf, keeping your data behind a firewall and giving the site’s servers an arbitrary IP address instead of your own. Finally, it relays the site’s response back to you.
Since it mainly uses a TCP instead of a UDP, the SOCKS5 proxy can ensure a reliable data transfer. The TCP requires that all the communicating devices (aka the client and the server) first establish a connection before the data transfer can begin. UDP has no such requirements, making data transfers less reliable.
Once the SOCKS5 proxy establishes the connection, it transmits your information request, fetches the server’s response, and relays it back to you.
How are they different?
SOCKS5 proxies have many similarities with their HTTP counterparts but some crucial differences, as well.
They both work in the same way, acting as the middleman between the client and the server, protecting the client’s information. However, HTTP proxies only work with HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). SOCKS5, on the other hand, works with countless different protocols, including HTTP, FTP, POP, and SMTP.
Another significant difference is the connection type. Whereas SOCKS5 proxies prioritize establishing TCP connections, as mentioned, HTTP proxies only use UDP. The TCP connection allows SOCKS5 to bypass server firewalls and unlock access to restricted content.
Benefits of SOCKS5 proxies
SOCKS5 proxies boast several unique benefits, allowing you to:
- Bypass blacklists and internet blocks:
If a website blacklists your IP address, you can use SOCKS5 proxies to easily bypass the block and access your chosen content.
- Go around geo-restrictions:
If you want to access websites that are only available in certain countries (and not your own), you can use SOCKS5 proxies to gain access to geo-restricted content.
- Get a faster connection:
Since both TCP and UDP connections can be made, these proxies can quickly establish a connection and allow you to transfer data safely.
- Avoid program restraints:
Considering that SOCKS5 is a layer 5 protocol, it has few limitations on the programs and protocols you can use.
SOCKS5 proxies have an abundance of uses for both individuals and organizations. First and foremost, they’re used for enhancing privacy and security. These proxy servers conceal your information behind powerful firewalls and assign you a random IP address that keeps your physical location a secret.
Many organizations prefer to use SOCKS5 proxies to enhance their web scraping efforts. Considering that many servers will ban IPs that consistently pull information from a website, a proxy with new, arbitrary IPs for every connection will easily bypass this restriction.
Perhaps most commonly, however, a SOCKS5 proxy is used for improving P2P performance. It allows safe data transfers at incredible speeds, offering a secure connection to anyone using P2P sharing sites.
Everything to know about VPNs
Like proxies, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) act as intermediaries between clients and servers. However, they’re primarily designed as a private tunnel between you and the internet, preventing any prying eyes from seeing or intercepting your connection.
How they work
VPNs work by redirecting your network connection through remote servers and hiding your IP address, making the VPN host the source of your data. Instead of simply giving you a new IP address, they route your entire connection and traffic, keeping your data hidden even from your Internet Service Provider.
However, routing isn’t everything they do. In the process, they also encrypt and scramble your data, making it virtually impossible for anyone to decipher it. That allows you to safely connect to any public network without worrying about prying eyes – few will even notice your connection, let alone intercept it.
Benefits of using a VPN
VPNs boast some of the benefits of proxies, allowing you to bypass blacklists and internet blocks and go around geo-restrictions. However, they also keep you safe from DDoS attacks and secure your connection, turning any old, unsafe connection into a private one.
They offer a layer of anonymity you won’t find elsewhere. As long as you’re using a reliable VPN service with a no-logs policy, you can enjoy browsing the net under an almost impenetrable veil of anonymity.
SOCKS5 proxy vs. VPN
While SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs have some similar features, they aren’t identical.
SOCKS5 proxies simply provide you with an arbitrary IP address when connecting you with a site’s server. Your ISP can still see what you’re doing, and your data isn’t encrypted like it is with VPNs.
Still, the encryption and the connection routing that comes with VPNs also means that you’ll experience much slower traffic. That’s where proxies take the cake. If you want to gain access to restricted content and enjoy data transfers at unprecedented speeds, SOCKS5 proxies are the way to go.
A VPN provides an advanced service that keeps you anonymous and protected. However, there are rarely any instances where you’ll need such high levels of anonymity. For a vast majority of internet users, a good SOCKS5 proxy is more than enough to unlock access to the desired content at impressive speeds.