In this digital age, many internet users, both individual and corporate, use proxies daily. That’s because of their extraordinary abilities to hide one’s identity online, help them browse the web anonymously, and protect their privacy.
Because of their privacy and security features, proxies have become some of the most reliable and flexible tools for internet users. Since they cover a wide range of applications and come in various types, we’ll define what they are and explore available paid and free options and their pros and cons.
What are proxies?
The simplest and easiest way to describe a proxy would be to say it’s an intermediary or a gateway between you, the internet user, and the internet. Every time you attempt to visit a website, a proxy is in charge of establishing a safe and anonymous online communication with the web servers displaying the content you want to see.
A proxy picks up your request to the online server and reroutes it through its server, creating a safe connection and hiding both your location and IP address. It can even generate a new IP for every request.
Businesses use proxies to locate and extract data from any source on the web without any disturbances. At the same time, ordinary internet users rely on proxies to browse the web safely, privately, and anonymously.
Modern companies use many different proxies, depending on their current needs and goals. They most commonly use the following:
- HTTP proxies
- Anonymous proxies
- Residential proxies
- Datacenter proxies
- Private proxies
- Dedicated proxies
- Shared proxies
- Reverse proxies
- SOCKS5 proxies
Out of all these proxies, one type stands out high above the rest – a SOCKS5 proxy. It uses the SOCKS5 internet protocol, the latest version that allows it to perform actions that other proxies can’t. Aside from being incredibly flexible, secure, and fast, SOCKS5 proxies are designed to safely and reliably handle traffic-intensive tasks and gather vast amounts of data at minimum risk. They’re the only type that can establish many different connections, including TCP, TCS, and UDP.
Because of that, a SOCKS5 proxy is an excellent solution for enterprises looking to manage and control their entire incoming and outgoing data traffic securely.
The most common SOCKS5 use cases include:
- Bypassing geo-restrictions and circumventing blocks to unlock content for web scraping
- Keeping data safe with an additional security layer
- Securing traffic-sensitive tasks and data packages
- Streamlining communication
- Ensuring safe and secure UDP and TCP transfers
- Improving anonymity online
- Increasing efficiency on P2P platforms
Now that you have some basic idea of what proxies are and what they can do, let’s see how free and paid proxies differ and why the paid option is a much better idea.
While most internet users resort to using free proxies simply because they are free, you should refrain from making the same mistake. Free proxies can hide your IP and allow you to access content on restricted websites. However, that comes at a cost.
Here are the top five reasons why you should avoid free proxies and opt-in for a paid option:
- Many free proxy solutions don’t use HTTPS – Using proxies without an HTTPS connection poses a considerable security risk due to the lack of encryption. Without it, any third party could monitor the connection and track your data through the network.
- Free proxy providers could monitor your connection – Many providers offer free proxies in exchange for monitoring your activities and selling that data to advertisers.
- Free proxies pose security risks – A free proxy server may contain malware that could infect your device. In the best-case scenario, you’d have to deal with tons of ads. In the worst-case scenario, you’d have to deal with malware infections.
- Free proxies may even steal your cookies and hijack your identity online – Cookies store everything you do online. While that can be useful, it can also become a threat if it falls into the wrong hands. If someone steals your cookies, they could access your browsing history and even use it to impersonate you online.
- Free proxies offer fewer features than their paid counterparts – Compared to paid options, free proxies offer significantly fewer features and are typically very slow.
Paid and trustworthy proxies, such as the ones provided by Oxylabs, don’t have any of these problems and offer better security, higher reliability, increased speed, anonymity, and much better support and maintenance than free options.
You won’t have to worry about any third parties monitoring your data if you use a paid proxy. More importantly, paid options are available exclusively to you. You can use them to unblock content in any location as they offer flexible geo-targeting features and a pool of whitelisted IP addresses.
Proxies are handy tools for both individual internet users and businesses. With your data and online security at stake, you need a top-notch solution that can protect your identity and data online and allow you to go about your business. Paid proxy solutions can offer all that and more.