HTTP vs SOCKS Proxies

Proxies differ from each other in many factors such as speed, security, effectiveness, and routing protocols. This is because not all proxies are created in the same way. Thus, they have different functionalities depending on their nature.

There are two main types of proxies: HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) and SOCKS (Secure Socket) proxies. In this post, we will break down the differences between HTTP and SOCKS proxies to make it easier for you to make a decision between the two.

HTTP Proxies

HTTP proxies are very popular and are the standard protocol on the web. These proxies are used everywhere on the web and are present along with the web address, for example, http://www.something.com. The HTTP protocol is the most common one and operates at a higher level from SOCKS proxies.

HTTP connections can easily interpret and understand the data that is being transferred between the client and the server. If you are scraping data, HTTP proxies will save you a lot of time as it can block irrelevant information from being downloaded into your scraper.

The functionality of HTTP proxies is based on a client-server relationship. The data is transferred after a connection is established between an HTTP server and an HTTP client. Usually, the HTTP client is the web browser that you use. It sends a request message when you type a web address in the browser. The request message then reaches the HTTP server and a respond message is sent, which is in the form of either a website or an error message. HTTP protocol, thus, makes it possible for images, text, videos, audios, and everything else to be visible on the web and viewed by the user. The HTTP proxy provides another layer over this client-server relationship and improves your security.

When you hear about public proxies, VPNs, or elite private proxies, they all use HTTP proxies as they are the most common. The main feature of HTTP proxies is that they work on only specific HTTP protocols and transport the information within that protocol, not other network connections. The HTTP traffic is, thus, routed through specific networks and can get past geographical restrictions.

SOCKS Proxies

SOCKS proxies operate at a lower level as compared to HTTP proxies, which means they are not as smart. Now, some people get confused here as they think that smarter proxies would obviously be better. However, when we talk about proxies, being smart can be considered a negative aspect. This is because most people use proxies to use the internet anonymously, but a smart proxy will not help you hide your identity. SOCKS proxies allow you to hide your IP address because they can’t understand or interpret the data transferred between the client and server.

Furthermore, SOCKS proxies can circumvent any geographical restrictions and work on different types of network protocols. In contrast, HTTP proxies can only work with HTTP protocols. As a result, SOCKS proxies are popular for uses that do not involve HTTP protocols. Thus, you can a SOCKS proxy for general use and for any application. It simply forms another layer for the client.

As SOCKS proxies are compatible with many different protocols, they have many different applications and are used by many programmers.

SOCKS proxies set up a TCP connection behind a firewall to provide added security or to get past geographical restrictions.

There are two versions of SOCKS proxies: SOCKS 4 and SOCKS 5. SOCKS 4 proxies support only TCP connections, while the SOCKS 5 proxies support both UDP and TCP connections. SOCKS 5 proxies also cover more applications as compared to the SOCKS 4 proxies and provide a higher level of security. That is not to say that SOCKS 4 does not offer any security at all. For the average user, SOCKS 4 will provide a very secure service. It is only for certain applications that a more secure network would be required, which is where SOCKS 5 comes in.

Differences Between HTTP and SOCKS Proxies

Now that you have understood the basic concepts involved with HTTP and SOCKS proxies, we will break down the features of each of them and compare them to each other to make the decision-making process easier for you. The main factors that are responsible for the functionality of these proxies are speed and security, which are discussed as follows:

Security

If we talk about security, HTTP proxies are not as secure as SOCKS proxies. Even if you are using the elite private proxies (which are the most high-end HTTP proxies), you will not get as much security as you will get with SOCKS proxies.

The main reason that makes HTTP proxies less secure as compared to SOCKS proxies is that they are smarter. Since HTTP proxies can easily read and understand the data, the anonymity of the user is not maintained and the IP address can be revealed. When we talk about proxies, the smarter and more intelligent one is, the less secure it is.

With HTTP proxies, the security issue arises when confidential data is being transferred between the client and server. This data can be revealed because of the ability of HTTP proxies to read the data. The data that the client is requesting from the server can be interpreted or, in other words, seen by the HTTP proxy.

The proxy doesn’t care whether the data is confidential or not; it treats all traffic the same and reads it. This could be a problem if you are doing anything illegal such as downloading movies without the consent of the maker. Your proxy can see that and reveal your IP address if the situation arises. This nature of HTTP proxies has even troubled many proxy providers because they can be responsible for their clients’ activities.

On the other hand, SOCKS proxies are more secure as they are not smart and can’t interpret the data shared between the client and server. Therefore, regardless of the information being passed between the client and server, the SOCKS proxy is unaware of it. This is because the SOCKS proxy uses a tunneling method for transferring data, which doesn’t allow the penetration of data. Through the SOCKS proxy, a direct request is made by the client and after authentication, the tunnel is opened for sharing the information.

The SOCKS proxy can’t access the information inside the tunnel when a TCP/IP connection is established because it is very secure. As a result, this connection delivers sheer transparency and the data can’t be accessed by the proxy.

Out of the two SOCKS versions, the SOCKS 5 proxy is more secure and supports UDP too. However, if you’re a basic user, you should know that both versions will work fine for you, as mentioned before.

Speed

When it comes to using the internet, most people are concerned about speed. If there is a middleman that is routing all the traffic or transferring the messages, there is always a slight drop in speed.

The HTTP proxies are the ideal middlemen, which is why the clients of HTTP proxies face a lot of speed drop issues. At the same time, HTTP proxies are the most popular, so different measures have been taken to tackle this issue.

HTTP proxies are further divided into three types, which have different levels of speed:

  • The public proxies are the ones that are available for free. This means that anyone can use them and as a result, many people are using these proxies at the same time. These proxies offer the lowest speed. Sometimes, there is no network available at all because of the number of users present. We do not recommend these proxies as you will get very slow or almost no speed and they are also not incredibly secure.
  • Then, there are shared private proxies that operate on the HTTP protocol. These are a good option because they have only a few people sharing the same network. Thus, there is a less drop in speed as compared to the public proxies. Most of the popular HTTP proxy service providers offer this option as it is very popular and available at a reasonable rate. The speed can decrease if other proxy-sharing people are using it for downloading or watching video at the same time as you. Similarly, you could get the full speed if you are the only one using the proxy at the time.
  • The elite private proxies are the fastest ones when it comes to HTTP proxies. These private proxies don’t slow down the internet speed at all, but it is expensive. The good speed is because there are no sharers of such proxies and you are the only one using it, but there can still be some speed issues if there is a problem with the middleman, that is, the proxy service provider.

HTTP proxy caching is also a process used by higher-end proxies. Such proxies make browsing and surfing on the web much faster and smoother. Due to HTTP proxy caching, texts, images, GIFs, and videos may show up faster and more smoothly.

Now, if we talk about SOCKS proxies, the speed will depend on your proxy service provider. There is a slight increase in speed as SOCKS proxies don’t require more coding to run, but that increase in speed is not too noticeable. If you want to download torrents or send huge content, you’ll feel that SOCKS proxies offer higher speed than HTTP proxies.

This is because of the use of the tunneling method for transferring data. It offers a smoother and faster way of sharing information. Hence, SOCKS proxies are preferred by most torrent downloading websites, but if you want to use the net for data scraping, HTTP proxies will be a good choice.

Difference of Ports for Proxies

After you have purchased a proxy according to your requirements, you’ll need to set it up on your system. To set up the proxy on your web browser, you’ll need to choose a port for it. The choice of port greatly impacts the performance of the proxies, but many people don’t understand this.

There are numerous ports inside the computer, so it is important to understand the choice of port for the proxy. You can access your ports using numbers and assign a proxy number to the port so that the proxy can access the information through that port.

The good thing about SOCKS proxies is that they can use any port on your system, while HTTP proxies can only use the 80 port and HTTPs proxies use 443. The default port is 1080. Thus, SOCKS proxies give you more freedom in this regard.

Type of Proxies Default Port
HTTP Proxies 80
HTTPS Proxies 443
SOCKS proxies 1080

Price of Different Proxies

Like speed, the price depends on the proxy provider. Even if you are using HTTP proxies, the price can vary greatly according to the provider. Some providers have a good reputation and are trusted by clients, so they are more expensive than others. There are some proxy providers that offer both SOCKS and HTTP proxies in their packages, so you can benefit from both. However, such packages can be expensive because of the value they offer.

There are only a few service providers that offer only SOCKS proxies, so you will have to get the more expensive combo plan if you want to use SOCKS proxies. Thus, using SOCKS proxies can be pricy.

Conclusion

HTTP and SOCKS are the two types of proxies used over the web, and both have different usage. With either of these proxies, you can use the internet anonymously and maintain privacy.

HTTP proxies are the most commonly used and are available at a good price. These proxies have a built-in encryption system that can interpret the data and reveal information. SOCKS proxies are more secure, and the SOCKS 5 version offers full UDP support too.

HTTP proxies are not designed for torrents, so SOCKS are the more preferred option for this purpose.

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