Proxy servers are among the most popular internet privacy tools in 2023. As fierce competitors to Virtual Private Networks (VPN), they take a simpler but more scalable approach to web anonymity, which is more useful and sustainable for large companies and other parties working on data-sensitive tasks.
With assistance from top proxy providers, modern businesses and freelancers use them for all sorts of tasks: data scraping, social media management, SEO research, and many more. To accustom to the evolving and ever-changing needs of clients, the best suppliers have diversified their package of services with different kinds of proxy servers.
In this guide, our goal is to provide a beginner-friendly introduction to the main types of intermediary servers on the market: HTTPS, SSL, and a SOCKS5 proxy. After a brief introduction to basic proxy functionality, we will address each of the main types with their unique features and strengths in specific use cases, including top providers that offer them. For example, Smartproxy is one of the best providers that offer a SOCKS5 proxy deal with datacenter, residential, and mobile SOCKS5 proxy with a massive proxy IP pool. For now, let's learn the core principles of these intermediary servers before comparing their unique enhancements.
Proxy server basics – how does it work?
To communicate with other people and devices over the internet, a digital device sends a connection request and data packets to a chosen target, usually a web server. Before leaving the local area network (LAN), also referred to as your home network, they receive a unique IP address from a designated Internet Service Provider (ISP). While a LAN IP can be changed at will if you are its administrator, the recipients of your connections are always seeing the public address provided by an ISP.
While this model certainly works, it is far from perfect. For example, if you get in trouble and your IP gets blacklisted, you can lose access to important pages or extended periods until you get assigned a new one. Still, even when an ISP leases out a new address, it will be tied to your approximate location. Because of that, your connection will not be able to access geo-blocked websites.
With an ingenious solution, proxy servers solve most of the problems that come with a direct connection. As the transmitted information leaves the LAN network and obtains a public IP, it gets directed to a proxy server that assigns a new identity of your choice. Most providers have intermediary servers all over the world, letting you pick any location that suits your needs and removing any access restrictions.
HTTPS, SSL, or SOCKS5 proxy?
As you can see, proxy servers can be very useful, but not perfect. While their strengths shine the brightest in working with scalable, data-sensitive tasks, some users are concerned about security weaknesses due to lack of encryption, which gravitates them towards the use of VPNs instead. HTTPS, SSL, and SOCKS5 proxies make the necessary adjustments while still giving you access to more servers than VPN networks. Let's compare these types to help you find the best one for your use cases.
HTTPS proxies use the secure version of the HTTP protocol, which includes encryption of data between you and the chosen proxy server. It eliminates a common concern for beginner proxy users, as they fear that suspicious third parties may steal their data while it is still in transit. HTTPS proxies are most often used to protect sensitive and risky connections, such as connections to banks, social media platforms, and other accounts that carry private data. This type is also common in networks of large companies, as it adds additional safety nets to stop the exploitation of workers by cybercriminals. HTTPS proxies are tailored for the protection of the usual web sessions on a browser of your choice.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) proxies also focus on protecting and encrypting your connection, but on a broader scale. While HTTPS proxies are focused on the average browsing session, SSL proxy servers use deeper cryptographic protocols that secure more connections between the client and a server, unlike the application-focused HTTPS protocol. It also encrypted communication via E-mail, P2P communication, messaging apps and other systems, not just the browsing sessions.
SOCKS5 proxies are a lightweight solution that reroutes your connection and masks your IP for games, messaging, and other types of communication, just like an SSL proxy. The key difference is the lack of encryption: for connections that do not benefit from extra protection, the loss of internet speed that comes with safeguarding the data packets is sometimes more disruptive than the exposure of data to third parties.
The proxy market in 2023 is full of strong and competent competitors that offer HTTPS, SSL, SOCKS5, and other types of proxies. By understanding their differences and the strengths they bring to the table, you can protect your connection in the best way possible with minimal loss of internet speed.