What is Socks Proxy? Is it Better Than a VPN?
By Nancy William 10 minutes
Few people know what a Socks Proxy is or how you use it. To summarize its definition, a SOCKS proxy is a network protocol that creates a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connection with another server. This connection is created on behalf of the client, conducted behind the Firewall, where exchanges of network packets are induced between the actual server and the client. Some VPNs offer a Socks proxy service, and even though it hides your IP address, there is no actual security protection.
This guide will briefly highlight the basics of a SOCKS Proxy, its uses or benefits, whether it’s better than a VPN, and more.
What is SOCKS
SOCKS stands for Socket Secure. It is a network protocol that creates a safe path for communication with servers through a firewall. Once facilitated, it routes all online traffic to the actual server. This is done on behalf of a client. In short, SOCKS is created to route all network traffic initiated by any protocol.
A Socks proxy creates TCP connections to other servers behind the firewall, exchanging network packets. Speaking of a SOCKS proxy, the SOCKs5 is the latest socks proxy version that replaced SOCKS4.
A proxy server is designed to give you unrestricted access to the internet, which is sometimes blocked due to geo-restrictions. Proxies intercept your request, deliver the data packets to their destination, then return the requested action to you, such as opening a webpage. SOCKS stands alongside HTTP and HTTPS proxies, but it’s slightly more flexible than the latter.
HTTP (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol) is a protocol for web communication. The webpage you currently view is an example of HTTP communication. HTTPS – on the other hand – is a secure version of HTTP. It encrypts communications and relies on authentication for a secure connection. SOCKS is flexible in its inherent ability to work with web pages and other protocols, such as POP3, which is used for e-mails.
It works on Layer 5 (Session Layer) on the OSI Model. The OSI Model conceptualizes different levels of network communication, from the application to the hardware. SOCKS can bypass firewalls which HTTP cannot.
What is a SOCKS5 Proxy?
If you know what a proxy is and what it does, then a SOCKS5 proxy is a secure and more reliable alternative to it. It creates a space to protect your online traffic within a source. For instance, an application.
Once you use a SOCKS 5 Proxy, the remote server through which all data packets are routed allows you to change an IP address associated with them. This makes it look like you’re physically in another country.
If we talk about SOCKS5, it’s currently the optimized and latest SOCKS protocol. It’s an internet protocol that routes all web traffic through its remote proxy server. It’s built on the foundation of the previous versions of the SOCKS protocol but stronger – adding extra layers of advanced security. It even utilizes multiple authentication methods, where only particular users with authorization can access these SOCKS5 proxy servers.
SOCKs5 uses Secure Shell Host (SSH) on either a TCP or UDP connection to relay traffic. The addition of UDP allows for faster performance. You can learn about TCP and UDP in our blog here.
A SOCKS5 proxy is an alternative to a VPN, protecting web traffic within a particular app or website. While using the SOCKS5 proxy, all data packets are routed through a remote proxy server, changing your IP address, and then passed to the final point.
However, even though a SOCKS5 proxy is helpful, it cannot be compared to a VPN. VPNs are much more secure and come with encryption. We will get to the differences later on.
What are the Benefits of SOCKS Proxy?
You now know what a SOCKS Proxy is, but in case you’re not sure what it does or how it helps, here are some of its benefits:
Many websites are geo-restricted in most countries, while others are censored. Alternatively, there are websites that also blacklist your IP address, limiting your access to the sites. This is where a SOCKS proxy can help. It routes all your traffic through the SOCKS5 proxy, hiding your real IP address and allowing you to curb the block. However, there is only a limit to how many blocked websites you get access to since the SOCKS proxy does not work the same as a VPN.
The SOCKS5 proxy servers utilize UDP protocol, which best ensures a smooth, secure, and stable connection. and efficient performance. Unlike TCP, which ensures all content runs in a standard format, UDP does not transfer packets in the same order. Secondly, a Socks Proxy does not come with encryption, which means less loading time and data transfer.
Built for All Kinds of Data Traffic
Most proxies take care of a specific kind of data; however, SOCKS5 proxies are designed to handle all kinds of protocols, not just a specific one, like HTTP proxies. This makes the SOCKS5 proxy more versatile and convenient.
Better Performance and Limited Errors
Compared to other proxies, the SOCKS5 proxy does not re-write any data packet headers. In short, it leaves less room for error, meaning the proxy is unlikely to misinterpret your data and routes it to the correct location. It is why the SOCKS5 proxy is far more recommended than other proxies, ensuring better and more accurate performance.
More Compatible with P2P Platforms
Because the SOCKS5 proxy transfers smaller data packets, it makes it faster. This makes it adequate for faster downloads on P2P platforms. It’s why most users often utilize proxies for torrenting. However, a socks proxy is not a good idea considering that torrenting platforms are susceptible to cyberattacks. This is because proxies don’t come with encryption.
How to use a SOCKS5 proxy on Windows 10
- Go to “Control Panel” and then click on “Internet Options.”
- Head to the “Connections” tab.
- Click on “LAN settings.”
- Enable “Use a proxy server for your LAN.”
- Now, enable “Bypass proxy server for local addresses.”
- Click on “Advanced.”
- Disable the “Use the same proxy server for all protocols” option.
- On the “Socks” tab, enter in the socks proxy server address and port of the SOCKS5 proxy.
- Clear out the “HTTP,” “Secure,” and “FTP” tabs completely.
- Click on “OK” and then “Apply.”
Setting up a SOCKS proxy on your Windows 10 is easy, but ensure you know the risks! We still recommend using FastestVPN and connecting to its secure and private servers. Plus, its encryption will protect your connection, which is something a proxy cannot do.
How is SOCKS5 Different from a VPN?
A SOCKS5 proxy and VPN will both route your internet traffic through its server and then to the final destination. However, even though users might think using a socks proxy server is a good idea, it’s not safer than a VPN and comes with certain risks.
The difference comes down to core functionalities. A proxy server does not provide the kind of encryption compared to a VPN. For instance, FastestVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure your connection. This way, your data, and device are both secure, which is something a Socks Proxy does not offer. It’s an encryption standard that security experts around the world trust. What it means for you is impenetrable security that’s not susceptible to external threats.
Compared to a VPN, the SOCKS5 proxy doesn’t have many features – something a provider like FastestVPN offers. Features such as a Kill Switch, Anti-Malware Protection, Ad-Blocker, multi-logins, and the ability to choose from a sizable global network of VPN servers are standard across all FastestVPN packages.
Yes, the socks proxy is faster than VPN because it does not have encryption. But would you rather have stable speeds and tight security with a VPN than be open to cyber threats with a proxy?
When you connect to a Socks Proxy, it handles your traffic, meaning they can see what websites you visit. Your internet activities can potentially get logged and sold to advertisers for marketing purposes.
Running a server 24/7 requires money, and if proxy services are not charging you to use the server, you can bet they are selling your data.
Unless you trust the proxy service, we highly recommend using a VPN to bypass restrictions and for anonymity. FastestVPN follows a strict no-logs policy, so your browsing history will remain confidential.
Socks5 vs VPN – Is a Socks Proxy Better Than VPN?
There will always be a feud between “Socks5 vs. Proxy,” but the short answer is that a VPN is better than Socks Proxy. Even though a Socks Proxy and VPN hide your IP address, VPNs are better in every aspect.
However, again, it highly depends on your VPN provider. A VPN comes with encryption that secures your network connection. It is to ensure that no one spies on your online activities. VPNs come with global servers you can connect with to change your IP address; proxies do not offer servers.
This means you won’t be able to change your IP address to the location you want using a socks proxy, which is something a VPN does offer. Where speeds matter, the socks proxy is faster, only because there is no encryption. So, if speeds with detection are what you’re looking for, then the socks5 proxy will work.
A VPN is much easier to use, considering all you need to do is download the VPN app and connect to the best server. On the other hand, a proxy needs to be manually configured and used, which is not easy for everyone.
SOCKS4 vs SOCKS5 – What’s the difference?
If we talk about the Socks proxy, there are only two versions of it – SOCKS4 and SOCKS5. However, there are quite distinct differences between the two.
For starters, the SOCKS5 proxy is much safer to use. It’s because SOCKS5 supports various authentication methods, whereas SOCKS4 does not. We’ve also mentioned that the SOCKS5 proxy supports both UDP and TCP connections, while the SOCKS4 proxy only supports TCP.
Generally, this is why SOCKS5 is considered as much more secure – offering multiple authentication methods and utilizing the Secure Shell (SSH) encrypted tunneling method, it transfers data. The SOCKS5 proxy with SSH tunneling methods offers many advantages, like better performance, no extra setups, and more!
FAQs - Socks Proxy
Is there a difference between SOCKS and SOCKS5?
Socks is an internet protocol, and SOCKS5 is its latest edition. However, unlike the older versions, the SOCKS5 proxy utilizes UDP and TCP protocols for better connectivity, security, and performance.
What does SOCKS stand for?
SOCKS stands for Socket Secure. It is a networking protocol that starts the communication between servers through a firewall. This way, it routes all network traffic to the real server on the client’s behalf. The difference between SOCKS and other proxies is that socks5 routes all traffic from any protocol.
Is SOCKS5 better than a VPN for torrenting?
Usually, SOCKS5 is better for torrenting because of the faster download speeds it gives due to the lack of encryption. However, torrenting or P2P platforms provide download links that are malicious or violate copyright laws. For this, only a VPN can secure your connection. Even though a VPN is highly recommended for torrenting, it depends on what you want to use.
How does a SOCKS proxy work?
When you connect with a SOCKS proxy, your internet traffic is routed through its proxy server with a TCP connection. This way, your IP address is hidden when you try to access geo-restricted content.
Is SOCKS5 safe for torrenting?
If you’re looking at multiple proxies for torrenting, then the SOCKS5 proxy is the safest. It not only is the only proxy supported by BitTorrent clients but regulates routing with TCP and UDP, which SOCKS4 and older models do not support.
How secure is SOCKS5?
SOCKS5 is more securer than the other socks proxies, but it is not safer than a VPN. It might hide your IP address and give you faster download speeds, but it cannot offer online protection. A VPN is the safest option to use, with encryption and other security features that preserve your online anonymity.
How do you use SOCKS Proxy on Mac?
First, go to the “System Preferences” on your Mac and navigate to “Network” > “Advanced.” Next, locate and click on the “Proxies” tab. From the protocol list, tick the “SOCKS Proxy” box and input your SOCKS Proxy server. Click on “OK” when finished. You’ve now enabled the SOCKS proxy on macOS.
Is SOCKS better than a VPN?
No, SOCKS5 is not better than a VPN. It is not as secure and does not offer servers you can choose and connect with. Also, SOCKS5 does not secure your devices and data or keep you anonymous.
Can I use socks proxy over VPN?
No, you cannot. There is no option to connect to a VPN and a SOCKS5 proxy. And, even if there is, it is never recommended. The speeds will drastically slow down. This is why you should use the best VPN for more significant purposes rather than a proxy. FastestVPN is the best and most affordable VPN that secures your device and your data and works on both streaming and P2P platforms.
A SOCKS proxy, in short, is a network protocol that routes your data but without encryption. The latest version of it is the SOCKS5 proxy, which allows users to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions.
It’s lightweight and sits at layer 5 of the OSI model; the speeds are faster when compared to a VPN; however, a privacy tool needs to do more! It should be able to keep you cloaked when the connection to the server drops by suspending your internet connection, which is something FastestVPN does.