HTTP Proxy vs. SOCKS Proxy Comparison
HTTP proxy vs. SOCKS proxy – what’s the difference? HTTP and SOCKS are internet protocols that proxies deploy to receive and forward connection requests. Both offer anonymity and facilitate access to geo-restricted content. While they are pretty similar, profound differences set them apart.
The difference between HTTP proxies and SOCKS proxies is the functionality, compatibility, speed, security, and privacy. HTTP proxies use the TCP protocol, are compatible with dozens of tools, handle HTTP-based requests only, and offer excellent security as they encrypt your data.
On the other hand, SOCKS proxies support TCP and UDP protocols, are faster and can handle HTTP/HTTPS requests, POP3, FTP, and even SMTP.
What is a Proxy?
A proxy in computer networking is a computer or software that acts as an intermediary between an endpoint device, for example, a PC or mobile device, and a server from which a user is requesting a resource. A proxy server retrieves data from the internet resource on behalf of the user.
Proxy servers offer security and anonymity, and besides, they enhance functionality by caching data, thus speeding up common requests. There are also proxy servers that act like firewalls and web filters.
It’s important to note that proxies are different from VPNs. While they hide your IP address, proxies work with just a single app or service, while a VPN secures and encrypts all your traffic.
Today, there are different types of proxies, but HTTP and SOCKS are the most popular. So, what’s the deal with these two proxies?
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is an app or program that transfers data such as text, images, audio, and video between clients and web servers. On the other hand, an HTTP Proxy is an intermediary that receives and forwards requests between client machines and web browsers.
HTTP vs. HTTPS
Now, there are two variants of HTTP Proxies; HTTP and HTTPS. So, what’s the difference? The major feature that sets the two apart is security.
HTTP lacks any security mechanism to encrypt data. It transfers data in plain text. That’s why it is less secure. It also operates at the application layer and operates on port 80 for data communication. Regarding speed, it is faster that HTTPS.
On the other hand, Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) offers SSL or TLS Digital Certificates to secure the communication channel between the server and client. It transfers data in cipher text. It operates on the Transport Layer and uses port 443 for data communication. As for speed, HTTPS is a bit slower as it takes up more computation power to encrypt the communication channel.
The table below explains in detail the difference between the two HTTP proxies.
|URLs||URLs start with http://||URLs start with https://|
|Domain Name Validation||HTTP websites don’t need SSL||HTTPS websites require SSL certificate|
|Port||Port 80 by default||Port 443 by default|
|Encryption||Doesn’t encrypt traffic||Encrypts traffic|
|Security||Less secure||Highly secure|
|Protocol||Operates at TCP/IP level.||No separate protocol. Operates using HTTP alongside an encrypted TLS/SSL connection|
|Search Rankings||Doesn’t improve rankings||Improves rankings|
Advantages and Disadvantages of HTTP/HTTPS Proxies
HTTP, and HTTPS proxies have advantages and disadvantages, as discussed below.
Use Cases of HTTP/HTTPS Proxies
- Logging web visitors and traffic monitoring
- Restricting access to particular content or filtering out specific texts
- Email protection and cybersecurity projects
- Web scraping and data mining
- Automation with 3rd party tools
- Content streaming
Also known as SOCKet Secure, SOCKS is an advanced proxy that works by routing network traffic via a firewall where requests can be routed securely. SOCKS proxies are tailored for programs that don’t support the use of a proxy directly. SOCKS uses Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) which is responsible for sending and receiving data packets and guaranteeing safe delivery over networks. The latest SOCKS, SOCKS5 Proxy, also uses User Datagram Protocol (UDP) for faster speeds. This makes it the best proxy for traffic-intensive P2P activity and streaming applications.
SOCKS4 vs. SOCKS5
Over the years, SOCKS proxies have evolved. The two popular variants are SOCKS4 and SOCKS5.
SOCKS4 proxy, popularized as SOCKS, is an older proxy that works with TCP only and doesn’t implement SSH tunneling methodology making it less secure. It also has no authentication and doesn’t support remote DNS queries.
On the other hand, SOCKS5 proxy is the latest SOCKS version and comes with several extras. First, it is more secure as it’s the variant that supports authentication. It also works with both TCP and UDP protocols with UDP making it faster. Finally, SOCKS5 proxy also supports remote DNS queries.
Below is a table that shows the differences between the two SOCKS proxies.
|Consideration||HTTP/HTTPS Proxies||SOCKS Proxies|
|Applications||Ideal for caching content, filtering or restricting content, and data collection via web browsers.||A lower-level proxy suitable for general purposes such as streaming, P2P activity, and other traffic-intensive tasks.|
|Integration||Is versatile enough to work with a range of 3rd party tools||The number of 3rd party tools it can work with is limited|
|Functionality||HTTP/HTTPS proxies only work with HTTP protocol to retrieve information from web browsers and operate on a higher level than SOCKS proxies||SOCKS proxies don't use the HTTP protocol. It can work under different environments, including HTTP/HTTPS, SMTP POP3, and FTP|
|Compatibility||Port 80 connections (HTTP) and port 443 connections (HTTPS SSL)||Port 1080 (SOCKS4) connections and 1081 connections (SOCKS5)|
|Encryption||Encrypts data||No data encryption|
|Authentication||No authentication mechanism||Supports multiple authentication mechanisms|
|Security and Privacy||Data integrity can be compromised as HTTP can read and record data||High levels of security and privacy as SOCKS doesn’t read data, it only sends and receives|
|Performance||Offers relatively fast speeds but can’t match SOCKS proxies. They are ideal for tasks that demand more requests per second.||Offers lightning-fast speeds courtesy of UDP support and the fact that there is less code to run|
|Search Rankings||Doesn’t improve rankings||Improves rankings|
How to Select the Right Proxy
Now, how do you identify a proxy that fits the bill? Below are the crucial considerations
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I use a SOCKS proxy for HTTP?
2. Can ISP see SOCKS5?
3. Is SOCKS5 or HTTP better?
4. How do I know if my proxy is HTTP or SOCKS?
5. Should you use SOCKS5 with a VPN?
That’s the end of this HTTP proxy vs. SOCKS proxy comparison review. As you have seen, both proxies have advantages and disadvantages and are designed for different applications. That said, there is no better proxy than the other. But there are a few takeaways. Go for HTTP proxies if you want security, but if you are into applications that require speed, SOCKS will be the best.