HTTP Proxy vs. SOCKS Proxy Comparison

HTTP Proxy vs. SOCKS ProxyHTTP 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.

important info

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 Proxies

HTTP Proxy vs. SOCKS Proxy
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.


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.

URLsURLs start with http://URLs start with https://
Domain Name ValidationHTTP websites don’t need SSLHTTPS websites require SSL certificate
PortPort 80 by defaultPort 443 by default
EncryptionDoesn’t encrypt trafficEncrypts traffic
SecurityLess secureHighly secure
ProtocolOperates at TCP/IP level.No separate protocol. Operates using HTTP alongside an encrypted TLS/SSL connection
Search RankingsDoesn’t improve rankingsImproves rankings

Advantages and Disadvantages of HTTP/HTTPS Proxies

HTTP, and HTTPS proxies have advantages and disadvantages, as discussed below.


1. Flexibility
HTTP proxies offer excellent flexibility. They can be implemented with other protocols or networks and allow cross-platform porting. If an application requires some functionalities, HTTPS can automatically download plugins and extensions to facilitate the display of the required data.
2. Compatibility
HTTP proxies are very versatile. They work with a wide range of 3rd party tools. On the other hand, the compatibility of SOCKS proxies is limited despite their ability to operate in varied environments and handle all kinds of traffic.
3. Excellent Performance
HTTPS has an advanced addressing scheme that assigns IP addresses with specific names instead of a series of numbers for easy identification on the World Wide Web. HTTP proxies also have low latency, as handshaking procedures run only when a connection is established. Accessing content is also easier as HTTPS pages are stored inside internet caches, so pages load faster during the second visit.
4. Security
Even though HTTPS proxies don’t have any authentication mechanism and can read your data, they are still secure as they encrypt all your traffic. So, you don’t have to worry about your data getting into the hands of prying eyes. Besides, files are downloaded from independent connections that close after each session. This reduces the chances of interception significantly.
5. Data Interpretation
HTTPS proxies can interpret data. You can filter or restrict specific content, making HTTPS the best proxy for web scraping, as you can separate relevant from irrelevant data.


1. Compromised Data Integrity
HTTP proxies do read your data; something SOCKS proxies don’t. The fact that the proxy can read your data should raise eyebrows despite the encryption. Besides, there is no authentication mechanism.
2. Slower Speeds
HTTP and HTTPS are slower compared to SOCKS proxies. This is because they only support TCP, while SOSKS proxies support TCP and UDP. It’s worth mentioning that UDP offers relatively faster speeds.

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

SOCKS Proxies

SOCKS Proxies
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.


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.

ConsiderationHTTP/HTTPS ProxiesSOCKS Proxies
ApplicationsIdeal 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.
IntegrationIs versatile enough to work with a range of 3rd party toolsThe number of 3rd party tools it can work with is limited
FunctionalityHTTP/HTTPS proxies only work with HTTP protocol to retrieve information from web browsers and operate on a higher level than SOCKS proxiesSOCKS proxies don't use the HTTP protocol. It can work under different environments, including HTTP/HTTPS, SMTP POP3, and FTP
CompatibilityPort 80 connections (HTTP) and port 443 connections (HTTPS SSL)Port 1080 (SOCKS4) connections and 1081 connections (SOCKS5)
EncryptionEncrypts dataNo data encryption
AuthenticationNo authentication mechanismSupports multiple authentication mechanisms
Security and PrivacyData integrity can be compromised as HTTP can read and record dataHigh levels of security and privacy as SOCKS doesn’t read data, it only sends and receives
PerformanceOffers 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 RankingsDoesn’t improve rankingsImproves rankings

How to Select the Right Proxy

Now, how do you identify a proxy that fits the bill? Below are the crucial considerations

1. Type of Data
Consider the type of data you want to work with, bearing in mind that HTTP proxies can handle only HTTP and HTTPS, so you can’t use them to handle data over UDP, POP3, and other non-HTTP networks. But with SOCKS proxies, you can handle all kinds of data.
2. Compatibility
Next, understand the compatibility of the two proxies. HTTP proxies are limited to HTTP data but are compatible with a wide range of 3rd party tools. On the other hand, SOCKS proxies allow you to connect to any network as they support both UDP and TCP but work with a limited number of 3rd party tools.
3. Security and Privacy
It’s also important to prioritize security and privacy. HTTP proxies read your data, so privacy is not guaranteed. However, the good thing is that they encrypt your traffic for security. As for SOCKS proxies, they offer solid privacy as they only send and receive data. They can’t read data. While they don’t encrypt traffic, they support several authentication technologies.
4. Speed
If you are into tasks requiring speed, SOCKS proxies will be the best as they are faster. On the other hand, HTTP proxies are slower as they rely on TCP connections only.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use a SOCKS proxy for HTTP?

Yes. While HTTP proxies can handle HTTP and HTTPS traffic only, SOCKS proxies are versatile. They can process a range of protocols, including HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, POP3, and FTP.

2. Can ISP see SOCKS5?

Yes. SOCKS proxies may mask your IP address for anonymity, but your ISP can still see your activity as SOCKS proxies only encrypt data between the proxy server and client.

3. Is SOCKS5 or HTTP better?

It’s hard to call a winner as both proxies have advantages and disadvantages. They have also been designed for different applications, so it’s important to narrow down to your needs when deciding which option is best for you.

4. How do I know if my proxy is HTTP or SOCKS?

The surest way to check what type of proxy is active is by checking the open ports. SOCKS proxies use port 1080 or 1081, while HTTP proxies use port 80 or 443.

5. Should you use SOCKS5 with a VPN?

Yes. You can use a VPN alongside a SOCKS proxy for added security. However, there’s a catch. Routing traffic multiple times will definitely drop speeds further.

Wrapping Up

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.