SOCKS proxy versus HTTP proxy

There are several types of proxy servers. Each type of proxy is designed to solve its range of tasks, but they have much in common, their capabilities largely coincide. The most used types are HTTP proxy and SOCKS proxy.

HTTP proxy

This is the most common type of proxy server. Previously, using this type of proxy, you could only view web pages and images, download files. Now, new versions of programs (ICQ, etc.) can work via HTTP proxy. Browsers of any version can work with this type of proxy.

Pros: Because these servers only handle HTTP requests, they tend to be faster than free VPN services or SOCKS proxy servers. The multitude of proxy services available makes proxy servers a particularly cost-effective choice for simple anonymity purposes on the web. The HTTP proxy will hide your IP from basic checks and therefore you will be able to access geographically restricted websites and create accounts. Also, they are cheaper than SOCKS proxies.

Cons: Your traffic is not encrypted and it is limited to web traffic only. Free web proxies can pose a major security threat. The intelligent use of Flash or JavaScript allows many sites to detect the true IP.

In the past, If you used an HTTP proxy to connect to any type of sensitive service, such as your email or bank, you were in critical need to use an SSL-enabled browser. Now, all modern browsers support SSL encryption from the box.

SOCKS Proxy

A SOCKS server is a proxy server that establishes a TCP connection to another server on behalf of a client. After the connection is established, it routes all the traffic back and forth between the client and the server. It works for any kind of network protocol on any port. SOCKS Version 5 adds additional support for security and UDP. A SOCKS proxy is operating at a lower level and so an application, which supports SOCKS, can use it to proxy a connection.

Pros: SOCKS proxies offer support for non-HTTP traffic, such as SMTP, FTP, and Torrent traffic.

Cons: SOCKS does not include traffic encryption. Therefore, it doesn’t deliver added security.

Differences

Now we will talk about the “external” differences between these types of proxy servers. Mainly, both HTTP and SOCKS proxy have the name of the server (host) and the port number, which are usually separated: www.server.com:5731. In 90% of cases, the SOCKS proxy has a port number of 1080, 1081, or similar. In 99% of cases, HTTP proxy has port numbers 80, 8080, 81, or 3128.

Additionally, you can determine the type of proxy server using any proxy checker: first by checking the proxy for one and then for another type (HTTP / SOCKS). In 99% of cases, a proxy is either HTTP or SOCKS, although it can be both at the same time.

HTTPS proxy is one of the HTTP subtypes, so you can only distinguish it by checking with a proxy verifier.

Related: Use HTTP Clients with SOCKS Proxies (or SSH Tunnels) on GNU/Linux

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