If you ever thought about data protection while browsing the web, you probably came across such things as SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs. Both technologies enhance user security but do it slightly differently. When choosing the best option for your online safety, you should know how they work, their strengths, and weaknesses. In this post, we are going to compare SOCKS5 vs VPN as well as suggest when it’s best to use each of them.
Is Your Network Secure without a Proxy or VPN?
Online security is one of the major concerns of today’s world. The network offers only basic protection to safeguard communication between websites and end-users. You probably noticed that URLs of some websites start with HTTPS while many still work with HTTP. The difference between these two protocols is encryption. HTTPS uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and the HTTP goes without any data protection.
Despite the fact that site-level security is an obvious step forward, it is still not enough to protect your data from exposing. Various law enforcement agencies or cybercriminals who monitor your online activities can still see the websites you visit and information you exchange with other devices. Besides, the HTTPS protocol cannot hide your real IP address so the prying eyes are able to figure out your geo-location. Therefore, along with the encryption offered by websites, it makes sense to apply a layer of additional protection with a proxy or VPN.
What is a VPN?
Standing for a virtual private network, a VPN is a technology that ‘builds’ so-called tunnel between your device and a website (or online service) you want to open. Basically, a VPN provider forces your traffic to go through its own servers instead of servers of your ISP as it happens with a regular connection. When getting into a VPN tunnel, your data gets immediately encrypted. Simultaneously, your original IP address gets covered with an IP of a VPN server you connected to.
The level of encryption depends on a particular service but the current industry standard is AES-256 bit where AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is a cipher and 256 is a key length required for decryption. The longer this key is, the better, although cybersecurity experts claim that even with a 128-bit key AES is practically impossible to crack.
Encryption does not exist by itself; it is paired with a connection protocol that is responsible for building a VPN tunnel. These protocols also have different security levels that determine how easy it is to crack the encryption. The most common types of protocols in the VPN industry are PPTP, L2TP / IPSec, SSTP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN.
Besides the reliability of encryption, a protocol also affects data transfer speeds. Normally, connection speed worsen with more advanced protocols although OpenVPN has proven that strong encryption doesn’t necessarily compromise the pace of data transfer.
Each VPN service is individual meaning they have a unique set of protocols, encryption algorithms, IP addresses from various countries, and other features. That said, there are a few industry-leading providers that perform better than others and are suitable for multiple purposes. Here is our brief list of the best VPNs around:
What is SOCKS5 Proxy?
Proxies are somewhat similar to VPNs. They also route traffic through their servers simultaneously giving users a different IP address. However, unlike VPNs, they don’t feature any encryption. There is only a bare SOCKS5 protocol that creates a ‘bridge’ between your device and the Internet.
SOCKS5 contributes to your anonymity since it masks your original IP address but it is not able to secure your data. Along with that, there is a positive side effect of encryption lacking – SOCKS5 proxies are slightly faster than VPNs.
Ultimate SOCKS5 vs VPN Comparison
To give you a better idea about these technologies, we made this SOCKS5 vs VPN review with a detailed comparison. Read on to learn about the benefits of using a VPN and SOCKS5 proxy as well as their disadvantages.
It is almost impossible to break a VPN tunnel. Older connection protocols such as PPTP are more vulnerable to hacking but industry-standard OpenVPN is reliable protection against intrusion.
SOCKS5, on the other hand, can’t hold a candle to VPN protocols. Although it is not the easiest task to break it, skillful hackers know how to penetrate through SOCKS5 protocol.
A VPN is a solution allowing staying secure on the Internet. Even if hackers managed to breach a tunneling protocol, encryption will prevent making use of your data. Without an encryption key, the information they can intercept will be unreadable, and therefore, useless.
Proxies do not carry out encryption whatsoever, so if intruders manage to crack the SOCKS5 protocol, your private data will be exposed.
Circumvent Geo-Restrictions and Firewalls
A VPN helps bypass even the toughest firewalls. High-end VPNs offer stealth modes and obfuscated servers that mask traffic in such a way that firewalls do not recognize it as related to a VPN.
A SOCKS5 proxy allows bypassing some geo-restricted websites by hiding your real IP address but they are useless when it comes to getting past advanced network firewalls.
VPNs impact connection speeds because your data has to be encrypted on a VPN server and then decrypted on your device. Besides, the traffic takes longer routes if you connect to far-away servers. Finally, if too many people occupy VPN servers simultaneously, each of them gets less bandwidth. These three factors increase latency and hence your speed slows down. On the other hand, premium VPN providers use state-of-the-art infrastructure with increased bandwidth that handles multi requests with ease. If your VPN service supplies servers with better computing power than those of your ISP, you may notice very small speed drops. Moreover, many Internet service providers use throttling to prevent data-consuming activities. Such measures significantly reduce speeds but if you choose a good VPN, you can defeat ISP bandwidth throttling and speed up the connection.
Proxy is a more outdated technology compared to a VPN, which means its bandwidth is lower. However, since it doesn’t have to encrypt and decrypt data, it delivers better speeds in most cases. Nevertheless, we can’t say that proxies are always faster than VPNs. Much depends on a particular provider, its infrastructure, and the number of simultaneous connections.
Trustworthy VPN providers make sure that their software is compatible with a wide array of devices. You can install a VPN client on computers running macOS, Windows, and Linux, mobile devices powered by iOS and Android, and you can share VPN connection to gaming consoles PS4, Xbox, TV boxes, smart TVs, and many others. There is even a possibility to configure a VPN on a router to easily cover all the devices you have at hand.
SOCKS5 proxies don’t feature similar flexibility. They are available only as browser extensions. You can configure a proxy on your mobile device but the setup process is not nearly as straightforward as with a VPN.
VPN services make sure that your experience is as enjoyable as possible. For that, they add some nice features as automated connection, Kill Switch, split tunneling, etc. Some providers go even further and deliver advanced security features, double VPN or Tor over VPN, for example. Finally, some VPNs include a free unlimited SOCKS5 proxy to their deals.
SOCKS5 proxies do not support many features. While their setup is relatively simple, you can’t use features such as kill switch or split tunneling.
When enabled, a VPN application will automatically encrypt and anonymize all the traffic passing through your device.
SOCKS5 proxy works at an application level meaning you can configure it for specific apps (uTorrent, for instance) but it won’t affect your device as a whole.
Best Uses for SOCKS5 Proxy and VPN
Although SOCKS5 proxy is inferior to a VPN, it is not useless. In some cases, you might prefer using a speedy proxy than a heavily-encrypted VPN connection. We recommend using SOCKS5 proxy for:
- Torrenting and P2P traffic if you require better speeds;
- Hiding your geo-location;
- Circumventing geo-blocking for websites that don’t have aggressive anti-proxy policies;
- Enhancing security in comparison with regular web proxies.
SOCKS5 proxy is better than original unsecured connection but if you face a choice between a proxy and a VPN, always choose the latter. A VPN is a preferred option for:
- Secured web surfing;
- Bypassing strong network firewalls;
- Getting around geo-restrictions;
- Ensuring maximum privacy when downloading torrents;
- Safeguarding sensitive data against cybercriminals and prying eyes.
SOCKS5 proxy is an easy-to-use way to enhance your anonymity. Along with that, it doesn’t ensure ultimate security due to the lack of encryption. If you want to safeguard your online activities against monitoring and hacking, you need to opt for a more advanced solution. A VPN takes the best of proxies and adds many more useful features. Nevertheless, you can use both technologies to achieve a perfect balance between security and connection speeds based on your particular needs.