While setting up a proxy, you have to choose which type of protocol to use. This may be confusing. Still, it’s a really important step. HTTP and SOCKS proxies both act as gateways between your device and the global network and perform basic functions of proxies like IP changing and location hiding. At the same time, they have several major distinctions, and each type is especially good at dealing with its specified tasks. The choice is conditional on your particular use case. In this article, we will delve into what HTTP and SOCKS proxies are and what are the differences between them. You will learn for what purposes they are used and will be able to switch to HTTP or SOCKS proxies depending on what functions you need to perform your job.

What is an HTTP proxy?

An HTTP proxy is a server built on the HTTP protocol. It transfers HTTP requests and responses. It is a high-level proxy that’s used for specific needs like web scraping. You may have seen two options: HTTP and HTTPS. They have the same origin and strong points. The only difference is that HTTPS is a more secure version, as this protocol encrypts the data while sending it. Encryption means that even if somebody manages to hack your network and get your information, they won’t be able to decipher and use it. It’s especially important when you pay online or perform other operations that involve entering your personal information.

What is a SOCKS proxy?

SOCKS is a type of proxy that’s built on the SOCKS protocol and is widely used to reach servers behind a firewall. SOCKS are known as fast proxies for general purposes like file sharing. As long as SOCKS proxies are quite detectable (i.e., sites understand that you use a proxy server), it’s common practice to combine them with other apps to avoid being spotted by web sources.

So, if you have to choose a proxy server, the very first thing you have to do is define your goals. Are you going to scrape the web for particular data? Or do you want to take care of your company’s cybersecurity? Maybe you need a high-speed connection? The answer will save you time and help you choose the right kind of proxy.

Next, it is essential to know more about each type.

HTTP proxies: main features

This type of proxy is the most widely used, even though it supports only one type of traffic — only HTTP connections. These proxies can offer you various services.

  •  Content filtering

An HTTP proxy can serve as a content filter. As a proxy server stands between your browser and the World Wide Web, HTTP proxies are the first to face all the incoming traffic from the global network. When configuring a proxy server, you may blacklist certain sites (for example, social media) or limit access to possibly objectionable content (based on strings of text, objects within images, and keywords). Businesses, government organisations, and educational institutions use HTTP proxies to restrict access to unwanted sources. For example, sites associated with unproductive activities, like YouTube. Companies also use HTTP proxies to prevent storing potentially harmful content on their servers.

  • Speed

HTTP proxies can spot the same requests, cache web pages, and compress traffic. They are able to recognise ads and control how many of them reach your computer. It means that HTTP proxies save a lot of bandwidth and thereby speed up your internet connection. A large number of people can use the same server simultaneously, which is especially important for businesses. Though, pay attention that HTTP proxies establish a TCP type of connection. It means that when a server sends data, it waits for the receiving side to confirm that the data was delivered successfully. This process requires time and can negatively affect speed. HTTP proxies prioritise quality over speed.

  • Protection from buffer overflow attacks, viruses, and malware

Buffers are used to store pieces of information when you need to transfer data from one place to another. For example, when you copy a text in order to paste it into another document, this copied extract is stored in a buffer. Buffers have limits on how much information they can stow. If the volume of data goes beyond the buffer’s storage capacity, a buffer overflow occurs. There are a lot of other types of possible cyber attacks, and all of them may lead to irreversible file damage or leaks of personal information. To conduct an attack, hackers permeate their data into a network with pieces of content like files or apps. When people open or download such files, detrimental data begins doing a dirty job. HTTP proxies can help prevent this. When receiving a response from the global web, an HTTP proxy examines the source of traffic for malware, spyware, and viruses. Any suspicious content gets blocked. Then a proxy server sends the data to an internal browser. It lowers the likelihood of harmful stuff crushing your network. 

  • Easy to use

HTTP proxies take little time to set up or configure. They are also compatible with a great number of devices (PCs, tablets, phones) and applications.

What are HTTP proxies used for?

HTTPS and even its less secure counterpart, HTTP, are good for various tasks.

  • Lifting limitations

When you surf the net, you send requests. Each request contains a piece of code called a header. Headers carry information about your requests, including your location, the characteristics of your browser, and other details that may give you away even if your IP is changed by a proxy. When your IP indicates that you are online from Britain and a header shows that you are online from France, it looks suspicious. Sites may block you. HTTP proxies not only mask an IP address; they also rewrite headers. This way, your requests look more authentic. This practice is a fruitful tool if you want to bypass geo-based or other restrictions and don’t want to be banned.

  • Web scraping, price comparison

HTTP proxies come in handy every time you need to deal with a huge amount of information. As it was already mentioned, an HTTP request contains a header that carries information about your request. When you send a request, the HTTP protocol fetches the HTML code of pages on the web. Here, the information from a header comes into play and helps customise the search results. This way, you see the most relevant ones. For example, you look for “buy rotating residential proxies”. If you search with HTTP proxies, you will see links that lead to sites where you can buy what you need. And you won’t have to crawl through links to all the pages that contain even one word from your request but are not relevant. This way, HTTP proxies save you time and help you get proper data for your market research. 

SOCKS proxies: main features

While there are actually two types of SOCKS proxies, SOCKS4 and SOCKS5, here we speak about the latter one. SOCKS5 is a newer and improved version of this proxy, which is why it’s used much more often now.

  • Do not read your data

SOCKS protocol operates differently than HTTP. It doesn’t screen out the source of incoming traffic, nor does it look into headers to know more about your requests. SOCKS instead concentrates on routing the data through a proxy server quickly. Ergo, SOCKS proxies cannot filter the data or look for the most relevant search results. It’s not the best idea to scrape the web with SOCKS. On the other hand, it’s a huge advantage from a security perspective because a server would know little about you. It won’t save files or cache web pages where your credentials may be found, keeping you safe.

  • Offer authentication

SOCKS5 proxies can provide you with several methods of authentication if you want to take care of security aspects. It means that only authorised users are allowed to reach a proxy server, making it a safe place for information. Still, be careful, as SOCKS5 proxies, unlike HTTP, cannot encrypt your data while sending it, and you are somehow exposed to a man-in-the-middle attack. In other words, a connection between your browser, a proxy server, and the web is not protected. Anyone may easily join in, pretend to be a legal participant, and intercept your data. To prevent this, SOCKS5 proxies are usually used with additional apps that encrypt the data. 

  • Help to deal with firewalls specifically

When your main objective is to access a server behind a firewall, SOCKS proxies are the first-rate choice. All proxies are designed to bypass limitations, but a firewall is a severe obstacle. It’s not enough to just change your IP or hide your location to break through it. Sites use a firewall to limit access, and SOCKS5 proxies are designed to solve that issue by establishing a special type of connection between your device and a target server.

  • Support different types of connection

Unlike HTTP, SOCKS can handle multiple types of traffic like HTTP, HTTPS, POP3, SMTP, and FTP requests. They support both IPv4 and IPv6 types of IP addresses. Using SOCKS, you can reach practically everywhere. On the other hand, it is important to remember that SOCKS5 proxies are not as compatible as HTTP when it comes to apps. Yet they support the most popular ones, like Skype, Telegram, Vuze, and browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.

  • Speed

SOCKS5 is a fast protocol. Yet it works differently than HTTP. SOCKS5 proxies don’t cache web pages and don’t compress traffic. They instead use another type of connection that allows them to work faster. Consider the fact that, in such a case, SOCKS5 proxies prioritise speed over quality. That is to say, a SOCKS proxy server sends data and, in contrast to  HTTP proxies, doesn’t wait for a confirmation from the receiving side. This means that data may not arrive or arrive in the wrong order (remember, when you watch live streams, sometimes videos may be of low quality). Of course, it depends on more than just a proxy server. Sometimes there are situations when you need only speed and not quality. That’s when SOCKS5 proxies are a good choice.

What are SOCKS proxies used for?

  • P2P file sharing

SOCKS5 proxies are a go-to option when it comes to transferring a large number of files and uploading or downloading them from special file-sharing platforms. The type of connection they use makes it possible to do it quickly. SOCKS5 proxies are good at email exchange as well.

  • Online streaming and gaming

When streaming or playing online, you need a reliable and fast connection. SOCKS5 proxies are a versatile tool for such needs. They don’t take time to rewrite headers or wait for the response from the receiving side. Instead, they focus on delivering the data, making them a perfect choice for such a use case.

What can DataImpulse provide you with?

At DataImpulse, you can find reliable proxies of all types — HTTP/HTTPS or SOCKS5 — whatever you need. We offer a wide range of proxies and do our best to make sure it’s convenient for you to configure your proxy server and switch between different protocols.

  • Several plans

Every plan that we offer supports HTTP/HTTPS and SOCKS5 types of protocols. You can switch between them if you need to, or just use the same type all the time. You can also create your own plan, if necessary.

  • Speed

Regardless of the type of proxy you choose, we provide you with fast proxies. We monitor the volume of traffic that goes through every server to make sure they are not overloaded. If you need a lot of traffic and requests, you can contact us, and we will provide you with a personal server.

  • Security

Proxies benefit your safety. Yet a proxy server needs to be secure on its own and not carry harmful content. We set some strict limitations for our traffic providers to make sure a proxy itself wouldn’t be a source of viruses and malware.

  • User-friendly interface

We understand that you have a job to do and don’t want to waste time setting up a proxy server. Our interface is easy to use. If you need to switch between protocols, it won’t take you long to do so.

To wrap up

As you can see, all types of proxies have their benefits. There is no magic cure-all for every case. Your needs define your choice. If security or traffic filtering is your priority, HTTP proxies are what you are looking for. When you have to deal with a firewall or various types of traffic, consider using SOCKS proxies. Sometimes you may need to have both options available at hand and switch between them. With DataImpulse, you can have reliable proxies to scrape the web, protect your data, stream online, and carry out other tasks. We support both HTTP and SOCKS5 protocols to provide you with all the advantages of proxies. Contact us by clicking on a widget in the bottom-right corner of a screen or writing at info@dataimpulse.com.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOCKS