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What are the benefits of a SOCKS5 proxy?

Routing your traffic through a proxy improves your privacy but doesn’t guarantee security. Unlike a VPN, a proxy doesn’t encrypt your traffic. Find out what the SOCKS5 proxy is, what benefits it offers, and how you can use it with a VPN for improved privacy and security.

Jomilė Nakutavičiūtė

Jomilė Nakutavičiūtė

What are the benefits of a SOCKS5 proxy?

What is a SOCKS5 proxy?

A SOCKS proxy is an additional feature that some VPN providers offer, allowing users to fake their virtual location (also known as location spoofing). A SOCKS5 proxy allows you to hide your IP address from online services.

SOCKS5 has enhanced security and offers three types of authentication methods:

  • Null authentication – No authentication required to connect to a proxy;
  • Username/password authentication – You need to provide login details to connect to a proxy;
  • GSS-API authentication – Both you and the server use authentication methods at the operating system level to verify your identity.

How does it work? Your traffic is routed through a proxy server that generates an arbitrary IP address before you reach your destination. Technically speaking, SOCKS5 (the latest version) uses proxy servers to form User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connections through arbitrary IP addresses.

How Socks5 works

If your IP is 1.1.1.1 and your traffic is routed through a SOCKS Proxy with the IP 2.2.2.2, the destination server (the website) will think that the request came from the latter. The website cannot see your original IP address. This helps you hide your location, but it doesn’t mean that your traffic is secure.

Contrary to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), proxies do not encrypt your traffic – it’s still out in the open and anyone can snoop on what you are doing.

There is no such thing as an 100% anonymous SOCKS5 proxy server, because it’s impossible to be truly anonymous online. You can get close to itby being aware of what you do online, what services and security tools you use and how it all impacts your privacy. But no single proxy provider, VPN, or encrypted messaging app will make you anonymous.

Check our brief video about SOCKS5 below.

How to set up a SOCKS5 proxy manually on Windows 10

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Network & internet” > “Proxy.”
  2. Under “Manual proxy setup,” toggle the “On” button.
  3. Fill in details about your proxy server.
  4. Click “Save.”

How to set up a SOCKS5 proxy manually on macOS

  1. Go to “System preferences” > “Network” > “Advanced” > “Proxies.”
  2. Select the “SOCKS proxy” protocol in the menu.
  3. Type your proxy server address.
  4. Click “OK.”

Is a SOCKS5 proxy better than a VPN?

SOCKS5 is not as secure or as fast as a VPN. It's easy to confuse a SOCKS5 proxy with a VPN, but there are crucial differences. Like most proxies, SOCKS5 won't encrypt your data, and will lower internet speed and stability.

PRO TIP: Remember that SOCKS is quite detectable, so it most likely won't get you around national firewalls. Enhance your security with a VPN to help with this.

A good VPN will encrypt your data as it travels from your device to the VPN server, ensuring that nobody can view it at any point on its journey. With a service like NordVPN, you can still access content from anywhere and protect your IP address, but you'll do so with genuine privacy and lightning fast internet speeds.

Upgrade your privacy with high-quality VPN encryption.

SOCKS5 proxy servers benefits

Here are 4 strong reasons to use SOCKS proxies:

1. Gets you around internet blocks

Since proxy servers act as relays between your device and the internet, they can easily help you bypass internet blocks.

For example, if your real IP address was blacklisted by a certain website (or you use a VPN and its servers IPs were blacklisted) you can route your traffic through a SOCKS5 proxy and so bypass this block. However, it won’t help you to circumvent national firewalls in the way that a VPN will, as most of them use deep packet inspection (DPI). This means that your traffic is blocked by your ISP and before it reaches the website.

2. Faster and more reliable connection

Unlike its predecessors, which only used TCP protocol, SOCKS5 proxy servers can use UDP protocol, ensuring a reliable connection and efficient performance.

The TCP internet protocol forms a connection between a client and a server, making sure that all the packets arrive from one side to the other. It requires fitting the content into a fixed format so that it can be transferred easily.

UDP, on the other hand, doesn’t focus on whether all packets from the client or server reach the other side and whether they are transferred in the same order. UDP doesn’t waste time converting data packets into a stream of fixed packets. Therefore, with these UDP at hand, SOCKS5 can offer faster speeds and a reliable connection.

3. Fewer errors and improved overall performance

Many other proxies rewrite data packet headers. Because of this, there’s a high chance of misrouting or mislabeling that data.

SOCKS5 proxy servers do not rewrite data packet headers, so there is a lower chance for errors. Since there are far fewer errors, the performance automatically improves. However, this comes at a cost of your privacy and security as packet headers contain your personal information and can be easily identified.

4. Better performance on P2P platforms

SOCKS5 is faster than other proxies because it transfers smaller data packets. Therefore, it offers faster download speeds, which is why many users use it to connect to P2P sharing websites and platforms.

SOCKS5 vs HTTP proxy

Unlike HTTP proxies, which can only interpret and work with HTTP and HTTPS webpages, SOCKS5 proxies can work with any traffic.

HTTP proxies are high-level proxies usually designed for a specific protocol. While this means you get better connection speeds, they’re not nearly as flexible and secure as SOCKS proxies. SOCKS proxies are low-level proxies that can handle any program or protocol and any traffic without limitations.

Should you use SOCKS5 with a VPN?

The main difference between proxies and VPNs is that VPNs encrypt your traffic and proxies don’t. VPNs provide more stable connections while proxy connections drop more often.

There are few reasons to use both together, so your best bet is to choose the right tool for the job. Fortunately, NordVPN’s servers also support SOCKS5 connections. For full instructions on how to use SOCKS5 proxy on different platforms, visit our tutorial page.

Can you get a SOCKS5 for free?

Using a free proxy can put your security and privacy at risk. Because of their low overhead, proxy services aren’t expensive to run, but they still come with costs. Therefore, free proxies, like free VPNs, should be avoided. Here’s why:

  • Poor performance. Free proxies will have less support personnel and may have less configuration options or slower infrastructure. All of this can make them slower and less secure. They might also reduce their speeds or turn off features in an effort to make you a paying customer.
  • Privacy issues. If you’re not paying for the service, you aren’t the customer. Free proxies can monitor user traffic and sell that data to third parties or serve ads. This means replacing ads on websites you love (thereby cutting into their revenue) or introducing new ads that weren’t there before.

Your best bet is a premium proxy service, which will offer the best speeds, support, and security. Fortunately, when you buy NordVPN, you can also use some of our servers as SOCKS5 proxies. With all of our other features, you can easily come up with the most optimum configuration.

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Jomilė Nakutavičiūtė
Jomilė Nakutavičiūtė Jomilė Nakutavičiūtė
Jomilė is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest Internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.