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SOCKS vs HTTP Proxy: The Difference

If you’re looking for proxies, the processes can be overwhelming. With many different types of proxies in the market, choosing the right one for your case can take a lot of time and effort. Not to mention all the complicated terms related to proxy servers and internet protocols that pop up when trying to find simple explanations.

 

Here you’ll find definitions of HTTP and SOCKS proxy, their main functions, features, and differences. We hope this information will help you make the right decision quickly.

 

What is HTTP Proxy?

 

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HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the groundwork for any data exchange on the internet. This protocol is text-based and allows retrieving various resources, such as HyperText Markup Language (HTML) or scripting languages such as CSS, and transmitting them from the web servers to web browsers.

 

The HTTP protocol is often referred to as a client-server protocol. It helps so-called clients, which, in most cases, are web browsers, send requests to servers. These can be requests for data elements, including images, pages, and videos. 

 

HTTP proxy is explicitly made for HTTP protocol connections. The proxy works via the same client-server model. Just like any other proxy, the HTTP proxy acts as an intermediary. HTTP proxy server stands between a server and a client (web browser), transmits requests, and returns the resources to the web browser in HTTP format. Each HTTP request requires a new connection because once the request is fulfilled, the connection between the web browser and the server ends. 

 

Where HTTP Proxies are Used?

 

One of the main benefits of HTTP proxies is data filtering, and it can be applied to many use cases. HTTP proxies can well understand the traffic and directly receive requests coming from other applications using an HTTP connection.

 

Considering these factors, HTTP proxies have a few use cases. Here are the main ones:

 

Web scraping

 

HTTP proxy is a high-performance content filter that can understand and cache data. This is especially helpful with web scraping operations because HTTP proxy helps extract clean data. Processing such data is easier and requires fewer resources. HTTP proxies can also save a lot of bandwidth by filtering unnecessary files when scraping. For example, it can skip ads and cache files.

 

HTTP proxies can also be used for configuring HTTP request headers for web scraping. Configuring headers can help access restricted targets and reduce the chances of getting blocked while gathering data.

 

Security

 

HTTP proxies can serve multiple users at the same time, which means they can be used in an organization. An HTTP proxy server can be set up on a company’s public web server, which would stop attempts to store unauthorized data. 

 

HTTP protocol also has an encrypted version, HTTPS protocol. HTTPS proxies ensure encrypted communication, which can protect you from data leaks and intruders monitoring your web traffic.

 

Browsing

 

Caching data and filtering information means that HTTP proxies can help browse the web much faster than simply connecting via your regular IP address. HTTP proxies can reduce ads shown on your browser, filter out heavy banners, and restrict access to various sites (for example, adult sites). 

 

Combined with all the mentioned security features, HTTP proxies make it a good choice for secure web browsing.

 

What are SOCKS Proxies?

 

The web contains a number of protocols that allow communication and data exchange between a user and the web. SOCKS is one of those protocols. 

 

Secure Protocol (SOCKS) creates a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection with a server. Once the connection between the client and the server is established, they can start exchanging data. SOCKS proxies can help access sites that have a firewall, which prevents regular internet access. Simply put, the SOCKS proxy allows users to access TCP that would be unavailable without the proxy.

 

Just like any other proxies, SOCKS proxies allow browsing the web anonymously and accessing content that has geo-restrictions. 

 

The latest version of the SOCKS protocol is SOCKS5. This version supports TCP connections and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and provides better security.

 

Where SOCKS Proxies are Used?

 

SOCKS proxies are compatible with any network protocol and any port. This makes them flexible compared to other types of proxies. Here are the main SOCKS proxy use cases:

 

Accessing restricted content

 

One of the main SOCKS proxy benefits is the fact they can access content behind a firewall. SOCKS proxy enables clients behind a firewall to initiate a TCP connection to servers outside that firewall.

 

Connecting to different ports

 

SOCKS proxy can connect to any network protocol or port. This means they can connect to a different port in case there’s a port restriction on a network level. SOCKS5 proxies are also able to use the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) connection. This enables them to deliver datagrams over a network, which ensures efficient performance.

 

SOCKS vs HTTP Proxies: Key Differences

 

While HTTP and SOCKS proxies have their own benefits, these proxies are quite different. Let’s see how these proxies compare in various scenarios:

 

Performance and Speed

 

When it comes to HTTP proxies, you can choose between private and public proxies. Private proxies are faster because they’re dedicated to one or a limited number of users at a time. Meanwhile, public proxies are shared between multiple users and therefore are slower. In most cases, public proxies are free and therefore have hundreds or even thousands of users that connect to these proxies at the same time.

 

SOCKS proxies are faster because they require less coding to get them running. They can also help download large files quicker. However, private HTTP proxies can be just as fast because they filter data and can return requests without unnecessary information. 

 

To sum up, the speed and performance depend on what kind of HTTP proxies you choose and what you’re using your SOCKS proxies for.

 

Security and Privacy

 

When it comes to security, all proxies ensure some level of it. Even datacenter proxies can shield your real IP address, and residential proxies can help you securely access various targets by overcoming geo-restrictions. When choosing between HTTP and SOCKS proxies, security can be one of the defining factors.

 

SOCKS proxies can ensure better security than HTTP proxies. This is because SOCKS proxies don’t interpret the traffic between the server and the client, and they’re not able to rewrite the data packet headers. While reading the traffic enables HTTP proxies to filter it, at the same time, this makes HTTP proxies more vulnerable to attacks. The way to make HTTP proxies more secure is by establishing tunnel connections.

 

However, HTTPS proxies can be used for email protection since they can understand data packets and filter them while using a secure connection.

 

Accessibility and Compatibility with Tools

 

Proxies are often used with various tools and extensions, so their compatibility can be a defining factor for some users.

 

SOCKS proxies don’t have much to offer when it comes to tool compatibility, as they can only connect to a few tools. However, the good news is that SOCKS proxies are more flexible when it comes to setup. These proxies have their own default port, which is 1080, but they can also connect to any port in the system.

 

Meanwhile, HTTP proxies can be used with most third-party tools in various fields, including business, security, multimedia, etc. However, they’re more limited when it comes to ports. HTTP proxy can only connect to port 80, while HTTPS proxy connects to 443 port.

 

Functionality

 

The main differences between SOCKS vs HTTP proxy appear when comparing their functionality. Depending on your use case, you can find various information about the functionality of both proxy types. We’ll make a general overview:

 

The main feature of HTTP proxies is their ability to interpret network traffic between a client (web browser) and a web server. This allows proxies to spot repeated requests and cache responses. However, HTTP proxies can only work with HTTP networks. If you’re looking to transfer data over UDP or other networks that aren’t HTTP, you may not be able to do so.

 

SOCKS proxies support all protocols, including HTTP, TCP, and UDP. These proxies don’t interpret your network, which means you’ve got less flexibility in returned data but more security compared to HTTP proxies.

 

Conclusion

 

HTTP and SOCKS proxies have great features that can help in various scenarios. Comparing them against each other in different use cases can help decide what proxy server is the best for you.

 

HTTP proxies can filter data and return information from HTTP servers. This proxy is great for secure browsing, web scraping, and similar use cases. However, it can only connect to limited ports.

 

The SOCKS proxy is able to connect to all the ports and enables accessing information behind a firewall. It can ensure a secure connection, but it’s not the best choice for everyday browsing.

 

When it comes to speed, security, accessibility, and functionality, there isn’t one clear winner between SOCKS and HTTP proxies. It’s important to compare these IPs against a specific case to decide which proxy server is the best choice for your needs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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

 

To learn where you’re using SOCKS or HTTP proxy, you can check the proxy port. SOCKS usually use port 1080, while HTTP or HTTPS can use 80, 443, 8443, or 8080 ports. 

 

Bear in mind that SOCKS can use other ports, too, while HTTP and HTTPS only use the mentioned ports.

 

Is HTTP proxy secure?

 

The HTTP proxy is secure and can detect and deny any suspicious data packets trying to enter your server. These packets can include spyware or malformed content.

 

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS proxies?

 

The main difference between HTTP and HTTPS proxies is that the latter doesn’t see the request the user sends to the server. Meanwhile, an HTTP proxy can interpret the request it receives from the client.

 

By Oliver Jones
Oliver is someone you would call a tech-wizard. Fascinated with everything computer and machine related, he has been involved in the industry for ages. Proxies and data are his two newest interests that have carried him to the field of writing. Oliver believes that all the knowledge in the world is worth nothing if it can’t be shared!