Like a VPN, a SOCKS5 proxy is an effective way to bypass internet blocks. Some VPN providers include a SOCKS5 proxy in their service because it can provide location spoofing with faster speeds than a VPN. A SOCKS5 proxy does not provide the added privacy benefits you get with a full VPN connection. However, depending on your needs, a SOCKS5 proxy can be a useful extra feature.
In this article, we have pinpointed the best VPNs with a SOCKS5 proxy. Our SOCKS5 VPN services will provide you with a full premium VPN in addition to a SOCKS5 proxy you can use any time you want.
What is SOCKS?
SOCKS stands for Socket Secure, and it is an internet protocol commonly used to create a proxy. It is a technology often used by people behind a firewall who are unable to establish TCP connections directly with outside servers. We cover this further down in this guide.
What are the best SOCKS5 VPN providers?
As SOCKS5 can be really useful when unblocking content, we have listed the best VPN providers that offer the protocol with their service. More details can be found below, but if you’re in a hurry, here is a quick look at our best SOCKS5 VPN providers:
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Of course, our main consideration here is that the VPN provider offers access to SOCKS5, but it also must offer:
- Quick speeds
- Robust privacy features
- Good encryption
- Geo-unblocking capabilities
The best VPNs for SOCKS5 – In-depth Analysis
Here are the best VPNs with SOCKS5. If you need more information on these or any other services, check out our detailed VPN reviews.
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What is a SOCKS5 proxy?
A SOCKS proxy is a feature provided by some VPNs because it can also be used to permit internet users to conceal their real IP address from online services and domains. This can allow users to bypass IP blocks if their IP has been blacklisted by an online service or if a VPN’s IP addresses have been blocked by that service.
SOCKS5 is the latest version of the SOCKS protocol. It can send data via UDP (in addition to TCP), meaning that it can provide a highly reliable and efficient connection. It can also proxy data from a large cross section of request types, including HTTP, HTTPS, POP3, SMTP and FTP. This flexibility is what makes SOCKS5 useful, because it can easily be used for email, web browsing, peer-to-peer file sharing, file transfers, VoIP, and more.
The nice thing about a SOCKS5 proxy using UDP is that it can provide extremely fast speeds. This makes it valuable for people who require high speed IP spoofing without the need for data privacy. On the other hand, SOCKS5 provides no encryption; which means your traffic can still be monitored by your ISP or the government. This means you do not get the privacy levels with a SOCKS5 proxy that you get when using a fully encrypted VPN tunnel.
SOCKS5 vs VPN – what’s the difference?
Both VPNs and SOCKS5 function as a proxy that can be used to conceal your real IP address from the online services you visit. However, this is where the similarity largely ends, because a SOCKS5 proxy does not provide many of the other benefits you get with a VPN.
A VPN creates a securely encrypted tunnel between the VPN client (application) and the proxy (VPN) server. This gives you online privacy and data security – in addition to the location spoofing functionality you get with a SOCKS5 proxy.
With a VPN, you can conceal your online browsing habits from your ISP, the government, and local network administrators in workplaces, schools, and public WiFi networks. This encryption stops anybody from accessing your data or tracking your online habits. However, it also causes some slowing of internet speeds, which is why some people prefer to use a SOCKS5 proxy.
If you require IP spoofing without the need for internet privacy (to connect to a gaming server in another country, for example) – you may be happy using a SOCKS5 proxy. However, if you intend to access restricted torrent sites to download movies (or to engage in other online activities that you would prefer to do in private); you will need to stick to using a VPN with its added encryption.
What are the benefits of a SOCKS5 proxy over other proxies?
SOCKS5 offers three main benefits over other proxies out there:
- The greatest benefit of a SOCKS5 proxy is its ability to process an almost unlimited number of request types. This allows it to be used for VoIP, HTTP, HTTPS, POP3, SMTP, and FTP.
- Unlike other proxies, SOCKS5 does not rewrite data packet headers. This improves efficiency by making it less likely that there will be misrouting or mislabelling issues.
- Finally, SOCKS5 proxies can be set up with one of the following authentication methods:
- Username/password authentication in which the user must provide their credentials to access the proxy server
- GSS-API authentication in which both the user and the server use authentication to verify the user’s identity
However, please remember that the performance benefits you get with a SOCKS5 proxy (and the added security you get when password/username authentication is implemented, as is the case with most SOCKS5 proxies provided by VPNs) is counterbalanced by a loss of privacy and security: SOCKS5 packet headers contain metadata that can identify you, which is why anybody who requires online privacy is strongly advised to use a full VPN connection rather than a SOCKS5 proxy.
Should I use a SOCKS5 proxy for torrenting?
Some people use a SOCKS5 proxy to gain added security when downloading peer-to-peer using a torrent client. The great thing about torrenting with a SOCKS5 proxy is that it is extremely easy to set up from within your torrent client itself.
A SOCKS5 proxy for torrenting improves your security by concealing your real IP address from the swarm (all the peers seeding or leeching the torrent). This provides security against exposure to a malevolent peer who may attempt to scan your IP address for open ports; which could potentially allow you to be victimized.
Although the security benefit (IP concealment) provided by a SOCKS5 proxy is useful, it is important to remember that it is not as effective as a VPN tunnel. Like a SOCKS5 proxy, a VPN conceals your real IP address from the peers you connect to.
However, a VPN also encrypts your data so that all your downloads are private and cannot be detected by your ISP. This ensures that your ISP and the government are never able to identify the torrent services you use, the seeds you leech from, and the content you download.
If you intend to torrent online and you want to do it securely, a SOCKS5 proxy will provide better security than nothing at all. And a SOCKS5 proxy will usually provide more bandwidth and better speeds. However, unless you live in a country where copyright piracy is tolerated, it is generally recommended that you use a VPN rather than a SOCKS5 proxy.
How to connect to a SOCKS5 proxy
Unlike a VPN, which ensures that all your internet traffic is always tunnelled via the VPN server, a SOCKS5 proxy must be set up inside your browser or torrent client. This means that the SOCKS5 proxy will only ever ‘spoof’ your location inside that software; rather than for your entire computer or mobile device.
If you want to connect to your VPN’s SOCKS5 proxy, it will be necessary to set up that connection manually either in your torrent client or browser. The best way to achieve this is to contact your VPN for a setup guide, which will include how to set up your SOCKS5 authentication on its website.
If you are a Firefox user, the easiest way to set up a SOCKS5 proxy is by using the third party extension FoxyProxy:
- Download the FoxyProxy Standard add-on from the FireFox Add-ons page.
- Install the extension into your Firefox browser.
- Click on the FoxyProxy icon that appears in the toolbar in the top right of your Firefox browser.
- Choose Options from the drop-down menu. You will now be redirected to a webpage.
- Select Use proxy Default for all URLs from the drop-down menu in the middle of the screen.
- Next click the Add button in the top-left of the screen.
- Now, click Edit and add the details for your VPN SOCKS5 proxy. (You will need to get the server address, port number, username and password from your VPN’s website.)
- Finally, turn on the slider next to Send DNS through SOCKS5 proxy and click Save.
- Now check your IP address by clicking What’s My IP in the left-hand menu. Your IP address should appear in the location of your VPN’s SOCKS5 proxy server.