Photo by Dan Nelson from Pexels

SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs are excellent for bypassing geo-restrictions and enjoying secure browsing, but they differ in terms of encryption and speed. Some people use both to enhance their online security, but the truth is that they serve different purposes.

Read on to explore their peculiarities and understand which one might better suit your needs.

Basic differences between SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs

SOCKS5 proxies can hide your IP address and get past geo-blocks and firewall restrictions. However, although they relay your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, they can’t encrypt your entire traffic. The target website may not identify your actual location, but your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and third parties can still see your online activity.

VPNs can also mask your IP address and bypass geo-restrictions, but they encrypt your traffic as well. They provide complete anonymity and security, preventing your IPS or third parties from tracking your online activity. That means your ISP can’t throttle your bandwidth either, which means consistent connections.

How they are used

Businesses and individuals use SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs for different purposes.

A SOCKS5 proxy is a common choice for web scraping operations, as it generates a new IP address for every connection. It’s also the go-to choice for P2P (peer-to-peer) sharing since it ensures fast connections.

On the other hand, most people use VPNs to access restricted content and surf the web anonymously. Others use it to protect their personal and sensitive data while making online transactions. Proxies don’t typically provide that level of security.

Proxies explained

Proxies are server applications that act as middlemen between web browsers and target servers. They route your traffic through a secure tunnel, thus assigning you an IP address of one of its servers. That’s how your real IP stays hidden.

However, most proxies won’t encrypt your connection. A SOCKS5 proxy will encrypt it (albeit not entirely) because it will relay your traffic with the SSH (Secure Shell) encrypted tunneling method. Additionally, it will connect to the target server by establishing a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connection with authentication.

It also supports the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and IPv6. That means it can relay a UDP session over a restricting firewall without a hitch.

Since it uses the latest Socket Secure (SOCKS) internet protocol, sitting at layer 5 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model, it can help you send many requests, including HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, and POP3.

Best use cases for a SOCKS5 proxy

SOCKS5 proxies can have a variety of purposes. Web scraping is the most popular one for businesses.

Extracting data from websites requires sending multiple HTTP requests, potentially leading to IP bans and disrupting business operations. Since these proxies generate a new, random IP address for every connection, they can easily bypass geographic and content restrictions and help you avoid getting an IP ban.

They can improve P2P performance as they ensure fast and secure connections. Moreover, they don’t rewrite data packets; they only relay the traffic.

SOCKS5 can help you access back-end services behind a firewall if you’re a developer or administrator. That way, you don’t need to use a private network to debug or monitor the services or complete administrative tasks. You can do so over a public network without compromising the ports’ security or going over the trouble of whitelisting specific IP addresses.

VPNs explained

Like proxies, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are applications that act as middlemen between clients and servers. They route your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, thus preventing anyone from intercepting your connection.

Unlike proxies, they don’t redirect your traffic through a single server but rather through multiple remote servers. That’s how they can encrypt your entire online activity, hiding it even from your ISP. No one could detect you online, let alone intercept your data transmission.

Best use cases for a VPN

VPNs’ encryption protocols make them perfect for enhancing data privacy and security. They can protect you against potential cyberattacks and keep your personal and sensitive data secure.

Besides helping you enjoy safe browsing, they can get you past firewalls and bypass geo-restrictions and content blocks.

Comparing SOCKS5 with VPNs

Both SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs route your traffic through a secure tunnel and get around geographical and content blocks. However, the former can’t encrypt your connection and data and make you completely anonymous online.

Still, they are much faster than VPNs precisely because they don’t encrypt your traffic or redirect it through multiple servers.

That’s why proxies are your way to go for uninterrupted web scraping, fast P2P sharing, and accessing restricted content and back-end services behind a firewall. They can help you transfer data at incredible speeds.

Conclusion

VPNs are excellent for enjoying secure and anonymous internet connections. However, SOCKS5 proxies beat them in terms of speed, so they’re a better option for unlocking restricted content quickly and with minimal latency.