When using a proxy, a key thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of proxies. Beyond just HTTP and SOCKS proxies, there are specific types of HTTP proxies and specific types of SOCKS proxies! An analogy would be that beyond just desktops and laptops, there are gaming desktops, video rendering desktops, mini laptops, ultra portable laptops, and so on and so forth. Just like desktops and laptops, HTTP and SOCKS proxies also have different applications and uses.

SOCKS Proxies

SOCKS is short for SOCKetS and the naming convention is largely due to the type of traffic that the proxies cater to, which is covered below. SOCKS proxies are easier to categorize than their HTTP counterparts due to the fact that there are only two types: SOCKS4 and SOCKS5. The former of the two, SOCKS4, is an older protocol than the latter and does not support UDP connectivity or IPv6. UDP and IPv6 are highly technical applications of proxies that the average person will not require. SOCKS4 is also thought to be less secure than the newer SOCKS5 protocol.

The application of SOCKS proxies is virtually unlimited because the proxy is receiving all of the data and passing it directly to the target host, and vice versa. Therefore, SOCKS proxies may be used for gaming, downloading, or even web browsing. A popular use of these type of proxies today is to maintain anonymity while using BitTorrent to download files.

Regardless of which type of SOCKS proxy you may be using, the connection is fully anonymous and will mask your identity completely. An issue with HTTP proxies is that many of the proxy servers add extra bits of information that may identify the connection as being used through a proxy, or even worse, identify your real IP address. Because the SOCKS proxies do not modify the data being sent or received to the end host or to your machine, your anonymity is guaranteed.

HTTP Proxies

The use of a HTTP proxy is much more limited than that of a SOCKS proxy because they can only be used for web traffic purposes.

HTTP proxies can be divided into three types:

  1. High Anonymous proxies (also called Level 1 or Elite)
  2. Anonymous proxies (also known as Level 2)
  3. Transparent proxies (also referred to as Level 3)

A high anonymous HTTP proxy (Level 1) will not indicate that you are using a proxy to your web host. Your IP is completely masked from the target web host and there are no signs that a proxy is being used. The use of a high anonymous or Level 1 proxy may be critical in situations where using a proxy is frowned upon or not permitted.

An anonymous (Level 2) HTTP proxy will fully mask your IP address but it also leaks information suggesting that you are using a proxy. For example, most regular web requests include information about your browser and specifics about the page you are requesting. In addition to the basic web communication information, many anonymous proxies add an additional field called VIA, denoting that the connection is 'via' or through a proxy.

A level 3 transparent HTTP proxy will send your real IP address in addition to the IP address of the proxy. There is no point in using a transparent proxy if the goal is to stay anonymous, however they do have applications. Scrapebox proxies specifically can be used for Google scraping purposes despite being transparent.

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