SOCKS5 is an improved version of SOCKS (Socket Secure), an internet protocol that sends data packets to a web server from a web client (browser) through an external server called a proxy server.
Thus, a SOCKS proxy or SOCKS5 proxy is the external server through which the data packets are routed. This arrangement gives your computer a new online identity (IP address) since the protocol channels your traffic through another server.
What are the Benefits of SOCKS5 Proxy
Being an improved version, SOCKS5 is way better than SOCKS in various ways. For instance, while SOCKS only supports the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), SOCKS5 supports both TCP and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). The UDP is used in the Domain Name Resolution.
Thus, with SOCKS, the translation of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) into the IP addresses identifying the servers is more straightforward. The combination of TCP and UDP makes SOCKS5 more flexible and reliable than SOCKS as a protocol and proxy server.
SOCKS5 vs. HTTP
Just like SOCKS is an internet protocol built for a specific type of proxy server, Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is also an internet protocol utilized in HTTP proxies. Nonetheless, these two types of proxies are not the same, even though they result from internet protocols.
Firstly, HTTP proxies have a limited scope as they only support HTTP and, in some cases, HTTPS. On the other hand, a SOCKS5 proxy supports requests made using HTTP, HTTPS, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3).
The more comprehensive support means that SOCKS5 proxies are ideal for web browsing, emailing, and peer-2-peer (P2P) connections, while HTTP proxies are only good at web browsing.
Further, SOCKS5 proxies are more reliable and flexible than HTTP proxies because they support communication via TCP or UDP. These factors underscore the benefits of SOCKS5 proxies, which we’ll highlight next.
Benefits of SOCKS5 proxies
A SOCKS5 proxy is beneficial in the following ways:
- It gives a new online identity
- It is faster, more secure, and more reliable than SOCKS proxies
- It is faster than virtual private networks
- It provides fast download speeds when accessing P2P platforms
- It supports more requests, unlike HTTP proxies
- It is less prone to errors
New online identity
A SOCKS5 proxy routes your web traffic through an external server. As a result, your traffic acquires the server’s IP address, in effect assuming a new identity. For this reason, SOCKS5 proxies are used to bypass geo-restrictions/geo-blocking.
Faster, more secure, and more reliable connections
As stated earlier, SOCKS5 supports communication via TCP and UDP, while SOCKS only supports the TCP protocol. TCP is slower than UDP since it ensures that all data is sent in a particular order, which should be maintained even on the recipient’s end.
For this reason, it focuses on placing the data packets in a specific format, which results in slowed performance. Furthermore, the SOCKS protocol does not perform any authentication, meaning it is less secure.
SOCKS5 is faster, more secure, and more reliable because its support for UDP means that it relays traffic as is. This makes it quicker and also provides reliability. Its authentication adds a layer of security.
Faster than Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
VPNs and SOCKS5 proxies are based on the same operating principle – they create a tunnel through which traffic passes. In VPNs, however, the data is encrypted before being channeled through the tunnel. This requirement slows the connection speed. In contrast, SOCKS5 proxies do not encrypt the data and are, therefore, faster.
Fast download speeds via P2P platforms
SOCKS5 proxies transfer data packets in small quantities, unlike other proxies that do so in large volumes. Thus, SOCKS5 proxies offer faster download speeds.
Supports more requests
A SOCKS5 proxy supports requests made via different protocols, i.e., HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, POP3, and SMTP. On the other hand, HTTP proxies only support HTTP and, in some cases, HTTPS.
Less prone to errors
Other application proxies (proxy servers) rewrite some aspects of the data packets they receive, for instance, headers. This rewriting is not always accurate and results in errors. In contrast, SOCKS5 proxies do not rewrite the data packets, a factor that makes them less prone to making errors.
Uses of SOCKS5 proxies
These benefits make SOCKS5 proxies ideal for specific uses, including:
- Bypassing geo-restrictions
- Enhancing the security of users’ PCs when sharing files via P2P platforms
- They promote anonymity when web browsing and emailing
While SOCKS5 proxies can be a perfect substitute for VPNs, always keep in mind that they do not offer encryption. Thus, if you are sending sensitive data, it would be best if you used the latter.
This is because the tunnel that SOCKS5 proxies create is unsecure, and people with the necessary technical know-how can intercept the data passing therein. Nonetheless, SOCKS5 proxies are better, in many ways, than other application proxies.