SOCKS vs. HTTP Proxies: Understanding The Differences

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Harsha Kiran
Written by
Harsha Kiran

Updated · Aug 04, 2023

Harsha Kiran
Founder | Joined March 2023 | LinkedIn
Harsha Kiran

Harsha Kiran is the founder and innovator of He started it as a personal passion proje... | See full bio

April Grace Asgapo
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April Grace Asgapo


April Grace Asgapo
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
April Grace Asgapo

April is a proficient content writer with a knack for research and communication. With a keen eye fo... | See full bio

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In 2018, it was reported that 26% of Internet users used anonymity tools like proxy servers or VPNs. Out of the multiple proxy types, SOCKS and HTTP proxies are two of the best options when you’re planning to get one. 

SOCKS and HTTP proxies function as intermediaries, providing a safe route for transmitting requests. Both proxies connect clients with third-party websites in a similar way.

Despite the similarities, SOCKS and HTTP proxies have a few differences. Continue reading to discover more of their distinctions.

Differences Between SOCKS and HTTP

SOCKS and HTTP proxies work the same way. They both help enhance a user’s anonymity on the Internet by masking their IP address. 

However, unlike SOCKS proxies, HTTP proxies have a deeper understanding of network traffic. They can interpret and handle the traffic using the HTTP protocol specific to web communication.

The following sections will further discuss everything about HTTP vs. SOCKS proxy. Read on. 


Socket Secure (SOCKS) proxies are a way to transfer data between a client (like your computer) and a web server. They use Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which helps guarantee the data gets where it needs to go.

Once the connection is established, the SOCKS proxy sends and receives data between the client and the destination. This process may slow the data transfer, but it ensures the data is delivered correctly.

The two recent and most used versions of SOCKS proxies are SOCKS4 and SOCKS5.

A SOCKS5 proxy is an improved version of SOCKS4. The difference is that a SOCKS5 proxy adds encryption to network traffic using Secure Shell (SSH) tunneling. This encryption helps protect the data being transferred.

Below are the situations in which a SOCKS proxy is best used:

 1. Web scraping

  • Extracts valuable data from websites for analysis
  • Utilizes automated programs (bots) for data extraction
  • Enables scraping from any TCP or UDP transport

2. Traffic-intensive transport

  • Ideal for peer-to-peer (P2P), gaming, and streaming
  • Helps transfer large amounts of data quickly
  • Enables web scraping from traffic-intensive sources like video or live streams

3. Remote connections for local networks

  • Useful for businesses establishing secure remote connections
  • Combining with authentication and encryption ensures security

4. Bypass internet restrictions

  • Can bypass many firewalls but may get blocked by advanced ones
  • Allows access to websites with geo-restrictions
  • Helps circumvent government censorship


HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) proxies act as intermediaries between clients and web servers, providing a layer of anonymity and control.

When a client wishes to access a website, it sends an HTTP request to the targeted website. The HTTP proxy then establishes a connection between the two.

Once the HTTP proxy receives the request, it hides the real IP address of the client by giving them a different one. 

The HTTP proxy connects with the web server. If the website accepts the connection request, the proxy gains access to the website. It retrieves the requested HTTP information and sends it back to the client.

Below are the situations in which an HTTP proxy can be utilized:

1. Filter content

  • Filters incoming content, preventing unauthorized files from being stored
  • Protects against malware, spyware, and ransomware attacks

2. Anonymize connections

  • Hides the user’s actual IP address by letting them choose a proxy address 

3. Promote security

  • Examines HTTP headers to determine the content source for security 
  • Blocks websites known for questionable content
  • Acts as a firewall to protect your computer


While SOCKS and HTTP proxies’ processes and purposes overlap, they differ in many ways. 

The table below highlights the disparities between the SOCKS and HTTP proxies:



HTTP Proxy


Offers incredible speeds

It is ideal for downloading or transferring data.

Decent load speeds 

It is better suited for managing more requests per second.


Provides a heightened level of security

SOCKS proxies only send and receive data, not read it.

Debatable security

It may compromise data integrity since it can read and record data.


Doesn’t directly use the HTTP protocol

It’s commonly used for content streaming, P2P methodologies, and file sharing.

Handles HTTP traffic 

It’s often used for retrieving information via web browsers. It can also be configured for content filtering and web data caching.


Compatible with any traffic

Compatible with HTTP traffic only


Connects with more limited tools

Connects with virtually any tool


Does not provide data encryption

Encrypts data


Does not have an authentication mechanism

Supports multiple authentication mechanisms

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using SOCKS And HTTP

Like any other tool on the web, proxies have positive and negative qualities. A SOCKS proxy offers several advantages and disadvantages. 

Check out the table below to know more about what they are:

SOCKS Proxies



Bypass internet restrictions

Lack of encryption during transmission, leading to vulnerability to hacking

Improved connection speed and stability

Intrusive ads and pop-ups that may carry viruses

Doesn’t rewrite data packets, meaning lesser errors in the process

May expose your identity to unknown parties

Faster downloads since data packets are much smaller


Likewise, an HTTP proxy also has its own benefits and detriments. Here’s a table summarizing them:

HTTP Proxies



Offers flexibility and can work with different protocols and networks

Can read your data, compromising its integrity

Compatible with various third-party tools

Slower than SOCKS proxies because it only supports TCP

Has excellent performance and faster page loading due to caching


Provides secure encryption and protects your data


Can interpret and filter data so it’s suitable for web scraping 


Bottom Line

When comparing SOCKS and HTTP proxies, it is crucial to understand their dissimilarities and use cases.

A SOCKS proxy offers broader application compatibility and better support for protocols. Meanwhile, an HTTP proxy provides more granular control over web traffic.

Choose the proxy type based on your needs for optimal performance and security. Get a SOCKS proxy if you’re looking for comprehensive coverage. If you want a proxy for specific online activities, then an HTTP proxy is the right choice.


Can proxies track you?

Yes. While a proxy can change your IP address, it doesn’t hide it completely. The proxy server retains information about your original IP address plus the IP addresses of the websites you access.

Is SOCKS better than a VPN for torrenting?

A SOCKS5 proxy is often better for torrenting due to its faster speeds, but it lacks encryption. Torrenting sites may contain harmful content, and only a VPN can provide secure connectivity. 

What port is an HTTP proxy?

Port 80 proxies are commonly used for HTTP communications. The alternatives to this are 8080 and 8008.


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