SOCKS4 vs. SOCKS5: Which One Should You Get In 2023?

Reading time: 5 min read
Aditya Rayaprolu
Written by
Aditya Rayaprolu

Updated · Aug 15, 2023

Aditya Rayaprolu
Technology Architect | McKinsey & Company | Joined February 2023 | LinkedIn
Aditya Rayaprolu

Aditya is an Azure DevOps and Infrastructure Virtualization Architect with experience in automation,... | See full bio

Florence Desiata
Edited by
Florence Desiata


Florence Desiata
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Florence Desiata

Florence is a dedicated wordsmith on a mission to make technology-related topics easy-to-understand.... | See full bio

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In the US alone, data breaches affected 422 million people in 2022, and the number of cases of data compromises has reached 1802. 

With the rising number of cyberattacks, no one is safe online, so tools like a SOCKS proxy are necessary to protect your data online. 

A Socket Secure (SOCKS) proxy is an internet protocol that works well for masking a user's IP address by acting as a forwarder of requests. 

With it, you can have secure, accessible, and private web browsing. SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 are the two versions that users work with today. 

Both versions work the same way. However, they also differ in features and security levels. Continue reading to discover more similarities and differences between the two. 

Comparing SOCKS4 And SOCKS5

There have been multiple improvements to the SOCKS protocol since it launched in 1992. Today, its two most commonly-used versions are versions 4 and 5.

Let’s take a closer look at the things that make them identical and different. 

Usage And Process

Generally, the two versions work the same way. For instance, both proxies connect clients and servers while masking the client's identity.

If a client requests something from the server, the SOCKS proxy server receives this request and relays it to the target. The target web server responds with the requested data or information. Once the information is obtained, SOCKS forwards it to the client.

SOCKS proxies let you hide your IP address and avoid the risk of identity theft. It will also let you browse geo-restricted websites. 


Both SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 support TCP as well as the SOCKS protocol. 

However, SOCKS5 supports more protocols, such as UDP and DNS. This makes the latest version more secure and flexible.

💡Did You Know? The number of websites hacked is 30,000, and at least 2,244 attacks happen on the internet daily. Cyber attacks continue to burden companies by exposing sensitive data and information, sending email spam, and destroying systems, which injure business operations and cost billions of losses. 


User Datagram Protocol (UDP) allows faster data transfer since it has low latency. With it, you do not need a solid connection before relaying information. This feature is ideal for time-sensitive apps like video streaming and gaming.

Only SOCKS5 supports this protocol. It’s also best to use this version for a faster connection when using SOCKS proxies.

DNS Lookup

A Domain Name System (DNS) changes domain names into IP addresses. It allows users to access sites and other online resources. 

Only SOCKS5 is compatible with this protocol because it supports UDP. This means that you can do a DNS lookup with SOCKS5. 

If you want to strengthen security against phishing attacks and malware-hosting sites or avoid distractions when browsing, implementing DNS filtering gives you control over specific web pages

SSH and Authentication

Even though SOCKS4 supports TCP, only SOCKS5 uses Secure Shell (SSH). It's an encrypted tunneling technology for a more secure connection. 

Moreover, the latest version uses a full TCP connection with authentication. In short, SOCKS5 is better at relaying secure communication than SOCKS4.

👍Helpful Article: Achieving data protection is a tedious process. However, you may avoid data compromises and identity theft with the proper knowledge and tools. Know more about the latest statistics on how to protect yourself from cyber attacks: 

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using SOCKS4 and SOCKS5

Both SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 come with advantages and disadvantages. Here's what you should expect when using either of the two:


With SOCKS4, you can enjoy the SOCKS protocol benefits and TCP connections. It is seldom used and is more limited than SOCKS5. 

While it can mask IP addresses well, it does not support authentication processes. It is only suitable for users with tasks that do not involve sensitive information. 


Unlike traditional proxies, SOCKS5 offers users better security and supports UDP traffic. Due to these properties, this version is best for streaming, live calling, and web scraping.

The only disadvantage of SOCKS5 is that it does not use any encryption. It is indeed using SSH for security. However, the SSH tunnel only secures the server and the client — not the proxy and its destination. 

Evolution Of SOCKS Proxies

SOCKS proxies are beneficial for secure and anonymous web browsing. Since it launched, many users have used and enjoyed the progress of SOCKS proxies.

There has been significant progress since its launch. Here's a timeline of how SOCKS proxies became what they are today:

1992 - The Beginning Of The SOCKS Protocol

David Koblas, a MIPS system administrator, came up with the idea of the SOCKS protocol. Then, in 1992, Silicon Graphics took over MIPS management.

That same year, Koblas presented SOCKS at the Usenix Security Symposium. The idea of the SOCKS protocol then became available to the public.

Between 1992 to 1996 - The SOCKS Protocol Extended Into SOCKS4

This protocol improved and was extended after its launch. Between 1992 and 1996, Ying-Da Lee of the NEC Corporation extended SOCKS to version 4, which remained common until today.

🔓Security Note: If you use email daily, be careful about phishing attacks. At least 91% of these attacks launch with phishing emails

1996 - SOCKS4 Extended Into SOCKS5

By 1996, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) had approved version 5 of SOCKS. This version is the SOCKS5 we widely use today.

The latest version of the protocol made security products like firewall installation easier. It was the fruit of a collaboration with Aventail Corporation. 

The Present And Future Of SOCKS Proxies

SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 are still common today and will remain usable in the future. Some VPN companies even offer SOCKS5 proxies in their subscription services. 

Best SOCKS5 Proxies: A New Industry Leader?


SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 use the same process. Both proxies also allow you to enjoy anonymity and accessibility while browsing the web. However, SOCKS5 offers more security features by supporting more protocols. 

Between the two, SOCKS5 works as a better option. It's best to use this version for secure, private, and accessible browsing.


Is the SOCKS4 proxy safe?

Yes. It is safe to use if it runs with TLS or HTTPS. However, it is still better to use SOCKS5 since it's more secure with UDP, authentication, and SSH.

Can you get SOCKS5 for free?

Yes. You can find providers offering free SOCKS5 proxies, but keep in mind that using free proxies is risky and not recommended. Free proxy providers can see your data and may sell it to third-party companies, leading to privacy-related issues.

Which VPN supports SOCKS5?

VPN providers like NordVPN, Windscribe, TorGuard, HideMe, IPVanish, and Mullvad support SOCKS5


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