What is a Proxy and Which Offer the Best Service in 2021?
Browsing the web has gone from merely a pastime to playing a central role in our daily lives.
Everything from chatting with our friends to our shopping and entertainment habits happen online. Along with this comes the risk of exposing your personal information on the web. Moreover, despite the web’s scale, some content and sites remain fenced off behind geo-restrictions that prevent users from always viewing the content they want.
Using a proxy service can help you avoid many of the pitfalls of browsing the web while granting you freer online access. Using a proxy is easy, but you should still know what you’re doing and what it means before you dive in.
Read on to learn the basics of proxy servers and discover some of our top recommendations to help you obtain unrestricted access to any website you want, no matter where you are.
What Is A Proxy Service?
In the English language, the word “proxy” means “substitute.” Much like a VPN, a proxy server lets you surf online and use the internet from a different IP address. Basically, a proxy server acts as another computer on the web that takes your online browsing activity, and reroutes it to another IP address.
In a normal situation, you go to a website, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) receives your request, and connects you (via your actual IP address) to the website’s landing page.
With a proxy server, everything happens as usual except that after your request gets sent to the ISP, it then gets sent to the proxy server. Once it gets to the proxy, your IP address changes from your real one, to the one you’ve chosen when you set up your proxy. This masks your real location, so you are unlocatable and cannot be blocked from accessing the sites on the internet.
Proxy vs VPN – What’s the Difference?
While some may use the terms interchangeably, proxy servers and VPNs are slightly different, if related, tools.
Proxy servers function exclusively to mask IP addresses when browsing the web. They don’t offer many other security and privacy advantages.
VPNs, on the other hand, offer the same service (anonymous browsing) as part of a broader suite of tools. These include encryption and privacy tools, security features to avoid dropped connections, and more.
In short, there is almost no comparison between a VPN and a proxy in terms of which is better to use. VPNs provide so much more than a proxy, and at times at fairly similar prices, that it makes even trying a proxy pointless. VPNs are streets ahead of proxies in terms of security and privacy, which in the day of the hacker being as much as a risk as a common criminal, is of the utmost importance.
Given that a VPN, like our top pick ExpressVPN, costs so little per month, is it really worth taking the chance with your online security and confidential data?
The Best Proxy Services
Proxify is a highly capable proxy that tries to maintain user’s online privacy as well as their security whenever they are connected to the internet.
- Easy to use – it’s easy to get lost behind the technology of proxies sometimes. Yet Proxify is straightforward to use thanks to the custom built software for Mac and Windows.
- Automatic connections – one of the ways that Proxify takes the headache out of using a proxy is that it automatically connects its users to the best available server it has in terms of geography.
- Big network – While the entire network is only available to Proxify Pro, as opposed to standard customers, users will find their service quick due to the huge network that this proxy provider has.
- Proxify Basic allows 1 user at $26.15 per month
- Proxify Pro allows 1 user at $131 per month
#2. Proxy Server Pro
While we would only ever recommend the paid for service, we have found that this is a worthwhile investment in comparison to the free proxy that Proxy Server also offers.
- Fast speed – Proxy Server Pro offers its users a connection speed that is 10 times faster than its free proxy.
- Able to hide IP – Proxy Server Pro can hide user’s IP address as well as offering encryption in addition to a VPN for those that want it. This is an added layer of security for users and a big selling point when so much of our lives take place online where our personal data is recorded.
- Wide network – Proxy server pro has servers in over 25 locations around the world which means it is able to unblock and workaround many geographical restrictions.
- $12 per month
- $60 per six months
- $72 per year
#3. Smart DNS Proxy
Smart DNS Proxy is a perfectly reliable proxy that allows users to stream both video and music owing to its good connection speeds.
- No installation of software needed – This is a huge bonus, especially when compared even to VPNs, of this proxy. Given that users do not have to download software, their computer speed is totally unaltered.
- Quick connection speeds – Smart DNS Proxy has some lightning quick connections which is why it is so good for watching video content on. However, users should know that this is as it has a complete lack of a strong encryption technique.
- Multiple device connection – Smart DNS proxy allows users to log on and use the proxy across all their devices, which, given the growing amount of devices we all have, is a huge plus point.
- $4.90 per month
- $4.30 per month for three months
- $3.33 per month for 12 months
- $2.08 per month for 24 months
#4. My Private Proxy
My Private Proxy stays true to its name and provides its users with their own private and dedicated proxy to use. They have several locations where they keep servers across the USA and Europe so a connection is often incredibly easy.
- Authentication – My Private Proxy allows users to authenticate up to 10 different IP addresses or by username and password, which is high in comparison to the proxy market.
- Anonymity – My Private Proxy disables all headers so that it is able to replace user IPs with their own making for a more secure connection
- Excellent customer support – users can enjoy a 24 hour customer support team who can answer their queries either over a live chat feature or through email.
- Regular IP refresher – My Private Proxy ensures that all proxies are replaced once per billing cycle when a customer requires it, totally free of charge.
My Private Proxy charges on a by-proxy basis so that:
- $2.49 for 1 proxy per month
- $11.75 for 5 proxies per month
- $23.70 for 11 proxies per month
- $44.20 for 22 proxies per month
#5. High Proxies
The users of High Proxies rave about this proxy server’s high speeds and response times. It means that much of the internet that is blocked around the world is no longer restricted for them and easily accessible
- Unlimited bandwidth – This proxy server does not throttle bandwidth when its users have reached a certain amount of data each month so they can be assured that they can stream as much video content as they would like with High Proxies
- Fast Connection speeds – Coupled with High Proxies’s unlimited bandwidth, its connections speeds make browsing the internet easy and efficient. Users will never have to suffer from very much buffering or freezing of content.
- Poor Customer support – one thing that is not great about High Proxies is that the customer support that they provide is not particularly responsive. However, it has a pretty comprehensive FAQ page on its website.
High Proxies charge on a per proxy basis
- $2.30 per month for one proxy
- $11.50 per month for five proxies
- $22 per month for 10 proxies
- $42 per month for 20 proxies
How To Choose
There are several options to choose from when looking for a proxy service to protect and hide your browsing, each with its own strengths and areas for improvement.
However, the best proxy services should always include these features:
- A large enough number of servers and server locations to offer full access to global content
- An explicit and transparent policy of if and how they collect user connection logs
- An easy-to-use interface that makes connecting and choosing specific servers straightforward
- A strong enough connection so that your internet speeds will not be significantly affected
- Reliable customer service in case you encounter problems or experience an emergency
Why Do I Need A Proxy Service?
Proxy servers are useful for a variety of reasons, including:
- Bypassing restrictive firewalls or geo-restrictions that prevent you from accessing content
- Retrieving information that you would prefer not to be linked back to your IP address
- Viewing your favorite content while traveling abroad without limitations
- Posting comments or visiting social media websites from places (such as offices) that may have blocked such sites.
- Avoiding surveillance or the tracing of your IP address by government agencies
Many proxy services are full-fledged virtual private networks (or VPNs) that offer their proxy connections alongside a variety of other security and privacy-oriented features.
Ultimately, when using a VPN with a proxy server, you can become almost invisible when browsing the web. You’re essentially untraceable to any ISP or government entity or other invasive third parties.
Different Types of Proxy Servers
Proxies are an excellent tool to help access geo-restricted content or avoid prying eyes, but it’s important to remember there are different types of proxy servers which offer different benefits:
- Normal Proxy (or Gateway) – This type of proxy connection is designed to improve connection and communication speeds. It works by caching (storing copies of) websites on its server to cut down on future request times. These servers don’t offer many of the privacy benefits other proxies do.
- Anonymous Proxy – These types of connections filter traffic, but do not include IP address requests to websites. Instead, they connect first to the ISP which routes the request before passing it to the proxy.
- Distorting Proxy – These are more common in VPNs, as they pass along a distorted IP address that hides your true identifier from the website being requested. In this case, the website still knows you are connecting via a proxy
- High Anonymity Proxy – This is the most popular type of proxy. In these cases, IP addresses are never shared with a website. Instead, a random IP address is sent in place of yours, allowing you to connect without identifying yourself online.
Free Proxies vs Paid Proxies
It can be tempting, especially when new to the world of proxies, to try out a free service. However, we wouldn’t advocate it. Free proxies come with a whole host of drawbacks that we list below, plus, when paid proxies are so cheap, it does not seem worthwhile saving a couple of dollars here and there for the risk and frustration that using a free proxy will incur.
- Inconsistency – Free proxies simply do not provide a consistent service or connection. This is for a number of reasons, but they are prone simply to disappear when you want to use them. This happens with a regularity that does not make them worthwhile to use.
- Slow connections – When we use the internet nowadays, we are no longer used to enduring the buffering that back when modems were used meant the internet freezing was a fairly common occurrence. Unfortunately, proxies can often cause the same issues. It is because many people use the same free proxy so that it slows the connection down rendering it almost unusable.
- Advertisements – To make money, proxies inundate their users with advertisements. Not only are these pop ups and similar irritating, they can further slow down your already slow connection.
- No privacy – Free proxies are not always able to keep your identity private. In fact, the proxy provider will know exactly what your online activity is every time you use their proxy. It’s a risk that is not worth taking.
- Malware – Another way that free proxies can make money is to install malware in the software so that when used on a new computer, it can access private and confidential data that the user will never have intended to reveal. Plus, malware can slow a computer down almost beyond use and, once in your computer, it is hard to remove.
When looking for the best method to protect yourself, you should always seek a VPN that includes a proxy service, as opposed to the other way around.
Proxies present an excellent way to better online privacy, but a VPN gives users a set of tools that enhance it even further.
By employing a VPN service that includes a robust proxy service such as ExpressVPN, you gain the best of both worlds. Discover our top proxy and VPN service choices by reading more!