SOCKS Proxy vs. VPN: Which One to Pick?

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Whether you are looking for a service to help you streamline your data scraping operations, enhance security and online privacy, or access geo-blocked content, you’ve probably discovered VPNs and SOCKS proxies. However, they feature unique setups and capabilities.

How do you pick the right one for your individual or business needs?

To make the right decision, you need access to actionable information. Below you will find everything you need to know about VPNs and SOCKS proxies, including the latest edition of these proxies, a SOCKS5 proxy.

Everything you need to know about a VPN

VPN is short for a Virtual Private Network. A free vpn download is a service that enables end users to use servers in the VPN network as intermediaries. VPN services allow users to select the geolocation of the server they want to connect to for accessing geo-blocked content.

While connected to a VPN server, the traffic goes through the VPN’s network. The user gets a new IP address corresponding to the selected server location. The service is set up to transmit both request and response data. However, it not only transfers the data but also encrypts it, thus adding another layer of security.

While they have many use cases, it often boils down to using VPNs to improve online security or access geo-blocked content. Businesses worldwide choose to use VPN services to secure all devices in the company network.

It’s instrumental for companies with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies since many employees use unprotected public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN provides that additional protection.

Everything you need to know about SOCKS proxies

Proxy servers are similar to VPNs to some extent. The one fundamental similarity is that they also act as intermediaries. A proxy server is a gateway your traffic will go through, including outgoing and incoming traffic.

The web requests appear as if they were at the proxy server level because a proxy assigns a new IP address and geolocation. That’s why people also use them to bypass geo-restrictions and enhance security.

There are many types of proxies. The most common classification is based on a proxy server’s internet protocol.

A SOCKS proxy got its name after the SOCKS protocol it uses. SOCKS stands for Socket Secure, a protocol used for tasks requiring high bandwidth.

Besides traffic-intensive tasks, SOCKS proxies proved helpful in projects that require guaranteed successful deliveries of data packets, access to websites behind a firewall, and limited access privileges.

In the past, SOCKS proxies were limited to establishing TCP connections. The latest version of the SOCKS protocol also enables a SOCKS5 proxy to support UDP connections and improved security. You can check out a SOCKS5 proxies example for more information on their capabilities.

SOCKS Proxy vs. VPN: Essential differences and how to choose

The first noteworthy difference between SOCKS proxies and VPNs is integration and customization.

Most VPN services are not customizable. They are easy to integrate as they work right out of the box. However, users don’t have many ways to customize it.

With a SOCKS proxy, users have more options when it comes to customization. That’s why businesses often choose SOCKS proxies over VPNs. These proxies enable companies to set them up according to their needs, whether they need them for large-scaled web scraping operations or improved security.

Furthermore, a VPN service applies to the entirety of web traffic. Most providers don’t enable users to select which apps to use or don’t use. SOCKS proxies operate on a browser level. Users can even set them up for encrypting headers if needed for enhanced online safety.

In terms of cost, proxies are a much more cost-efficient solution for business use cases, especially SOCKS proxies. It’s because they support TCP and UDP connections, making them versatile and extremely fast even when handling plenty of data.

SOCKS proxies are faster than VPNs because VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between a user and the web. The internet traffic goes through one VPN server, which can cause significant delays and slowdowns. On the other hand, SOCKS proxies route only selected traffic, enabling them to deliver consistent bandwidth over long periods.

Considering these differences and similarities, how do you choose the right solution for your needs?

A SOCKS proxy is a more versatile solution than a VPN. It has significantly more business use cases such as web scraping, discovering copyright infringement, market research, and competitive analysis. Thanks to the latest SOCKS5 proxy, businesses can also benefit from enhanced security. Individuals more commonly use VPNs.


SOCKS proxies and VPNs are similar and yet quite different services. As you can see, VPNs focus more on traffic encryption and bypassing geo-restrictions. SOCKS proxies have more use cases, and you can most commonly find them in tech stacks of companies interested in gathering and processing data from online sources.