SOCKS VS. HTTP? Which proxy type is better..

SOCKS VS. HTTP? Which proxy type is better..

So you’re ready to use a proxy when downloading torrents. Good for you; a proxy helps make your torrent activity substantially more anonymous.

But there are two common proxy types: SOCKS Proxies¬† and HTTP (Or HTTPS) Proxies. Is one better than the other for downloading torrents anonymously? The answer is yes. SOCKS5 Proxies are far superior for use with bittorrent. Read on and we’ll show you why.

We’ve also picked our favorite anonymous SOCKS5 Proxy Services, to help make your decision easier. You can be downloading torrents anonymously with a non-logging torrent proxy within 5 minutes.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HTTP AND SOCKS PROXY SERVERS

All proxy protocols are not created equal, and different proxy types were invented to serve different purposes, and solve different problems. So it should be no surprise that SOCKS and HTTP proxies operate very differently.

HTTP PROXY

As their name suggests, HTTP Proxies are specifically designed for the proxying of HTTP data. HTTP is the protocol used to transfer website data. Anytime you visit a website, the address will be “HTTP://www.yourwebsite.com”. HTTP is the protocol by which all data is transferred from the web server to your computer.

HTTP proxies are great at doing this. If you need a proxy for your web browser (for example to unblock netflix from outside the USA) and HTTP proxy will work great. If you try to use an HTTP proxy for other protocols, however, you will start to have problems.

HTTP Proxies are also available in an encrypted form (known as HTTPS) that allows http data to be transferred securely using light SSL encryption. This can help the proxy tunnel through a firewall or prevent monitoring by 3rd parties (such as an internet service provider).

Advantages of an HTTP Proxy

There are really only 2 advantages of using an HTTP Proxy for torrents:

1. HTTPS proxies feature built-in encryption
This helps to keep your transferred data from being read. It can also help block throttling attempts by your ISP (internet provider).

The need for external encryption when downloading torrents is pretty low, however, because popular torrent clients like uTorrent and Vuze actually offer built-in protocol encryption for free within their software.

2. HTTP Proxy servers are widely available for free.
This is the main appeal of HTTP proxies for bittorrent, and the reason most users try them first. There are dozens of free proxy server lists, offering free access to http (and https) proxies around the world. Everyone loves ‘Free’ of course, but free proxies come with plenty of headaches (beyond being limited to http protocols).

Dangers of free proxies:

  • You don’t know who’s running the server
  • You expose yourself to virus/malware injection by the proxy server.
  • Since all data you transfer flows through the proxy server, it can potentially log your login/password details.
  • Legitimate free proxy servers almost always keep server logs, which means your torrents aren’t anonymous.
  • Free proxy servers go down frequently, and are often extremely slow (shared by hundreds of other users)

Disadvantages of using an HTTP Proxy for Torrents

There are several reasons you wouldn’t want to use an HTTP proxy for torrents. Nearly all of these issues stem directly from the fact that HTTP proxies are designed specifically for the HTTP protocol (not UDP/TCP protocols which are used by bittorrent).

1. HTTP Proxies are design for HTTP Data (Not Torrents)
The HTTP Proxy Protocol was designed specifically to transfer HTTP (website) data. As a result, HTTP proxy servers may filter all other types of data, or block them altogether (such as UDP data).

This proxy type will also try to rewrite the headers of data packets as HTTP data. This can result in data packets getting slowed down or misrouted at the router level, dramatically slowing down your torrent speeds.

2. HTTP proxy servers don’t support the UDP Protocol.
Bittorrent is heavily reliant on UDP packets, which are flat-out not supported by HTTP proxies. Many torrent trackers (how your torrent software finds peers) rely on the UDP protocol. Also, DHT exclusively uses the UDP protocol to find additional peers. Without UDP support, your torrent downloads will likely be extremely slow.

3. Many Public HTTP Proxies will block torrents altogether
Public proxy servers are often designed to allow users to freely access websites without restrictive firewalls. They don’t want torrent downloads using huge chunks of their server bandwidth and they will often block common torrent ports or blacklist torrent downloaders.

4. HTTP Proxies will be much slower
A number of factors combine to dramatically slow torrents downloaded via HTTP Proxy. First, packets tend to get misrouted due to HTTP Proxy header rewrites (#1 above). Lack of UDP support (#2) means you can’t use DHT to find additional peers. And finally, HTTP proxy servers (especially free ones) tend to be extremely crowded which means you’ll likely get only a fraction of your available bandwidth for torrent downloads.

SOCKS PROXY (SOCKS5)

Unlike ‘High-Level’ HTTP proxies, which are designed for a specific protocol, SOCKS Proxy technology is ‘low-level’ and is designed to be an all-purpose proxy which can accommodate virtually any protocol, program, or type of traffic. This makes a SOCKS proxy ideal for the Bittorrent protocol.
SOCKS Version 5 (SOCKS5)
There are multiple versions of the SOCKS proxy protocol. SOCKS5 (version 5) is the optimal choice for torrents because it includes full UDP support (which http proxies do not), which will allow you to connect to more peers/trackers and experience much faster torrent downloads.All the anonymous proxy services recommended on this site include SOCKS5 proxy servers.


Advantages of using a SOCKS5 Proxy for torrents

A SOCKS/SOCKS5 proxy is much better at anonymizing your torrent downloads than an HTTP proxy. Here are some of the main advantages:

Full UDP Protocol Support
SOCKS5 proxies support both TCP and UDP transfer protocols (the 2 data protocols used by bittorrent technology) so you get the full functionality of your torrent client even when you use a proxy. This means you can access UDP trackers and fully utilize DHT to maximize your number of available peers and download speeds.

Fastest Proxy Option
A SOCKS5 proxy is will allow you do download torrents much faster than other proxy types. This because SOCKS5 offers full UDP support, allowing you to connect to the maximum number of peers.

Also, SOCKS proxies don’t rewrite data packet headers (like HTTP proxies do) which means your data packets won’t be misrouted or mislabled. Less errors = faster speeds.

More Anonymous. Zero Log Proxies available
There are multiple non-logging SOCKS5 torrent proxy services. A non-logging proxy offers maximum anonymity for virtually untraceable torrents. Learn why you should always use a non-logging VPN/proxy for torrents.

BEST SOCKS5 PROXY SERVICES FOR TORRENTS

There are several SOCKS5 proxy services available for bittorrent users. Here are some of our favorites. We picked them based on several criteria:

  • Anonymity and Privacy
  • Torrent friendliness (these services all allow torrents on their network)
  • Price

Some of these proxy services are actually included as part of a complete VPN + Proxy package. This is a great value because you’re essentially getting 2 services for the price of 1. Check out our full list of VPN’s that include free proxy service.