HTTP Proxies vs SOCKS Proxies – The Key Differences

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If you are confused about choosing between HTTP proxies and SOCKS proxies, learn more about their differences, perks, and drawbacks here. While both have their advantages, decide which one is ideal for your business.

There is no doubt that businesses need web scraping to get the information they require for decision-making. And the best way to get information via web scraping is to use proxy servers. There are many different types of proxy servers available.

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Today we will look at two types of proxies: HTTP proxies and SOCKS proxies.

All about proxies—what are they, and how do they work?

A proxy server hides your internet protocol (IP) address from a website that is being scraped for information. So it is tricked into believing that the information request is coming from another address.

Proxy servers are also used to access geo-blocked information from websites. Again, using a proxy server from the exact geographical location as the website tricks it into thinking that the request is local.

To look at the internet from a more technical point of view…the computer that requests information from a website is called the client. And the computer that provides the data is called the server. So the Internet works on a client-server or request-response model.

To send and receive information over the Internet, there are many protocols or sets of rules that are followed. There is the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) or the transmission control protocol (TCP). These protocols specify how information flows over the Internet.

There are two types of proxies used for web scraping. They are HTTP proxies and SOCKS proxies. SOCKS stands for secure sockets. Let us look at an HTTP proxy—what it is and how it works.

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What is an HTTP proxy?

HTTP or hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) proxies are the most common type of proxy. The Web functions using the HTTP or HTTPS protocols. HTTPS is just more secure compared to HTTP.

Since most websites use the HTTP/HTTPS protocol, web scraping is best done using HTTP/HTTPS protocols.

HTTP proxies allow you to filter information as they can ‘see’ the data. That is why HTTP proxies are used for web scraping. For more secure connections, you could use HTTPS proxies.

On the other hand, SOCKS proxies work at a ‘lower level’ compared to HTTP proxies. SOCKS proxies are used for more general purposes. SOCKS proxies form TCP connections with the server and are faster than HTTP proxies. You would use a SOCKS proxy when you want to get past firewalls.

SOCKS 4 is the more popular protocol, but SOCKS 5 is the more secure version. The advantage of SOCKS is that You can use them with different protocols. The disadvantage of SOCKS protocols is that they cannot ‘see’ the information and are prone to collecting a lot of junk information.

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What are its main features?

HTTP proxies are used a lot for web scraping. This is because they understand the data that needs to be scraped and can filter out information that is not required. For greater security, you could use HTTPS proxies.

HTTP proxies act as a content filter that protects your server from attacks. It can examine the web traffic for suspicious content or any intrusion that may interfere with your server.

HTTP or HTTPS proxies are great for most web scraping information. They can collect data from servers using the same HTTP protocol. Besides this, you get targeted information because HTTP/HTTPS proxies can filter out unwanted information.

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Should you use an HTTP proxy or a SOCKS proxy?

HTTP proxies are a higher level of proxy compared to SOCKS proxies. HTTP proxies offer better speed connections than SOCKS5 proxies because they are designed to work with a specified protocol.

However, while HTTP proxies can only obtain information from servers using the same HTTP protocols, SOCKS5 can get information from servers running any protocol.

SOCKS5 proxies have an advantage over HTTP proxies because they are more flexible and secure. They are designed to handle any protocol and traffic without any limitations.

SOCKS proxies are mainly used when you want to create a fast low-level TCP connection past a firewall. Another thing to keep in mind is that HTTP proxies mainly use port 80, while SOCKS proxies can use any port. However, this is more of a technical consideration.

Of course, we use proxies because we want anonymity to scrape a website for information and pass geo-blocking restrictions. In this case, HTTP proxies would be a great choice compared to SOCKS proxy.

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Conclusion

Web scraping tools help businesses to get important information that aids in decision-making. Since most websites do not like web scraping, they have inbuilt measures to stop or prevent scraping.

To overcome these measures, businesses use proxies. The two main types of proxies, HTTP or SOCKS, can hide your IP address when you make requests to other servers. However, HTTP proxies are more ideal for web scraping because they can filter information to pick just what is required.