7 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing SOCKS5 Proxies

choosing SOCKS5 proxies

Updated on: February 13, 2024

Cybersecurity tools like proxies come in many packages but not all are equally qualitative or performant. When choosing SOCKS5 proxies, there are dos and don’ts that will define your experience going forward.

Plus, when it comes to your online privacy and security, no precautionary measure is too much. I recommend double or even triple-checking every privacy service you choose to enhance your online security.

In this article, I’ll discuss the 7 mistakes you should avoid when choosing SOCKS5 proxies. These mistakes range from slightly annoying to downright crippling for your online safety.

Most other guides on this topic don’t tackle SOCKS5 proxies specifically but offer general information about SOCKS5 and HTTPS proxies combined. 

That won’t help you too much in making an educated decision SOCKS5 proxies specifically, though.

So, below, I’ll tell you about SOCKS5-specific mistakes you should avoid!

1.   Ignoring Authentication Methods

A common mistake I see people make when choosing SOCKS5 proxies is to ignore the authentication methods offered by the proxy provider.

There are three levels of SOCKS5 authentication:

  • Null Authentication – In this case, the proxy server offers no authentication from the client, which means that anyone can use the proxy server. This could lead to unauthorized access
  • Username and Password – This is when the proxy allows access with a username and password, offering a more secure experience
  • GSS-API Authentication – This method uses a ticket-granting ticket (TGT) to verify the user’s identity, offering the most robust security for SOCKS5 proxy

Neglecting the authentication method might lead to undesirable outcomes like unauthorized access, security breaches, data exposure, and even cyberattacks.

A SOCKS5 proxy without proper authentication methods in place is potentially more vulnerable to cyberattacks, especially man-in-the-middle attacks where the attacker intercepts the unprotected data and steals it.

2.   Overlooking Speed

Speed is often overlooked when talking about tools like SOCKS5 proxies but it’s the one aspect you’ll notice most often when using a streaming platform.

A lower speed means you’re less productive because you’re wasting time waiting for websites to load or when using streaming platforms. The buffering problem is real…

And not all SOCKS5 proxies are the same in terms of speed or performance, even though they’re speedier than HTTPS proxies. Some are simply superior to others, just like there are good and bad VPN services.

If the speed is low enough, you may even receive a “Connection Timed Out” error from your browser because it took too long to establish a connection to the website you’re trying to access.

This could effectively stop you from accessing websites or other online services because the proxy slows down your internet speed immensely.

This is often the case with proxies that are easily overflooded by simultaneous user traffic or those who have few proxy servers that aren’t high-quality.

You may need to perform time-sensitive tasks at some point, and a slow proxy server will get in the way of that.

Never overlook speed when choosing SOCKS5 proxies!

3.   Not Testing the SOCKS5 Proxy Before Committing

Before choosing a SOCKS5 proxy, I recommend testing it to see if it suits your specific needs. You may use it for work, bypassing geo-blocks, avoiding censorship, or simply hiding your IP address to protect yourself.

Compared to HTTPs proxies, SOCKS5 proxies offer varying levels of application compatibility and protocol functionality on TCP and UDP. But not all SOCKS5 proxies are just as proficient at these things.

The only way you can find out if the proxy performs up to your requirements is by testing it beforehand.

To do this, you have three options:

  • A free trial
  • A guaranteed refund period
  • A pay-as-you-go option

The vast majority of premium SOCKS5 proxies will provide at least one of these options both for enterprises and individuals.

A free trial is obviously best but not all proxies offer one. In that case, go with the pay-as-you-go option or the refund period.

You’ll have a good measuring stick to assess the performance of the proxy before you commit to a full subscription. If it doesn’t perform accordingly, your losses will be minimal or zero.

Not testing the proxy beforehand means you’re opening yourself up for disappointment once you start using it in real-life scenarios.

4.   Trying to Encrypt the SOCKS5 Proxy

By default, SOCKS5 proxies do not provide any form of encryption, unlike HTTPS proxies. And that’s fine since most of the websites on the internet are encrypted (HTTPS), so already secured.

If you want additional protection (similar to what VPNs provide) but still use SOCKS5 proxies, you can have your cake and eat it too. By combining the SSL/TLS protocol with the proxy, a SOCKS5 proxy benefits from encrypted data during the data transmission process.

So, even though the proxy itself is not encrypted, the data being transmitted through it is.

However, not all SOCKS5 proxies are compatible with SSL/TLS, and not all the applications you’ll be using via the SOCKS5 proxy will accept end-to-end encryption through SSL/TLS.

SOCKS5 proxies that support encryption are usually called “SOCKS5 over TLS” or “SOCKS5 with SSL”.

Read more about how this is done here!

Essentially, there’s only one way to do this – wrap the SOCKS5 proxy with a TLS encryption layer via a software like Stunnel.

The idea is that you should first determine whether a specific SOCKS5 proxy works in conjunction with SSL/TLS to create an encrypted data transfer and make yourself more secure.

Is SSL/TLS encryption worth it or even required? No, in my humble perspective. Should you base your assessment of a SOCKS5 proxy based on its compatibility with SSL/TLS? Not really, no. 

But it’s up to you, in the end. If you do want more encryption for SOCKS5 proxies, SSL/TLS is the way to do it!

5.   Looking for UDP Support

A major advantage of SOCKS5 proxies over HTTP proxies is that the latter support the UDP protocol (in theory), which allows these proxies to interact with:

  • Streaming apps
  • Online gaming apps
  • VoIP services
  • Multicasting

However, you might not know that not all SOCKS5 proxies provide the same level of UDP support.

Very few will offer full UDP support, which accepts both outbound and inbound UDP packets. This is ideal for apps that require a full duplex UDP communication. A good example of this is an online multiplayer game where bidirectional communication is a must.

Other SOCKS5 proxies offer only outbound UDP support, which means the proxy only offers support for UDP packets that you send. They don’t support incoming UDP packets.

Finally, most SOCKS5 proxies only offer limited or zero UDP support, which means that they either don’t work with any UDP-based apps or with a very limited range of apps.

So you might not want to take UDP support into consideration when looking for a good SOCKS5 proxy.

I still advise you to contact the proxy provider and ask them about UDP support, though. There’s a low chance they don’t support it but you may be surprised.

6.  Looking for Dynamic Port Forwarding Options

It’s the same story as above. While the SOCKS5 protocol technically supports Dynamic Port Forwarding, most SOCKS5 proxies actually have this option disabled by default.

Through Port Forwarding, the proxies could theoretically open a dynamic network connection to various destination servers. This is useful in file-sharing software like uTorrent or BitTorrent.

Peer-to-peer file-sharing needs dynamic port forwarding to establish the connections needed for the torrenting process to work properly.

However, most SOCKS5 proxies don’t provide the proper support for dynamic port forwarding. In effect, it means that peer-to-peer apps like uTorrent won’t function properly with SOCKS5 proxies activated.

You will have to contact the proxy provider and ask them about dynamic port forwarding options specifically. Most trusted SOCKS5 proxies don’t support this feature but that might not be the case with every proxy you come across.

7.   Not Considering Proxy Chaining

Proxy chaining (or proxy cascading) lets you route your internet traffic through multiple SOCKS5 proxy servers, enhancing your anonymity and privacy.

With every proxy server in the chain, you receive another layer of security, which makes it more difficult for external threats to track you down.

However, some SOCKS5 proxies may only offer limited support for proxy chaining, and there’s no way to know this beforehand. Most won’t advertise this feature because it’s not common knowledge, so to speak.

It’s one of the best ways to increase your security when using SOCKS5 proxies, though. So, you will have to contact the proxy provider and inquire about the feature before committing to a subscription.

HTTP proxies do not normally allow proxy chaining because these proxies aren’t designed with this purpose in mind. They already have a pretty robust encryption that SOCKS5 proxies lack by default.

Conclusion

Choosing the right SOCKS5 proxy is not an easy job, especially considering how many providers there are. It’s also a fairly complex industry, with plenty of jargons and concepts you may not be familiar with.

Avoiding the 7 mistakes above will enhance your experience with SOCKS5 proxies and help you avoid the pitfalls of this industry.

Whether it’s the lack of dynamic port forwarding, improper UDP support, or inferior authentication options, they can all impact your experience going forward.

Hopefully, this list will help you with choosing SOCKS5 proxies that are best for you. I also recommend reading this list of the 5 best SOCKS5 proxy providers on the market!

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