What Is A Web Proxy Server?

Keeping yourself safe on the internet can feel like a full time job. From choosing the best antivirus software and identity theft insurance to running a VPN, the only thing that is a bigger hassle is getting hacked. Before you fall victim to virtual shenanigans, you should probably consider adding a web proxy to the tools in your utility belt. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Web Proxy or VPN?

In many ways, virtual private networks are simply highly-specialized versions of proxies. But that specialization offers a number of benefits and detriments.

Proxy VPN
Best options are free Best options are paid
A little work required every time you use it One-time setup can be slightly complicated
Only protects one service Covers all internet usage
Slowdown is likely to be significant Internet usage shouldn't be adversely impacted
Service owner can view your actions Properly anonymized

The Best Free Proxies

  1. Hidester: Anonymity is promised with no third-party IP involvement
  2. Hide.me: Supported by all BitTorrent clients
  3. ProxySite: Optimized for HD video
  4. HMA: Protects your identity and location
  5. Securefor.com: Incredibly easy to use

Free vs. Paid Proxies

These days, most proxy providers are also in the VPN business. The best of them are very reliable. But there is still some market for paid web proxies. While we recommend subscribing to a virtual private network instead of paying for a proxy, here are some of the relative merits of the two.

Feature Free Paid
No credit card information required
Somewhat insecure
Private

How Proxies Can Help You Avoid Hackers

Conclusion

The reality of web proxy services is that they aren't the most reliable or secure tools in the world. They solve one issue with privacy by introducing another. And there are often better options available that are more comprehensive. But that doesn't mean they can't be useful. The real benefit is their ability to be used easily and freely, without having to buy into an extended contract or install bulky software. If your goal is to simply check the score of a game while you're at work, there isn't a better option.

In Depth

When a website is blocked, there's a filter between you and it. Each site has a piece of identifying information called an address. The filter sees the address, matches it to a list of forbidden addresses, and prevents you from accessing the website.

A web proxy server works by tricking the filter. It changes the address that you are visiting. Since the filter can't see the actual address, it doesn't know you're visiting a blocked website, so it can't block your access.

Blocks are often organized according to type. These can include social media, movies and TV shows, other entertainment, and adult material. Schools, employers, or other institutions may use a filter to block access to these or anything else. With a web proxy server, you may be able to gain access to them.

Schools, employers, or other institutions may use a filter to block access to these or anything else.

In general, using a web proxy is legal in the United States. As long as you are using it to access legal websites and do legal things on the internet, you are not breaking any laws. But as soon as you start using it to access illegal websites or to conduct illegal business, you have broken the law. In short: using a web proxy won't send you to jail, but what you use it for can.

The safety and security of a proxy largely depends on what you are using it for. Understand that anything you do may be monitored by the proxy itself. That means the administrators of the server may be able to see whatever you are doing on the sites you are accessing.

Do not use a web proxy to share sensitive information with a website. This includes email, banking, online purchases, and, if you want to be extra careful, even social media. Remember: if using a website requires sharing sensitive information or if it already has information you have shared previously, you should avoid accessing it through a proxy.

This includes email, banking, online purchases, and, if you want to be extra careful, even social media.

There are free and paid options. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The best thing about free web proxies? They're free. But as in most things, you get what you pay for. Free proxies get more traffic, so they may be slower. Paid proxies are often faster and more reliable, but sharing your financial information with them may not be safe. Really, it's best to avoid paid proxies altogether.

Popular free proxy servers include Hidester, hide.me, and ProxySite.com. They provide great filter bypassing and generally solid performance. But don't use them for sensitive information.

For various reasons, there are few actual paid web proxy services. More common is the related VPN technology. Popular and reputable VPN servers include VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, and IPVanish. These are more secure than free web proxies and are generally safer with sensitive information.

For various reasons, there are few actual paid web proxy services.

Sometimes you may find you are unable to access a web proxy server. This may be because your network administrator has blocked access to the proxy itself. In which case, you may be out of luck.

If you want to access a website blocked by your network administrators, consider trying a web proxy server. For maximum security, use a paid VPN. And don't do or access anything illegal, or you risk fines or jail time.