Proxies are expensive, and often, you don’t know whether your project will benefit from them enough to be worth the investment. That’s where free proxies come in. They allow users to test the compatibility of their software and see how target websites react to connections from proxies.
But many users simply don’t know that free proxy lists exist or how to use them without compromising your security. I’m going to provide a short guide on all you need to know before starting to use free proxy lists.
What are free proxies?
Proxies are intermediaries between you and the internet. You send your request to a proxy, which forwards it to the website and returns back to your device. Servers can be accessed, websites loaded, and all other internet tasks can be achieved with proxies.
Free proxies, in this case, would be servers you can access free of charge and route your requests through. But how could this be? Maintaining such proxy servers costs a lot of money.
Users want a wide choice of popular locations, which requires an international operation. Providers must establish data centers, as in the case of datacenter proxies, in multiple corners of the world. More often, they rent space in existing data centers, but this also costs money.
There is also a need for different types of proxy IP addresses, as datacenter proxies are quite easily unveiled by website servers. Residential proxies are seen as a solution, so providers usually pay household owners for the possibility of using their IP addresses and devices as proxies.
Beggars can’t be choosers, so free proxies are rarely differentiated into residential or datacenter. Most frequently, only the different internet protocols are indicated.
HTTP proxies use the Hypertext Transfer Protocol protocol, which is crucial for transferring small data packets on the internet. SOCKS proxies use a transmission control protocol (TCP), which is better at sending very large data packets.
Some software solutions only support one or the other type of proxies as the connection protocol differs. From the angle of function, these proxies are different in that SOCKS is better for traffic-intensive tasks, and HTTPS is better at encryption.
Three ways to get proxies for free
It should be clear that free proxies sound a bit like a misunderstanding. Setting up and servicing proxies requires investments, and the user must pay in some form for such a service. So, the most obvious place to find free proxies is free trials of paid services.
Almost all paid proxy providers have some trial versions of their most popular products. For a limited time, you can access them and reap the benefits of a paid proxy. However, it is rare that a proxy provider gives a good proxy. Usually, it is a slow-rotating proxy that functions just well enough to convince you to buy a paid service.
Another option is to look for free web proxy services. These websites allow you to enter a URL and visit a webpage rerouting your connection somewhat anonymously. The biggest drawback is that you cannot use such proxies with any software, as the service is purely browser-based - you do not get any proxy credentials.
The third option is to find a proxy list. These are database server credentials - IP addresses, ports, and sometimes passwords. The sources of these free proxies differ. Sometimes companies open ports, and the IT department forgets to close them. Other times, this is intentional, and they want some bandwidth to be routed.
Usually, such free proxy lists are posted in various forums or websites by enthusiasts who are running specialized software to look for such ports. Sometimes, it’s also proxy providers with some proxies to spare.
Why free proxy lists are the best option?
It might not seem so at first glance, but using a free proxy server comes with some dangers. Many free web proxy websites are malicious and might try to install some malware on your device.
Proxies on the trial of free lists might come with trackers that will be able to collect all that you do while using the proxy. So, instead of achieving privacy, you might get your data leaked or sold to third parties.
If you still are in grave need of a proxy server and don’t have any money to spare, free proxy lists are the best option. They are not on a trial and will never end, but you must make sure to take some precautions and learn how to use them properly.
How to use free proxy lists?
Correct usage of a proxy list not only ensures that you can avoid some of the tracking risks associated with free proxies but can also increase their efficiency.
- Compile a reliable list of proxies. Make sure that it is not from a shady source and that the website is, in general, related to proxies. Here’s an example of a trustworthy free proxy list.
- Test the proxies. Enter the IP address and port number in your OS settings or on your browser to see whether the proxies are working.
- Make a personal list of functioning proxies. Find as many free proxy lists as possible and compile a personal list of trusted proxies yourself.
- Use a proxy rotator. These are dedicated software solutions or browser add-ons that can accept a list of proxy credentials and rotate your connection through them. A great example is the Proxy Switcher and Manager add-on for Google Chrome.
You will need to repeat the first three steps quite often, as proxy credentials on free lists are constantly changing. However, switching between different IPs and proxies will allow you to avoid tracking and increase the efficiency of free proxies.
Using free proxy lists is not a solution that can equal paid proxies in efficiency. It will also require significant time investments. But with some dedication and time to spare, free proxy lists help with some simple tasks when you are on a budget.
Image by kjpargeter on Freepik
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