Online security is a hot issue for an important reason — who wants to be tracked while they're browsing online? It's reassuring to know that your online activity is protected and kept private for several different reasons, and a proxy server can help here. Similar to VPNs, but with some key differences, using a proxy is a useful way to reroute where you appear to be browsing from but cannot encrypt your data like a VPN can. Keen to know about the best proxies? Read on, and we'll tell you how actually the best proxy is a VPN with some minor caveats.
That's because a proxy server offers less privacy than a VPN. It works as a gateway between you and the internet so that the details of the websites you visit are saved to the proxy server rather than to your computer. While the proxy owner can see your real IP, the websites you're browsing can't. It's a simple way of dodging advertiser tracking while browsing, as well as other privacy intrusions that mean you feel like big companies are keeping an eye on your business. Essentially, it's like 'moving' your location and acting as if you're online from a different location than you are. However, the activity can still be traced back to your proxy-based IP meaning proxies are generally not as secure as a VPN due to their lack of encryption as standard.
Therefore, the best option is to use a proxy that's built-in within a VPN, although some proxy-based solutions can be useful depending on your needs.
If you're keen to sign up for a proxy, whether it's one built-in to a VPN or a simple web-based solution, it's essential to know what's best for you. There are many proxies out there that cover a wide range of different needs and purposes. Both paid and free services exist, and they each offer their strengths and weaknesses, with free services generally less secure but having the benefit of being, well, free. Some are web-based, while others have separate apps for protecting you. Typically, paid services have more features, but that can be overkill, depending on what you need a proxy for.
One of the best proxies is ExpressVPN, a well-rounded and well-priced VPN that also offers many extensions to ensure that it works well solely as a proxy, albeit one with the added benefit of being a VPN. It's a paid solution, so it might be overkill for those that simply want a quick proxy fix, so we've also included some free web-based options, like HideMyAss and KProxy.
There's something for everyone here with the focus squarely on the best proxies out there.
Remember though — the best way to protect your data is by using a VPN rather than a proxy. That's why many of these proxies are actually VPNs or offer VPN facilities. Scroll down to find out more about what the core differences are and everything you need to know. For now, let's take a closer look at what makes each of the following proxies worth your time.
The best VPN and proxy for pretty much all purposes
Bottom line: Priced well, simple to use, and with plenty of great features, ExpressVPN has it all for your proxy and VPN needs. Simultaneous devices: 5 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers available: 3,000+ | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
- Extensive security features
- More than just a simple proxy
- Fast speeds
- Five device limit
- Overkill for casual proxy users
ExpressVPN is one of the biggest names when it comes to VPNs, and it's a fantastic choice if you want a long-term proxy solution too. It offers extensive security features, ensuring it doesn't keep any traffic logs, keeping your data safe and secure at all times. Based on the British Virgin Islands, you won't have to worry about data retention laws either, so you're safe in the knowledge that your privacy is maintained at all times. Nothing will be traced back to you.
Alongside that, it offers consistently great speeds no matter what location you choose, and boy, are there plenty of locations. Over 3,000 servers are available across 94 different countries, and it's easy to switch between them giving you plenty of flexibility, depending on what you're doing online.
Other features include a kill switch that prevents your traffic from leaking unencrypted in the unlikely event your connection drops, along with 256-bit encryption so you're super secure. ExpressVPN also offers a split tunneling feature that keeps you safer, dividing up your data online so that your activities are near impossible to trace. You can't beat ExpressVPN for keeping your browsing anonymous.
Well priced and super secure, NordVPN is an excellent choice for browsing anonymously.
Bottom line: Frequently offering great long-term deals, NordVPN is a perfect choice for those looking ahead to securing their data.
Simultaneous devices: 6 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers available: 5,200+ | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
- Fast connections
- Extensive security features
- Well priced
- Suffered data leak in the past
- Not the most stylish of apps
Another big name in the VPN business, NordVPN might be overkill for occasional proxy users, but - honestly - you need a VPN to protect your data more often than you might think. Much like ExpressVPN, NordVPN provides fast speeds and plenty of servers, all keen to keep your data secure. In recent times, NordVPN has added its NordLynx protocol to all users' services, boosting speeds significantly and generally providing a better service.
Elsewhere, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy as well as regular independent audits so that you know your data is safe and in no one's virtual hands but yours. NordVPN goes one further than most VPN companies and even has a bug bounty program to encourage users to find potential security issues.
Elsewhere, there are reasonably standard VPN features such as DNS leak protection, kill switch functionality and 256-bit AES encryption. In a nod to the main benefit to proxies, the kill switch can be set up to only kick in when an individual app needs protection, meaning you can keep on working away at your other activities if this annoyance occurs.
As mentioned, NordVPN is keen to tie you in for long periods, providing you with great deals for long subscriptions. That won't appeal to all users, so don't be afraid to look elsewhere for a short-term fix.
With free and paid options available, HideMyAss is perfect for every scenario.
Bottom line: HideMyAss is best known for its free web proxy tool, but it also has an excellent VPN service for more permanent purposes
Simultaneous devices: 5 (1 for free proxy) | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers available: 1,100+ | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
- Available in both free and paid varieties
- Simple to use
- Plenty of security features
- Not as fast as some competitors
In some ways, HideMyAss offers everything you could want. There's a free web proxy tool that means you can simply enter the URL you want to browse and leave HideMyAss to do the rest, as well as a paid VPN solution. The free tool, predictably, has the catch of only working in one tab and comes with all the caveats that a regular proxy has, so we'd recommend switching it up to the paid plan. Still, it's handy for those occasional moments where you need to hop onto a proxy server quickly.
It's the VPN side of things that makes more sense in the long term. It has everything you could need, including a strict no-logs policy with the company regularly audited. Alongside that, you can connect up to 5 devices at once through the service. Useful features like a kill switch ensure you can avoid data leaks, with the option to do so on an app-by-app basis or en masse. Split tunneling functionality is also available, allowing you to divide up your data and only use the VPN for specific processes.
HideMyAss also has an IP shuffle feature which randomizes your IP address anywhere from every 10 minutes to once a day, keeping trackers on their toes and able to keep on top of your activities. It's an all-around useful way of conducting your movements online.
Stylish apps make CyberGhost an extra attractive option when looking for a VPN or proxy.
Bottom line: Simple to use with attractive apps and extensions that turn CyberGhost into solely a proxy, this is an ideal option for many.
Simultaneous devices: 7 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers available: 6,200 | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
- Stylish apps
- Proxy extensions available
- Great features
- Not as fast as other VPNs
CyberGhost likes to specialize in torrenting thanks to its Torrent Anonymously profile, but it's also useful for general browsing. With plenty of servers, you'll find the access you need, even if they're not quite as fast as the likes of ExpressVPN.
In terms of ease of use, CyberGhost is super easy to use and get to grips with. Even its mobile apps are full of features and still simple to use. There are extensions for all major browsers, so you can easily use it like a proxy rather than anything more complicated.
Elsewhere, there are other essential features like a no-logs policy, 256-bit AES encryption, and a kill switch feature that can work on an app-by-app basis or for the whole system. You can also set up CyberGhost to connect to a particular server when you open a specific app, which can be a real timesaver depending on what you're doing.
For a quick and easy proxy solution, KProxy does the job but expect to pay for better features.
Bottom line: It's not pretty, but KProxy is ideal for a short term proxy fix that can also turn into a long term solution.
Simultaneous devices: 3 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers available: 10+ | 24/7 live chat support: No
- Ideal for quick proxy use
- Premium plan cheap in the short term
- Plenty of extension options
- Expensive long term
- Not many servers
Not everyone needs to connect from a different location all the time. We wouldn't recommend KProxy for torrenting, streaming foreign content, or any extended use, but it does the job well for a quick session.
Simply log onto the site and you can get started through one of the public servers, or opt to subscribe for ten days+ to get access to premium servers and enjoy a no-ads experience. Impressively, you're not paying for a period of time, you're paying for the effective days you use, so it works out as good value for occasional users.
Due to the nature of KProxy, it won't be the fastest and it doesn't have the benefits that a 'proper' VPN client offers, but if you're in a bind and you just need to do something fast, it's a great backup plan.
If you are looking for a simple, easy to use proxy server, KProxy is worth checking out. Get started with it today!
What should you consider before picking a proxy service?
Alternatively, if you plan on browsing online anonymously regularly, it's a smart idea to invest in a paid solution. We recommend signing up for a VPN rather than a service that's exclusively proxy based. VPNs secure your entire connection, not just your web browser, and they're generally better priced too.
What's the difference between a VPN and a proxy service?
A VPN is effectively a superior version of a proxy. It masks your IP address, much like a proxy, but it also encrypts all of your traffic. Proxies only work with one application at a time, too, while VPNs cover your whole connection and tend to require less configuring to do so.
At times, a proxy can be faster than a VPN because it's only working with one application at a time, so this can be useful if you're simply trying to circumvent a geo-lock. This isn't always the case, though, when you bear in mind that many VPNs offer multiple server locations, which keeps things speedier. A VPN is simply far more secure and provides more benefits.
Are free proxies a good alternative?
Free proxies can be useful for particular scenarios. For instance, if you merely want to browse a website via a proxy, they're perfect for this. For any long term use, though, it's a harder recommendation to make, especially when VPNs can be subscribed to so cheaply nowadays. Free proxies tend to include many adverts, which ruins the point of trying to dodge a lot of nefarious content.
Do I need a proxy service?
In a word, no. That's because a VPN is far superior, which is why we've listed VPN services primarily here. They offer better security, better privacy, and more locations to choose from, which leads to better loading times.
When VPNs offer such a complete service, it's generally advised that you sign up for one rather than trying to find a temporary proxy-based solution.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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