Online privacy is becoming an increasingly bigger concern for internet users and it’s easy to see why. Most major companies go out of their way to collect personal data so they can serve user’s personalized ads or sell it to third parties. On top of that, there are plenty of entities and individuals that use the data for all sorts of malicious purposes ranging from ransomware and phishing to credit card fraud and everything in between. The bottom line is that users are at risk while browsing the internet unless they use special tools and services to protect their data.
One of the best tools you can use to enhance your online security is free proxy servers. These act as a middleman between you and the internet and allow you to browse anonymously. When using a proxy server, your real IP is hidden and you are assigned a different address that acts as a temporary substitute. There are plenty of proxy services out there that you can get for free while others have paid, often subscription-based, variants that come with certain benefits. We’re going to cover both types in this article to give a varied sample group to choose from.
Below you can find a quick summary of the providers we handpicked for you along with the main reasons they were chosen to be featured on this list. If you’re looking for a more detailed analysis of these companies, keep reading for our full breakdown of each provider.
- Hide.me – A reliable company that takes the privacy of its users seriously.
- HideMyAss – Very popular and user-friendly provider of free proxy servers.
- ProxySite – Straightforward service that gives you a lot of server locations to choose from.
- Hidester – Good free proxy servers that get even better if you decide to go premium.
- 4everproxy – Completely free with multiple websites in the case the main one goes down.
- KProxy – Minimalistic website that makes things easy for inexperienced users.
- MegaProxy – Veteran-free service provider that also offers very cheap paid proxy servers.
- VPN Book – Offers to free open-source VPN clients in addition to free proxy servers.
- Tor – A very popular service that can easily act as a replacement for your current browser.
- Whoer- Free version comes with many limitations but can still get the job done pretty well.
Remember – Some of the companies on this list are specialized in proxy servers while others offer a wider variety of services. We only went with reliable and well-known companies here so you’re in good hands regardless of which provider you pick.
Hide.me takes the privacy of its users very seriously as evidenced by the fact that the company doesn’t store any data that could be traced back to you, such as browsing history logs. You don’t have to register on the site or enter any sort of information before using the service, so anonymity is the name of the game here. Another nice thing about Hide.me is that the service automatically blocks ads and pop-ups on the website so you’re accessing. The company doesn’t have any ads on its own website either so you can expect a completely ad-free experience here.
The free proxy service allows you to choose between three different servers – US, Germany, and the Netherlands – and includes all the useful options you might expect, such as the ability to encrypt URLs, remove scripts, disallow cookies, and more. The service can be accessed either directly via the official website or through a Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox extension. Hide.me has quite a few systems in place to prevent IP leaks, including firewalls and a special feature known as Kill Switch, which is meant to keep your data safe in case your connection drops unexpectedly.
Free VPN Solution
Similar to other companies on this list, Hide.me offers a few other tools and services in addition to free proxy servers. One of these tools is a VPN service that you can use for free if you don’t mind registering an account. You can download the VPN without registering but you would only be able to use it for free for a limited time. If you’re looking for a more advanced solution, Hide.me offers a premium VPN service priced at $5.41/mo that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Unsurprisingly, the premium version has a lot more to offer than the free one, including access to 1400 servers, unlimited data transfer, 10 simultaneous connections, and more.
HideMyAss (HMA) is arguably the most well-known provider of free proxy servers on the market, thanks in no small part to its memorable name. An interesting thing about HMA is that has an IP detection tool built into its website. Whenever you visit the home page, the site will immediately show you your public IP address, location, and even your service provider. Don’t worry, though, because only you can see that information. The purpose of this tool is to show you how easy it is for websites to learn and potentially disclose this type of information.
HMA has a very user-friendly interface and its free proxy service is very straightforward. Simply open the tool, type in the URL you want to visit, and pick a server. There are six locations to choose from and you can choose to encrypt the URL, disable cookies or remove the scripts of the website you’re visiting. Unlike many other providers, HMA actually explains what these options do and why they’re useful. Their purpose may seem obvious to you and me but inexperienced users might not be familiar with those terms so it’s nice to see them explained. The only real problem with HideMyAss is that it stores your IP address for an undisclosed period of time, which isn’t exactly ideal.
A Truckload of Features
Since a free proxy server will only get you so far, HMA also offers a VPN service that packs a lot of great features. A few of the highlights include split-tunneling, IP shuffle, leak protection, DDoS protection, smart Kill Switch, automatic connection rules, fully encrypted servers, and more. There are also a lot more locations to choose from and the connections are lightning-fast. The premium service costs $11.99 per month, which is a bit pricey but definitely worth the investment if you need to use a VPN often. Or, you could go for the free trial, however, this will only last for 7 days and you’ll need to register an account in order to benefit from it.
A pretty self-explanatory service that does exactly what it says. Most of these services are very easy to use but ProxySite takes things to the next level by adding the URL bar on the front page. You don’t need to click anywhere else on the website thanks to this convenient feature. ProxySite is very generous with the number of servers you can choose from, giving you access to more than two dozen locations across the US and EU. A sour point for some users might be that ProxySite has a lot of ads on its website, but since you’re planning to use a proxy server, you’re probably not above using an ad blocker as well.
Since I’ve already mentioned convenience earlier, there is another nice feature available on the site that will make things easier and faster. Just above the URL bar, you can find a series of buttons that will take you straight to proxy versions of popular websites such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more. That’s great for situations when you don’t want to type in or copy a URL because you can simply visit the target website first and then proceed from there. ProxySite also has a Settings section where you can see and delete all the cookies stored by your computer while visiting websites via the service.
Decent Premium Offering
If you want to take your online security to the next level, ProxySite recommends using its premium VPN services. The service also includes a premium web proxy so this is one of those 2-in-1 type deals. The premium service costs $9.99 per month and comes with most of the features you would expect, such as access to dedicated servers, end-to-end encryption, geo-targeting, and full compatibility with restricted websites, among other things. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that stands out here, particularly given the fairly high monthly subscription. The premium service is a bit hit-or-miss but the free offering is definitely very solid.
Hidester is a very popular provider of services related to online privacy. While primarily known for its VPN service, Hidester also offers proxy servers that are not only secure but also extremely simple to use. One of the main reasons users pick Hidester instead of other similar services is because you don’t need to install anything here. You also don’t need to create an account or provide any type of information in order to use the service, which saves up a lot of time.
You can use Hidester from any browser and it works equally well on both desktop and mobile devices. If you plan on using the service often, you can install a Chrome extension so you don’t have to visit the company’s website every time you want to hide your IP. Regardless of where you plan on accessing Hidester from, you can pick between two types of servers – US and Europe – and play around with a few useful options before starting your browsing sessions. For example, you can encrypt the URL you want to visit, block cookies or remove scripts and objects from the target site.
A Huge List of Proxies to Choose From
Although the free proxy servers are very solid, you can get a lot more value from the premium version of the service. If you go premium, you can choose between more than 1600 proxies from a wide variety of countries around the globe. The service gives you access not just to public proxies but also SOCKS 4/5, SSL, HTTP, and Google proxies. You also get three levels of anonymity to work with along with a few other useful features. Hidester only supports semi-annual subscription plans for its paid service but you can get full access for just $24.90 for the 6-month period. In addition, the company also offers a very powerful VPN service, a password generator, and a couple of other tools that will help you enhance your online security.
While other companies on this list try to stay diversified by offering multiple tools and services, 4everproxy is more single-minded in its approach. The provider works exclusively with proxy servers and doesn’t charge anything for its service. You will see more than a couple of ads on the company’s website because of it but that’s a small price to pay for anonymous browsing without any restrictions. Not offering a premium version may seem counter-productive, however, the company has been around since 2008 so the business model it uses seems to be working out just fine.
4everproxy is pretty unique in that it allows users to choose not only the location of the server but also the IP they want to use to connect to the targeted website. This gives you a lot of flexibility, especially given that you can choose between nine server locations and over a dozen IP locations. Another nice feature of 4everproxy is the ability to change both your server and IP location on the fly, which is a must for certain activities such as ad verification, for example. Aside from that, you’ve got many of the customization options you would expect, including the ability to remove scripts and page titles, allow or disallow cookies, page encryption, and more.
A Solid Backup Plan
As mentioned, 4everproxy itself doesn’t offer any other service or even a premium version. However, the same people who own 4everproxy run a wide variety of other websites you might be interested in. Most of these websites are a bit more specialized than 4everproxy and were designed to work specifically with YouTube, Chrome, or torrent sites like The Pirate Bay. Many of these additional websites were put in place as a backup plan, so just in case 4everproxy gets taken down at some point in the future, know that there are plenty of replacements you can use.
KProxy is another popular proxy service that will allow you to browse anonymously for free. The website has a minimalistic design with very little clutter or unnecessary elements. If you don’t like the website, don’t worry because you can just install the KProxy Chrome or Firefox browser extensions instead. Another option would be to install the KProxy browser. The browser is exactly what you would expect and makes using the proxy servers a breeze, however, it does feature ads so maybe stick with the extensions or the regular websites if you’re not into that kind of thing.
A nice feature of Kproxy is that it allows you to switch between HTTP and HTTPS with a simple switch of a button. Although you can access most sites with either of the two protocols nowadays, there are some instances when the URL will not work unless you’re using a certain version, so having this option is really helpful. KProxy allows you to choose between 10 different public servers, which is quite a bit more compared to other providers. The bad news is that the company doesn’t say where these servers are located so you wouldn’t be able to make it seem like you’re browsing from a specific country or region.
Ad-Free Experience, For a Price
Despite all the advantages offered by KProxy, the service does contain some ads and makes you wait for 30 minutes after using the service for longer periods of time. If you want to get rid of those annoyances you’ll need to go with the premium version, which costs $10 per month. If you’re thinking long-term, I recommend opting for the semi-annual plan as that would only set you back $30 for the entire 6-month period. In return, you can expect an ad-free experience, unlimited downloads, access to premium servers, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a few other benefits to boot.
MegaProxy has been around for a pretty long time so you may find its site to be a bit dated compared to some of the other services on our list. If you don’t mind the minimalistic interface, however, there’s actually a lot to like about the service. For one, the URL bar is conveniently placed on the front page so you can quickly type the URL you want to visit and click the “Surf” button to begin your anonymous browsing session.
Once you’ve accessed the website, you can find a menu bar at the top of the screen that gives you a number of options you can use to customize your browsing experience. Among other things, you can shield OS and browser agents, hide HTTP referrer information, block internet cookies, remove ads from webpages, and limit animated images. On the flip side, MegaProxy doesn’t let you pick between different server locations and the free version of the service comes with a lot of other limitations. Still, MegaProxy is known for being fast and secure so this remains a good choice in spite of the limitations.
Dirt-Cheap Premium Service
MegaProxy’s premium proxy service is one of the cheapest ones out there. The company only charges $9.95 for a 90-day subscription and offers even better prices for educational and non-profit organizations looking to purchase licenses in bulk. Going for the premium proxy servers will remove the many limitations found in the free version. For example, free users can’t download files larger than 200 kilobytes, visit more than 60 pages over a five-hour period, encrypt more than 20 cookies at a time, and more. Needless to say, the premium service is a lot more advanced. The only problem with it is that MegaProxy doesn’t support monthly billing cycles, so you would have to commit to a 90-day plan right off the bat.
8. VPN Book
In spite of what its name might suggest, this is more than just another VPN service. Upon visiting the homepage, you may notice that the company also offers a free web proxy. The proxy service is pretty similar to the other ones we’ve covered so far and just as easy to use. The thing that stood to me is that once you visit the target website, you don’t have to worry about anything obscuring your viewing experience, such as ads or the top toolbar used by so many other proxy services. In other words, the website you visit via proxy will look pretty much exactly like the original, which isn’t the case with all proxies.
There are ads on the VPN Book website itself but that’s not a big problem since you probably won’t spend a lot of time browsing around there. As far as the servers are concerned, you get four regions to choose from – the US, UK, Canada, and France. Alternatively, you can just pick random and the service will automatically select a server for you. VPN Book’s proxy service features solid 256-bit SSL encryption and doesn’t require you to register an account or download anything. The main drawback is that the service doesn’t feature any advanced options so you won’t be able to block cookies and scripts like you can with some of the other entries on this list.
If you’re looking for a more robust tool to mask your online identity, you may want to take a look at what VPN Book has to offer in this department. The company offers access to two open-source VPN tools (OpenVPN and PPTP VPN) entirely for free and without having to register an account. However, similar to a lot of other open-source software, these tools are not as stable as commercial VPN clients and they’re a bit more difficult to set up. VPN Book does have a guide on its website that will help you with the setup process but it’s still difficult to recommend the tools to anyone who isn’t tech-savvy.
Tor is different compared to all the other entries on our list but we still wanted to talk about it because it works on a similar principle as web proxy servers. Namely, its purpose is to hide your real IP address and allow you to browse the internet anonymously. Unlike the other service on this list, though, Tor is a full-fledged web browser and a pretty robust one at that. The Tor Project is a non-profit organization so you can expect everything to be completely free, though the company does accept donations from users who wish to support the initiative.
Because Tor is a browser you will need to download and install the software on your computer. This is an extra step you don’t have to take when using other proxy servers so that’s a bit of a drawback. If you do decide to install it, you can expect Tor to work just like any other browser you’ve used in the past. The browser uses a multi-layered encryption system and automatically blocks cookies and deletes browsing history once you close it so the security features are pretty solid. The disadvantage is that Tor tends to be a lot slower than other proxy services because it reroutes your connection through multiple servers around the world.
A Viable Replacement for Your Current Browser
Tor was designed to resemble traditional browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, complete with many of the features and options users have come to expect. For example, you have the ability to bookmark websites, change the language or font, open as many tabs as you want, set permissions, choose how the browser interacts with other applications, and so much more. In addition, you can also set a new online identity on the fly or change the Tor circuit for a specific site, including the one you’re currently visiting.
Whoer is probably best known for its VPN service, however, the company also offers web proxy servers that you can use for free. The service is fast and overall pretty solid but you need to jump through a couple of hoops in order to use it. Unlike most other companies on this list, you can’t access the proxy service directly when visiting Whoer’s website. Instead, you are required to install an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Yandex, depending on which browser you use.
The extension gets the job done pretty well but, unfortunately, there’s only one server location to choose from and not a lot of useful options to improve your browsing experience. Whoer does offer a lot more locations and quite a few extra features but only to paid users. There’s no premium version of the web proxy service per se, so you would need to subscribe to the VPN service in order to take advantage of the advanced features. The VPN costs $9.90 per month but you can get discounts of up to 60% by signing up for a yearly plan.
Even if you don’t plan on using the proxy servers or the VPN, I still recommend visiting Whoer’s website because the company has a few other helpful tools to offer. Namely, you can check the speed of your internet connection, find out important details about a certain domain or IP address by using the Whois tool or check the response time of a website by using the ping test checker. The ping tester is particularly useful as it shows you results from over a dozen countries around the world.
How Proxy Servers Protect Your Identity
I touched on this a bit at the beginning of the article but let’s take a more in-depth look at how a proxy protects your identity and why you should consider using one. When you’re accessing a website without using a privacy tool, the site’s owner or anybody with administrator privileges can see your IP address, location, and internet service provider bright as day. Needless to say, that’s a problem because you can never know what people who collect this information plan to do it with it.
A proxy simply reroutes your connection through one or multiple servers, which can be located in different parts of the world. The proxy service assigns you a different IP address, thus making it seem like you’re just another ordinary user. This is very important to note because suspicious IPs can be blacklisted or blocked from accessing websites. If you’re using a good proxy service, that’s unlikely to happen. In short, a proxy server protects your personal information and allows you to browse the internet anonymously.
Use Cases for Proxy Services
Accessing Geo-locked Content: This is arguably the main reason why people use proxy servers. I’m sure you’ve already come across an article or video at one point that you can’t access because “the content is not available in your country”. Under normal circumstances, there’s not much you can do to access that content. However, a good proxy service will allow you to reroute your connection via a server found in a different country where the content isn’t blocked.
Bypass Government Blocks: This is similar to the previous use case but works the other way around. Some governments impose strict laws regarding what parts of the internet you can access like in the case of the infamous Great Firewall of China. People who live under strict governments often don’t even have access to popular websites we take for granted, such as Facebook, Reddit or YouTube. Although bypassing government blocks can be risky depending on where you live, it can be easily done by using a proxy server.
Control Internet Usage of Employees and Children: If you’re a business owner, you’re probably not a big fan of employees slacking on the job because they’re too busy browsing Facebook or YouTube from their workstations. A good solution to this problem is to set up and configure a proxy server on the company network that blocks access to specific websites. Similarly, parents can use proxies to prevent their children from accessing websites that feature mature or graphic content.
Privacy and Anonymity: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Whether you’re worried about hackers trying to snoop in on you to steal your data or you’re the one snooping on an ex’s Instagram pics, there are plenty of situations when being able to hide your online identity comes in handy.
Features to Keep an Eye on Before Using Free Proxy Services
A Good Variety of Servers to Choose From: A lot of people won’t get much value from a proxy service that gives them access to just one or two server locations. Most providers greatly limit the number of locations available to free users but some do give you a good number of options to work with.
Server Information: If the service you’re checking out doesn’t reveal any information about its servers you may want to consider a different option. At the very least, you should know the country or region the servers are located in. If you can also get some info regarding the speed and uptime of the servers, even better.
Privacy Options: It’s good to go with a service that provides a few extra options you can use to tighten your privacy. Some of the most common options you’ll find are URL encryption, script blocking, and the ability to disable cookies. You may not always need to use these options but having access to them regardless is definitely an advantage.
Data Retention: Some proxy providers store your IP address or browsing history in order to improve their own services. These companies usually don’t intend to use the data for any malicious purposes but if you’re worried about that sort of thing, you may want to go with a provider that automatically clears all logs once you’re done using its service.
What’s the Difference Between a Proxy Server and a VPN?
There are a few differences between the two but the main one you should keep in mind is that proxy servers only encrypt data coming from your browser. Meanwhile, VPNs encrypt all traffic coming from your computer and any applications you might be using while the service is running.
Do I Need to Download Anything in Order to Use a Proxy Server?
Unlike VPNs, proxy services usually don’t require you to download and install anything. These services often have optional browser plugins that you do have to install but it’s up to you whether you want to use them or not.
Do I Have to Register an Account?
For the most part, no. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule but, for the most part, companies that offer free proxy servers won’t ask you to register an account. If you want to upgrade to the paid version, however, you will need to create one.
Are Free Proxy Servers Safe?
If you’re using a reputable service, you won’t need to worry about your privacy being compromised while using a free proxy. That said, proxies do have their limits so there is a possibility that you might get caught if you intend to use them for something illegal.
Free proxy servers provide users with a fast and efficient way of masking their online identity while browsing the internet. In spite of their simplicity, these services work remarkably well and can be used for a wide range of purposes, from viewing geo-blocked content to thwarting potential cybercriminals and so much more. Proxies are not quite as safe as VPNs but they don’t require you to download anything or register an account and, of course, they tend to be free.
Having said that, there are limits to what the free version of these services can do. If you need to use proxies often, it’s definitely not a bad idea to upgrade to the paid version, especially since these services are pretty cheap. In case you need a more well-rounded privacy solution, a good VPN is the way to go. Good VPNs are rarely free, however, you do get great value in return for your money. It’s not a coincidence that most of the companies we covered in this article offer both web proxies and VPNs so make sure to choose the solution that’s best suited for your particular needs.
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