Best Proxy Sites and Services 2024: Navigate the Web Privately

Proxy servers can hide your IP address, but which proxy sites actually help you browse anonymously?
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Browsing the internet isn't as private as you may think. Each time you go online, you're sharing data that someone could use against you. Marketers, internet providers, and hackers are always trying to monitor or exploit this info. Scammers can find you and launch an attack with as little as your IP address.

You need to protect yourself from prying eyes. Proxy services and the best VPNs (virtual private networks) can help you stay anonymous online. Keep reading to learn about their privacy benefits and explore our top picks.

In this article
What is a proxy server?
Top 3 paid proxy services
Best free proxy websites
Proxy vs. VPN: what's the difference?
FAQs
Bottom line

What is a proxy server?

A proxy is an intermediary between your device and the internet. When you want to visit a website, your device sends a request to a specific web server. These servers are computers that store, process, and deliver web pages to end users.

Proxies are messengers between you and the online resources you're trying to access. In other words, they "talk" to the internet so your devices don’t have to.

This process has several important benefits:

  • Masking your real IP: When using a proxy, everyone will see its IP instead of yours. This will hide your location, ensure anonymity, and stop marketers from tracking your browsing history.
  • Bypassing network restrictions: Proxies can bypass limited networks in schools, libraries, and workplaces. Their IPs can help get you past restrictions and let you access blocked content.
  • Accessing geo-blocked services: Proxies allow you to get foreign IPs and unblock websites and services. For example, you can use them to watch Netflix US anywhere in the world or circumvent online censorship in restrictive countries.
  • Enhanced security: Since hackers can't get your real IP, they can't launch IP-based attacks against you.

Top 3 paid proxy services

A paid proxy service can help you stay anonymous and unblock content anywhere in the world. After thorough research and testing, we've picked the three best options.

1. Oxylabs

best proxy sites: Oxylabs proxy homepage

Oxylabs' proxy network covers 190+ countries with over 102 million residential IP addresses. You'll find a proxy server for your location wherever you live.

If security is your main concern, Oxylabs has you covered. It's certified for an information security management system (ISMS), according to the ISO/IEC 27001:2017 standard. It meets all regulatory requirements to ensure the safety of your information.

The company is based in Lithuania, which means it operates under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Number of IPs Over 100 million
Proxy types Residential, mobile, shared data center, dedicated data center, static residential, rotating ISP, Web Unblocker
Protocols HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5
Starting price $10/GB
Free trial Yes
Customer support Email, 24/7 live chat

2. Smartproxy

Best proxy sites: Smaryproxy homepage

While not as impressive as Oxylabs, Smartproxy still has an extensive network. It offers over 65 million IP addresses in 190+ locations. The large IP pool ensures stability and anonymous browsing.

Smartproxy also has relatively affordable plans, making it ideal for budget-conscious users. Despite the lower price, its servers are super fast, with the average response times under 1.5 seconds.

The company is located in London, which puts it inside the Five Eyes Alliance radius. However, it still operates under GDPR and doesn't collect any data that could put you in harm's way.

Number of IPs Over 65 million
Proxy types Residential, mobile, shared data center, dedicated data center, ISP, Site Unblocker
Protocols HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5
Starting price $8.5/GB
Free trial Yes
Customer support Email, 24/7 live chat

3. Bright Data

Best proxy sites: Bright Data homepage

Bright Data has over 72 million IPs in 190+ countries. Its interface is best suited for advanced users and could be intimidating for beginners. We recommend going with one of our previous picks if you're just starting with proxies.

Bright Data follows several compliance regulations, including GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). It also meets other international and industry standards such as ISO 27001, ISO 27018, and OWASP Top 10.

Bright Data is located in Israel, which is famous for its privacy laws that even exceed GDPR requirements.

Number of IPs Over 72 million
Proxy types Residential, mobile, shared data center, dedicated data center, ISP, rotating
Protocols HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5
Starting price $10.5/GB
Free trial Yes
Customer support Email

Best free proxy websites

Free proxy websites are ideal if you're an occasional proxy user. They don't cover a lot of locations and have limited speeds, but you'll get IP masking and limited geo-unblocking. They also have the most beginner-friendly user interfaces. The best thing? You can use them indefinitely, completely free of charge.

Here's how to use free proxy websites:

  • Enter the web address of the site you want to visit
  • Pick one of the available server locations
  • Configure additional options (if available)
  • Click the Go button

Best free proxy sites: hide.me interface

Before using free proxy sites, we recommend checking their reputation and security. Alternatively, you can try our top picks below:

  • hide.me: A well-known VPN provider that offers free proxy servers in Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands. You'll have to use their VPN to access more locations (like getting a U.S. IP address).
  • ProxySite: You can choose between 38 U.S. and E.U proxy servers.
  • CroxyProxy: You can access CroxyProxy servers using their site or Chrome extension. However, you can't pick specific countries, which can be awkward for geo-unblocking. The premium subscription removes the ads and lets you pick servers in six countries (Germany, Spain, Israel, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.).

Proxy vs. VPN: what’s the difference?

Encryption is the key difference in the proxy vs. VPN debate. Proxies can mask your IP but won't encrypt your traffic. VPNs mirror the functionality of proxies while adding an extra layer of security. Apart from encryption, they can also have additional tools like malware protection and password managers.

Here's a complete overview of the differences between proxies and VPNs:

Feature Proxy VPN
IP masking
Encryption
Coverage One app or browser All traffic
Geo-unblocking
Bypassing network restrictions
Speed drops Moderate to high Low to moderate
Additional security tools Yes (depending on the provider)

Best VPN services for security and geo-unblocking

A secure and reliable VPN is crucial for safe torrenting, browsing, gaming, and streaming. We've tested dozens of VPN services and recommend NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN as the top VPNs for safely bypassing geo-restrictions.

  • NordVPN: NordVPN is recommended for people who want a high-speed VPN that offers loads of features, unblocks streaming libraries, and doesn’t compromise on cybersecurity or privacy. It’s one of the best VPN services on the market because it offers an easy-to-use interface with high levels of security and privacy. You can try NordVPN risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.

    Get NordVPN | Read NordVPN Review
  • Surfshark: Surfshark offers a high-quality VPN that’s safe and doesn’t skimp on additional features like an ad blocker and Smart DNS. Even better, it’s affordable (starting at $2.29/mo) and boasts 3200+ servers across 100+ countries. With the ability to connect unlimited devices, it can easily protect your entire household. Unlike most competitors, Surfshark offers a 7-day free trial available on all devices as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Get Surfshark | Read Surfshark Review
  • ExpressVPN: Although ExpressVPN has a higher price point than top competitors, it’s arguably the most well-known VPN on the planet, offering blazing-fast speeds, top-level security, and an easy-to-use interface. The ExpressVPN app is available on many different devices, unblocking popular streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. For the price, ExpressVPN provides both quick speeds and advanced security features. ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Get ExpressVPN | Read ExpressVPN Review

Best VPN services compared

Starting price Starts at $3.99/mo Starts at $2.29/mo Starts at $6.67/mo (billed annually)
Number of devices 10 Unlimited 8
Server count 6,300+ in 111 countries 3,200+ in 100 countries 105 countries + 12 U.S. states
Streaming support
Torrenting support
Learn more See NordVPN Pricing See Surfshark Pricing See ExpressVPN Pricing

FAQs


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What is the best proxy service?

When choosing the best proxy service, it's important to consider factors such as speed, IP locations, and pricing. You'll also want to evaluate specific features to meet your individual requirements. We evaluated three in this article: Oxylabs, Smartproxy, and Bright Data.


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What is the safest proxy site?

The safest proxy site will mask your IP address with no leaks. Ideally, it may also have features like a no-logs policy and SSL encryption. Check its reputation before you use it. We recommend going with hide.me or Smartproxy websites.


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Are VPNs better than proxies?

VPNs are better than proxies when it comes to securing your data. Both proxies and VPNs can hide your IP address. But only VPNs can encrypt your online traffic and hide it from prying eyes.


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Are proxies faster than VPNs?

The speed difference between proxies and VPNs can vary depending on the quality of the provider. You may also see different speed results if you use a free version instead of a paid version. Generally, proxies tend to be faster since they don’t encrypt your connection. However, this does put your security at risk.


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Are proxy sites illegal?

Using proxy sites isn't considered illegal. However, if you use a proxy site for illegal activities in your jurisdiction, then it's an issue. Proxy servers should only be used for legitimate purposes to protect your privacy.

Bottom line

Proxy servers allow you to browse the internet anonymously and access geo-restricted content. However, VPNs are a better choice if online safety is your main concern. Their encryption provides an extra layer of protection.

They also offer additional security features like ad blockers and malware scanning. The best VPNs are also cheaper and have a better price-to-value ratio than proxies. That said, if you just want to unblock something once in a while, free proxy services should get the job done.

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
VPN
NordVPN
Up to 66% off 2-year plans + 3 months extra
  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
  • Other benefits include a premium password manager, dark web monitoring, and access to IP-restricted content
  • 3 plans to choose from for custom protection on up to 10 devices
  • Too many confusing plans

Author Details
Sara J. Nguyen is a freelance writer specializing in cybersecurity. She aims to help people protect their data while enjoying technology. She has written about online privacy and tech for over 5 years for several organizations. When she's not writing about the latest cybersecurity trends, you can find her on LinkedIn.