Proxy browsers, or proxy sites, can access blocked websites on home, business, and school networks. But because of their ability to bypass website blocking, better known as DNS blocking, they themselves often get blocked.
This article outlines how to use a proxy browser and the best ones available.
What Is a Proxy Browser?
A “proxy browser” can bypass the method of DNS filtering used by libraries, businesses, and schools to prevent access to restricted websites. The name itself, “proxy browser”, is technically a misnomer. You don’t install a browser. Instead, you use a browser like Firefox to visit a third-party website that functions as a proxy, or a middle man, between the blocked website and you. It’s better described as a proxy website or proxy site.
On top of being able to unblock websites and access geoblocked content, browser proxies allow users to repeatedly return to paywall websites, like the New York Times, without signing up for the service.
So how do you get started with one? It’s easy.
How to Use a Proxy Browser
It works like this: Let’s say you’re in China and you’d like to visit Wikipedia.
First, navigate to a proxy provider in your browser, such as HideMyAss (HMA) proxy browser.
On the HMA website, you then paste in the web address that you want to visit, like Wikipedia, then activate the proxy browser by clicking on Agree & Connect.
The third-party proxy browser funnels your traffic through its own servers to the destination website. Administrators at your school or workplace will only know that you visited the HMA website—not Wikipedia. The actual website that you visit won’t be visible to the network administrators as the traffic appears to have originated with another site.
In other words, unless HMA is blocked, you can visit any site you wish. The experience is not advertising free though. Like all proxy sites, HMA displays a frame at the top of your desired website, which lets you know that you are technically still on the HMA website.
Unfortunately, network admins oftentimes know about how their users dodge around website filtering methods—so they will block proxy sites whenever they find them. However, if they haven’t found them all, you can still use them. Keep in mind that using a proxy may violate the terms of your agreement with the network owner.
Proxy browsers are best used when VPN access is impossible, such as on school computers where users are prevented from installing their own software. If you own your own computer, such as when using a college or workplace network, you are always better off installing a VPN service.
CroxyProxy: The Best Proxy Browser
CroxyProxy is among the best proxy sites on the internet. While it includes advertising and user tracking, it also offers a premium version, which requires registration and costs as little as 2.60 Euros per month. The premium version comes with faster servers in the European Union, server selection, which allows you to control where your traffic is routed through, removal of the 100Mb file-size limitation, customer support, and removal of advertisements.
On top of that, CroxyProxy offers a browser plugin for the Chrome browser. The plugin automatically funnels your traffic through a third-party server, which means you don’t need to visit a website. All traffic is automatically routed through CroxyProxy’s servers.
It also has the advantage of offering SSL encryption which means your traffic is automatically protected against spying from third parties. Additionally, the proxy supports video playback, SSL encryption, link sharing, and Android and Chrome support.
I do not recommend buying a proxy if installing a VPN is an option. A VPN provides vastly superior performance and features compared to a proxy, for approximately the same price.
Hide.me: A VPN Company With a Free Proxy Browser
Like HMA, Hide.me is first and foremost a VPN company and its proxy is merely a front-door into a VPN subscription. That means it’s a surreptitious advertising scheme for its VPN service.
On the downside, Hide.me displays a large ad for its VPN services on bottom of the website that you’re visiting, which may make some websites more difficult to use. Fortunately, the ad can be minimized.
HideMyAss: Ad-Free Proxy Browser
HMA proxy browser is the best of the free proxy browsers. HMA’s core business model is selling VPN subscriptions. However, it also offers a completely free browser proxy which includes features like server and region switching along with no advertising.
HMA has the largest selection of foreign servers. It can switch between two US servers, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the Czech Republic.
Overall, if you just want a simple way to access a blocked site in your browser, HMA is the best, no-strings option out there.
Proxy Browser vs. VPN
Proxy Browsers compare poorly to a VPN in efficacy and security. If you want to stream video, like Netflix, a proxy’s performance oftentimes causes playback stuttering. Additionally, proxies are oftentimes blocked by most streaming-video providers.
While a proxy browser doesn’t require installation or cost money, it’s also far less secure compared to a VPN. While the providers of proxy services claim that they offer SSL-level encryption, your data still passes through their servers. And whether they monetize that information by reselling it to third-party marketing companies is unknown. However, you can have some assurance that if the product is completely free that they are likely harvesting your personal information somehow.
Unlike a proxy browser, VPNs always use comparatively high levels of encryption. Encryption prevents a third party, like an ISP, from snooping on the contents of your browsing.
Recommended VPN: Windscribe VPN
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