Ordinarily, anyone can see what you do online. When you connect to a non-secure website, advertisers, hackers, and government agencies can see where you’re located and what kind of computer you’re using. This information can be used to feed you targeted ads, and it can block you from seeing certain web content.
Web proxies protect your privacy and also help avoid restrictions. Such restrictions may be imposed by a government, workplace, school, or others. In any case, a web proxy helps make the internet as free and anonymous as it should be.
How a Proxy Keeps You Safe
When using a proxy, your request to a website is filtered through a web form, or sometimes a browser extension. The proxy server then acts as an intermediary. It receives your request, finds the right information on the internet, and relays it back to you.
Without this intermediary, the connection between your computer and a website is wide open. But when using a proxy, prying eyes can’t see both sides of the exchange.
As far as the website knows, the request is coming from the proxy server, not from your computer. Personally identifying information – like your IP address – doesn’t make it to the other side.
When it’s not clear who you are, a website doesn’t know whether you’re “allowed” to visit. If your national government blocks a website, it can only block it for people inside the country. But if the site thinks you’re visiting from a foreign server, it will usually let you through.
This way, a proxy can help keep you safe when there are consequences to reading certain information online. However, it’s important to note that proxies alone only offer a basic level of protection. They tend to have a small number of IP addresses, which can be blocked once they are recognized as proxies.
What to Look for in a Free Proxy
Free web proxies have some limitations. But they’re a good option for people who need short-term anonymity or one-time access to blocked content.
Of course, some proxies are better than others. You should do your research before choosing which one to use. Always stick to a service with a solid reputation. Unknown or untested proxies might not work as advertised, or they might even carry a risk of malware infection.
The first feature you should look for in a free web proxy is the number and variety of its servers. If there are many options, you’re less likely to lose your connection. And if some of the available servers are close to you, you’ll probably get better internet speeds.
Not all proxies give details about their servers. And not all of them allow you to choose which ones to connect to. When this information isn’t available, you should be skeptical. But don’t dismiss the service completely. If other users have had a good experience with it, then you might be satisfied with letting the servers’ owners choose one for you.
Another thing to look for in a free web proxy is customizability. Every good proxy will serve the same role as an intermediary in your web browsing. But some will offer additional services beyond hiding your IP address.
Many of the web proxies that we recommend in this article add additional security by encrypting URLs and page content. Many of them give you the option to block scripts and objects, which can increase the risk of malware infection. Some also disable cookies to minimize the storage of your browsing history.
These sorts of tools help you to get the most out of a web proxy without having to pay for decent protection. But the same tools are usually made stronger with paid upgrades. And if you want the absolute best protection, nothing beats a well-tested VPN.
Disadvantages of Proxies
Whatever free web proxy you choose, its extra features are only a bonus. And these usually come with strict limits. You may find that only a certain number of cookies can be encrypted each month. Blocking certain elements of a site might keep you safer but also prevent it from displaying properly.
Even worse, it’s common for proxies – especially free proxies – to come with traffic limits. If you want 24/7 protection from monitoring, hackers, and malware, you might want to upgrade to a paid version. Better yet, you might want to opt for a VPN instead.
Proxies are good enough for getting around firewalls and unblocking content. But they are not as much of a guarantee against monitoring by hackers or your internet service provider. It’s also far more likely that a free proxy could track some of your activities. A premium VPN, such as NordVPN has strict no-log policies. One of our top picks is when looking at overall performance.
A VPN will also save you the hassle of having to manually route all your web traffic through the service. To use a web proxy, you have to navigate to the proxy site and then input the URL from there. With a VPN, you can install an app on your device and let it run automatically.
The more advanced VPN option means you’ll be protected when connecting to the internet with third-party apps instead of your web browser. These days, a browser is definitely not the only app that needs protection. But that’s where most free web proxy services end.
Premium VPN services like NordVPN offer you a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can enjoy a risk-free trial of their superior protection.
Best Free Proxy Servers
Despite the drawbacks, a free proxy might be all that you need. In that case, there are plenty of good options for you to consider.
We’ve combed through existing reviews and tested some free proxy services for ourselves. And from what we’ve found, these are ten of the best free proxy servers out there:
This seems to be the single most frequently recommended free proxy server. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. But it does mean that it’s good enough that it satisfies most users, most of the time.
With KProxy, you have ten servers to choose from. You can manually pick from these and switch them anytime. So if you lose access to one server, you’re still protected. There are no imposed speed limits, as with some proxies. And KProxy has a good track record for avoiding detection and blocking by websites and ISPs.
You can access KProxy servers directly through the website, or you can download a browser extension for either Firefox or Chrome.
This free web proxy also gives you the opportunity to manually switch between servers. It also offers more than twice as many servers as Kproxy.
You can have ProxySite choose automatically from among servers in the United States and the European Union. Or if you’re having difficulty, you can try them one by one. The specific locations aren’t identified, though, so you can’t be sure of the effect on your connection speed.
ProxySite has been tested for compatibility with YouTube. There are even buttons on the main page that take you, by proxy, to popular sites like Reddit and Twitter. ProxySite is tailor-made to bring anonymity to your everyday online activities.
This option also appears on many “best of” lists, even though its functionality is somewhat limited. Hide.me doesn’t work with YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest, and it relies on servers in only three locations to mask users’ IP. But it makes up for some of these drawbacks with added security.
Hide.me allows you to disable cookies, scripts, and objects on any site. In addition to hiding your IP behind the proxy, this service adds a layer of encryption and guarantees that URLs expire after every browser session.
The proxy will not save databases or IP addresses, so you can be confident that your information will not fall into the hands of hackers or advertisers. This makes it a good option for people who are more interested in security than entertainment online. Hide.me also offers users a full VPN service in addition to its proxy servers.
This web proxy gives you the option to connect to a random server or choose one of six. These are located on opposite sides of the US and in four different European countries. The geographic coverage is as good as can be expected with a small number of servers.
The HMA proxy also prompts you to set up your connection with three options. You can encrypt URLs, disable cookies, and remove scripts. But that’s about as far as it goes without upgrading to the HMA VPN, which the site will try to sell you.
Recent user reviews have given Hidester a good reputation for reliability. But it’s not for sure that the reputation will stand up, because this proxy is pretty new.
Still, it seems to be as good an option as other more established proxies on this list. Hidester operates its own servers across both the US and Europe, and access to them is protected with 128-bit encryption and a secure socket layer (SSL).
Its commitment to security extends to free users but paying customers receive access to literally hundreds of additional servers.
Hidester also offers a number of free tools alongside its web proxy. These include a secure password generator and a DNS leak test. These could be major perks for users who want to stay safe online.
If Hidester is a new kid on the block, Anonymouse is an elder statesman of web proxies. It has been around since 1997 and still appears on many lists of most reliable proxy servers.
The main page for Anonymouse shows you the information that snoopers can see when you connect to a site. And it lets you compare that to what they’ll see when you connect through their proxy. But they choose the specific proxy for you, so you’ll just have to trust them.
Tests have actually shown that it’s pretty easy to identify the proxy that you’re using through Anonymouse. So the security might not be the best. But this old service still seems to be improving. Paid users get SSL encryption, and Anonymouse recently launched its own VPN.
Along with the web proxy, you can use Anonymouse to anonymously send e-mails and post to newsgroups. So after all this time, it still has something unique to offer.
Compared to some free proxies, Megaproxy’s servers are harder for snoopers to identify. And that’s without the additional security of its paid version.
You can use Megaproxy by installing a toolbar that lets you type web addresses and route them through a proxy server. It’s a convenient setup, and you can easily switch between regular and protected browsing.
Unfortunately, this might be important with the free version. Megaproxy limits non-paying users to 60 site visits in a five-hour period. And it only encrypts 20 cookies at a time. Still, this adds a little extra privacy that not all free proxies have.
This service acknowledges some of its own limits upfront. It says openly that free proxies might be incompatible with certain websites. That kind of truthfulness in advertising might be a sign of trustworthiness.
Speaking of truth and accuracy, NewIPNow shows you the estimated speed of each server you could connect to. There are about a dozen of these, though they are mostly limited to the United States. But users still receive a new IP address for each session.
You can use NewIPNow on-site or through a Firefox browser extension. There are budget-friendly paid options and they promise 100 percent compatibility. And if you have problems, customer support is a click away.
Before connecting to 4everproxy, you can select both the server and the IP location. There are over ten options for the first selection and even more for the second. By trying different options you can find the perfect balance between security and connection speed.
But speed shouldn’t be much of an issue in any case. Each 4everproxy server boasts a one gigabit per second connection. Each connection also comes with optional SSL encryption and blockage of cookies and scripts.
With seven servers in North America and four in Europe, this web proxy offers a decent geographical reach and solid security. After you choose a server, you will be switched to the fastest IP location. But this can also be changed manually.
ProxFree is as customizable as most any free web proxy. SSL encryption is enabled by default but can be turned off. There are check boxes to remove scripts, objects, cookies, and page titles. You can also disable the “referer” and “user agent” headers. This way, the site you’re visiting won’t know what you clicked on to get there, or what type of computer you’re using.
ProxFree has dedicated pages for visiting Facebook, YouTube, and other video streaming sites. You can be confident in your ability to browse social media anonymously and avoid geoblocks on most videos.
None of these proxies would be our first recommendation for people who want to protect their privacy and stay safe online. A trusted VPN will do a better job than any one of these. You can read our newbies guide to VPNs for an in-depth explanation. Our number one choice of VPN is NordVPN.But free web proxies are a convenient option, especially for temporary use.
As you can see, there are many good choices available. Their basic function is generally the same, but there are unique advantages to different services. Luckily, they are all free to use and work right in your browser. So you can test them out one by one if you need to.
Free web proxies can be a good way of learning about the risks associated with your web browsing, and how to protect against them. And since some of these providers also have their own VPNs, a web proxy can be a stepping stone to more complete protection. We also took a look at different proxy protocols if you’re looking to understand the other options available to you.