If you’ve spent any time online, you know there are tons of free proxies available. These public proxies are incredibly enticing. After all, any time you can get something for free, it’s hard not to bite. Still, a part of you is unwilling to jump in until you know that it is safe. Let’s take a look at free proxies so you can determine if there is any such thing as a reliable free proxy. Then, you will finally know if you can safely navigate the world of free proxies or if you need to take out your wallet the next time you want to access a proxy.

Checking the Reliability of a Free Proxy

The first thing you will notice when you go online is that not all proxies are created equal. Some unscrupulous site owners put free proxies up there for the masses with one main goal in mind. They want to steal as much information as they can in as short of a period as possible. You want to stay away from these sites at all costs. How do you do that? The key is to go through several steps to check a proxy’s reliability. You want to make sure that the site is legitimate before you give it any information, especially if you have to hand over password information to use the proxy. For instance, if you are going to use the proxy to log into Facebook, you want to make sure the site is legitimate since it will have access to all of your information. If you fail to do so, you could end up in a world of trouble by the time you finish using the free proxy.

Fortunately, you can look for several things to make sure that the site is legitimate. Make sure you go through each of these items. Missing a single one could mean that you end up with a bad free proxy on your hands.

Terms of Service

Every good free proxy site should have a disclaimer or terms of service on the site. This information should explain what the site owner will do with your private information. Read all of the fine print, making sure that you don’t miss a thing. You need to make sure that the site does not sell or give your information away to any third parties. If it does, you need to move along to another free proxy.

What if there isn’t a terms of service or disclaimer page on the site? If that is the case, move along. Any page worth its salt will have one. If it doesn’t have one, then you have your answer right there. The free proxy isn’t worth your time, and you can find a better one out there.

WhoIs Lookup

Go to and check the age of the domain. Once there, just type the name of the domain into the search box and then search for the domain name. You will find out when the domain was registered, along with all other relevant information. Generally, it’s a good idea to go with a free proxy that is at least two years old. These domains have been around for a little while, so they have had time to build up a reputation. They didn’t just pop up overnight. If a domain is newer than two years, you can put it on your list of domains that you might visit later, but you don’t waste your time on it right now. Let someone else test it out and then come back to it later after it proves itself worthy. Then, you can use it without worrying about it shutting down or stealing your information.

Privacy

Privacy is always a major concern when using a proxy. When you go with a paid private proxy, you have all of the privacy you could possibly want. The same is not always true when you go with a free proxy, though. Because of that, you need to do your research and make sure you won’t be sharing the proxy with others. You can end up with a ton of issues if you have to share a proxy. From getting your information stolen to getting the proxy banned, you don’t want to have to deal with those problems, so make sure that you get a private proxy when you use the service. Otherwise, it’s best to move on to a different service.

Online Research

You can only do so much research on the free proxy’s website. The best research will take place on online forums and review sites. You should look for several things when you look at these review sites and forums. First, of course, look at a general overview of what people have to say about the proxy. Does the proxy keep their information safe? Is the proxy fast? Is it reliable? Then, pay a lot of attention to what people say about timeouts. Many free proxies time out over and over again. This happens for a couple of reasons. First, some proxies don’t exist anymore but the sites are still up. Because of that, you try to make requests that the proxy simply cannot honor. Second, some proxies are overburdened and can’t keep up with the demand. That causes them to time out because the server takes too long to respond. You don’t want to waste your time on proxies that time out. You will spend way too much time waiting and resubmitting requests.

What Happens if You Use a Bad Free Proxy?

Now that you’ve spent some time finding out how to get a good free proxy, let’s take a minute to find out what happens if you don’t do your due diligence. What happens if you end up with a bad free proxy? It can’t really be that bad, can it?

Yeah, it can be that bad and worse. We’ve touched on it a little bit already, but now let’s take a closer look at what happens if you make the mistakes of going with an unreliable free proxy.

Free proxies are moneymaking machines. Since the people using them aren’t giving the owner money directly, the owners have to find a way to make money another way. Some of the nicer ones make money through ads. The ads make the proxies run slower, but for the most part, these proxies are OK. The slow speeds are annoying, but you can typically get to wherever you want to go. It might take some time, but if you have the time to invest, these proxies work just fine. They aren’t the most reliable, but they also aren’t terrible. It’s just like riding a bicycle in a lane full of cars. You wish you could go faster, but you’re stuck peddling instead of pushing the gas.

Others are operated by hackers, though. They make money by stealing your information. Once they steal it, either they use it themselves or they sell it to a third party that then uses it. They usually have a method of doing this. They steal someone’s credit card information and use that information to open up a proxy. Once they are open for business, they take on customers and steal their customers’ information. As soon as they are caught, their website is shut down, but they have their customers’ account information. You can’t access the proxy anymore, and you don’t know why. A month or two later, you get a credit card statement and see that you have a bunch of charges that you didn’t make. Then, it starts to come together. You realize that you were hacked, but by then, the hackers are long gone. Their digital trails are wiped clean, and they have taken on new virtual identities. They’ve already moved onto their next victims, and you’ll probably never be able to track them down.

Virtual Spies

That is the worst-case scenario. There is another issue that goes on with these free proxies, as well. Other companies use spyware to take over their customers’ computers. While this can be used for identity theft, it can also be used for general surveillance, which is beneficial from a marketing standpoint. Basically, you can become a marketing guinea pig when you use these “free” proxies. You are letting companies know how you interact with websites and products, and what you want out of the services that you use. You are telling them how you will spend your money, and your computer is running slower in the process. Once you get that spyware on your computer, it is really hard to get off. You can end up spending hundreds of dollars trying to rid your computer of the spyware, all so you could use a free proxy. That is a big headache for some free anonymous web surfing. Still, people do it every single day.

So, You Want to Move Forward…

You know the dangers, but you still want to move forward. Testing proxies is a time-consuming process, and you’re a busy person. While you can do it on your own, you have a job you need to do, a family to spend time with, and a life to live. You can automate the process to a degree by using a proxy scraper and checker. ScrapeBox is a nice option. This piece of software has a proxy harvester that you can use to test your proxies before you use any of them. You can use this tool to make sure proxies are anonymous, test their speed, and make sure they don’t time out. It visits every website that you include and tests every single free proxy on that site. If the site has duplicates, it removes them for you so you don’t have to mess with it. That is a real time saver. In fact, this can allow you to pull out thousands of proxies with a couple of clicks.

You can also use this scraper to retest any proxies that have failed. Sometimes, free proxies will fail, only to work again later in the day. Any time you’re dealing with proxies that are free, you aren’t going to get something that is 100 percent reliable. It’s the nature of the beast. If you want something that is completely reliable, you’re going to have to pay.

After you run the process through the harvester, you just need to authenticate them to make sure they are ready to go. Then, you can use those free proxies if you would like. You can use them to surf the web, watch Netflix, or get on Facebook or another social networking account.

The Bottom Line

You’ve taken in a lot of information about free proxies, but you have one question left. Is it worth it? The answer is…not really. Yes, you can go out and surf the web on a free proxy, and there is a good chance that no one will know who you are. There is also a good chance that someone halfway across the world will steal your identity. It’s a roll of the dice, and one that isn’t worth taking. In addition, you will have to deal with a lot of reliability issues with your free proxy. There is no such thing as a completely reliable free proxy, unless you find a way to make one yourself. You will have to deal with a lot of timeouts, and your proxies will shut down over and over again. It’s incredibly frustrating. With that in mind, you are much better off paying for a private proxy. You will get a reliable service that you can count on, which means everything when you want anonymity in the online world. Spend a few dollars for peace of mind. It is well worth it. It will save you a lot of time, and your time is worth a few dollars.

 

The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader.

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