SOCKS5 VPN: What It Is & Why PIA Is the Best

Posted on Jan 23, 2023 by Kristin Hassel

The latest SOCKS technology, SOCKS5, includes secure sign-in to your proxy server. While a SOCKS5 proxy won’t encrypt your data, it does protect your online privacy by requiring multiple authentication methods for anyone using it. This means no one without authorization can use your SOCKS5 proxy. 

Using SOCKS5 has become so popular, some VPNs are now offering it in-app – including PIA. A SOCKS5 VPN is simply a VPN offering the option to use SOCKS5 and forego encryption for faster speeds (without the complex manual setup). 

Both SOCKS5 proxies and VPNs mask your IP address to prevent snoops from tracking your true location. So, is a proxy or a VPN better to use with SOCKS5, and how do you decide? Frankly, it can be confusing. 

What is SOCKS5 & Does It Improve Online Security?

SOCKS5 is the newest version of SOCKS and is compatible with the user datagram protocol (UDP). UDP makes it possible to watch IPTV channels on mobile devices, gaming consoles, and smart TVs. For this reason, the most popular protocol for proxies is UDP. 

Still, A SOCKS5 proxy can create a connection using either UDP or TCP. You may want to use TCP as an alternative if the accuracy and completeness of the data you send and receive are critical.

SOCKS5 also uses secure socket shell (SSH) for tunneling. SSH increases connection security when you use your devices on unsecured networks because it requires a password or secure key to access.

What Is A SOCKS5 Proxy?

A SOCKS5 proxy routes your traffic through the proxy server first. As you can see in the diagram below, your device isn’t directly connected to the internet while using a proxy.

A SOCKS5 proxy generates a new IP address much like a VPN.

When you use SOCKS5, it generates a random IP address to replace your true IP. The SOCKS5 IP address is the only IP websites and services see because it’s generated before your traffic reaches its destination. Your location remains concealed, increasing your privacy while using the internet. 

Here’s a quick rundown of SOCKS5 proxy pros and cons. 


  • SOCKS5 proxies offer faster speeds than VPNs
  • SOCKS5 proxies change your IP address
  • SOCKS5 requires user authentication for secure access 


  • A SOCKS5 proxy doesn’t encrypt traffic
  • Proxies are known to have stability issues
  • Proxies increases online privacy, but don’t have all the same benefits as VPNs
  • Proxies might require difficult/technical manual setup 
  • Proxies are known to store user data, which they may share with third parties

The high speeds obtainable with SOCKS5 proxies makes them well-suited for file sharing, gaming, and streaming. User authentication requirements and privacy features help ensure your connection is secure and the proxy won’t reveal your location. Other use cases for SOCKS5 include using critical apps while traveling and browsing the web or accessing accounts privately. 

What Is a SOCKS5 VPN?

A SOCKS5 VPN is simply a VPN offering the option to use a SOCKS5 proxy. Using a SOCKS5 VPN often means your proxy address and login information are provided and you can connect via the VPN’s dedicated app. 

Choosing a trusted VPN provider with a No Log policy is a good place to start when you’re looking for a SOCKS5 VPN. Since your data isn’t as protected as it is with Shadowsocks or a VPN, it’s important the service doesn’t collect, store, or sell user data for privacy reasons. The following are a few more benefits you’ll get using a SOCKS5 VPN:

  • Most VPNs provide easy-to-use apps for mobile and desktop devices
  • Connecting via a SOCKS5 proxy is simple with a VPN
  • Many premium VPNs offering SOCKS5 have affordable plans

If you want to skip the high costs and annoying setup, use PIA SOCKS5 VPN. PIA provides a reliable SOCKS5 proxy and full-service VPN for when you need more security and privacy online. We also have a court-tested, independently audited No Log policy, so what you do on our servers remains private.

What About a Free SOCKS5 Proxy?

Plenty of sites offer SOCKS5 port numbers and IP addresses to use for free. You can find them in any country, but is a free SOCKS5 proxy really worth it? No, it isn’t. Using a free proxy of any kind can put your privacy at risk. 

Free proxies may store your online data for long periods, and anyone with access to the server can use it for nefarious purposes. They could even sell your data to make improvements to their service. Additionally, many free services cut corners while building their networks, so you could be dealing with slow speeds and unreliable connections. It’s far better to use a paid SOCKS5 proxy service or, the ultimate weapon, a SOCKS5 VPN. 

How to Set Up SOCKS5 On Your Computer

Setting up SOCKS5 on your computer manually is time consuming – it’s far easier and safer to use PIA as it comes with SOCKS5 built in. If you do want to do it manually, let’s take a look at how you can set up SOCKS5 on your desktop devices.

How to Setup SOCKS5 on Windows 10

  1. Get the IP address and port number for your SOCKS5 proxy, then click Settings.

  2. Access the Settings menu on Windows to get started.

  3. Click on Network & Internet.

  4. You can modify connections in the Network and Internet section.

  5. Click on Proxy in the menu on the left side of the window.

  6. Choose Proxy to setup up your SOCKS5 proxy.

  7. Turn off Automatically detect settings under Automatic Proxy Setup, then scroll down to Manual Proxy Setup in the same window.

  8. You need to turn off .’Automatically detect settings’ for your SOCKS5 proxy to work.

  9. Turn on Use a proxy server. Enter your SOCKS5 IP and port number in the appropriate fields and click the Save button.

  10. Once you enter the information for your SOCKS5 proxy setup is complete!

  11. Run an IP address check online to ensure the changes are in place.

How to Set up SOCKS5 on macOS

  • Open your macOS menu and go to System Settings
  • Click Network in the sidebar and select a network service
  • Choose Details, then select Proxies
  • Turn on a proxy and enter its address and port number
  • Turn on Proxy server requires password
  • Enter your username and password
  • Click OK

How to Set up SOCKS5 on Linux

  • Open your Linux GUI and go to Settings 
  • Choose Network from the menu
  • Click the cog next to Manual in the Network Proxy area
  • A window will open, then select Manual
  • Enter the proxy’s IP (settings will apply automatically after you exit the window)

Avoid the Hassle of Manual Setup with a SOCKS5 VPN

A SOCKS5 VPN is simply a VPN offering the option to use SOCKS5. Many VPNs don’t offer SOCKS5 proxy servers, but the option is useful for speed-centered tasks where security isn’t the main priority. 

Using SOCKS5 VPN often means your proxy address and login information are provided and you can connect via the VPN’s dedicated app. Choosing a trusted VPN provider with a No Logs policy is a good place to start when you’re looking for a SOCKS5 VPN. Since your data isn’t as protected as it is with Shadowsocks or a VPN, it’s important the service doesn’t collect, store, or sell user data for privacy reasons.

If you want to skip the high costs and cumbersome setup, use PIA SOCKS5 VPN. You get a reliable SOCKS5 proxy and full-service VPN — for when you need more security and privacy online. We also have a court-tested, independently verified No Logs policy, so what you do on our VPN remains private.

Why PIA Is the Best SOCKS5 VPN

Our desktop VPN allows you to use the Multi-Hop feature to connect to a VPN server using a SOCKS5 proxy. The feature is called Shadowsocks and it’s located in Settings under Multi-Hop in the Proxy section. Shadowsocks provides encryption for your traffic while still allowing you to use SOCKS5. Since the feature encrypts your traffic, it can affect your speed – don’t worry it’s hardly noticeable.

We also offer a standard SOCKS5 connection, when speed is the most important item on your checklist. You get faster speeds using the SOCKS5 proxy directly, but your traffic won’t be as secure as it would using Shadowsocks. This is primarily because Shadowsocks uses encryption and SOCKS5 doesn’t. Regardless of which option you choose, setup is a breeze.

Quick & Easy SOCKS5 Setup with PIA

  1. Download and install Private Internet Access on your device. Then log in to your Client User Panel on PIA’s website.

  2. Your Client User Panel is located on our website. You can’t access it on the app.

  3. On the menu to the left, click on Downloads.

  4. Downloads is located on the menu to the left of your subscription information.

  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page to SOCKS5 and write down your SOCKS5 username and password.

  6. PIA provides separate login information for SOCKS5 access.

    NOTE: If you’re using Shadowsocks start from here.

  7. Open the PIA VPN app on your computer. Click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the app window, then choose Settings from the menu.

  8. Switch to PIA’s app to complete SOCKS5 setup.

  9. Choose Multi-Hop from the Settings menu.

  10. Socks5 is located in our Multi-Hop settings.

  11. Check the box next to Multi-Hop to activate the feature, then click SOCKS5 proxy. (For Shadowsocks, click on Shadowsocks. The VPN automatically selects the best server based on your location and you can stop here!)

  12. SOCKS5 Proxy isn’t your only option. You can also use Shadowsocks.

  13. In the next window, enter the SOCKS5 IP address and enter 1080 in the port field. Next, enter the username and password for SOCKS5.

  14. Finalize your Socks5 Proxy information to complete setup.

  15. Click OK. That’s it, you’re now using SOCKS5!

Increase Your Privacy & Security with PIA SOCKS5 VPN

SOCKS5 does offer more security when using a proxy, but your online data is still at risk. A proxy can be a goldmine for cybercriminals because they often collect and store information for long periods. A SOCKS5 VPN is just as risky if you don’t choose a trustworthy provider. Pay close attention when choosing a service and make sure you read its logs policy before committing.

PIA SOCKS5 VPN protects your online information. We give you access to Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 proxy via our Multi-Hop feature. You can switch between the two with just the click of a button once your SOCKS5 proxy is all set up. Need full VPN protection? Just turn off Multi-Hop and connect as usual


What is a SOCKS5 proxy?

A SOCKS5 proxy replaces your current IP address with a random one before your traffic reaches its final destination. When you use a SOCKS5 proxy, websites and services can only see the random IP address generated by the proxy server. This helps you unblock websites and stop tracking.

Is a free SOCKS5 proxy a good idea?

No. It’s a bad idea to use a free SOCKS5 proxy. to use one of the hundreds of free SOCKS5 proxies available on the internet. 

You have no idea who manages free proxy servers and many free services can store your online data for a long time. Anyone with access to the server could use your personal or financial information to commit fraud.

Using a premium SOCKS5 provider like PIA is a better option. Our strict No Logs VPN never collects your usage data — and we have the independent audit results to prove it. You can use Shadowsocks to encrypt your traffic and still get secure authentication via SOCKS5, or connect directly via the SOCKS5 proxyall without worrying someone is monitoring your online activity.

What is a SOCKS5 VPN?

SOCKS5 VPNs provide access to SOCKS5 connections. Unfortunately, not all SOCKS5 VPNs are built equally. Make sure you do a bit of research before settling on a SOCKS5 VPN and never use a free one. Most free SOCKS5 VPNs cut corners during development and come riddled with malware and security holes

PIA offers easy-to-use apps with top-level security for all major devices — desktop, mobile, and more. You also get a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee.

How do I use PIA’s SOCKS5 feature?

You can connect to PIA’s SOCKS5 VPN in a few minutes. Log into your account on our website, then go to Downloads and write down your SOCKS5 username and password. Just open the app and complete the SOCKS5 proxy setup under Multi-Hop.

Do I need SOCKS5 if I have a VPN?

No. If you have a reliable, high-speed VPN you don’t need to use SOCKS5. You can get security and speed in one app, so you don’t need to sacrifice speed for encryption. PIA is one of the fastest VPNs available. Our VPN uses 10 Gbps network cards and never limits bandwidth, so you can stream movies buffer-free and enjoy online gaming at the same time. 

Which VPN supports SOCKS5?

PIA’s VPN service supports SOCKS5 and even offers optional Shadowsocks for increased security without compromising speed. We also have a strict, court-tested No Logs policy, so we never collect information on how you use our VPN or any of its services — including the SOCKS5 feature.

What is the difference between SOCKS5 and a VPN?

SOCKS5 requires authentication to access a proxy server, but doesn’t encrypt any of your device’s network traffic. VPNs require authentication and encrypt all of the network traffic for your device. A SOCKS5 proxy is faster, but only because it lacks encryption.

PIA offers different forms of VPN encryption, including the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. When you use OvenVPN, you can choose between 128-bit or 256-bit AES. If you want faster speeds stick with our default 128-bit encryption. For additional security on highly sensitive accounts, 256-bit encryption is a better option. Still want to use SOCKS5? No problem. We offer SOCKS5, too, and it’s built-in to our VPN — zero tech experience required.