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Like everything online that is free, proxy lists do come with some risks and problems – and you should know that you aren’t going to get a secure ninja proxy that should go without saying. However for anyone who’s a bit pushed for cash or just enjoys the adrenaline rush of routing all their web traffic through some unknown server – here’s a quick guide of finding free proxies.
Creating Free Proxy Lists
First of all you must remember that these proxies change almost hourly, so there’s no point finding a list that two years old – nothing will work. There are also numerous web sites which compile this information from a variety of sources, but I’ve no idea which if any of these are trustworthy. So we’ll leave ourselves in the laps of the search gods by using a simple search, the following will search for some proxy lists to check out.
+”:8080? +”:3128? +”:80? filetype:txt
Just put the search string into Google and it should produce a list of proxies where you can select a server to use. Here’s a decent looking one I found using the above search expression.
This particular list splits the proxies into IP address, port number, level of anonymity (pah) and the country of origin. The country is particularly relevant if you’re trying to access some sort of resource. However it should be noted that simple proxies are no longer able to bypass most geo-location checks at least for the big media sites.
For example Hulu will not be accessible via a US proxy any more, the site will detect the proxy and block you. They still work for a couple of sites (including the BBC last time I checked though), but for bypassing blocks for these sites you’re going to need encryption and a VPN, or use Smart DNS.
Anyway, so you’ve got your proxy ip address and it’s ready to go – what’s next? Well you could run a quick check to see where and what this server belongs too, it might give you an idea of who’s running it and how it found itself on a proxy list. Go to somewhere like https://who.is/ and type in the IP address, you’ll then see who owns it.
From the list I just produced I found a variety of services, dedicated servers from an ISP, an Arts company based in London and a few private addresses probably assigned to residential addresses from an ISP.
Which ones are safest ? Well it’s difficult to say, company infrastructure like the arts company are generally misconfigured and accidentally left open. They might be quite quick initially, and perhaps safer to use but of course there is the issue of using someones servers without permission in this instance. I’d personally stay clear of any addresses that look as though they are assigned to domestic customers mainly because they’ll probably be very slow and may be being used to try and harvest personal credentials (although any of the servers could be doing this.)
So after a quick check (or not) then you’re ready to use the server, what exactly do you do with it?
Well the simplest way is to just tell your browser to use the proxy while you’re surfing which is quite simple to do. You need to find your browsers connection settings, here’s mine for Google Chrome – and simply add the proxy server address and the port number to use in the box next to it. It will be in different places depending on browser but it shouldn’t be too hard to find, if it is you’re definitely out of your depth here!
At this point you just need to press OK and restart your browser and that’s it. Next is a quick check, just go to Google and type ‘my ip address‘ and it should return your public internet facing address, which if the proxy is working properly should match that of the proxy server you inputted. You should also be able to navigate to a web site as normal, there may be a small delay depending on the speed of the proxy you are using.
Now be very careful, from this point on everything you do on that browser is routed through that proxy server, don’t visit any site that requires any credentials – certainly nothing like Paypal, webmail or any account of importance. If you go and do your home banking via an random proxy server fished out from one of these proxy lists, then I’m afraid bad things are likely to happen. Just use simple web sites or perhaps to stream from the BBC (UK proxy needed) to watch video.
If you’re using the proxy for security and to hide your location, remember that although the proxy may hide your location from websites you visit you have no control about what information is logged on the proxy. It’s worth bearing this in mind as commercial ninja proxies will delete or remove logs but you simply don’t know what happens on these servers. After you’ve finished then remove the settings and restart your browser to stop using the proxy.