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Not two years ago, when you did a search under free proxies the results you got back were straightforward and easy to understand. You would find a number of links to web proxy sites that, in terms of the service they provided, were really all the same: just a standard HTTP proxy server offering free anonymous surfing from a country location of your choice. Indeed that was all you needed – a single all-purpose proxy service with no frills that would allow you to get around blocked sites or hide your IP address for an anonymous web search. Nowadays, however, things are VERY different in the world of free proxies – these anonymizing systems have had to evolve to stay ahead of the website unblock game.

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For one, advanced internet filter systems like Websense began to appear widely in schools and workplaces, not to mention the ever-improving censorship systems put in place by censoring governments (like China and Vietnam) – they would all work not only to block sites but to block free proxies too. As if that wasn't all hard enough for proxies to cope with, websites themselves became much more advanced in their features and site-design, making it harder for proxies to transfer them to the user cleanly. With some sites, they even rejected users coming in through an anonymous proxy server. All of this made it incredibly hard for the traditional HTTP proxy system to fool web filters and unblock banned sites. Web proxy technologies had to develop and evolve or, like the hide my IP address programs before them, would quickly disappear altogether.

And so the technological evolution of free proxies began – both in terms of function (different types of more specialized proxies appearing) and in terms of form (using different systems on which to mount the proxy service). If you search for free proxies nowadays, the primary difference you will see compared to two years ago is that nearly all free proxies are disseminated by lists. But it is not only a rise in quantity that led to the rise of the proxy list – when you look closely at these lists, you will see just how diverse free proxies have become as a technology and service too: the list format allows management of not only a large numbers of proxies, but a plethora of types too. New anonymous proxy surfing is consequently a very different ballgame to bygone days.

To offer some small induction into the modern world of free proxies, let us break down some of the various types of web proxy by function and technology – so you will know which types of proxy service to expect on a free web proxy list. Attention will be placed on which type of anonymous proxy is best suited for which role and, in each case, how to use free proxy servers most effectively for the fulfillment of that role. With this information, you will be well equipped to find and select the right type of public proxy list for you. Some recommended search terms will be supplied at the end of every section so you can locate your proxy list of choice as quickly as possible.

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How to hide my IP address for free?

It used to be expected that every free web proxy server would be an answer to this question. When you access a proxy list nowadays, however, don't assume that all proxies on that list are designed simply to hide your IP address, and that alone. The anonymizing free web proxy now comes in many forms – and you should choose one based on your needs. If it is to unblock a website that is banned in your school, workplace or country, or is for basic online privacy (ie. there is no fear of being specifically targeted), a standard anonymous proxy will probably suffice. You may see it referred to as a Grade 3 or 4 proxy on a web proxy server list. One thing that should be noted – some censors regularly block access to new proxy websites within a day or two of their coming online, so you will need to continually find and access a new proxy list to stay ahead of them. Some users go as far as to access a daily proxy list, where brand new proxy web sites are published every few hours.

Part II: High Anonymity and IP Proxy Lists

Part III: Free Proxy List Download TXT Format and SOCKS Proxy List

Written by: 
Robin Welles; internet security team, expats team