Free proxy servers, much like paid proxy servers, help Internet users explore the Internet with privacy. The proxy server imbues the Internet browser with an Internet protocol (IP) address that is different from the user's actual IP address, making the user somewhat anonymous. Choosing the right free proxy server depends on the domain extension, the amount of advertisements, the current amount of visitors, the time the public proxy server has been online and the country of origin.
The domain extension, or the two or three letters — such as .com or .org — at the end of a website address, is the first consideration when choosing the best free proxy server. It normally doesn’t matter what domain extension is used, but there are times when an Internet blocker may be blocking all commercial, or .com, websites, for example. If this is the case, choose a free proxy server that uses an educational, or .edu; network, or .net; organization, or .org; or a country-specific extension such as .us, for the United States, or .ca for Canada. Finding a free proxy server with a domain extension that isn’t blocked allows you to access the proxy in the first place.
Advertising is a large consideration, because a free proxy that uses excessive advertising can slow down your computer. Free proxies are not paid for in advance, so the owner typically makes money by showing pop-up and pop-under advertising. That will sometimes appear when you first access the proxy, or it might show up each time you go to a different website. Using a proxy with the least amount of advertising will allow you to browse websites without unduly slowing down the computer.
The amount of visitors at any given time also determines how quickly a proxy will move. Public proxies generally operate with only one IP address, so each visitor has to share that address. Therefore, the more visitors logged in at a time, the slower the proxy will move. Some proxies will tell you how many people are logged in, but most don’t. The best way to beat this is to use a proxy during non-peak times.
How long a free proxy server has been online is a major consideration. Most web blockers are constantly updating their lists and generally find proxy sites very quickly. Once the proxy is identified, it is blocked. Finding a free proxy server that has only been online for a few hours up to a few weeks is best. If the proxy has been around for several months, chances are it is blocked.
The country of origin, or where the proxy’s IP originates, can mean the difference between viewing any website you want and being limited in your browsing. For example, there are many countries in the Middle East and Asia that employ countrywide web blockers. Most European and North American countries either have no blockers or very relaxed blockers. For the most Internet access, find a free proxy server that uses an IP from a country with a limited blocker or no blocker at all.