Should I Pay For Anonymous Web Surfing?

Posted 12 Nov 2009


I have already written about proxy servers as a way to protect your privacy while searching the internet. My focus then was on free solutions to anonymous web surfing. Paying for proxy service can also turn your regular web surfing into constant anonymous browsing and there are some distinct differences between using free proxy servers and paying for proxy server access.

Anonymous Browsing and Time

Free proxy servers are constantly going online and coming offline. The availability of any one proxy is sometimes limited to days or even hours. Thus, when you find a proxy to use, the chances are that you will have to find a different one the next time you want to surf the web anonymously.

If you are anonymous browsing by proxy every time you use the internet this can become burdensome. Also, many of the free sites whose availability is more reliable, will limit your use to a certain number of searches so you will have to rotate between several proxy sites if you want to search more than their allotted minimum.

In addition, the free software that might allow you to surf anonymously can be difficult to understand and use for the average computer user.

Paid proxy servers can reduce your time investment for anonymous browsing to a minimum. The time commitment will be comparable to what you spend on your antivirus software. Most paid proxy services are relatively straight forward to use and will be easy to operate for novice computer users.

Anonymous Web Surfing Benefits: Speed

Most free proxy servers still want to make some kind of profit. One of the ways they do this is by using advertising. The ads can slow or severely restrict your user experience and make using the free sites cumbersome. Another phenomenon, known as the tragedy of the commons, affects this free resource.

The idea behind the tragedy of the commons is that when there is a free resource, the public will have a tendency to over-use it. So the free proxy servers are often overloaded with traffic and therefore run slowly, even if there are no ads.

Most of the better paid proxy servers have minimal, if any, advertising and won't noticeably slow down the user experience when using anonymous browsing.

Anonymous Browsing Versatility

Free proxy servers tend to have difficulty displaying some images and many free proxy servers will not give you  access to  websites which require you to login, such as hotmail, myspace or several other websites. Although there are alternatives which allow you access to most of those sites, many times the free anonymous browsing proxy will only allow access to one of them and you have to change proxies to have access to the others.

Most paid proxies will be able to handle any image and allow you access to any page that requires a login.

Anonymous Web Surfing Security

A computer listed as a free proxy server may itself be a compromised computer. There is even a risk that identity thieves will run a free proxy server and record all of your private data as you enter it. Simply reading up on the server that you intend to use before you use it can help you avoid any problems, but that creates more work for you.  I generally do not even use a proxy server unless I a can entrust it with my bank privacy.

A good paid anonymous browsing proxy service will control a network of servers which it routes your traffic through, making your searching more safe. Paid sites will usually be able to run in the background and protect your computer every time you are connected to the internet, making the burden on the user minimal.

Anonymous Browsing and Money

Proxy servers will cost you some money. A normal price will be about $10 US per month. Plus, the service will probably only work on one computer at a time, so if there are several computers in your household, the cost could quickly rise to have all of your computers surfing the web anonymously with a paid proxy server.  The potential tax savings from making sure that you are surfing only in tax free states could be tremendous.


Free proxy servers are a great way to do anonymous browsing if you have a little bit of time and technical ability. If you have money, or simply lack the time or ability, a paid proxy server can be a great solution. I have a favorite paid proxy server, but there are many to choose from and a different one might better suit your needs.  Creating a complete strategy for how to surf the web anonymously and how proxy servers work can be found in How To Vanish The Book.