A project based on SOCKS5, Shadowsocks is an intermediary primarily designed to deal with sensors. It was first released in 2012 by its creator, a programmer from China under the pseudonym “clowwindy”.
In 2015, these programmers announced that they had started from these projects because they were contacted by the police. Since then, Shadowsocks has grown and is managed by a number of collaborators.
There is one big similarity between VPNs and Shadowsocks in their ability to connect you to certain websites that would normally be unreachable due to government censorship, geo-blocks, or otherwise.
Seeing from its original goal of breaking through the Great Firewall of China, Shadowsocks focuses on circumventing data traffic restrictions. This tool makes use of HTTPS, so it will disguise its data traffic so that it can advance through the proposed censorship measures.
Unlike VPNs, Shadowsocks is not designed for privacy and anonymity. While a VPN encodes/encrypts all data traffic as long as it is enabled, the data packets on Shadowsocks are “open” that is, not encrypted. The main idea behind this is to make your data look exactly like HTTPS traffic, so it can move freely without being cramped.
Due to its use of SOCKS5 proxies, Shadowsocks does not send all traffic through the server, as opposed to a VPN. And as opposed to a traditional SOCK5 ssh proxy, Shadowsocks works with multiple TCP connections. The result is a much faster speed compared to its competitors.
The biggest advantage of Shadowsocks is its ease of installation. Its technology is simple and its proxy capabilities don't take long to set up and are perfect for accessing restricted/restricted content.
Another advantage of Shadowsocks is its selective obfuscation of data traffic. You can choose which portion of your traffic is affected by Shadowsocks this allows it to access restricted content both within and outside your location.
Let's take the following scenario as an example: You are in China and you want to access Gmail. Using Shadowsocks, you can choose Gmail traffic to be “camouflaged”, thereby bypassing the Chinese government block.
However, you will still be able to access the China-only website. In comparison, a VPN will encrypt all data traffic to the server of your choice, thus making China-only sites unavailable on the same device.
Last but not least, Shadowsocks are extremely difficult if not impossible to detect and block. Hiding the data traffic to make it appear as if it is HTTPS is the main reason for it.
When compared to Shadowsocks, a VPN is a “mainstream” technology. This technology is widespread and its usefulness is well documented and undeniable.
If you are looking for something that will protect your identity online while completely eliminating your online footprints, a VPN is a must-have tool for you. It goes without saying that not all VPNs out there are perfect and the sheer number of service providers is enough to prove that there are solid and unreliable VPN services on the market.