We make purchasing decisions daily, but some products are a bit more complicated and require some guidance. Proxy servers are no exception, but you have come to the right place. We’ll cover all the essential aspects – from definitions and use cases to making the right choice. All the rest will come with practice.
Proxy servers (or just proxies for short) function as middlemen between your device and the websites you visit. You pass on the requests to a proxy, and it sends the data back to you. In such a way, you do not connect to the internet directly and protect your anonymity.
Websites track visitors and limit the available content by checking the IP addresses. It is a string of numbers uniquely identifying each device connecting to the internet. With it, all websites can determine your approximate location and internet service provider (ISP).
Having a proxy server as a middleman adds an additional security layer, hiding your IP address and enabling a change in the visible location. Since proxy servers have IPs of their own, your information remains hidden, and you can choose from where the proxy server originates.
Dedicated and Shared proxy servers
It is common to divide proxies in how many users can access them at once. Similarly to a home internet connection, proxies can give access to multiple devices at once, but doing so involves some risks.
- If one proxy IP address is used by multiple users concurrently, the proxy is shared.
- If the proxy can only be accessed by one customer, it is called private or dedicated.
Shared proxies help to reduce maintenance costs and, therefore, are a way cheaper option. However, many users choose dedicated proxies instead because they perform better and are more secure. The reason has to do with what is called the bad neighbor effect.
You do not have any control over what other users are doing with the same proxy servers, and their numbers can vary from a few to a hundred. If they use a lot of bandwidth, the performance of a proxy server will suffer for you.
Many websites restrict illicit use of automation or even illegal activities by banning IP addresses. Bad neighbors might get the IP addresses banned even before you start using them, so you will have better success without sharing your connection.
Dedicated datacenter proxies
Dedicated proxy servers are the way to go if you value your tasks. Even if they cost a bit more, you might save at the end of the day as working with them will be more efficient. You can choose out of two main types:
Dedicated datacenter proxies are created in specialized facilities, called data centers, and you receive a pool of IPs from them only for your use. Datacenter proxies have no affiliation with ordinary ISPs and are not tied with physical devices. Here are the main benefits of dedicated datacenter proxies:
- A high-speed connection is guaranteed by commercial-tier internet and advanced equipment used. No other type can enjoy such infrastructure, so dedicated datacenter proxies are best for demanding tasks, such as web scraping.
- A large pool of IPs is also a given with dedicated datacenter proxies. Since IP addresses are created virtually in bulk, providers always have large numbers of them. You will be able to scale any project with dedicated datacenter proxies.
- Cost-effectiveness can be hard to achieve with proxies, but dedicated datacenter ones are your best bet. The best performance and large numbers of IPs are provided for a fraction of the price.
There is a drawback you should consider before purchasing dedicated datacenter proxies. The IP addresses created in bulk are similar, and websites can track or even blacklist them more easily. Some methods, such as IP rotation, exist to minimize the risk. However, if target websites are fierce, you could consider another option – residential proxies.
Residential proxy servers
Residential proxy servers are created by ISPs and hosted on physical machines. They aim for the most legitimate connection possible similar to ordinary households, so websites would not be able to distinguish them from other users.
Residential proxies can also be shared or private. Here are the main benefits of using dedicated residential proxies:
- Legitimacy is the main reason to choose residential proxies as they are the most similar to an ordinary home connection. Additionally, since you will have the IP to yourself, the chances of IP bans are close to zero.
- Anonymity is highest with these proxies. You will look like any other user, so tracking your activity is difficult. Residential proxies are commonly for tasks requiring high anonymity, such as ad verification or ticketing.
- A wide choice of accurate locations is guaranteed with residential proxies. Thanks to the IPs tied to physical devices, their locations are accurate on a city level, and good providers have them well spread around the globe.
Residential proxies have a downside too. They come with a slower speed than datacenter proxies. They are constrained by internet plans ordinary providers can supply and by the performance of physical devices but it is a price you pay for higher legitimacy.
Which one to choose?
The decision of which dedicated proxy server to choose depends on your needs. Likely, you will commit to paying a monthly fee for quite some time, so evaluate what is more important – high performance or legitimacy.
Datacenter proxies are faster and more scalable, so they are fit for tasks requiring large data transfers. Web scraping, market analysis, and brand monitoring are a couple of examples.
Residential proxies have higher legitimacy and location targeting capabilities. They are best for tasks needing anonymity and accurate locations, like ad verification, social media management or anonymous browsing.
Dedicated proxy servers are the best choice for online anonymity and essential for success in many tasks. They are more expensive than shared options, but the benefits are overwhelming. This guide should be enough for a head start before using dedicated proxy servers.