Proxies are one of the most essential internet privacy, security, and data collection tools. Many data extraction processes for businesses and organizations are best done using proxy servers.
To increase the utility of these processes even more one has to choose the right kind of proxies for the project at hand. In this article, we will go over and compare two of the common and useful proxy types - residential and datacenter proxies.
What are residential proxies?
The main goal of any regular proxy is to hide your real IP address. It makes it harder to identify you or keep track of what exactly you are doing online. Residential proxies do it by directing your traffic through an IP address that is connected to a specific household device.
A residential proxy server IP address is provided by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). So, it is simply a real IP address of a specific internet user. Residential proxy networks contain a number of such IPs attached to various residencies that may be located all over the world.
Residential proxy IPs can be static or rotating. As the name suggests, static proxies are those that use a singular static IP address that does not change unless the user manually connects to a different proxy address. Meanwhile, rotating proxies automatically change the proxy connection to move from one address to another at pre-decided time intervals. The former are significantly more rare as only the end-user can control when the device goes offline.
There are both free and paid residential proxies available. While free proxies might be an attractive idea, it is not advisable to use them unless they are provided on a trial basis. Free proxies are not properly vetted and might be created without the knowing consent of the owner. Paid residential proxies, also known as private proxies will work faster and are ethical to use when provided by a trusted vendor.
When would you use residential proxies?
There are many applications for residential proxies as they can do what most can and better than some others. It can be used for anything from anonymous surfing to data gathering through such applications as web scraping. A residential proxy, however, might be especially good and preferable for specific purposes. Here are a few examples.
- Ad verification. Residential proxies are the best for verifying affiliate links in particular locations. As malicious actors might hijack your ads and display something else for specific users, companies use residential proxies to verify that advertisements are being shown as expected.
- Accessing geo-restricted content. Residential proxies are virtually indistinguishable from regular users. Thus, they can access content behind geo-restrictions by appearing to the server as belonging to the residencies in the locations for which the content is meant. This allows you to watch the content you want for such streaming services as Netflix, collect accurate pricing data, and bypass any other restrictions.
- Price aggregation. E-commerce sites are not very keen on letting others keep a constant watch on their prices. For one, competitors might use it to implement dynamic pricing strategies. Thus, such websites will try to quickly block any suspicious activity. If you are one of those competitors or simply want to develop a price comparison platform, residential proxies might be the best choice for data aggregation. Due to their similarity to regular user activity such proxies will decrease the probability of your aggregator getting blocked.
- SEO monitoring. Search engine optimization (SEO) is among the most important marketing tools in the digital era. Marketers use proxies to check their SEO performance in different locations. Additionally, this way they can monitor their competitors and see how they are doing on search engines, what keywords they target, etc. Residential proxies are especially good for this task, as they allow us to monitor SEO effectiveness in various countries efficiently.
Residential proxies have many more use cases. Businesses and individuals alike can utilize residential proxy servers for all kinds of processes that require multiple connections. This includes creating multiple social media accounts or trying to find the best deals on e-commerce sites. Many platforms ban multiple connections as suspicious activity, but proxies, including residential ones, can help avoid such bans.
What are datacenter proxies?
Datacenter proxies are not affiliated with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They get IPs by inheriting them from the primary data center, which has some drawbacks about which we will talk shortly.
These proxies often come from cloud hosting services and are supported by large data centers all over the world. The data centers belong to various corporations, which are the ones that provide you with proxy IPs.
When using a datacenter proxy, your traffic is first directed to the server. The response from the website also goes through this proxy IP address before getting to you, making it impossible for the site to track your real IP address.
Datacenter proxies can be shared or dedicated. Shared datacenter proxies are cheaper but slower as multiple people are using them. Thus, they are a good option for businesses and organizations with limited budgets that are not dependent on the maximum performance. Dedicated proxies are more expensive, but the service will be of the highest level the provider can offer.
There are also public datacenter proxies that are free. They are, however, not recommended for much the same reasons as residential proxies - free services are not as cared for and therefore trusted as paid reputable providers. Additionally, maintaining datacenter proxies is expensive, so providing them for free would mean that the costs are recouped in some other fashion.
What are datacenter proxies used for?
Datacenter proxies, just like their residential counterparts, are used for all kinds of activities requiring online anonymity and increased security. They are also capable of bypassing geo-blocks and avoiding bans.
Yet, since many websites can recognize datacenter IPs as not listed by ISPs, they can see that you are using an intermediary server, unlike with residential proxies. But the speed and uptime of datacenter proxies make them an ideal choice for some uses. Here are some of them.
- Web scraping. Datacenter proxies are great for large-scale data gathering such as web scraping. Scraping the web for data requires multiple requests and the constant availability of new IP addresses. Datacenter proxies have a large pool of IPs that if banned can quickly be replaced. Thus, it enables you to continue scraping the websites without stops or issues. Additionally, datacenter proxies are fast and speed is of the essence when collecting data for business purposes.
- Academic and market research. Researchers use datacenter proxies to access academic content that is only available from specific countries or when large scale data extraction is necessary. Such content can provide important fresh insights when analyzed by professional data scientists. Companies can improve their own market research with the data gathered from all over the world with the help of datacenter proxies.
- Social media management. Although possible with other kinds of proxies, datacenter proxies are ideal for managing multiple social media accounts. When social media sites detect a single IP address constantly connecting to multiple accounts, they might ban the IP and restrict the accounts. Using datacenter proxies to access different accounts with several static IPs can prevent that from happening.
- Anonymous browsing. If your goal is to simply protect your online anonymity while you are browsing, a datacenter proxy is just what you need. As datacenter IPs are not associated with any residential location or ISP, neither is your traffic. Your real IP address is masked by an anonymous IP that can easily be discarded or changed.
Datacenter proxies are also used for various other sensitive online procedures. For example, creating and using social media bots can hardly be imagined without using proxy servers. Datacenter proxy IPs are great for such tasks and can help you significantly boost your Instagram, TikTok, and other accounts Other use cases, usually reserved for residential proxies, can also be done with a datacenter proxy, especially, when cutting costs is crucial.
Datacenter vs. Residential proxies: Pros and Cons
Picking between these two types should be based, on the one hand, on the projects you have at hand. On the other hand, there are key metrics that allow comparing datacenter and residential proxies to see their respective pros and cons.
|Basis of comparison||Residential proxies||Datacenter proxies|
|Speed||Generally, residential proxies are a little slower. However, the highest speeds are achieved by choosing proxies near your actual location.||Datacenter proxies are extremely powerful and fast.|
|Affordability||More expensive.||Less expensive.|
|Anonymity||Sufficient anonymity is created by providing real IP addresses to hide yours.||Sufficient anonymity is created by providing a datacenter IP address to hide yours.|
|Identifiability||Residential proxies are harder to identify as proxies since the traffic is routed through actual residential IP addresses.||Datacenter proxies can be identified as proxies as provided IPs will all look similar to each other.|
|Versatility||Since residential proxies are harder to identify, they also have more applications. You can use them for virtually any purpose.||Some websites might have tracking methods that will nearly instantly ban datacenter proxies.|
|Reliability||Residential proxies are considered more reliable due to the reduced likelihood of getting banned. They, however, are less stable and more prone to outages.||Datacenter proxies are less reliable as entire subnets can be banned at once. On the other hand, data centers nearly never go offline.|
|Variety||Residential proxies have a greater variety of IP addresses from all over the world.||Datacenter proxies tend to have less variety in their pool of IPs.|
|Availability||Since acquiring real residential IPs is harder, there are fewer residential proxy providers.||Many providers offer datacenter IP addresses of their own, thus datacenter proxies are more readily available.|
There you have it, this is how datacenter and residential proxies compare against each other. In conclusion, both types of proxies are helpful and they will do the job for most of the tasks for which proxies are generally used. When choosing the proxy for your particular current purpose, refer to the table above. It will help you pick the kind of proxy you need and make the most out of its advantages.