Reliability and speed are some of the most sought-after attributes that people and businesses look for before procuring certain internet-based services or products. This fact holds even for proxy servers and has, in fact, influenced decision-making. It is the prime reason behind the increasing popularity of residential proxies. But before getting into more details, let us first detail what proxies and residential proxies are.
What is a Proxy?
As the name suggests, a residential proxy is, first and foremost, a type of proxy. Proxies or proxy servers refer to computers that figuratively sit between a user’s computer and a web server. It creates an ecosystem whereby all requests originating from the former and are intended to reach the latter first go through the proxy, which assigns them a new IP address. In doing so, proxy servers mask the IP address of the user’s computer. At the same time, responses from the web server also go through the intermediary.
The intermediary can serve many functions based on the type of IP address it assigns, how it sends the requests to the web server, and whether it identifies itself as a proxy to the server, among others. These disparate attributes lead to the existence of numerous types of proxies.
When we look at the IP address assigned, we can pick out several types, including:
- Residential proxies
- Datacenter proxies
- Rotating proxies
- Static proxies
- Shared proxies
- Dedicated proxies
What is a Residential Proxy?
A residential proxy assigns residential IP addresses. Internet service providers (ISPs) register these IP addresses and subsequently assign them to their customers. In order to use these online identifiers, therefore, residential proxy providers usually enter into agreements with ISPs and their customers – and compensate them as well – to channel internet traffic through these customers’ mobile phones, laptops, and computers.
Thus, a residential proxy is a real user’s device on which residential proxy software has been installed. Internet traffic passes through such a device before being directed to the server. This arrangement creates a scenario whereby the server assumes the requests it receives are being sent by the device’s owner even when the sender is a different party altogether. As a result, residential proxies and IP addresses are not easily blocked.
In contrast, a datacenter proxy is a virtual computer that is generated by powerful datacenter computers. This type of proxy server assigns datacenter IP addresses, which are easily detected by websites – because they are associated with bots. Unlike residential proxies, datacenter proxies are easily blocked.
Characteristics of Residential Proxies
Residential proxies have the following attributes:
- They are reliable: residential proxies are not easily flagged or blocked because they are associated with real users. For this reason, they are alongside web scrapers to extract data from e-commerce websites while undertaking market research. They are also instrumental in automation (social media automation).
- They are secure: proxy providers do not share the IP address among different users – only one user utilizes the IP address at a time. This limits misuse or unauthorized access, thereby promoting security. This attribute makes them ideal for sensitive applications such as social media management and ad verification.
- Residential proxies are relatively fast – though they are not as fast as datacenter proxies, they are still fast because multiple users do not share the bandwidth.
- This type of proxy is expensive – residential IP addresses are hard to come by, and this rarity makes them expensive.
Based on these attributes, it is easy to understand why residential proxies are popular. How so, exactly? Let’s find out.
Why Residential Proxies are Becoming Increasingly Popular
Businesses always seek reliability. For instance, whenever they are extracting data from websites using web scrapers, they prefer it when the process proceeds to completion. This is where residential proxies come in.
Ordinarily, web servers monitor the internet traffic originating from different IP addresses. If they detect an unusual number of web requests sent from the same computer, they assume a bot is behind them. In response, anti-scraping techniques such as CAPTCHAs and IP blacklisting are deployed. If not solved, the data extraction grinds to a halt.
Residential proxies prevent this by ensuring that the webserver does not associate the requests with bots. This is because the traffic will appear to be originating from a real user’s computer and not a datacenter bot. It will, therefore, not be flagged. But, of course, it is also vital to ensure that the frequency of web requests mimics normal human browsing behavior because this proxy can still be blocked.
The reliability, coupled with the speed of residential proxies, has made them popular among businesses and individual users.
Residential proxies are preferred to datacenter proxies because of their reliability and relative speed. And the various use cases evidence this popularity. They are not easily blocked, particularly if the frequency of web requests that appear to originate from them is kept at a minimum. To ensure success, users must mimic normal human behavior. The reliability and speed make residential proxies ideal for web scraping, market research, ad verification, and social media management.