Proxy servers are used by millions of people globally to improve security online by providing anonymous web content access. Anonymity has many benefits online, beginning with upholding an individual’s right to privacy. You can, however, use it to bypass various censorship features and to access geo-blocked content that is unavailable in your country.
Businesses use proxies for various purposes – market research, brand protection, SEO monitoring, and much more. The use of proxies can facilitate everyday work, like improving data gathering tasks for research purposes. In this article, we will explain what a proxy is, the most common proxy types, and what proxies to choose for smooth, simple, and reliable usage.
What is a proxy?
Proxies are servers that act as intermediaries between your computer network and the online world. If you have a proxy server embedded in your computer networks, it will take all web requests sent by your browser, process them and send them to the set web address.
The set web address will then return data to your computer via the proxy server. All websites will, therefore, only access the proxy’s IP address rather than your own. Your IP address, consequently, stays hidden, which protects you from trackers or hackers that could try to hack into your business’s servers.
Different types of proxies
All of the proxies have a similar purpose – to increase anonymity while surfing the web. Also, with the use of proxies, users can access geo-restricted content worldwide. However, there are different types of proxies. Each proxy type is used in different cases because of their advantages or disadvantages.
One way of classifying proxies is by their origin. Datacenter proxies are issued by third-party providers and are mere numbers, rather than actual IP addresses. Their counterparts, the residential proxies, are sold by internet service providers and are, therefore, real IP addresses.
Unlike datacenter IPs that are sometimes provided by unregistered business entities, internet service providers offer proxies that are highly regulated, which offer better data security.
Proxies can also be classified by their access type. In this case, proxies are distributed either shared, private, or semi-dedicated proxies. Let’s define each of these proxies to understand the main differences between them:
- Private proxies offer a single user dedicated private IP for business and individual use. These proxies are, at times, referred to as dedicated IPs. They are only accessible to one client at a time. Due to their high level of exclusivity, private proxies offer better bandwidth speeds and application environments. They also guarantee better data security and privacy services. If you need more information about private proxies, visit Oxylabs to understand all the benefits of these proxies.
- Shared proxies are used to increase online anonymity, but you have to share their IP address with other internet users. The main disadvantage of shared proxies is that the providers do not need to share information on the number of users utilizing an IP address. You can, therefore, pay for a shared proxy with limited speeds due to overloading. This feature will adversely affect your network’s performance.
- Semi-dedicated proxies are usually shared between two or three users. They offer budget proxies that provide better network speeds and security than shared proxies do.
Reasons why you should avoid shared proxies
A past analysis done on the quality of shared proxies says that while these IP addresses are easier to access and affordable, they bring a lot of risks to businesses. These risks include security and privacy dangers. A study done by an Austrian security researcher, examining this classification of proxies shows that 79% of the scrutinized open proxies denied their users HTTPS traffic.
This process can lead to ‘cookie stealing,’ which compromises data protection. The researcher recommends that online users avoid free-shared proxies to prevent their security vulnerabilities. Using a private proxy that has a monthly subscription fee ensures that you are not using cheap proxies whose providers will perform illegal activities for revenue generation.
Disadvantages of shared proxies
- Shared proxies offer a level of anonymity when online because they will veil your IP. The level of anonymity, however, is not guaranteed because they are open and less secured. While a private proxy offers a valid private IP, shared proxies are simple number codes that can be easily decoded by savvy web technicians.
A shared proxy will, therefore not veil your web traffic as well as a private proxy does. A shared IP could expose your business to myriad reputation and data security risks.
- If you are going to use a shared proxy for web scraping activities, you stand a very high chance of being blacklisted. Shared proxies leave a more extensive online footprint, mainly if they have been used for base activities, also known as the bad neighbor effect.
These proxies will, consequently, be much easier to detect during web scraping. Banned proxies will not access some internet sites. The best web scraping proxies are private rotating IPs since they are less likely to be banned.
- If you need fast, reliable proxies, use private proxies. Shared proxies have very low speeds because the demand for their free or cheap services is too high. Since private proxies only have one user, their loading speeds and efficiency are faster. Private proxies, however, come at a cost, which makes them beneficial for businesses that handle very sensitive client data such as payments.
While factors such as low prices and accessibility might make shared proxies a popular choice for online users, these proxies can be harmful to businesses. If you need reliable, secure, and fast proxy servers, use private proxies from trusted providers only.