Types of Proxy Servers

Proxy servers are a great tool for working on the Internet. They keep your data secure and let you browse anonymously. The variety of proxy types supports a wide range of use cases, allowing you to work efficiently and lessen stress.

Proxy servers function as intermediaries that your requests pass through before reaching the target server. A proxy server maintains your online anonymity by providing you with an alternative IP address.

Levels of Anonymity

Proxies can be classified according to the level of anonymity they provide.  For details, please see Proxy Anonymity Levels.

This article discusses several types of proxy servers, their benefits, and the use cases appropriate for each type.

Data Center Proxies

Data center proxies operate in the cloud, providing made-up IP addresses that exist primarily for masking purposes. These proxies offer several levels of anonymity, the highest one being an Elite Level 1 proxy server (also called a High Anonymous proxy). With this level, the server you connect to receives no information about your actual IP address. In fact, it cannot even detect that the connection was made through a proxy.

ProxyMesh provides Level 1 Elite data center rotating proxies, which are shared. That is, other users will connect to the same proxy at the same time.

Rotating Proxy Server

Blocking happens when websites identify and block your IP address because you’re making too many requests from the same IP, or staying on the remote site too long. A rotating proxy provides you with IP addresses that change automatically, so you can do your online research uninterrupted. You get a new IP address with each new data request. This gives you a higher degree of online anonymity when researching your competition.

When considering a good rotating proxy, these are some of the features to look for:

  • number of IP addresses per server
  • geographical location of IP addresses
  • frequency of IP address rotation
  • availability of custom headers to control IP addresses
  • authentication method
ProxyMesh offers shared data center proxies that provide 10 shared IP addresses rotating every 12 hours, so that you have 20 IPs available each day.

Distorting Proxies

The term “distorting” refers to one of three levels of anonymity available in proxy servers. In the generally accepted classification, “distorting” is the middle level, below “elite” but more anonymous than “transparent” proxies. With a distorting proxy server, you can access remote websites while keeping your real identity hidden, although the sites could still detect that you’re working behind a proxy server. By passing along a “substitute” IP address, the distorting proxy protects you from targeted marketing and can help you get around content restrictions.

Marketers and business people, among others, can find distorting proxies helpful to their use cases, such as online data research. Again, keep in mind that some remote sites will terminate an IP address coming from a proxy. Remote sites, however, often need time to analyze and block proxied IP addresses, and this can be offset by rapid proxy rotation, with a new IP chosen at random for each request. That’s useful for high-traffic operations such as web scraping.

Another important benefit is the distortion of location data. With a proxy’s IP address, for example, you can appear to be in a country that restricts access by IPs outside that country. That can be useful for projects ranging from political research to entertainment. But be aware that, in this example, using an overseas IP can mean slower data transmission.

ProxyMesh's rotating Open Proxy is a distorting proxy, providing Level 2 anonymity.

Transparent Proxies

A transparent proxy intervenes between a data requester and a remote site but does not modify the request or response. A transparent proxy filters out unwanted content but does not mask your IP address to make it anonymous. The proxy can be readily recognized, and some remote sites automatically terminate proxy connections. However, some remote sites use transparent proxies too, making them look like the remote site itself but actually recording your IP address for future reference.
ProxyMesh does not offer transparent proxies.

Private vs. Shared

Proxies can also be classified according to whether they are private or shared. Both of these types provide excellent security by masking your IP address and omitting any other identifying information from the web request. This provides the anonymity necessary to research the web undetected. Both can filter webpage content to help improve your search. And each can be used with various web browsers.

Private (Dedicated) Proxies

A single PC can be set up as a private residential proxy, useful for emulating an ordinary consumer shopping online. Or, a data center proxy can be set up for a single user – a data-center private proxy useful in high-speed, high-volume web scraping.

Here are key benefits of private proxies

  • First, a private proxy is assigned to only one user. so you have full control over how it is being used. This also means you’re able to work much faster. And, as the sole user, you’re not likely to experience bandwidth overload.
  • With private proxies, there isn’t another user to be potentially engaged in illegal practice, leading to IP blocks for you. However, that only applies while you are using the IP. You have no idea what the IP was used for before you acquired it. So it’s important to check the IP reputation in case it was used for bad practices before.

While they have a wide range of prices, having just one user means private proxies are generally more expensive than shared proxies. But beware any private proxy that’s advertised as free. It may not provide essential support or protection from cyberthieves. Some low-cost or free private proxies may even hack data themselves.

Shared Proxies

Shared proxies are assigned to multiple users, often making them more affordable than a private proxy because their cost is shared.

Shared rotating proxies provide a number of IP addresses that automatically change on a pre-determined schedule of rotation. Your proxied IP address varies with each request, which prevents rate-limiting or IP blocks. You can also use multiple proxies to carry out high traffic research quickly and efficiently, which can help grow your business. And certain shared proxies can help with SEO programs.

As for disadvantages: Because shared rotating proxies are assigned to multiple users, you have less control over how the proxy is being used. Also, if another user exceeds the limit on simultaneous data requests, the remote site may detect the proxy, blocking you and others users. And if another user on the shared proxy engages in illegal activity, all sharing users could be affected.

Residential Proxies

Residential proxies are different from rotating forward proxies, which hide your IP address by substituting data center addresses. Although data center proxies hide your IP very effectively, remote sites sometimes don’t like them, and it’s still possible for a site to recognize them as data center proxies. And then you may be blocked. Or, seeing you as a competitor, the remote site may deliberately answer your query with false information.

Residential proxies, in contrast, reveal an IP from a home internet service provider – but not yours. It’s assumed that owners of residential IPs don’t have any reason to mask their identities, so the remote site is inclined to trust them. It receives your query, relayed through a proxy IP address, and sends a response back to that address, which then delivers it to you.

The IPs in a residential proxy network belong to customers who have opted at signup to lend them for proxy purposes.

ProxyMesh does not offer residential proxies, but can recommend services that do offer them.

Use Case Table

Here is a table showing appropriate use cases for the proxy server type described above.

Use Cases by Proxy Type Description
Data Center Elite Proxies
Research and development Web scraping is used in research to collect large data sets like statistics from various websites, which are then used to conduct surveys.
Recruitment Data extracted from career-focused websites can be used toward filling certain job vacancies.
Contact information Scraping of contact information such as emails, URLs, and phone numbers from websites.
Determining public attitude Knowing the public’s attitude about your brand will help you to enhance your product and provide potential customers with what they want.
Social media research
Avoid blocks on data center proxies by combining ProxyMesh and a social media scraping tool such as Phantombuster or Saleshub.
Accessing geo-restricted content When information is blocked from certain locations, make it appear that your IP is located in an unrestricted location. If the residential proxy service offers an international listing, you can run these tasks from IP addresses in many different countries.
Viewing competitors’ ads Find out which markets competitors are trying to attract and what they’re saying.
Confirmation of your ads Make sure your online ads are reaching your intended audience and not being hacked by fraudsters. See whether links are going where they should.
Data center distorting proxies
Online data research Marketers and business people, among others, can find distorting proxies helpful to their use cases, such as online data research.
Distortion of location Make it appear you’re located somewhere other than where you actually are.
Data center transparent proxies
Filtering content Filters out unwanted content
Caching data Can be useful for caching data and for speeding access to a list of frequently visited websites.
Residential Proxies
Competitive research Overcoming blocks to competitive research (good use case for residential proxies)
Price comparison Using web scraping over time to track product and service prices in different markets can help you stay competitive.
Social media scraping Accurately predict upcoming trends by using social media data to track current trends.
Social media research Monitor the performance of your own products. Gather information about your customers.
Avoid blocks on data center proxies by appearing as an ordinary user.
Sales intelligence Scrape social media to learn about potential customers. See how often your brand is mentioned, and what the social media are saying about it.
Ad verification Make sure your online ads are reaching your intended audience and not being hacked by fraudsters. See whether links are going where they should. If you’re marketing in more than one language, check the accuracy of translations.
Search engine optimization Use a legitimate, SEO-compliant residential proxy to gather data without triggering restrictions or bans by search engines.
Brand protection Get around regional blocks to monitor for illicit uses of your brand.
Talent sourcing For possible recruitment, connect with people who have the skills your business needs.
Website testing Via residential proxy, run tests on your own website to analyze traffic and the way content is served.

Scraping Social Media

Social media scraping is a special type of use case. To scrape social media, you’ll need a proxy, but some proxy types work better than others. A residential proxy works well because, to the remote site, it looks “legitimate,” like an ordinary user. Good residential proxy services include Storm Proxies, Luminati, and OxyLabs Proxies.

In social media scraping, data center proxies are more easily blocked, because IP addresses are often shared, making it harder for a single user to limit the number of requests from one address. Too many requests will get that address blocked.

With social media scraping, some operations require you to stay logged in; but a persistent IP connection can lead to blocks. To compensate, some providers offer a slightly extended time period before the IP rotates, so that you don’t have to change your configuration. Still, you may only have a few minutes to make your requests.

Although ProxyMesh can provide you with excellent service for most of your needs, our data center proxies by themselves do not work well for scraping social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Amazon, InstaGram, or Craigslist. However, you can get good results by combining ProxyMesh and a social media scraping tool such as Phantombuster or SalesHub.

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