Residential Proxies: Are They Truly Anonymous?

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It is easy to underestimate the importance of freedom of speech if you live in a democratic country. You can say what is on your mind without any repercussions. There are places, however, that place a dangerous premium on free speech. This is especially a speech that does not support the state or a particular political thought.

These oppressive rules often happen in some of the most liberal and idyllic countries on earth. The residents, nevertheless, know that they have to be careful about what they say online. In some states, such freedoms have been expressly usurped, and online bloggers and journalists are always in danger of imprisonment.

What is a proxy?

Online privacy is an essential ingredient for free speech. Anyone can print and disperse content covertly under a pen name for anonymity. Unfortunately, privacy is not so easy to come by online. Every computer has an IP address that gives away the location and, at times, the identity of its user. Fortunately, residential proxies can be utilized to recover such fundamental human freedoms.

A proxy or proxy server is an intermediary server that acts as a gateway between your computer and the internet. The proxy separates you or your business’s computer network from the websites accessed. Proxy servers will direct all your browser’s search queries through their servers to hide your IP address.

They will also route all incoming communication through them to ensure that any computer trying to access yours, will not view the proxy server’s IP address. This feature is handy in providing online anonymity, which can help enhance freedom of speech. The servers can, however, serve more functions than privacy.

They also help to keep your computer networks safer by protecting your identity, online activity, and data from prying eyes or malicious internet actors. These servers also can enhance the performance of the system, since the cache regularly used data, which speeds up searches and websites access.

One other advantage of a proxy server is its ability to filter web content. If you would like to restrict access to some forms of web content, you can do so via a proxy server. You can use the tool to monitor and regulate online content access.

Different kinds of proxies

There are two main types of proxies’ residential and data center proxies.

1.      Data center proxies

The most common type of proxies available out there is data center proxies. They are sold and, in some cases, offered free by cloud-based providers. They are affordable because they are not actual IP addresses. Data center proxies often sold in bulk work well in increasing online anonymity. Still, because they are not actual IP addresses, they are much easier to detect in online activities such as web scraping. 

They are nevertheless very useful in the access of geo-blocked content, and online privacy enhancement uses. Private data center proxies are very popular because they can be used affordably as rotation proxies.

Cons of datacenter proxies

  • Public data center proxies are the least secure and convenient of proxies. First, they can place you at the risk of hacking and tracking because it is never clear who has access to the information held in the server.
  • You could, therefore, be opening up your business’s servers to a hacker. Public proxies are also commonly abused and will be flagged or blocked by many websites for their nefarious activity use.

2.      Residential proxies

Residential proxies offer a high level of legitimacy in the search for privacy, security, and protection. These proxies are sold by internet service providers and are actual computer IP addresses. Since they are sold by ISPs and are real addresses, they are referred to as residential IPs.

Every computer has its IP number, a public identifier issued to all gadgets that access the web. It is a number that allows your connection with other websites across the World Wide Web. The IP address can give out basic information such as your physical location, address, and internet service provider.

A residential proxy will provide all the details than your IP address gives on scrutiny. It is, consequently, not easily detected as a proxy server. Residential proxies are therefore offered high levels of anonymity, compared to data center proxies.

Cons of residential proxies

  • These proxies are not as affordable or accessible as data center proxies are.
  • They can cost a business much more if they are required in bulk.

A comparison between residential proxies and other web scraping tools

Web scraping is the process of collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data from online sources. Individuals and businesses use this process to harvest big data that can offer useful insights into marketing, search engine optimization, and brand monitoring to mention but a few use cases. 

Websites are however, designed to block data scraping because it can hamper network speeds and slow down websites. Other sites simply prevent web scraping to deny their competitors access to useful data. Proxy servers can significantly overcome these shortcomings by hiding your IP address.

Rotating proxies can also mimic genuine user interaction with a website to ensure that data scraping goes unhindered. There are website administrators that will quickly detect web scraping if it is done via datacenter proxies. They can quickly tell that it is not a real IP address and will block their activity.

Residential proxies are perfect for web scraping because they are not easy to detect. These proxies are, however, more expensive, and their costs can skyrocket if they are needed in bulk for the web scraping.

Alternatively, you can use a privacy-oriented web browser like the TOR network. The network, also referred to as the Onion Router, sends web traffic via different servers to veil its origins. When web-scraping, TOR can rotate your IP address at short intervals. Some websites, nevertheless, block traffic from TOR.

Conclusion

The need for data in business has encouraged the growth of web scraping tools that are easy to use and reliable. Critical to the function of web scraping, however, are proxies. High-quality residential proxies are the best web scraping tools, but they are expensive. If you want a more affordable option, use private pools of data center proxies instead.

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About Annabel Johnson

Part time gamer, reviewer and blogger. Full time geek and tech expert!

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