Proxies are a convenient and fast way of anonymizing your browsing experience. When pitted against virtual private networks (VPNs), which also provide online anonymity, proxy servers emerge on top, especially in applications requiring speed. And considering that there are various types of proxies and proxy service providers, how do you choose the right one? And what is a proxy?
What is a Proxy?
A proxy or proxy server is a computer that offers online anonymity by assigning a new IP address to all outgoing requests from a user’s browser or web-based application on their personal computer or network. They achieve this by routing all outgoing and incoming traffic through themselves. This implies that they act as an intermediary between a web server and a user’s computer.
This “go-between” arrangement makes proxies ideal for different purposes. This gives rise to different types of proxies.
Types of Proxies
The various types of proxy servers include:
- Shared proxies
- Dedicated proxies
- Static proxies
- Rotational proxies
- Datacenter proxies
- Residential proxies
- SOCKS proxies
- HTTP and HTTPS proxies
- Transparent proxies
- Anonymous and high anonymity proxies
- Forward proxies
- Reverse proxies
Given the various types of proxies, it is easy to get confused whenever you are choosing a proxy for your personal or business use. Fortunately, there are several parameters and features you can look for in order to make this decision. In fact, this article details 5 features to consider.
5 Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Proxy
As detailed, proxies are markedly different in the way they operate. For this reason, it is vital to consider various aspects in order to choose the right proxy. The 5 main features you should keep in mind are:
- Type of proxy
- IP network pool
- Ethical and legal considerations
- Speed and reliability
- Type of Proxy
The categorization of proxies is based on a number of factors and criteria. Thus, when looking for the most suitable proxy for a given task, it is important to consider the following:
- IP addresses assigned: residential proxies assign addresses that belong to real users, while data center proxies assign addresses that belong to virtual computers powered by data centers. At the same time, shared proxies assign the same IP address to multiple computers, while dedicated proxies anonymize computers individually by giving each of them a unique IP address.
- Purpose: HTTP proxies filter the requests sent by a browser or the kind of files that a web server sends. Similarly, transparent proxies are used to restrict access to specific content.
- Positioning, i.e., whether the proxy serves the web client or web server. Forward proxies sit in front of front-end applications (browsers) and are considered client-side proxies, while reverse proxies are found on the back-end and therefore sit in front of back-end applications.
- Level of anonymity, as is the case with anonymous and high anonymity proxies.
- The frequency with which IP addresses are assigned: computers that use static proxies have the same IP address throughout, while those that utilize rotating proxies are given different unique IP addresses after a stipulated period.
- IP Network Pool
Your proxy service provider should have a vast network of IP addresses from different countries. A vast pool of online identifiers guarantees that your work will proceed unimpeded. This is based on the fact that you will always have a number of addresses from which to choose.
Dedicated proxies are more expensive than shared proxies, while residential proxies are costlier than datacenter proxies. Additionally, providers usually charge their customers based on the traffic volume, measured in gigabytes, sent or received via the proxies. Thus, choosing a lower tier will limit the traffic that can be channeled through the proxy servers leading to slow connections or instability.
- Ethical and Legal Considerations
Ensuring that your preferred service provider ethically sources the proxies is crucial. For instance, residential proxies assign IP addresses that belong to internet service providers (ISPs). This means that the internet traffic is routed through real users’ computers and smartphones. In such a situation, it is important to use service providers that have received consent from the end-user and have compensated them accordingly.
- Speed and Reliability
Some proxies are faster than others. For instance, dedicated proxies are faster and more reliable than a shared proxy because only a single computer uses the former’s bandwidth. On the other hand, the latter’s bandwidth is shared among the computers using that IP address.
Similarly, data center proxies are extremely fast as they channel traffic through powerful data center computers. They are, however, more susceptible to IP blocking. In this regard, residential proxies are reliable as they are not easily blocked.
When choosing a proxy, it is important to consider speed and reliability, ethics, type of proxy, price, and the IP network pool. The 5 key features will help you choose the right proxy for any task.