What Is a Data Center Proxy?
You have researched and researched while looking for proxies, and now you think you are ready to make a commitment. But the one thing that has been nagging you is the eternal question; which one should you go with, data center, or residential proxies? No doubt, before you have come to a decision, you have visited various forums where there is an eternal debate about the merits of the two, leading to further confusion.
Why does one need a proxy? There could be one or many reasons for that. One of the main reasons to use a proxy is that you do not want to be identified while using your personal resources online and be red flagged by websites such as Ticketmaster or Craigslist. Whatever may be the reason, you would be using one of these two proxies.
The very basic explanation to differentiate between the two would be that residential proxies are actual IP addresses provided by internet service providers. These proxies mask your location and are wired directly into your home. Data center proxies are not provided by internet service providers but come from third parties, such as hosting companies. Instead of being directly wired into your home, they are just numbers that are independent of both the internet connection and the internet service provider.
Data center proxies are the most common proxies, and it becomes easier to hide your IP address because they have nothing to do with the ISP or the internet connection. How it works is that when you connect while using a data center proxy, your identity is masked by issuing you a new IP address. For example, you could be sitting in Sri Lanka with an IP address that is located in Germany (or vice versa) while using data center proxy servers.
Data center proxies are easy to get and don’t cost too much because they are provided by hundreds of providers (usually at a fraction of what residential IPs would cost you but we will get to that later). These proxies are very fast and allow access to files much quicker than a public proxy would. They are completely anonymous and there is no fear of it being a hacker or government snare.
Data center hosted proxy servers utilize many protocols. These are:
- HTTP: Otherwise also called Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is a set of rules for transferring files such as images, text, video, sound and other multimedia files on the internet. In fact, you are unaware of it, but you are largely making use of this protocol as soon as you connect to the internet. An HTTP daemon waits for HTTP requests and handles them when they arrive. Basically, when a user clicks on a hypertext link or enters a file request, the daemon in the (destination) server machine gets the request and sends back the requested file.
- HTTPS: This is a more secure version of HTTP as we know it, the “S” stands for secure, which means that all communication between the website and your browser is encrypted. It is largely used in confidential transactions such as online shopping order forms and online banking, to give you an idea. Though it is not without its cons; it uses more hardware (which means additional cost), and HTTPS requests take more time to process.
- SOCKS4: Or SOCKet Secure is a protocol which routes network packets between a server and a client through a proxy server. It is used by enterprises and ISPs to provide a single access point for internet data.
- SOCKS5: A SOCKS proxy works perfectly when you want to surf the internet privately. It works as a bridge between your computer or device and the internet. So any traffic generated while using it cannot be associated with your IP. SOCKS version 5 provides an extra layer of security to this protocol.
Clearly put, a data center hosted proxy server does not connect you to the internet. Their working principle is different, in a manner that unlike other proxies that will lend you an IP address so that you can impersonate and browse the internet, they hide your IP address. They do it so well, in fact, that certain websites that let you find your own IP address are unable to do so. Unlike in a residential proxy, the data center proxy uses the ISP to connect to the internet and masks the IP address.
People who need different IPs to get around various popular websites use data center proxies, largely because they are easier to acquire and in bulk. In doing so, a lot of people try to spam these websites and need these IPs to get around website filters. Though all users using data center proxies do not use them for nefarious purposes such as these, there are other legitimate users as well, such as small corporate offices. But this number is quite small when compared with people who use data center proxies for uses that may not be entirely legal.
For exactly this reason, major internet companies such as Google, Facebook or Netflix are always on the lookout for such culprits, and there is a good chance that they are able to tell whether you are a using a data center proxy, and either put you on a scrutiny list or block you out completely. One thing is for sure though, you will be held for scrutiny by the website’s security systems because they would be able to tell whether you are using a data center proxy. This is because these systems assume that your intention is malicious and will hunt you down. And this brings us to elite proxies.
Also called the highly anonymous proxies, elite level 1 proxies provide the highest level of anonymity. When you connect using one of these proxies, the server you are connected to receives absolutely no information about your IP address. As an bonus, it cannot detect whether the connection was made using a proxy, and your computer is secured from hacking, data loss and other such malicious activities. You also leave no traces of using a proxy server, making them an ideal disguise.
Let us look at some advantages and disadvantages of data center proxies.
Advantages of Data Center Proxies
There is no doubt that when compared with residential proxies, data center proxies are faster. When it comes to dedicated proxies, almost all the paid versions are run on very fast dedicated servers. Most of these data centers are distributed evenly around the world, so there is a good chance that you will find a proxy that is located near you.
As a result, there is a good chance that you will find a faster internet connection compared with a DSL or a cable connection. Data center proxies are 2-3 times faster than their residential versions and can handle constant download speeds. The speeds are consistent, so if you find a reliable enough service provider, data center proxies can be more reliable than backconnect rotating proxies.
Great Uptime, Stable Performance
Data centers with dedicated servers usually have an uptime of 99%, and that translates to data center proxies having a 99% uptime. This simply means that data centers will provide better performance and reliability.
Compared with other types of proxies, data center proxies are less expensive, and hence, affordable. Besides, there are plenty of providers to pick from, and they are the cheapest form of proxies available, generally speaking. And for this very reason, they are easier to procure, since residential proxies are much costlier. Data center proxies have literally hundreds of providers and can cost as little as $1.20.
Disadvantages of Data Center Proxies
Can Be Detected
This is one of the biggest disadvantages of data center proxies. Some target websites can easily detect them as proxy server IPs because they do not trace back to an internet service provider. As a result, upon inspection of this proxy, it would become pretty obvious that you are the user. If you share a subnet with someone who is abusing a proxy, this will become an issue.
One way to tackle this issue is to test the target IP. Here is a very simple way to do this (on a Windows PC or a Macintosh computer):
- Every operating system has a command line interface that will let you run a command called “ping”. To access this on your Windows system, click on the “Start” button and enter “cmd” in the search field. Now press “Enter” to launch the command prompt.
- To do this on a Macintosh computer, open the “Applications” folder, and go to the “Utilities” folder. Now select “Terminal”.
- Type in the hostname, which typically is a website address. The command is “ping ‘Hostname’”, where “Hostname” is replaced by the website address you want to test, or ping. On a Macintosh computer, you can use the “Network Utility” menu and achieve the same results.
- Read the summary after the pinging is completed. If the summary shows lost packets (and the average time), it means that data packets are being lost in the transfer and the connection to this address is unreliable.
- Alternatively, there are many other tools that will help you check the target IP. These are either downloadable or available online.
Prone to Be Banned
For a majority of users, using data center proxies is just fine, as long as one is using a browser fingerprint spoofer (there are many tools available for that). But at the same time, do remember that a lot of people also use data center proxies for legitimate uses. Many databases that are freely available online will tell you if a particular IP address is registered at a data center, and for users who go for speed and privacy, it wouldn’t matter.
But there are other users, such as those who want to post multiple advertisements on websites such as Craigslist or buy items such as sneakers, or use marketing or promotional tools from a specific region. And in most of these scenarios, most target websites will filter and block addresses originating from an IP address from a data center. Now it is not enough to get you banned in a lot of cases, but you surely will be red flagged.
One way around this is to buy proxies in bulk from service providers that have a massive proxy network. While buying from this provider, it would also be great if you could inquire if the company has multiple netnames. Also, another great solution to this is to split your budget for this purpose across a few businesses. This will also help you get a great arbitrary selection of netnames and the companies that own these IPs. This will not only make your operation more maintainable but also help you reduce the ban rate.
By now, you must have realized one thing — if you want to remain anonymous, buying or using proxies is essential. We hope that this guide proves to be somewhat helpful to you in deciding whether data center proxy servers are for you. Always make sure you understand the risks in full before starting to use these proxies with your accounts. While selecting a provider, you will have to work smartly, by always choosing a reliable provider that has a good record and not one that steals IPs from others, because this will also lead to privacy as well as reliability issues.
Also, buying these proxies in bulk is a smart idea because you will have all the flexibility needed to surf the internet anonymously. It is also easy to lose track and overestimate the kind of proxy you need for your requirement, so you need to always keep in mind that you can always upgrade in the future.