The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Proxy Server
Why You Need to use a Proxy
Proxies serve many different purposes to both businesses and individuals. For a business, the best proxy services will allow you massive scalability, while for individuals they will keep you anonymous while you are online.
It’s possible to find free proxies but a paid proxy doesn’t need to be expensive, and it can prevent headaches and lost money down the road. Choosing the wrong proxy for your purposes or spending money on a low-quality service can cause technical issues, preventing your anonymity and scaling as a business. [toc]
Over the past decade, proxies have become a must-have for a business owner and online marketers. They allow you to bypass imposed limits on Google tools and third-party services, saving you time and enabling you to scale your hobby into a real business.
In this guide, we’ll be explaining the different types of proxies and helping you to buy proxy that matches your needs. We’ll be covering the benefits and drawbacks of each. Perhaps you want to buy HTTP or SOCKS5 proxy? We’ll explain why that could be the right choice and why it might not. Finally, we’ll explain what makes the best proxy service.
For an individual using a proxy the most significant benefit is often the anonymity that a proxy provides. It will allow you to hide your identity by showing servers a different IP than your home.
Why might this be useful?
Not every country has open access to online information. In China, for example, there are borders on what websites can and cannot be accessed. A proxy can allow you to bypass these walls, enabling you to access whatever content you wish.
You might also find that some content is locked to a particular region. If you’ve ever opened up a video for it to say “Only available in the USA” or “Only available in Australia,” you know how annoying it can be.
With a proxy server, you’ll be able to bypass these region locks. Welcome to a whole new world of streaming!
Not only that but it will also keep you anonymous while you do it. This is great if you’re torrenting files. Rather than the companies being able to track your IP to your home, they’ll only be able to track it to a proxy server, keeping you safe from lawsuits.
For business or individual looking to scale up their operation, proxies are an absolute must. They will keep your operation safer and allow it to run much faster, making you more money in a shorter period.
Ever since online games were created there have been services that used proxies to automate certain tasks or make earning gold more efficient. Why would you want to be restricted to only playing a single character at once?
Imagine how much more gold you could earn if you could have multiple characters mining at the same time. Perhaps you even want to run your bot service? There’s a lot of money to be earned by farming and selling gold. But if you want a piece of the action you’ll need a reliable proxy to protect your business.
Some shopping websites restrict the volume of products that you can buy based on your IP. If you’re looking to resell them, wouldn’t it be great if you could buy as many as you wanted? A proxy can do that. Scale up your reseller business with a proxy service, and you’ll be making more money than ever.
Perhaps the most common business use for proxies is the ability to scrape massive amounts of data in shorter periods of time. If your business is reliant on data from other websites, then you’ll know how painful it can be to wait for the data to be scraped.
If the data gathering process is the bottleneck in your business, using a proxy will allow the profits to flow. By using different IP addresses, you can bypass IP restrictions, scrape multiple websites at once and harness the power of multiple computers.
With so many affordable proxy servers available there’s no reason to let your business suffer any longer. Proxies will afford you the scalability that you need to take your business to the next level. The best proxy services will allow you to 10x you capability.
What is a Proxy Server
A proxy server is essentially a separate computer that acts as a gateway between your local network and the server that you’re trying to access.
For example; Rather than your PC connecting directly to the website, it goes through the proxy first. This way that website reads the IP of the paid proxy server, keeping you anonymous and allowing you to access region-locked content.
IP Address, Port, Protocol
When you’re trying to figure out what proxy you should buy it’s a good idea to know some definitions so that you have a better understanding of what they offer.
IP Address: An IP address is a unique string of numbers that are separated by periods. This string is used to identify your computer.
Port: When you connect to a network you do so through a particular port. Your entire computer doesn’t connect. Think of a seaport, boats want to dock their ships, but they are assigned a particular port rather than being told to park up wherever they want. It’s the same way with your computer. For example; FTP uses port 21 wheres email is usually port 25.
Protocol: Protocol is a defined method for exchanging data over a network. Each protocol has a unique way of how to format the data, it will uniquely compress the data and will know what to do with the data. A protocol is essentially a set of rules and guidelines your computer follows when exchanges are made.
How Proxies Work
Proxies can seem complicated at first, and they are at the core, but for the end-user (you!) they are quite simple.
Let’s say that you want to go to Facebook. You type in the URL into your web browser, but the request is intercepted by your proxy server. The proxy server will retrieve the Facebook web page and uses its web server to show the page to you.
Facebook never receives a request from your IP; it doesn’t know that you see the page, all it knows is that a server (your proxy) asked for a web page.
This server request from the paid proxy server is why it allows you to be anonymous.
Types of Proxy Servers
When you’re comparing servers, you’ll find that there are more options than you could ever have imagined. This can make it extremely confusing for beginners. Let’s take a look at the different types of proxy server so that you can make a more educated decision.
Proxies by Connection Type
When people talk about proxies, they are talking about forward proxies. But it’s important to recognize that there are also reverse proxies, although they are less common.
A forward proxy is a type which will be used by a client or a group of customers. It’s called a ‘forward’ server because the first signal comes from the customer and first goes to the proxy, before going forward to the internet.
This is the type of proxy that we have discussed so far, it intercepts your requests and provides anonymity and scaling.
A reverse proxy is also sometimes called a back connect proxy to distinguish itself from the traditional forward proxy. A reverse proxy service is the exact opposite of a forward proxy.
While a forward proxy exists to protect an individual or business from the servers, a reverse proxy exists to safeguard the servers from attacks from an end-user.
The proxy sits between a group of server and the internet. When a user makes a request, it is intercepted by the reverse proxy. The user has no idea what goes on behind the proxy, all they know is that they are served their files by the proxy.
This proxy helps to make it more difficult for internet attackers to directly infiltrate a server. However, outside of safety proxies can also be used to help with load balancing. Just like a parking attendant at a busy location will point the cars in the right direction, a proxy server will distribute the load across the servers to prevent overload and slower response times.
Proxies by Protocol and Anonymity Level
You’ll also find that there are proxies that use a different protocol and with varying degrees of anonymity. Depending on what you plan to do behind the proxy you might be comfortable with a less secure service, or you might want the Fort Knox of proxies.
HTTP proxies are some of the more common proxies that you’ll find, and they are often the cheapest as well.
An HTTP proxy serves as an intermediary between the HTTP client and the HTTP server. This kind of proxy is used for web requests that are transmitted through HTTP.
A transparent proxy is otherwise known as an intercepting or inline proxy. This type of service intercepts normal communication at the network layer without any configuration and makes no difference to the client. Hence, transparent proxy. These do NOT hide your IP address.
A distorting proxy server will either hide or modify your IP address in some meaningful way so that the target server doesn’t know where you are located. However, they will often provide some information about what you’ve been reading and will let the target server know you’re using a proxy.
These proxies will hide your IP address in its entirety. They will protect all information about you, your reading interests etc. But like the transparent and distorting types they reveal to the final target server that you’re redirecting through a proxy server.
High Anonymous (Elite)
This kind of server is recommended for most people and can be used for all sorts of web services. High anonymous proxy is also called Elite Level 1 proxy type and used by almost every proxy provider except those who sell public proxy lists. In our Proxy Package Finder you’ll find proxies only of this type.
HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP; this means that all of the data that is sent from your browser to the website and back is encrypted. This helps to make it difficult for anybody to do anything with the data even if it were to be intercepted.
Most online shopping websites use HTTPS and also some registration sites. It allows you to shop safely online and to input valuable details like your credit card number and address with a much smaller chance of it being intercepted by attackers.
When you’re inputting any valuable data, you should always check to see if you’re doing so over an HTTPS connection.
The main difference between HTTP proxies and SOCKS proxies is that HTTP proxies understand and interpret the traffic that passed between the client and the server. Whereas SOCKS proxies don’t understand the traffic in any meaningful way.
SOCKS proxies can be used for all types of data transfer whereas an HTTP proxy can only be used for HTTP traffic.
This kind of proxy is one of the fastest proxy options, SOCKS 5 offers full UDP support which will allow you to connect to the maximum amount of available peers. Unlike an HTTP proxy, SOCKS doesn’t rewrite data packet headers. What this means for you as a client is that you will experience significantly faster speeds.
Not only is it faster, but it’s also more secure. SOCKS proxies are far better at anonymizing your downloads when compared to an HTTP server. SOCKS5 proxy services are virtually untraceable.
A SOCKS proxy can be used for all types of traffic.
Proxies by Origin and Access Type
Once you’ve decided whether you want an HTTP or SOCKS proxy, consider the origin and access type of the proxy that you want.
Public / Open Proxies
Public or open proxies have existed since the creation of the internet but seem to be in greater numbers now more than ever. Many proxy users will get started with using public or open proxies.
Public proxies are those that are open for anybody to use. An unlimited amount of people from anywhere in the world can try to connect at any one time.
Most of these proxies exist because somebodies computer is infected or an open proxy server was misconfigured. These are found using scanners and then shared on public proxy sites for people to use.
However, it’s important to know that honeypots are also created by government agencies, security firms, and hackers. These are proxies that you can use but will track your data. This data is then utilized by the government or security companies to bring the full force of the law down upon you. Be careful!
Free Public Proxies
Free Public Proxies can serve a purpose, especially if you’re using it for legal purposes. The hardest part of using public proxies is having to harvest proxy and then find out if it’s a fresh proxy or a dead proxy.
To do this, you can use a proxy judge. This program is a script that’s hosted online that will allow you to validate a list of proxies that you have harvested. This script prevents you from trying to connect through dead proxies, saving you valuable time. If you don’t want to buy proxy then a free public server is your only choice.
Paid Public Proxies
On the other hand, you can pay for services that will show you a huge list of pre-tested proxies. These are still public proxies; the only difference is that somebody is regularly running a script to ensure that all of the public servers they have listed are still working.
If you’re on a strict budget and are willing to use a public proxy, paying for a pre-tested list of proxies can make it much more efficient to use.
Data Center Hosted Proxy Services
Unlike public proxies which are residential IP’s which are affiliated with an ISP, data center hosted proxy services will use a datacenter IP that is not designed to provide you with the internet. Instead, their sole purpose it to hide your IP and keep your anonymous.
The advantage of these proxies is that they are often very fast, allowing you to access files much quicker than a public proxy would. You also don’t have a fear of the proxy being a government or hacker honeypot.
However, some servers will be able to request info for the IP that the data center is using and will be able to tell that you’re using a datacenter. This doesn’t impact on them knowing your IP, but it might trigger the server into preventing you from accessing the data.
A virgin proxy by definition is a proxy that has never been used before. The great thing about this is that it will work 100% of the time on any website because that particular IP address will never have been banned.
The problem you have with non-virgin proxies is that the previous user of the IP address might have triggered IP bans from some of the services of websites that you want to use.
Private Dedicated Proxies
Private or dedicated proxies are proxies that only you have access to. The great thing about this is that you have full control over the ongoing health of that proxy. There is no fear that another user of the same IP address will burn it and get IP banned from certain services.
With nobody else using the same proxy as you at any given time, you can guarantee that you’ll get the fastest possible download speeds, even during peak hours. This is perfect for businesses who are scraping massive amounts of data and can’t be slowed down by other users.
Most of these dedicated proxies will allow you to use IP addresses from a huge variety of countries, enabling you to hide your location and access content from different countries.
Shared proxies fill the gap between public and private proxies. You don’t have the entire proxy to yourself, but it’s also not a free-for-all.
Shared proxies are a good option for a user who doesn’t need blazing fast speeds and it more interested in being able to access the content they want at a reasonable price.
Static Shared Proxies
Within the world of shared proxies, you have static and rotating proxies. A static proxy is where there is a static IP address that doesn’t change over a long period of time. This type of proxy has the same level of anonymity but can sometimes be faster because there is no time switch between IP’s.
Rotating Shared Proxies
On the other hand, a rotating shared proxy is where multiple users share a single proxy that rotates a significant amount of IP’s. Right now you are on one IP but after a short period of time you’ll be on another.
This has the benefit of allowing you to scrape at higher speeds because if one IP is banned, you can rotate to another. Similarly, by using different IP’s you can maintain a higher level of anonymity.
So far we’ve looked at general use proxies that businesses or individuals can use to mask all of their internet uses. However, if you know that you’re only going to be using a proxy for a particular use you want to look into special-use proxies.
These are services that limited your use either through contractual rules or by blocking ports. The main advantage of these services is that they are specialized to your purpose, often making them cheaper and with more specialized support teams.
The disadvantage would obviously be that you can only use them for very specific uses and so if you wanted to expand your proxy use to other purposes, you would need to buy an additional proxy server package.
If you’re using bots and promotion tools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media tools, then it’s a good idea to use a specific proxy. These social media websites and quick with the ban hammer and aren’t afraid to IP block users who they think are using proxies to cheat their system.
Using a specialized social media proxy is a good way to bypass their preventative measures and to ensure that you can continue promoting on their platforms at scale.
If you’re looking to automate the purchase of certain products in bulk, then you’re going to want to use a specialized shopping proxy. These are designed from the ground-up to allow you to bypass IP limits that would prevent you from buying multiple pairs of limited edition products.
If you’re grinding gold or level up your MMORPG characters in games like WoW, Runescape, Pokemon Go or League of Legends, using proxies to play multiple characters is an excellent way to use your time more effectively. It can take hours upon hours to level up in certain games and using a proxy to play multiple characters at the same time will make it significantly faster.
If your business relies on your bringing in new clients through platforms like Craigslist or Gumtree, using a proxy to bypass state IP locks and IP limits can bring you more business. These proxies are specially designed for classified ad platforms and will guarantee that you can maximize your posting.
Many businesses rely on ticket purchasing bots to snatch up the latest and greatest concert or game tickets. To buy as many as you can, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using a specialized proxy to avoid detection.
We’ve already discussed data center hosted proxies, but another common type of proxy that you’ll see is a residential proxy.
These are IP addresses that are associated with a particular ISP and are used to give people the internet in their houses. The main advantage of a residential proxy is that they aren’t associated with data centers. This means that they are almost never blocked or banned by services like Google Search because they appear to be a regular person accessing the internet.
One thing to be careful about accessing is botnet residential proxies. In short, a botnet is a huge cluster of private computers that as a group without the owners’ knowledge.
Some proxies allow you to signup for free and use their services (e.g. free VPN), but unbeknownst to the user, the proxy company is allowing others to use their residential IP. This means that somebody out there could be using your home IP for whatever nefarious purposes they deem fit.
Common Technical Specifications Explained
Concurrent or Simultaneous Connections
When you’re looking at a proxy server, you might see that it mentions the amount of concurrent or simultaneous connections that you are allowed.
A server can only handle a certain load at any given time so more simultaneous connections per user can cause a slow down if they are used.
The more concurrent connections are allowed the more application or processes you can run simultaneously using your proxy.
For example; if you are allowed 100 concurrent connections you could run your bot software at 50 threads and still be able to open multiple browser tabs all at the same time.
Normally bandwidth refers to the maximum transfer rate of a specific network in a given period of time (speed, e.g. 100 Mbps).
But in the proxy world it’s usually used to indicate the total amount of data you’re allowed to trasfer in one month (transfered data in gigabyte GB)
Paying attention to the bandwidth limits is crucial when you’re picking a proxy server for torrent downloading, streaming, etc , if in doubt you could consider a proxy with unmetered bandwidth, that is that it has no limit to your usage. Most proxy providers allow this.
API stands for application program interface and is essentially a set of protocols and tools that you can use to build a software application.
You might wish to use the API to:
- Update your authorization IP
- Refresh the proxy list
- Filter the IPs by location
- Whitelist or blacklist certain IPs
- Monitor your bandwidth usage
Proxy uptime refers to the percentage of time that the proxy is online and can be used by you.
Just like any server, a proxy is going to be offline at some point. It could be taken offline purposefully for a regular update, or it could experience a hardware problem.
If you use any proxy for long enough, you’ll find that it has some downtime. Unfortunately, the world of proxies is plagued by comparatively low uptime. When you’re looking at potential plans, you should take into account the importance of the proxy to you.
If you absolutely must have access to your proxy i.e. you need constant fresh data, then uptime will be of extreme importance. However, most of us can survive with 95% uptime. Each extra percent in uptime is going to cost you, so this is something to consider when you look at potential plans.
Latency is the time delay from input to the desired outcome.
For example; if you click to go to a website the latency is the time between you clicking and the page being served to you.
It’s expected that using a proxy will increase the latency; this is the payoff for having an anonymous browsing experience.
Non-Sequential IP Ranges and Amount of Subnets
As we explained earlier in this guide, IP addresses are a long string of numbers separated by periods.
One thing that is suggested for added security and anonymity is to avoid sequential IP ranges. This means that you want to be using randomized IP addresses that will help to prevent a pattern from forming.
This will reduce the chance of fingerprints that an organization could use to argue beyond reasonable doubt that an individual was using a proxy service and that all the hits were from a single user.
The right proxy for you will also depend on your location. The distance between you and the proxy can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the proxy, the speed, and the desired results.
Most, if not all, proxies will show you the country that the server is located in and some will even show you at a city level where the server farm is.
Physical Server Location
The physical location where the server is hosted plays a crucial part in the effectiveness of your proxy. The final target server that you’re requested files from will think that you are located wherever the proxy is located.
Keep in mind the end goal of what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do with your proxy or the region isn’t important, pick one that is closest to you.
Picking a physical location in the same country or continent will help to reduce latency which can significantly increase data scraping speeds.
RIR is the Regional Internet Registry. It’s an organization that manages and controls all of the IP addresses for a given region, often a continent.
There are five RIRs:
ARIN – North America, Canada, Caribbean
RIPE – Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia
APNIC – Asia and the Pacific Rim
LACNIC – Latin America and the Caribbean
AFRINIC – African continent
IP addresses aren’t just randomly generated out of thin air. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) will allocate a range of different IPs to each of the RIR so that they can allocate them to individuals and businesses with their region.
If you want to bypass a region lock that makes content only available for people in the USA, you want your proxy registered in the USA, not in Europe.
One problem that often occurs is geolocation mismatch. This happens if a proxy IP is registered in one country, but the actual server is located in another.
This might not be a problem depending on what you aim to do with the server, but it can cause problems when you’re trying to scrape data from tools that use location e.g. Google Search.
If your proxy is registered in the USA (according to RIR/ARIN), but the server is physically hosted in a country X you might see that Google services detect you as coming from that country X.
- search results and suggestions in a wrong language
- your Youtube videos will be tagged wrong
- Analytics, Google Play, etc will show incorrect location
Think about this if you buy a proxy for Google!
Geo Targeting Level
What are you using your proxy for? Different service providers will offer a range of geo-targeting locations for their proxies. They might have some for the US, a bunch for Asia and selection in Europe.
However, more and more we’re seeing providers offering even more precise location targeting.
High-precision Geo Targeting
Some providers are specifying their proxies by State and even City level. This means that you could specifically buy proxies that are located in Austin, Texas if that is what would serve you best.
For the large majority of users, the city or state location is irrelevant. But if you’re looking to gather data from Google about a local search result then using a high-precision proxy is the best way.
If you were to Google “restaurant Austin Texas” you’ll likely get different results if you’re searching from Austin as opposed to Las Vegas.
Proxy Authentication is the way that you can access your proxy. Of course, you need to have some form of security so that you are the only person using the proxy. The last thing you want is to pay for a proxy only to have other people leech off of you and use up the bandwidth.
There are two main methods for authentication; login and IP confirmation. As you would with any other service, there are some proxies that you can select a username and password for. The other method is an automatic IP confirmation.
Auth by Username / Password
Authorization by username and password isn’t as common as an IP confirmation, but you’ll still find some servers using it. The servers that do this will sometimes allow you to choose a password when you signup to their service.
However, more frequently they’ll email you an automatically created password and then, later on, you’ll be able to change the password to something you prefer.
If you do choose a server that is password protected, you’ll probably find that people try to brute force their way in with password-guessing bots. To protect against this, it’s best to choose a long password that includes special characters, numbers and a mixture of capital and non-capital letters.
Why is this rarely available?
Although it does still exist on some proxies, it’s relatively rare. The problem with a login is that it makes it easy for clients to abuse the service.
As someone buying the proxy, you could easily give it to your friends to use or resell it to others for a profit. In both of these cases, the proxy provider is losing out. That’s why many service providers have swapped to an authentication by IP method.
Auth by IP Address
Authorization by IP address is automatically done when you open the proxy. It works by pinging your computer for information about your IP and then checking that against their IP whitelist.
Of course, this does mean that there is IP binding which means you can only use the proxy on that IP. If you have an ISP that rotates your IP you might have problems.
IP Based Issues
The biggest problem with this method of authentication is that the IP is locked and so if the IP changes you could find yourself locked out of your proxy. This might not seem like a huge issue, but if you work from a laptop, you might be in your home in the morning, a workplace in the day, a coffee house for a break and a restaurant for lunch.
Most proxies also have a limit on a number of times that you can re-authenticate by changing your IP. With them still only allowing a single IP at any given time on their whitelist, it can become a huge hassle if you work from multiple IPs.
Another problem is with ADSL users who have a dynamic IP. On this type of connection, your IP will change periodically, usually every 24-hours, meaning that you need to re-authenticate with a new IP everyday.
How to Avoid these Issues
These IP based issues don’t prevent you from using your proxy, but they can make it more painful than it should be. Fortunately, if you do face these problems regularly, the majority of proxy providers will be willing to activate a username and password authorization for you.
Of course, this does come with the issues that we discussed previously.
However, if for some reason your provider isn’t willing to allow you to login using a username and password or it isn’t technically possible, you should look to change to a service that will allow you to use an API to auto-update your authorization IP. This makes the switch effortless and greatly reduces the impact of any IP based login issues.
Finally, if neither of these options is viable for some reason, you should look into renting a VPS/dedicated server and work with your proxies without any issues. Unfortunately, this is often the best solution for people who change work spaces regularly or work in a building where the IP changes very regularly.
One of the best ways to hide your IP over the longterm and also to bypass IP limits and restrictions is to constantly rotate your proxies. This is this basic idea of TOR.
Some services work by taking a gigantic pool of thousands of different proxies and then rotating them at a given time between their customers. This means that only a limited amount of requests will come from any given IP, allowing you to bypass IP limits.
It’s also great if the IP you’re working on dies or gets blocked by a service, you can simply wait a few minutes, and you’ll have a fresh IP to work with.
One of the most common uses of proxy rotations is for scraping data from portals like Google where there are strict limits on the volume of requests that any given IP can submit.
IP rotation can work in two different ways; either the IPs are rotated at a specific time for all customers, or each request goes through a different IP every time.
Each of these has its pros and cons, but for most people, it’s better to have a rotation that allows you to request through a different IP each time. This prevents any sequential requests from the same IP which could trigger a restriction.
Proxy rotation works by connecting your PC to a pool of IPs. Whenever you make a request, it will be intercepted by the random proxy that you have been assigned to that request, but then the next request will be a different proxy.
This makes it practically impossible for any server to figure out that all of the requests are coming from the same person. This means that you can scrape data much faster because you won’t be limited by a ‘cooldown, ’ and you’re unlikely to have an IP banned.
Some of the most popular rotating proxy sellers aim their products at internet marketers because they are often using IM tools like LongTailPro or GSA for Google scraping huge amounts of data. Both of these tools use Google searches and to do that at the scale it’s crucial that you can request from thousands of different IPs.
Unless you want to buy thousands of private proxies to work with for website crawling and massive email creation, the best option is to settle for a rotating service. Other tactics that require rotating proxies are collecting pricing information or making money with paid surveys because you need to click from different IPs to prevent it being obvious.
An IP Pool is a huge range of IPs that a rotating proxy service has access to. At any given time one of the hundreds or thousands of IPs that they have will be assigned to you, allowing you to work through the proxy.
Once your request is completed that proxy will be put back into the IP pool, and you’ll be randomly assigned a new IP. Most services have huge IP pools that mean you won’t be assigned the same IP for many weeks or months at a time.
Having a substantial IP pool is the key to a good rotating service, if the pool is too small, the effectiveness of rotating between the proxies is minimal.
Ideally, you should be looking for a service that has tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of IPs. This will make sure that you can request from a huge variety of IPs.
Ports / Gateway IPs
Most rotating proxy services will work by giving you a few IPs with different ports that you can connect to. These will serve as a tunnel, but at the end of the tunnel, there will be a different proxy.
The easiest way to describe the different between an IP and a port is to think about a traditional phone line in an office. The IP would be the main office phone number and the port would be the extension to direct you to the specific department you want to speak to.
You can’t have a rotating service without IP switching. The entire point of the service is that your IPs will be regularly switched out so that you can make requests from a fresh proxy. This helps to bypass IP limits on Google and other tools; it also prevents servers from establishing trends that they could use to identify and ban IPs with.
New IP per Request
The most popular and arguably the best rotating proxy service is where you get a new IP for each request that you make. This means that the IP pool needs to be huge to allow for constant rotation without you experience the same proxies.
This can mean that the service is more expensive. However, if you’re planning to scrape huge amount of data from Google you’re better off choosing a service that rotates per request. Otherwise, you’ll find that you need to scrape lower or risk getting an IP banned.
New IP after Time
The other type of rotating proxy service is where IPs are rotated at given time intervals. This time interval is normally ever 5-minutes or 10-minutes. Depending on what you’re doing behind the proxy this could be fine, but if you make repetitive requests to the same servers, you’re likely to get an IP banned before it switches.
However, the main benefit to this type of service is that it can be significantly cheaper than services that rotate per request. Depending on the service the IPs will either change at fixed intervals, or you will be able to adjust the period to your needs.
Additional Software Offerings
As well as the proxies themselves you’ll probably be interested in looking at some of the pieces of software that can be used with them.
Proxy Switcher for Google Chrome with allows you to easily swap between the different proxies that you have. Not only that but it can also allow you to automatically rotate through your existing proxies, perfect if you’re not using a rotating service.
If you’re using Firefox instead of Chrome, then there’s a similar plugin called XXX (edited). This extension is completely free, and it will also show hundreds of existing proxies, perfect for getting started. Just like the Chrome plugin, it will allow you switch between proxies right in your web browser.
Finally, there’s a fantastic proxy switcher by ProviderX (edited) that works on Firefox, Chrome, Opera and even Edge. Now you can easily switch proxies in your browser, regardless of which program you’re using.
Some proxy providers will even have their standalone proxy software. This is perfect if you’re using your proxies through programs rather than through a web browser.
Most of these proxy management software are identical to one another; they will show you the IP address, the port and the status of the proxy. The manager will allow you to test all of your proxies to ensure that they’re still live as well as giving you the option to cycle between them.
If the service that you choose works with an IP authorization rather than a username and password login system, you’ll often find that you can re-authorize your IP through the management software. This is ideal if you have a dynamic IP or work from different locations.
It’s important that you don’t underestimate the importance of the proxy management software to your overall experience. If one companies software is buggy and fails to work, you can waste valuable time trying to fix the issue rather than using your proxies to scrape the data that you need.
If you’re using proxies from a datacenter provider, then you’ll want to make sure that you’re regularly renewing your proxies. What this means is that you ask the provider to give you a fresh set of IPs. Of course, you should do this if any of the IPs you use are slow or become banned, but this is something you should regularly do.
To avoid repetitively using the same proxies for requests from the same set of servers you should try to refresh your IPs as frequently as you can.
You’ll find that different service providers have very different limits on how frequently you can refresh your proxies. Some will allow you to do in every week while the majority will limit it to once per month.
When you’re looking at potential datacenter services, you should take into account the renewal rate and what you’re going to be using the proxies for.
If you can only renew the proxies once per month, then you’ll need to be more careful that you don’t get them IP banned. If you’re planning to scrape huge amounts of data from Google or something similar, then you might be better suited to choose a rotating proxy service.
Depending on how you use your proxies the renewal rate may or may not be important to you. Regardless, it’s still smart to refresh your IPs as frequently as possible to be proactive about preventing issues before they occur.
Refreshing your Proxies
Each provider will have a different way for you to refresh your proxies. Some will require that you submit a support ticket, others will allow you to do it from the control panel, and some may automatically refresh monthly.
This shouldn’t make a huge difference to which service you choose, but it’s obviously better if you don’t have to submit a support ticket just to refresh your ticket. Ideally, you should look for a service that allows you to do it through the control panel or to set it up to automatically refresh.
Testing of Services
Some services will let you have a proxy test account so that you can run a proxy trial. This will allow you to see what the quality of the proxies is like before buying a long-term plan.
When you’re testing the service, you should be as thorough as possible. This could include contacting the support team and seeing how responsive they are, running the proxy on all the programs you use and testing for latency.
Once you’re locked into a contract, it can be difficult to leave if there are any problems, so it’s best to be careful before you purchase a plan.
A demo account is one that you can use without having to hand over any payment information. You won’t be expected to pay a refundable fee; they’ll just allow you to log into a proxy and try it out for a limited time.
However, there might be some restrictions on the number of requests that you can make or how many connections you can have; this is there to protect the provider from being abused.
A trial period is different from a demo account in that you’ll be expected to input your payments details and if you fail to cancel before the end of the trial period, you’ll be charged for a plan.
This type of testing is more common than demo accounts. In many cases, you’ll be able to set up a PayPal subscription and then choose to cancel it before the end of the trial if you don’t wish to sign a contract with that provider.
Similarly, you can sign up to their trial period with a credit card. However, when using a credit card, you’ll often be charged a small fee of $1.00 to cover the cost of the provider to charge a credit card.
If you want to avoid that charge, then you can often use a Visa Debit card which usually carries no charge or a PayPal subscription.
Money Back Guarantee
If a provider doesn’t offer any form of a trial period or demo account, then you should keep an eye out to see if they offer a money back guarantee. This is often a good sign of a reliable company, although you should, of course, do your research before purchasing any service.
No questions asked
This is, fortunately, one of the more standard refund policies in the proxy server industry. The company will promise to refund the entire purchase price with no questions asked, all you need to do is contact them and let them know that you would like a refund.
These are the best policies, companies that only offer refunds under certain circumstances can often include terminology in their contracts that make it difficult to get a refund.
Full refund if the proxies fail
If you’re planning to use the proxies for a particular purpose and they fail to work on your target site, then you can often expect a full refund. In this case, it wasn’t your fault, and the company has lost no money because you haven’t used their resources.
Obviously, you should ensure that you’ve read the entirety of their refund policy and searched online to see other peoples experiences with the company.
The voucher system has been used by retail stores for years, and some proxy providers are using it too. In this case, when you ask for a refund you’ll be given a credit balance on their website, allowing you to buy another service.
This refund policy can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’re looking to avoid the company entirely.
Refund at the companies discretion
This is one of the most troublesome refund policies because it tells you nothing about what you can expect. The entire refund policy is down to whether the company believes that you’re going to cause them issues. If you’re going to use a company that has this refund policy, then you should be extra diligent with your research.
Refund of unused data
In this case, the company will give you a partial refund based on the percentage of your data transfer usage that you have left. For example; if you used 20% of your transfer usage for the month then you could expect to be refunded 80% of the price that you paid.
This is quite a reasonable policy, and while it’s not as useful as a ‘no questions asked’ policy, it gives you a chance to trial the service with limited risk.
Refund based on type of usage
This is a more complex refund policy but one that has been used by a few proxy providers in the past. With this policy, you can only expect a refund if you’ve used the proxy for certain purposes. For example; you can’t have created social media accounts, posted on Craigslist, scraped from the web or automated web submissions.
The logic behind this policy is that these are some of the riskiest activities and are the most likely to lead to an IP ban. Therefore, the provider wants to protect themselves against users coming in and using their IPs with no payment or repercussions.
Finally, some providers simply refuse to provide refunds under any circumstance. These are companies that you should be wary of. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t excellent providers or that you should purchase from them, but you need to be extra careful because there is no way to get your money back if you dislike the service.
If you’re going to purchase a proxy from a provider with no refund policy, then you should expect that you’ll be able to trial a demo account or have a short test of the proxies. Otherwise, there’s a significant risk to buying from them when compared to other providers.
TOS and Rules
Whenever you purchase a proxy, you should take care to read their terms of service (TOS) and the rules that they set out for the usage of their proxies.
As we looked at earlier, some specialized proxies are designed only to be used for certain purposes. If you step outside of the rules, you’ll find that you get banned from using their proxies, and any money that you’ve paid won’t be refunded.
So, to be extra careful you should read the TOS and make sure that you are allowed to do what you’re planning with the proxies. You can usually find the TOS just before you checkout and purchase the service; otherwise, you should contact support and ask if you’re allowed to do what you’re planning.
Although some TOS are stricter than others, all legitimate proxy providers will have a list of things that you’re not allowed to do. This exists to protect them from lawsuits if you were to do something illegal using their proxies.
There are many ways that they prevent people from certain actions and punish them if they are caught. One is to close customers accounts if any abuse complaints are received. In this case, a website that you’re requesting data from might figure out the proxy owner and report your account to be closed.
Although this is rare, it can happen, particularly with larger companies that have teams in place to stop people scraping their data. This is one of the few reactive measures that companies take, however, usually proxy providers are proactive about preventing certain actions.
You might find that some ports are blocked by default. This type of block is particularly common with mailing ports 25, 465 and 587. This block prevents users from using the proxies to send spam emails at massive scale, something which breaks laws across the globe.
Another method that is far more extreme is to have a whitelist of web address and servers. This whitelist means that you can only access websites that are already vetted by the provider’s team. In general, this is far too restrictive for many users, especially those wanting some anonymity about what they are going to be visiting.
Some actions are almost unanimously banned by every proxy providers, while some are in a gray area of being accepted by some and banned by others.
For example; you might find that some proxy providers mention in their TOS that you can’t use their servers to download torrents. Given that many proxy users buy proxies for that particular reason, you need to be particularly careful about what you’re buying.
If in doubt you can read reviews from past customers, but you should always be doing your research and talking to the client support team.
Although some providers have a blanket ban on certain actions in their TOS, many are willing to remove that for your account if you ask. They only include it in their TOS to be safe and prevent lawsuits against their company.
So far we’ve covered some of the main factors to look at when you’re considering which provider to go with, but there are still some additional requirements that need to be met.
The signup process to any service usually involves a few pages, each of which will take personal information. Depending on how you’re using the proxies you might wish not to divulge certain details.
Proof of Identity
When you’re purchasing a proxy service, you’ll be expected to pay with either a credit card or a PayPal account. Although some services are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment, the vast majority will prefer or only accept payment through traditional methods.
If you’re choosing to pay with a PayPal account, then it needs to be thoroughly verified. You won’t be able to get away with using a new account that hasn’t been authorized and confirmed.
Another factor to consider is government regulations that require some providers to ask for more personal information. This regulation comes under the “know your customer” (KYC) rules and can come in the form of a Skype conversation, utility bills or verification of your company or person.
Some of these KYC checks can be quite intrusive, and if you’re looking for maximal anonymity, you might want to choose a company that doesn’t perform these tests. From anecdotal evidence, it seems that it’s primarily companies in the US and Canada that might ask questions.
It’s important to note that even with a company that does perform these checks, they are scarce and often sporadic. They are usually reserved for unusual cases e.g. somebody purchasing a ridiculously large amount of IPs from an obscure country.
It’s doubtful that you’ll ever be asked to provide any more information than you usually would for any service provider, but it’s useful to aware that it does happen.
If you do need to cancel your account for any reason, then it’s good to know how to do that and how easy or painful it’s going to be.
Unfortunately, some providers still make it relatively painful to cancel your account, and these are the ones that you want to stay clear of.
You might find that your proxy auto-cancels. Unlike many other services which are set to renew at the end of the month automatically, some proxies are the exact opposite. Once your period is done the product will cease to work, and you’ll have to reorder if you wish to continue using their services.
Another method you might find is a cancellation button with the control panel of the proxy provider. This allows you to log in at any time and cancel the account. Generally the account will continue for the remainder of the month that you’ve paid for, but it won’t renew after that. If in doubt, contact support.
Finally, you might be required to contact support to cancel your account. This type of cancellation is the worst because it takes up your time and the support staff are often told to try and convince you to stay. Not only that but it also costs the company money to pay their support staff to deal with account cancellations, it’s a poor experience for everyone.
Fair Use Policy
Alongside the TOS you’ll often find a fair use policy. The TOS is a strict rulebook on what you can and cannot do, whereas the fair use policy is there to guide you. The idea is to allow customers to get as much as possible from the service until it starts to harm the provider.
With the fair use policy, the service provider can often close your account or restrict your services if they think that you aren’t using the proxy in a fair way. Breaking this policy often means that you’re doing something that will cause other customers to have a worse experience.
There is only so much bandwidth that a given server and network can handle. This policy is in place to prevent overloads and to ensure that others on the same proxy can also experience an excellent service.
Traffic Shaping is a technique that some proxy providers use to make sure that everyone can enjoy a proxy at once. To do this, they might restrict bandwidth to downloads, but leave live streams untouched.
The idea behind this is that most people downloading files don’t want them right now and can wait, but if you’re live streaming, the whole experience is ruined if you don’t get it now. If you only plan to download files, then you might want to avoid any service that traffic shapes.
Simultaneous Connections Limit
There is often a limit on the number of concurrent connections that you can have. This limit helps to prevent people from hooking their server farm into a proxy and ruining the experience for others or overloading the provider’s servers.
Monthly Transfer Limits
It’s very common that a proxy provider will impose a monthly transfer limit. Proxy providers have costs that scale with the amount of data they provide so if a customer is transferring vast quantities of data the company could make a significant loss.
To prevent this some proxy companies will have a monthly transfer limit, whether it is publicly displayed or not. Even ‘unlimited’ providers can contact you if they think you are in violation of their fair use policy.
How to Choose the Best Proxy Provider
With thousands of different options, it’s tough to find the best proxy service. If you’re looking to buy proxy, then you’ll have to look through hundreds of different paid proxy servers that offers almost the same service.
To help with that, we created this website. It’s important that you look at the reviews from previous customers, compare pricing and talk to their sales team to see if your requirements are a good fit for their service.
No ‘best’ provider
The important thing to recognize above all else is that there is no one ‘best’ provider for everyone. The best proxy for you might not be the right choice for somebody else and vice versa.
That’s why it’s so complicated to choose one.
Similarly, just because a provider is popular and profitable, it doesn’t mean that they offer the best service. In the world of tech and servers, you’ll often find that some of the smallest companies offer the best uptime, most responsive servers, and the most helpful support teams.
In contrast, the largest companies have huge customer bases, and that can mean that many of their IPs have already been overused or banned on certain services. In fact, you might find that a smaller provider has fewer IPs but a much better ‘live’ rate.
Although reading reviews is always a great idea, keep an eye out for fake or paid reviews. More companies than ever are paying companies to rank their product at the top or to leave positive reviews.
When you’re looking at reviews, you should try and look for obvious signs that they have used the service i.e. they have a video or screenshots of them using the proxy. There are plenty of websites that crowdsource reviews and make up facts. Be careful with who you trust.
If you’re going to be using a significant amount of IPs, then it’s smart to split your budget over a few different businesses. This diversification will help to give you a greater randomization of net names and the companies behind each of the IPs. Both of these factors will contribute to reduce your ban rate and will make your operation more sustainable.
Don’t fall for marketing features
Every company will try to push the benefits of their proxy over their competitors, but you can’t pay too much attention to their sales features. The problem is that it’s tough for anyone, let alone a potential customer, to verify the claims that they are making.
For example; companies will argue that they have an ultra-high uptime rate, but you’ll never be able to test it. Similarly, latency rates are irrelevant as a sales pitch because they will vary greatly depending on your physical location and the number of hops between your computer and the proxies location.
Of course, there are laws against companies making false claims, but that doesn’t mean that many don’t exaggerate or even lie. The best way for you to test a provider is to ask for a demo account and to see how the proxies perform the actual tasks that you want to repeat.
Hopefully, this guide has been helpful in explaining some of the technical features of proxies and showing you what you should look for in a service. There are hundreds of different providers out there and nobody will ever be able to test them all.
The best you can do is to filter based on the requirements that you have, look for legitimate reviews from people who have used the provider in the past and then ask for a demo account. Even if the vendor doesn’t advertise that they offer demo accounts, you can email support and ask them to make an exception.
Always keep in mind your end goals when you’re looking at a server. It’s easy to overestimate the kind of proxy that you need and to spend too much money. You can always upgrade in the future, but it’s often best to buy the most affordable proxy that covers the needs you have right now.
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