Proxy Servers 101: A Brief Guide to Choosing a Proxy Type
There is a high chance that you have heard about proxy servers before, like that they have something to do with confidentiality and protection while perusing the web, but have you ever wondered how they function?
Even though some in-depth details of proxies’ functions might be too complex for a layman’s comprehension, you don’t have to be a tech whiz to understand the general differences between various proxy types, their advantages and disadvantages, discern private proxies from the public ones, or understand how the proxy servers work. Here’s your brief guide on how to choose the right proxy type that will best suit your needs.
What is a proxy, and why do you need it?
Let’s start with the basics: a proxy server or proxy is an intermediary between your computer and the Internet. There are multiple reasons why you might need such a gateway, but here are the main ones:
- Ensures anonymity. Unlike a VPN (virtual private network), which hides the user’s IP address and location from a web server and encrypts any data you send or receive, a proxy server has a more limited function: it hides the IP address but doesn’t secure sent and received data.
- Provides security. Proxies provide a layer of security for your computer from Internet malware. A lot of businesses combine the powers of both VPNs and proxies to ensure the maximum level of protection from malware.
- Bypasses geo-blocking. It has a pretty self-explanatory function that works both ways: it restricts people from accessing websites and permits people to access blocked websites despite their physical location.
How to Choose a Proxy
Not all proxies will suit your needs; that’s why, prior to choosing one, it is important to take into consideration a couple of factors.
1. Choose a Proxy Type
Proxy servers are categorized into numerous groups based on a variety of criteria, including traffic flow, IPs, accessibility, transparency, and anonymity when accessing the Internet. Here’s one of the most basic classifications of proxy types:
- Mobile Proxies. Mobile proxies quickly gain popularity as they allow users to assign to their chosen device a mobile IP address instead of a residential one. They mask the real address by pretending that the user is connected to the Internet via a mobile network. Enhanced anonymity and optimized speed when accessing a website are the reasons that make this type of proxy so appealing. Combined with SMM (social media management), mobile proxies cheap alternative to other types of proxies and offer a viable solution for a lot of users.
- Residential Proxies. These proxies are called residential for a reason: they use residential home ISPs (Internet service providers) to route traffic by imitating a real IP address. This type of proxy is secure and reliable, and it increases the level of anonymity as it hides the fact that you are using the proxy in the first place. Unfortunately, all these perks come with a hefty price, as residential proxies can be more costly than the others.
- Datacenter Proxies. Unlike residential proxies, datacenter proxies are not affiliated with your ISP. You will be able to peruse the Internet, with your traffic being routed through the network infrastructure of the data center. By relying on the datacenter instead of ISPs, this proxy provides a high level of privacy, reliability, and speed.
One of the key factors to consider when choosing a proxy provider is its speed and reliability. Choose providers with low latency that will ensure a minimal delay when processing your data. The better the speed, the more seamless your online experience will be.
The price range varies greatly, from expensive services that provide additional features and mid-range providers that get you covered for a reasonable price to free services that can be quite sketchy. Free services often come with a different price that includes low performance and speed due to an overload of other users, harm to your device, or vulnerability to hackers who could access your sensitive information.
Another top priority to consider when choosing a proxy server is security. Starting with HTTPS encryption, which ciphers communications and protects your online activities, to IP rotation and user authentication — there are multiple factors to take into consideration when it comes to your online safety.
Some services are easier to use than others, so when browsing for your proxy provider, pay attention to their usability. It will include extensive start guides and detailed instructions, great customer service to address your questions and ensure coverage during emergencies, and the functionality of the dashboard, where you will be able to set up a proxy, follow the usage stats, etc. Paying attention to other users’ reviews is a great way to check how good the service is, so be sure to read extensively before buying your subscription.
It is important to make a well-informed decision when choosing your proxy provider. Although not every user needs additional features and pricey subscriptions, you should ensure that your proxy provider offers great technical assistance, provides a secure and fast connection, and has a well-maintained proxy infrastructure.