Proxies are a different way to make a connection over the internet. Instead of your ISP’s IP address showing as the originating IP, the proxy’s IP address displays instead.
This is helpful when performing scraping or search functions that tend to get blocked when doing them either too often or too many times in a short period.
By using a collection of IP numbers from proxies, it’s possible to avoid getting an IP address blocked and be able to quickly perform all the online activities necessary.
In this article, we cover how to go about choosing an effective proxy provider for your needs.
Paid vs Free proxies
While proxy servers are now quite well known with sophisticated internet users, the difference between paid and free proxies along with their pros and cons aren’t so clear.
Paid proxies provide a reliable way to access tools using a collection of IP addresses. There are multiple types of proxies available when going the paid route because the provider can afford to invest heavily in their development.
A wider pool of IP addresses allows greater access to clean IP addresses that haven’t been banned for use on popular software or websites.
Free proxies lack the sophistication of the paid ones. Which free proxy will work correctly when trying to use it is almost random and leads to wasted time when they stop working.
Without the proper funding to operate the proxy well, they can get overloaded or are operated on low-resource systems, which impacts speed and latency too.
For serious users, paid proxies are safer, faster and more reliable.
What to consider when choosing a proxy provider
Price is certainly one factor when considering what proxy provider to go with. However, it’s just one of the factors involved.
Let’s look at a few other criteria:
Pool size and locations
Smaller proxy providers (and free proxy providers too) suffer from a small proxy pool. This means, a limited collection of available IP addresses used for their proxies.
With fewer IP addresses to work with, it’s often the case that they get overused and then banned. With a larger pool, this is rarely the case.
For customers that need to access a site from a particular country or city, using a proxy from that location is critical to be authenticated or access local information. Otherwise, geo-location features on the site or app may go into effect where information is provided based on the location of the proxy IP address.
With a large pool of IP addresses both around the world and in each country, it’s possible to have greater specificity for exact location targeting by country and city.
Some proxy providers offer unlimited traffic while others provide packages with a fixed traffic allocation.
The difference with the unlimited packages is that they tend to suffer from slow connections and poor speed to make up for the unlimited bandwidth. With a fixed traffic amount, the service is likely to be of higher quality because the underlying infrastructure is partially funded through data costs.
The authorization method uses credentials to authenticate it or whitelisted IP addresses. Quite often, only one whitelisted IP address is included in a package. Some proxy providers charge more if extra whitelisted IPs are required.
Dashboard and customer support
Due to the number of residential proxies that customers often buy and use, it’s necessary to use self-service to acquire them. While having excellent customer support is useful when there are technical difficulties or a billing problem, customers should be able to buy and start using a proxy without hand-holding by the provider.
How do you find a reliable proxy provider? The best way is to see what other services people are having success with and consider trying them out. Look at websites that review proxy services and discuss them.
Black Hat World is a good one and so is Quora, where proxy providers and individual users answer questions about paid proxy services. Proxyway.com is another excellent resource too.
There are plenty of proxy providers, but not that many reliable ones. Choosing the right provider is important to ensure reliable connections and privacy of the data stream.