What Are Residential Proxies and Why Are They Used?

  • Oct 9, 2022, 11:45 PM
  • 7 minutes

Some companies and individuals want to improve their online safety, enter a locked resource, or ensure traffic masking. To do so, they may use residential, server, or mobile proxies. A proxy operates as an intermediary between the website and the user.

This article describes residential proxies, how they operate, and their benefits for businesses and individuals.

What is a residential proxy?

A residential proxy is an IP address an Internet service provider allocates to a user. Websites see such addresses as ordinary users.

If a person gives others access to his/her computer to browse the Internet through it, this person creates a proxy server.

Let's imagine that Bill wants to use his computer to make some money. He has installed software to connect to his PC and interact with websites on his behalf. If you access Bill's PC and then use the Internet like before, the websites will believe Bill visits them.

Proxy servers work like this: A company or an individual provides an IP address associated with a physical device such as a computer. This computer operates as a server. Another user connects to the server and becomes a virtual owner of this computer and its IP address; his/her real IP is masked.

Example usage of a residential proxy: by changing IP, you avoid restrictions

Residential proxies have the following features:

  • Limited uptime for a single address.  For a single IP address, most proxy providers limit access time to 3, 5, or 10 minutes. Afterward, the client's IP address changes to a new one. This process is called IP rotation.

    This approach helps analyze multiple websites without falling under filters. The IP address will change automatically, and the server will think that several users are visiting it.
  • Geotargeting. You can select proxies from any region. For example, you can buy a German residential proxy if you want to enter a website under a German IP.

How do providers set up IP address pools?

There are several ways to set up an IP address pool: embedding code with SDK, buying traffic directly from users or internet providers, and stealing IP addresses using malware.

Setting up pools with an SDK. SDK (Software Development Kit) is a set of code fragments to develop PC, mobile, and browser software.

How does it work? Someone has software used by others for a fee. Its developer installs the proxy provider's SDK in the software and offers the users to either continue paying for the software or use it for free by providing their IP addresses to the provider. This way, the provider sets up an IP address pool, and the developer gets paid for bringing users to the network.

Some providers contact owners of popular browser extensions and ask them to add SDK in the extension source code. Afterward, the users of this extension become a part of a residential proxy network.

Buying traffic directly from users. A company makes software installed by users on their computers; their computers become servers and provide IPs to others; computer owners get paid for this.

Buying traffic from Internet providers. Companies sign contracts with Internet providers to lease their IP addresses from their networks. They provide users with data center IP addresses with associated Internet provider registration numbers. Such residential proxies are called static because their IPs never change.

Stealing IP addresses with malware. In this case, users unintentionally install the malware on their computers, and this malware gives out IP addresses to other people.

Why are residential proxies used?

Analyze competitors. Using residential proxies, you can examine a competitors' websites.

If you need to send many requests for competitor analysis — residential proxies are the best solution. The website will consider this as a visit of an ordinary human user. This way, you can send as many requests as possible with the slightest risk of being detected by a filter.

Spam filters will detect your activity if you use datacenter proxies.

Test your website. Let's say you've just improved your website functionality and would like to see it from your client’s perspective. You connect to a residential proxy server → you change your address and see what your client will see.

Avoid geo-blocking. Some websites are not accessible from specific regions. To bypass such a limitation, connect to a residential proxy server of another region where the website is not blocked.

Check your advertising campaigns. Residential proxies allow you to view online ads and understand who else sees them and when. This approach narrows down the target audience.

Collect information. Many companies often have to collect data and analyze various contents of different websites. For example, an online store needs to make a table of sneaker prices. 

To collect this information, you need a bot to constantly enter the required web pages and refresh your database. After multiple requests, your bot may fall under a filter. To avoid this, people use residential proxies.

Deal with traffic arbitrage. Webmasters use residential proxies to work with Meta, Instagram, and TikTok*. These social media sites ban ad accounts associated with a single IP address. To avoid this, use residential proxies to make social media platforms belive the actions are performed by several people. 

Buy tickets with a discount. Many services offer discounts for local IP addresses. For example, a flight to Finland costs 70 USD for Spanish residents and 160 USD for residents of the Netherlands. With residential proxies, you can change your geolocation to buy a ticket at a lower price.

Buy shoes and clothes. Some companies offer limited product lines of shoes and clothes and restrict the number of goods that a single buyer can purchase: for example, no more than three pairs of sneakers per customer. To avoid this, people buy residential proxies and order the desired goods using different IP addresses.

Datacenter proxies are not suitable for this purpose because stores can detect and block them.

Who is not likely to benefit from a residential proxy?

People who need a high-speed network connection. Using residential proxies may substantially affect your network connection speed. When the proxy is enabled, most requests travel the following path: you → proxy → website server → proxy → you.

The request path for a datacenter proxy

For residential proxies, the path is longer: you → server → proxy → website server → proxy → server → you.

The request path for a residential proxy

Residential proxies make the request processing time  longer. Besides, the connection speed depends on the proxy device's connection speed.

Using datacenter proxies is better if you want to change IP addresses and keep a high-speed connection. They use ultra-high-speed servers and don't affect the processing time.

People who want to avoid additional payments. A residential proxy is harder to set up, resulting in a higher price. Choose datacenter proxies if you don't want to pretend to be an ordinary human user. They are cheaper because people set them up within a single data center.

Advantages and disadvantages of residential proxies

✔️Lower probability of falling under filters. Residential proxies change your IP and make you look like an ordinary user, resulting in a lower risk of falling under filters. The chance of being blocked is even lower with rotating datacenter proxies.

✔️Better confidentiality, protection, and safety. Many websites can detect people who use proxies. Residential proxies are more challenging to detect because they look like ordinary users.

✔️More precise targeting. Using such a proxy, you can acquire an IP address of a specific city.

Slower internet connection. Requests through datacenter proxies are faster because the connection path does not involve peers' devices. As for the servers themselves, their network connection is always high-speed. In residential proxies, your request passes through the other user's device. If this device has a slower speed than yours, it will take longer to open a website.

The operation of a residential proxy may be unstable. Most residential proxies are users' devices, and people may turn them on and off. In other words, when someone's PC is on, the proxy is enabled; when it's off, the proxy is disabled.

Higher price. The difficulty of setting up residential proxies results in a higher price than that of datacenter proxies.

Where can you buy them?

Choose residential proxies if you want to use the Internet safely, avoid geolocstion limitations, and avoid disclosing your confidential information.

Feel free to contact OnlineProxy and select a reliable rotating residential proxy. We have been working since 2013, and we always help our clients. For instance, if some proxy is accidentally banned — we will give you a new one.

To buy a proxy, please, sign up for OnlineProxy and select the desired tariff.

* — restricted in Russia

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