According to Proxyway’s 2023 survey, residential proxies remain the most popular offering among all proxy providers. With the industry’s growth curve still continuing strongly upward, new proxy providers are joining the fray. With such an overabundance of options, choosing a provider for residential proxies can be really challenging. Moreover, the intricacies involved in assessing their features, reliability, performance, and value can make the process more complicated.
To simplify this process, we embark on a comparative exploration of two giants in the realm of residential proxies: Bright Data and Smartproxy.
In this article, we’ll compare their features, offerings, pricing, ethical compliance, and developer experience, shedding light on the nuances that set them apart to help you choose the ideal provider for your needs.
Introduction to Smartproxy and Bright Data
Beginning as an affordable option to the other premium providers in the market, Smartproxy has now become one of the top options in the proxy provider industry.
In a market initially dominated by expensive proxy services and unreliable cheaper alternatives, Smartproxy quickly became a trusted name as it delivered performance and ease-of-use while remaining affordable. Presently, the company caters to social media managers, small-scale scrapers, and small businesses, offering multiple scraping tools along with their robust proxy service.
Bright Data, having started off as one of the pioneers of residential proxies while the rest of the industry was still pushing datacenter proxies, has now become a titan in the proxy provider market, setting the standard for competitors. The company puts great emphasis on ethical sourcing and usage of residential proxies, resulting in a highly reliable and trustworthy service.
At present, 95% of Bright Data’s proxy usage is taken up by residential and datacenter proxies. While the company mainly caters to enterprise customers, including Fortune 500 companies, it provides a plethora of features such as a customizable proxy service, reliable web scrapers for major e-commerce platforms, customized datasets, etc. that a wide range of users can make use of.
Overall, both Smartproxy and Bright Data, being distinguished leaders in the realm of proxy networks, present robust solutions tailored to a wide spectrum of use cases.
Smartproxy vs Bright Data: Points of Comparison
IP Count and Proxy Pool Size
Bright Data holds the advantage here. According to the numbers advertised on both websites, Bright Data has over 72 million residential IPs compared to Smartproxy’s over 55 million, both spread over 195+ countries.
Going beyond advertised numbers – per Proxyway’s research using 500,0001 requests for each country pool – Bright Data turned up a balanced proxy pool well-spread over several countries, notably having over 350,000 unique IPs from the US. From a random IP pool (without any location filters applied), for 1 million requests it returned a unique IP count of over 800,000.
In comparison, Smartproxy returned fewer unique IPs (~691,000) when requests were run without using any location filter. But when using location filters, Smartproxy returned slightly more unique IPs – while Bright Data returned more IPs from the US and UK, Smartproxy returned a higher unique IP count when it came to Germany, France, India, and Australia. The overall difference, however, wasn’t significant in practice.
For both providers, this translates to an extensive and diverse pool of IPs at the users’ disposal, ensuring robust and reliable proxy services even with precise location filters enabled.
|Total Residential IPs
|Over 55 million
|Over 72 million
|Extensive, spread over 195+ countries
|Also spread over 195+ countries; well-balanced pool over several countries, notably 350,000 unique IPs from the US
|Random IP Pool (1M requests)
|~691,000 unique IPs
|~800,000 unique IPs
|Country IP Pool (500K requests)
|Smartproxy returned more unique IPs for Germany, France, India, and Australia
|Bright Data returned more unique IPs from the US and UK.
 140,000 from Australia
The first point of comparison when it comes to features is IP Targeting. Both offer city and country-based targeting, but Bright Data takes the crown due to fine-grained ASN/ZIP targeting, which SmartProxy does not offer yet.
What exactly is ASN/ZIP targeting and why would you need it?
ASN and ZIP code targeting go beyond typical geo-targeting to provide an even more detailed level of control and customization for internet traffic, allowing users to interact with online content or services as if they were accessing them from specific ZIP codes or network providers.
Here’s why this level of granularity is needed:
- Load Balancing: Distributing traffic across different ASNs or ZIP codes can help balance the load on servers, ensuring optimal performance and reliability.
- Extracting Region-Specific Content: For applications like web scraping or crawling, ASN or ZIP code targeting allows users to scrape localized data from specific regions or from servers associated with certain ASNs. Beyond precision, ASN/ZIP targeting enhances operational efficiency by eliminating irrelevant data, particularly crucial when dealing with vast datasets.
- Ad Verification: Some websites may use ASN or ZIP code targeting to verify the display of ads in specific geographic regions or on networks associated with certain ASNs. Matching ASN here acts as an anti-geoblock.
- Security and Privacy: Organizations often implement security measures and filters at the network level. ASN/ZIP targeting enables the selection of proxies that align with the target website’s accessibility requirements, reducing the likelihood of detection or blocks.
This approach transcends one-size-fits-all methodologies, enabling users to better plan scraping strategies, select appropriate IPs or proxies, and mitigate risks. For users engaged in web scraping or data mining, this means not only accuracy but relevance in the extracted data, a critical aspect in the age of information overload.
|IP Targeting Features
|City and country-based targeting
|City and country-based targeting, with additional fine-grained ASN/ZIP targeting
|Available, providing detailed control and customization for internet traffic
|Use Cases for Targeting
|Limited to city and country-level targeting
|Enables load balancing, extracting region-specific content, ad verification, security, and privacy through ASN/ZIP targeting
Hence when it comes to IP targeting, Bright Data is well ahead of Smartproxy because of the level of granularity offered.
Let’s talk about scalability. Bright Data gives you a level of flexibility that’s hard to match, especially If you have a large number of employees and departments. By not limiting the number of sub-users on your Bright Data subscription, it allows you to smoothly integrate the proxy service across your various departments or teams without worrying about extra charges, even as your organization grows and evolves.
If you have predictable user and IP requirements, SmartProxy’s approach (predefined tiers with extra payments for additional seats) is strictly a worse deal.
The other benefit to Bright Data’s approach is that it allows for tighter, individualized settings for each access point (better security), and the possibility of each department or team having their dedicated IP access, reducing conflicts over shared proxy resources (better resource management).
In a nutshell, Bright Data’s open-ended approach to sub-users and whitelisted IPs not only gives you unmatched flexibility but also serves as a cost-effective alternative to Smartproxy’s tiered system. It’s a total win for Bright Data here.
|Predefined tiers for sub-users and whitelists, with extra payment for additional seats
|No limit on the number of sub-users or whitelists, allowing smooth integration across departments and teams
|Flexibility in Sub-Users
|Limited flexibility for large organizations with extra charges
|Unmatched flexibility for large organizations, especially for multiple departments or teams
|Limited individualized settings for each access point
|Allows tighter, individualized settings for each access point, enhancing security
|Dedicated IP Access
|Shared proxy resources may lead to conflicts
|Departments or teams can have dedicated IP access, improving resource management
|Tiered system with potential extra costs for additional seats
|Open-ended approach is a cost-effective alternative, offering unmatched flexibility
SmartProxy’s proxy configuration is streamlined – it makes use of a proprietary endpoint for generating proxies. Users start by choosing specific endpoints that act as gateways to IP pools. These endpoints filter IPs based on the user’s region and session type choice (e.g., residential sticky IPs for 10 minutes either in a random country or one of your choice). Upon configuration, Smartproxy generates endpoints and ports based on the user’s selections. Users can set the maximum number of endpoints and download or copy the created proxy list, ready to be used upon authentication with Smartproxy’s network.
Bright Data, on the other hand, offers far more advanced proxy management and customization via an open-source Proxy Manager app. The sheer number of advanced features and configurations made possible by the app makes it ideal for pretty much any use case. Via the app, you have access to:
- Fine-grained selection of countries and regions to target
- Determining user access to each proxy using white/blacklists.
- Fully customizable IP rotation – complete with automatic User-Agent header rotation.
- Robust, centralized metrics/logging on a per-request level for enhanced performance tracking of all IPs in use.
- Waterfall Rotations – Route requests through multiple proxy networks while setting custom rules to optimize costs.
- Efficient bandwidth management via regex-based and custom rules to selectively block data.
- Need more proxies? You can just add your own external proxies from any other vendor to the Proxy Manager – giving you centralized control over your entire fleet of proxies.
The Proxy Manager app can run on-prem as a Windows/Linux binary – meaning you retain full control over permissions, management, and monitoring – or, as a managed solution on Bright Data’s Cloud as a web app, giving you the privilege of live, 24×7 server status monitoring by Bright Data, guaranteeing uptime.
|Streamlined proxy configuration using proprietary endpoint
|Advanced proxy management via open-source Proxy Manager app
|Choose endpoints as gateways, filter IPs based on region and session type
|Fine-grained country and region targeting, user access control, customizable IP rotation, robust metrics/logging, waterfall rotations, efficient bandwidth management
|Proxy Manager App
|Available for advanced customization and management of proxies
|Endpoints generated for immediate use
|Proxy Manager app can run on-prem (Windows/Linux) or as a managed solution on Bright Data’s Cloud as a webapp
In essence, Bright Data’s combination of streamlined proxy configuration and the Proxy Manager app offers users a robust and flexible solution for setting up and managing proxies, providing a clear advantage over the more constrained options offered by Smartproxy.
If you have a task that involves consistent data extraction or monitoring, what you’d need is a stable IP address for an extended period with minimal disruptions. That’s precisely what you get from Bright Data’s residential peers – ideal for these tasks. Bright Data’s non-time limited sessions with auto-rotation per request, or per session, brings dynamism to your data scraping needs.
For SmartProxy, their sticky sessions are limited to a maximum of 30 minutes. This short-term stability is ideal for small to mid-scale operations, but might cause interruptions for data extraction at scale.
|Sticky sessions limited to 30 minutes
|Non-time limited sessions with configurable auto-rotation per request, or per session
|Small to mid-scale operations
|Ideal for consistent data extraction or monitoring tasks requiring stable IPs for extended periods
|Flexibility and Adaptability
|Limited by 30-minute session caps
|Offers a higher level of flexibility and adaptability with auto-rotation, providing dynamic proxy performance
In a nutshell, Bright Data’s peers with auto-rotation, whether per request or per session, offer a level of flexibility and adaptability that SmartProxy’s sticky sessions – capped at 30 minutes – can’t quite match. Depending on what you’re up to, Bright Data’s approach might just give you the dynamic proxy performance you’re looking for.
Smartproxy is the more convenient, user-friendly option in general, but for an enterprise user base with experienced developers, Bright Data stands out thanks to the granular level of proxy management and the ability to tweak almost anything on an access management API.
In addition, Bright Data provides extensive documentation, web data masterclass, videos, blogs, webinars, code snippets for multiple programming languages, and plenty of presets to help users who are developers. Smartproxy’s documentation and information, on the other hand, is simpler, making it far easier for a regular user to get started with their data extraction needs.
Both Smartproxy and Bright Data have multiple tiers and multiple plans but Smartproxy treats each plan as a separate entity, each having its own tab for subscription, usage information, setup instructions, and proxy management APIs. While this is easy to track if you’re only using one or two products at a given time, it gets harder to keep track of when you’re subscribed to multiple products.
In contrast, Bright Data uses the concept of “Zones.”
Zones are essentially shared ecosystems, in which users can have multiple active plans for a specific service and manage them all in the same dashboard. Users can also track usage across multiple zones in customizable graphs. Having detailed usage statistics on a per-proxy and per-zone level on one screen makes it relatively easier to keep track of usage and manage your subscription which would be complicated if you had to switch between multiple tabs.
|More convenient and user-friendly in general
|Granular proxy management, especially beneficial for enterprise users with experienced developers
|Documentation and Support
|Provides clear documentation, suitable for regular users
|Extensive documentation, web data masterclass, videos, blogs, webinars, and code snippets; may be too detailed for regular users
|Subscription and Proxy Management
|Each plan treated as a separate entity with individual tabs
|Uses the concept of “Zones” for multiple active plans, providing a unified dashboard for easier management and tracking of usage
|Tracking and Usage Statistics
|Easy to track for one or two products; becomes complicated with multiple products
|Uses “Zones” for tracking usage across multiple plans, offering detailed statistics on a per-proxy and per-zone level in one screen
Both Smartproxy and Bright Data have multiple plans and separate enterprise tiers for their residential proxy service.
Smartproxy’s plans are subscription-based and tiered as per traffic. Its plan starts at $8.5 per GB capped off at 1GB, getting cheaper per GB as traffic increases. However, its larger plans only add more sub-users and whitelisted IP slots and not much else.
Bright Data, on the other hand, provides a great deal of flexibility. Most of our plans are pay-as-you-go. You’d only have to commit if you are scaling up and opting for a larger plan. Bright Data’s tariff begins with a no-commitment pay-as-you-go plan, charging $10.5 per GB of traffic. We also have a micro plan that has traffic capped off at 1 GB, charging as low as $10 per month.
What makes Bright Data really stand out is the ability to customize the features. You can tailor each plan to your proxy usage by ticking off certain functionalities. Each add-on will add to your cost, but you’ll have fine-grained control over exactly what you want.
Bright Data is the more expensive option, but in terms of functionality and features added, it’s well worth the price. Plus, our proxy network is currently available at a 40% discount, offsetting the cost.
|Subscription-based, tiered per traffic
|Pay-as-you-go with customizable plans
|$8.5 per GB, capped at 1GB
|$10.5 per GB with a no-commitment pay-as-you-go plan, $10 per month for a micro plan (capped at 1GB)
|Larger plans add sub-users and whitelisted IP slots, limited customization
|Highly customizable plans, add-ons available for fine-grained control over features
|Cost vs. Functionality
|Cheaper plans offer basic features, larger plans primarily add users and IP slots
|More expensive, but offers extensive customization and additional features, currently available at a 40% discount; free trial option available for testing
Both companies are stalwarts when it comes to ethical sourcing and usage of residential proxies. For Smartproxy, the vetting process of IPs is delegated to their partners, who provide all the necessary information prior to obtaining the IPs while Bright Data obtains IPs via Bright SDK, giving all the necessary information to potential peers prior to signing up and users may personally opt-out any time they want.
Here’s a comparison of both providers on the basis of key parameters related to ethical compliance.
|Relies on partner vetting for IP sourcing
|Uses Bright SDK, providing full details beforehand, and allows users to opt-out
|Incentivizes with payment per GB
|Offers payment per GB, ad-free experiences, and ensures traffic routing doesn’t disrupt device functionality
|Both employ encryption, secure storage, and regular system audits
|Bright Data includes compliance officers for rigorous checks and approval of peers, requires compliance officer approval before onboarding
|Limits usage to specific cases like market research, education, and personal/commercial use
|Similar usage limitations, prohibits fraudulent activities
|License agreements and website blocks
|Automated checks, manual checks by compliance officers, and tools to prevent network abuse
|No clear reseller policy
|Prohibits network or service reselling, detects violations promptly, and terminates accounts accordingly
|Data Protection Laws
|Complies with GDPR and CCPA
|Complies with GDPR and CCPA
What truly sets Bright Data apart from Smartproxy however, is the commitment to transparency to the wider population.
- If someone’s Personal Identifiable Information (PII) like an email address is inadvertently collected through Bright Data’s products from publicly available sources, we promptly notify the individual affected and provide them the means to delete their information from the company’s platform.
- We take this a step further by allowing verified email users to access a searchable database from where they can manage their online presence and if required, take steps to remove their PII from the public web.
Both Smartproxy and Bright Data offer around-the-clock 24/7 customer support.
Smartproxy provides support through a ticket system or email, whereas Bright Data provides support via a ticket system, email, WhatsApp, and Telegram.
Both companies ensure industry-standard multilingual support for global users, but Bright Data also provides dedicated account managers for certain plans, a dashboard to help you monitor network performance in real-time, and frequent feature releases and personalized customization based on your needs – be it a custom dataset, a feature request for your scrapers, or any proxy-related queries.
To sum up, Bright Data’s residential proxy is superior to Smartproxy’s when it comes to IP count, the diverse feature set, and the granularity of control when it comes to geolocation-based targeting. However, this comes at a price – these features make Bright Data more expensive compared to Smartproxy.
Smartproxy, with its convenience and economical options, is perfectly suited to small businesses and small-scale scraping projects. But if data extraction on an enterprise level is your forte, Bright Data’s plethora of features, fine-grained proxy configuration, and dedication to transparency and ethics make it the clear pick in that sector.
What is the rest of the industry saying?
- As per G2 Score, Bright Data ranks #1 in the G2 Proxy Network category – not a surprise, given that it is adopted by Fortune 500 companies – while Smartproxy ranks #4, which is commendable in the industry, but Bright Data clearly stands out.
- On Trustpilot, Bright Data boasts an impressive 4.5/5 rating based on 628 reviews, indicating a pretty strong vote of confidence from the user community. Smartproxy, in this regard, holds an advantage over Bright Data, having a 4.7/5 rating based on 1059 reviews – understandable, given that SmartProxy as a product would appeal more to a mainstream audience.