What is a Residential Proxy? Definition, Use Cases, and Best Providers

A proxy is crucial for a better data collection. Learn how Rotating Residential Proxies can help you maintain your competitive advantage
10 min read
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In this guide, you will see:

  • The definition of residential proxies
  • How a residential proxy works
  • The types of proxy residential servers
  • The most relevant use cases for these proxies
  • The list of the best residential proxies

Let’s dive in!

What Are Residential Proxies?

A residential proxy is an intermediary server with an IP address assigned by an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to a real residential device. Like any proxy server, it acts as a middleman between your device and the Internet. For more details, check out our proxy server guide.

When routing web traffic through these proxies, you receive an alternative ISP-backed IP address from a device connected to a home network. This process hides your identity behind genuine residential IPs, which are difficult to detect by anti-bot solutions.

In other terms, residential proxies obtain IPs from home devices connected to local Wi-Fi networks in specific geographical areas. This means you can choose the desired location of the proxy servers to connect to, with geo-targeting options by country, region, city, and even ZIP code.

Some key characteristics of proxy residential servers are:

  • Residential IPs come from home devices such as computers, smartphones, and other Internet-connected devices.
  • Residential IPs are more legitimate and have a higher IP reputation than datacenter IPs.
  • Providers can ensure precise geo-targeting options and broad location coverage in dozens of countries.
  • Residential proxy networks usually include millions of IPs. 
  • Only a subset of all residential IPs in the proxy network is available at any given time, since not all devices share their IPs all the time. This also means that the received residential IPs are rotated periodically by default.

How a Proxy Residential Server Works

Proxy residential servers work like other proxy servers. The main difference is that a residential proxy is not a dedicated machine in a server farm but a real device sharing its connection with other users.

The process of routing traffic through residential proxies follows the steps below:

  1. The user makes a request for a specific webpage or online resource through a residential proxy server.
  2. The residential device acting as a proxy server intercepts the request and forwards it to the destination.
  3. The destination server processes the request—which has the IP of the proxy server—and sends the response back to the proxy.
  4. The proxy forwards the server’s response back to the user.

Note that the destination server never sees the user’s IP, as it only interacts with the proxy server. For the user, the request cycle feels regular, with a request sent to a destination and a response received as expected.

The three main benefits of this mechanism are:

  • Online anonymity: Your IP address, and therefore your location and identity, are hidden behind a genuine IP from a residential device. This ensures online privacy without raising the attention of anti-bot measures.
  • Access to geo-restricted content: By having access to proxy servers in several locations, you can virtually geo-locate yourself in many countries and cities worldwide without physically moving there. That gives you access to region-specific services and content, such as in streaming platforms.
  • IP rotation: Best residential proxies boast millions of devices and can provide you with as many exit IPs as you need. This helps avoid rate limiting constraints, deal with IP bans, and bypass anti-scraping restrictions.

Types of Residential Proxies

Residential proxy servers encompass various types including free, premium, HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5, dedicated, shared, static, rotating, and more. The umbrella term “residential proxies” commonly refers to shared rotating residential proxies, regardless of supported protocols and pricing structure.

Among all these types of proxies, two are particularly noteworthy: rotating residential proxies and static residential proxies. Time to learn more about them!

Rotating Residential Proxies

When connecting to rotating residential proxies, the exit IP changes periodically. Typically, after a set time interval or after each request. That automatic rotation enhances anonymity and lowers the chances of getting blocked.

However, there are situations where you want to maintain the same residential IP for a while. This is where IP sticky options come in! These enable you to stick to the same IP for a configured amount of time, usually 1, 10, 15, 30, or 60 minutes.

👍 Pros:

  • IPs coming from real residential devices
  • Millions of IPs available in dozens of countries
  • Genuine IPs

👎 Cons:

  • Slower and more expensive than datacenter proxies.

Static Residential Proxies

Static residential proxies—more commonly known as ISP proxies—are proxy servers with a fixed IP address provided by an ISP. Unlike rotating proxies, they maintain the same IP address over time, offering enhanced stability. These proxies are generally dedicated exclusively to one user at a time.

Sourcing ISP proxies is challenging because it involves forming agreements and partnerships with ISPs to purchase IPs directly from them. This is also why ISP proxies are more expensive than other proxies. As a result, proxy providers offer dedicated plans for ISP proxies and other plans for rotating residential proxies.

👍 Pros:

  • Static IPs provided by ISPs
  • Faster and more reliable than rotating residential proxy servers
  • High-quality IPs

👎 Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not many countries available

Use Cases

Residential proxies are versatile tools that unlock numerous possibilities across various scenarios and industries. Let’s explore some of their most common use cases.

Web Scraping

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites using automated software. The end goal is to automatically collect large amounts of public data from the Web and use it for a variety of purposes, from market research to competitive analysis. 

However, companies understand the value of their data. So, they aim to protect it at all costs, even if it is publicly available on their site. Consequently, most sites now rely on anti-scraping solutions that can easily block requests from scraping bots.

Residential proxies are ideal for web scraping because they provide a large set of authentic IP addresses. These appear legitimate to web servers, reducing the risk of being blocked or detected. Additionally, rotating IPs from residential servers helps overcome IP bans and rate limiting systems. That ensures continuous and efficient data extraction without interruptions.

Ad Verification 

Ad verification involves ensuring that online ads are displayed correctly, in the intended locations, and reach the desired audience. Proxy residential servers are excellent for this task because they support marketers in:

  • Assessing ad performance in multiple geographic locations.
  • Measuring ad quality, correct placement, and size while remaining anonymous.
  • Preventing ad fraud to maximize the return on investment.

Proxies help you validate various aspects of digital advertising campaigns to ensure compliance, integrity, and effectiveness. Find out more about ad verification.

Price Monitoring

Price monitoring is about retrieving, tracking, and analyzing the prices of products and services across various sites and e-commerce platforms. The idea is to find great deals, identify market trends, or study competitors to adjust your pricing strategies. That is a key part of MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) monitoring.

Thanks to residential proxies, you can monitor e-commerce prices from sites worldwide as if you were a local user. All that while hiding your identity and without having to worry about bans and IP blocks. 

Achieve your price monitoring goals with our Price Scraper.

Buying Limited Sneakers and Tickets

Purchasing sneakers and event tickets is a challenge due to high demand and limited supply, leading to rapid sell-outs. Rotating IPs from residential devices helps increase purchase attempts by guaranteeing access even during high-traffic sales events. That is such a popular scenario for proxies that there are even specialized sneaker proxies. 

Online Marketing

Residential proxy services greatly support online marketing because they enable users to:

  • Collect accurate data from the Internet.
  • Monitor competitors without revealing their identity.
  • Access geo-specific content to study foreign markets accurately.

These are just a few of the main reasons why proxies are so popular to gain a competitive edge.

SEO Monitoring

SEO monitoring involves tracking a site’s search engine rankings and overall visibility. It helps companies understand how well their site is performing in search results, identify areas for improvement, and stay ahead of the competition.

Residential servers are perfect for SEO monitoring because they support accurate tracking of search engine results from different locations. The same approach can also be used to track competitors without being noticed. Plus, rotating IPs are essential for building SERP scrapers.

Best Residential Proxies

The main aspects to consider before you buy residential proxies include IP count, location count, geo-targeting options, supported protocols, uptime, success rate, number of customers, Trustpilot review score, free trial, pay-as-you-go plan, and pricing. Learn more in our guide on how to choose the best proxy provider.

Based on those criteria, there are the companies that provide the best residential proxies on the market:

Provider IPs Countries Geo-targeting Protocols Uptime Success Rate Customers User Review Score Free Trial Pay-as-you-go Plan Entry Price
Bright Data 72M+ 195+ Country, city, ZIP code, carrier, ASN HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5 99.99% 99.9% 20k+ 4.6/5 ✔️ ✔️ $5.04/GB
Oxylabs 100M+ 195+ Continent, country, city, state, ZIP code, coordinates, ASN HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5 99.9% ~99.95% 3.5k+ 4.6/5 ✔️ ✔️ $8/GB
Smartproxy 55M+ 195+ Country, city, ZIP code HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5 99.99% 99.47% Undisclosed 4.6/5 ✔️ ✔️ $7/GB
IPRoyal 32M+ 195+ Country, state, city HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5 99.9% ~99.7% 10k+ 4.6/5 ✔️ $7.00/GB
NetNut 85M+ 200+ Country, state, city HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5 99.99% 2.5k+ 4.5/5 ✔️ $100/mo
SOAX 155M+ 195+ Country, city HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS5, UDP/QUIC 99.9% 99.95% 10k+ 4.5/5 $99/mo
Infatica 15M+ 195+ Country, city, ISP HTTP, SOCKS5 99.9% 700+ 4.3/5 ✔️ $8/GB
Webshare 30M+ 195+ Country HTTP, SOCKS5 99.7% 56k+ 4.2/5 $7.00/GB
MarsProxies 1M+ 190+ Country, state, city HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS 4.2 $4.99/GB
Rayobyte Thousands 130+ locations Country, state, city, ASN HTTP, HTTPS 4.2 ✔️ ✔️ $7.50/GB

For a complete comparison, take a look at our guide on the top 10 residential proxies.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned what a residential proxy is, how it works, why to use it, and in what scenarios it proves useful. You then learned what aspects to keep in mind before buying residential proxies and saw a summary table of the best proxy residential providers. As it turned out, Bright Data is the most complete proxy service in the industry.

Bright Data operates the best proxy network in the world, used by several Fortune 500 companies and over 20,000 customers. This worldwide proxy network includes:

Overall, that is one of the largest, fastest, and most reliable scraping-oriented proxy networks on the market. 

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FAQ

What is the difference between rotating residential proxies and static residential proxies?

Both rotating residential proxies and static residential proxies provide IP addresses backed by an ISP. The primary distinction between the two is that rotating proxies have dynamically assigned IPs that change periodically, while static proxies maintain the same IP address consistently. For a more in-depth comparison, check out our article on ISP proxies vs residential proxies.

How many countries can a proxy residential network cover?

A residential proxy network typically covers around 100 countries, but leading providers reach over 190 countries. Considering there are around 200 countries in the world, that means you can access proxy servers from almost anywhere globally. Discover all 195+ locations covered by Bright Data.

How are residential proxy IPs sourced?

Residential proxy IPs come from real devices, such as computers and smartphones, connected to residential networks. Proxy providers typically source residential IP by providing SDKs developers can integrate into their software. Such SDKs allow the device the software is installed on to share the IP address with the proxy network. The user who decides to share their IP receives benefits such as free app features, no advertising, or other rewards. For more details, read how Bright Data ethically sources residential IPs.