The Ultimate Guide To Proxy IP Types

Understanding what proxies are and deciding which are right for you can be daunting. This guide is designed to help you learn to leverage proxies and use them effectively in your business.
13 min read
Graphic for guide to using Proxy IPs for data collection

In this post, we will walk you through the four main proxy network types.

If you’re already familiar with the basics, you can use these hyperlinks to focus on specific proxy types:

  • Datacenter
  • ISP Proxies Network
  • Residential Network
  • Mobile
  • Proxy combos

You will learn what makes each network unique, what the individual advantages and disadvantages of each network are, as well as which use cases and industries are best suited to take advantage of specific networks’ capabilities.

Let’s first understand what proxies are and what they are typically used for.

What is a proxy IP?

The internet works by way of requests and responses. As the world wide web becomes increasingly sophisticated, it is getting harder to get the data and information you need, especially if you are a business trying to do competitive market research, for example. Other industry players are aware that you want to discover their pricing strategy or which items they have in stock, for instance, and they do their best to distort the information requests you send from your personal or corporate IPs, making the public domain opaque.

This is where proxy servers come into play. Using a proxy network, you can route your request for pertinent information through third-party IPs, thereby circumventing others’ attempts to hinder transparency. This is done in a completely legal manner and helps you access only open source data, i.e., you are not asking to see something that infringes on one’s privacy but rather gaining access to information the way real people and consumers are currently viewing it.

Laptop user using residential proxy network to get real answers for online shopping prices, travel costs, and other collected data

Once you decide that you want or need a proxy network, you should understand:

Which proxy network type will be most beneficial to my business and use case?

Here are four options to consider:

Datacenter Network

infographic explanation of how a data center proxy network operates

A highly advanced global network consisting of data center IPs.

Datacenter IPs Regardless of whether they are used for a proxy, are not affiliated with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). These IPs are traditionally assigned as the IP addresses for servers, one IP address per server, but when used in the context of proxies, a large number of IPs are assigned to a server, through which traffic is then routed.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a Data Center Network

The main advantages of using a Data Center Proxy Network include:

  • Static IPs can be kept for as long as necessary without ever having to be rotated or changed. This is beneficial when you want to maintain consistency in the origin of your information requests.
  • You can use this network for website requests in over 95 countries with city targeting precision.
  • This is a highly cost-effective option. For example, Data Center IPs are far less expensive than Residential and Mobile IPs.
  • Requests made through Data Center IPs are faster than those made through Residential and Mobile since the request journey is shorter and the architecture is simplified.

The main disadvantages of using a Data Center proxy network include:

  • Data Center IPs are more suitable for simple target sites, and you may experience difficulty accessing information from more sophisticated sites.
  • Since Data Center IPs are classified differently than Residential IPs, they are more easily detectable and ‘visible’.
  • If you choose to use a shared IP pool you may end up using an IP that has a history unfavorable to your data collection requests. This concern can be eliminated by using exclusive IPs dedicated explicitly to your data needs.

What are common use cases for a Data Center Proxy Network?

Generally speaking, all use cases can be accommodated using Data Center IPs. Any website that isn’t using highly sophisticated blocking systems or scanning for human-like behavior would be a good target site to use with Data Center IPs and simultaneously mitigate costs. From competitive and marketing intelligence to brand security, digital asset protection, and scanning public databases, the Data Center can empower you to get the live data you need when you need it.

ISP Proxy Network

infographic explaining the configuration of a static residential proxy network

Use real domestic IPs in different geolocations and have your requests ‘seen’ and ‘treated’ as if they originated from real places of residence.

ISP proxies Network consists of residential IPs bought or leased from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for commercial use rather than for use in private homes. With one exception, since these IPs are not assigned to actual places of residence, they need to be hosted on servers in the same way as Data Center IPs, with one exception. Target sites identify these as if they were ‘residential IPs’. This last point is paramount.

Advantages and disadvantages of using an ISP proxy Network

The main advantages of using an ISP proxy network include:

  • Using real user IPs from Internet Service Providers so that target websites ‘treat’ you as they would a regular person who is browsing the web. This means that you get all the advantages of using a Data Center (i.e. speed) while enjoying the benefits of appearing as an individual. Essentially, you will be able to view content, perform ad verification, quality assurance, and more from a user perspective.
  • You have the option of purchasing exclusive/private IPs, which can be allocated to a specific domain without the fear of someone else using that same IP for an identical target site, thereby increasing your success rate and eliminating potentially undesirable roadblocks.

The main disadvantages of using an ISP proxy network include:

  • You may experience a lower than expected success rate if your use case is more suited to a model that rotates IPs (see Residential Network below). It has a smaller number of peers to connect to and geolocations to use in order to perform targeting.
  • Your data collection campaign will most likely be less effective if you are targeting or verifying mobile devices (see ‘Mobile Network’ below).

What are some of the best use cases for an ISP proxy Network?

Common use cases for an ISP proxy network include:

  • International retail promotion – Creating and managing accounts on social media, classified sites, and eCom platforms.
  • Web data extraction – Using specific country and city targeting to gather information on pricing, customer sentiment, industry trends, and social media, among others.
  • Investing – Collecting reliable stock and market data so you can make more informed investing decisions. Additionally, you can verify lenders, creditors, and conduct in-depth background checks so that you can invest with increased confidence.

Above are just a few examples. ISP proxy networks support a variety of use cases that can greatly benefit from being able to overcome rotating and GEO-based IP blockades with the consistent use of a dedicated pool of IPs.

Residential Network

Infographic explaining rotating residential ips proxy network

A global network of IPs belonging to real individuals. This sophisticated and dynamic network is made up of unique IPs located in every country, state, and city in the world.

How does it work?

  • An app/software owner chooses to embed Bright Data’s SDK in his or her app and gets paid a monthly fee based on the number of users who opt-in as peers.
  • On the peer end of things, individuals can choose to opt-in or out at any time and are rewarded in the event they choose to participate (usually in the form of an ad-free experience or free app subscription).

This is a win-win-win scenario where all involved parties (app owners;peers;users) profit through participation. Users can therefore be confident that their data collection is ethical and legal, ensuring smooth sailing in the long run.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a Residential Network

The main advantages of using a Residential proxy network include:

  • Being able to access and crawl sophisticated target websites, which would otherwise be inaccessible to you and your business, despite the fact that the information is open source.
  • The ability to crawl, view information, and ultimately collect data using real user IPs should not be underestimated. You can see how your ads appear to consumers in Jakarta as well as what prices are being displayed to online shoppers in Berlin.
  • Send an increased number of concurrent requests, meaning your data collection efforts will almost never be slowed down by proxies or target sites.
Beer line at the bar of 1 long line or multiple ques for multiple bar tenders, explaining how having so many proxies can speed up your network
Image source: Bright Data

As Or Lenchner, CEO of Bright Data, pointed out at The Extract Summit, ‘Concurrent data requests are like lines of people waiting for beer. On the left, you have a slow, inefficient line of people, and on the right, you have multiple short, quick lines. The beer represents data, the lines represent proxy networks. With that in mind, which line would you want to be standing in if you were thirsty for data?’

The main disadvantages of using a Residential network include:

  • Using a Residential network tends to be a pricier option, although its effectiveness on tough target websites typically makes it worthwhile.
  • Rotating IPs may be less effective in certain scenarios where using a consistent pool of IPs provides an advantage, such as precise geotargeting, such as with location sensitive ad verification.

What are some of the best use cases for a Residential Network?

Common use cases for a Residential Network include:

  • Digital Advertising – Digital ad placements, monitoring ad compliance, and performing ad verification to ensure Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). As well as verifying backlinks, affiliate links, redirects, and monitoring the correct use of language.
  • Travel Intelligence – Helping Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), airlines, and travel businesses collect live data, enabling them to enact a dynamic competitive pricing strategy; understand current and future consumer sentiment and demand; and run travel-focused cross and up-selling campaigns.
  • Brand protection – Allowing companies to identify and thwart malicious attempts on intellectual property. As well as enabling businesses to track copyright piracy, trademark squatting, and brand exploitation.

Mobile Network

infographic explaining how mobile proxy networks are configured to run

A large cellular network with a variety of carriers to choose from. Mobile IPs are real 3G and 4G connections assigned to individuals by their mobile carrier. Mobile networks consist of real-user mobile connections in every country and city across the world, making them undetectable yet very effective.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a Mobile Proxy Network

The main advantages of using a Mobile proxy network include:

  • Being able to view applications, ads, and mobile location-powered programs from the comfort of your desktop presents huge opportunities, from accurate quality assurance to real user experience testing.
  • Requests made through mobile are much harder to track, and extremely hard to detect, putting them in a class of their own. This is a huge advantage for companies looking to conduct under-the-radar market research.

The main disadvantages of using a Mobile proxy network include:

  • Mobile proxy networks are considerably pricier than other options. Some would call them the Porsche of proxies, and top notch quality always bears the highest price tags.

What are some of the best use cases for a Mobile proxy network?

Mobile IPs are typically used for cellular ad verification using a desktop. It can also be used for mobile app user experience verification, as well as app quality assurance. Other use cases include keeping track of direct billing campaigns and app promotions, complete with ASN, carrier, and mobile network targeting capabilities.

Mobile IPs are extremely versatile and can support use cases that can benefit from crowdsourced, as well as GPS-sensitive data, for example.

Combining different proxy networks to achieve your data collection goals. At the end of the day, you want to choose a proxy network that is most efficient as far as costs are concerned and most effective in terms of results. For straightforward data collection, you should be looking at a Data Center Network. For more complex requests, you should choose between an ISP proxy network, Residential network or Mobile network.

In the name of cost efficiency and results, in many cases you may benefit from a Proxy Manager tool which automatically manages and alternates between proxy networks based on the difficulty of data retrieval on any given target website.

What proxy should you use?

People regularly wonder which proxy is right for their business. Here is a summary of the four main types of proxies and their main use cases/applications:

#1: Datacenter Proxies: These are proxies located in a central location in which multiple IP address traffic is batched together and routed through a singular server. This allows for shorter request times, and lower costs due to a simplified architecture. 

Use cases: Data Center proxies are best for easy target sites to perform simple data retrieval tasks. This may include things like ad verification and brand protection. 

#2: ISP Proxies: ISP proxies or Internet Server Providers are real Residential IPs located in different GEOs. They are designated for commercial use and are located in Data Centers but differ from them in the sense that they are identified as ‘real user IPs’ by target sites, while still enjoying shorter request architectures.  

Use cases: Any data collection job that can benefit from GEO-specific Residential IPs such as app/site Quality Assurance (QA), and collecting localized investment data, for example. 

#3: Residential Proxies: This is an international collection of devices belonging to real individuals that have opted their devices into a network through which data retrieval requests can be routed. The main benefits include being able to retrieve data from sophisticated target sites as well as being able to send an increased number of concurrent requests. 

Use cases: Common use cases include travel/eCommerce intelligence as Residential proxies can be used to view thighs like item pricing and travel deals from a user perspective. 

#4: Mobile Proxies: A network of mobile 3G/4G devices belonging to real users around the world who enable data collection to be routed through their phones. These are the most expensive, yet most effective types of proxies. 

Use cases: Viewing mobile-based applications and programs from a desktop as well as any use case that can benefit from crowdsourced, and GPS-reliant datasets. Examples of this include keeping track of direct billing campaigns/app promotions, as well as application User Experience (UX) verification.

Summing it up

Choosing the right proxy network for your business can be daunting, but once you understand the pros and cons of each network, it becomes easier to make an informed and educated decision. Each network has distinct capabilities for specific use cases and industries. Putting pen to paper and isolating your goals using a proxy is highly recommended. Once your concrete aims are clearly defined, it will be much easier to make a decision on how to move forward in a way that is most beneficial for your business.

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