Those who have heard something about proxies in the computing context probably know that
they come in all shapes and sizes. More precisely, there are many different types of proxies.
One of the most common classifications is between residential and datacenter proxies. This
article will concentrate on the latter, although we will compare it to the former as well.
Thus, let us dive into proxy datacenter types, their alternatives, and what advantages and
disadvantages they demonstrate when utilized for online privacy and other use cases.
Defining datacenter proxies
Let’s start at the beginning. What are proxies basically? A proxy server is the middle server
where your network traffic goes before reaching the end server. Usually, when you are
surfing the net, your request goes directly to the server where the website is hosted. And then
the website’s answer to your request goes directly back to your device.
A proxy service makes it so your request and the website’s answer would be filtered through
another server. This way, the website only knows the proxy IP address and not your real IP,
therefore you remain completely anonymous.
A datacenter proxy is a pool of datacenter IP addresses. These IPs are hosted in powerful data
centers all over the world and are not affiliated with any Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Thus, your IP address is of a specific type, and the website sees your traffic as coming from a
data center rather than from some homeowner’s personal device. This is one of a few major
proxy IP types. Time to introduce ourselves to the others.
Alternatives to datacenter proxies
There are other types of IPs than datacenter IPs which give foundation to other types of
proxies. Here are the main alternatives to datacenter proxies.
Residential IP addresses are IPs issued by ISPs to homeowners, i.e. residential users. If you
are using a trusted proxy provider, these users willingly and knowingly allow using their IPs
as proxies and sometimes are even paid for it.
Unfortunately, there are also shady providers that will create botnets using residential IPs
without the knowledge of their owners. This is one of the reasons why you should always
avoid the free proxy lists you find online. All good service comes at somebody’s expense.
When using an ethically sourced residential proxy, however, you can benefit from the fact
that it does not appear as a proxy to the end server. Thus, you can rely that it will not be
blocked and even more facts about your online activity stay hidden.
Cellular network IPs are different from those issued to modems and routers. Mobile phones
and tablets have these IPs when they are using mobile data. Mobile proxies assign to you this
type of IP. They are great if you need to access a mobile network. Additionally, you can
perfectly imitate the activity of an organic mobile user while making multiple automated
ISP proxies – a marriage between residential and datacenter proxies
Another alternative to a datacenter proxy is having its features sort of combined with those of
a residential proxy. ISP proxies are hosted in data centers but have residential IP addresses.
This is because they have an autonomous system number (ASN), that connects them with an
ISP. Proxy providers acquire these IPs from ISPs to be used for proxying, thus they are not
connected with any actual residential user but seem that way to the end server.
This gives an ISP proxy a few distinct features of which two are the most important. First,
this type of proxy is as fast as datacenter proxy but less discoverable, thus less likely to get
banned by a website. Second, it can be static. Residential proxies usually rotate IPs as it is
hard to rely on one residential device to always be on. As ISP proxies are hosted in data
centers, they can give you the same IP for the entire session.
Pros and cons of using datacenter proxies
Like any other type, datacenter proxies have their advantages and disadvantages. Weighing
them will help you decide whether it is the right solution for your use case.
Pros of datacenter proxies
Below are the main reasons to choose this type of proxy.
● They are cheap. Usually, datacenter proxies cost less than their alternatives, as
companies that have infrastructure can host many datacenter IPs without having to
look for additional IP sources.
● Datacenter proxies can be both static and rotating. If you subscribe to a datacenter
proxy service, you do not need to look any further to benefit from both sticky sessions
and rotating IPs.
● They are fast. Datacenter proxies can sustain fast internet connections. This especially
goes for static datacenter IPs.
● Datacenter proxies are reliable. As powerful servers host these IP addresses, you can
be reasonably assured that the connection will not suddenly break.
Cons of datacenter proxies
The disadvantages of datacenter proxies are as follows.
● They are easily discoverable as proxies. As websites recognize datacenter IPs, they
can tell that you are using a proxy. This makes datacenter proxies prone to bans and
blacklists as some websites disallow proxy connections.
● Datacenter IPs have less variety. Although there are data centers all over the world,
clearly, not as many as residential homes. Thus, many datacenter IPs will be coming
from the same pool, providing fewer options for customization.
● They are not suitable for mimicking specific user behavior. The two disadvantages
above combine to make datacenter proxies unfit for the task if you want to come
across as an organic user from a very particular location.
To conclude, datacenter proxies have many advantages but there are use cases where they are
not the best choice. If you need complete anonymity online, which comes only with imitating
organic residential users, you should opt for ISP or residential proxies.
Other than that, datacenter proxies are a budget-friendly, reliable, and fast option for
browsing the internet with reasonable security and anonymity.