There are numerous proxy products in the market, each with its own unique advantages, use cases, and pricing. At the same time, multiple service providers offer starkly different proxy servers. Given the product overload, choosing the right solution for your needs can be daunting. Fortunately, we have prepared this guide containing the proxy criteria to help you choose what is best.
What is a Proxy Server
A proxy server is any software- or hardware-based intermediary that intercepts all internet traffic between networked devices, i.e., a web server and a user’s computer. It works by routing outgoing requests and incoming server responses through itself, creating a setup whereby the requests appear to originate from, and responses terminate at the proxy server rather than the user’s computer.
Additionally, the proxy products hide the user’s computer’s real IP address and assign another IP address in its place. This helps anonymize the browsing. The proxies’ underlying functionality offers numerous advantages. Moreover, it has influenced their utility in a myriad of situations.
It is noteworthy that there are multiple proxy types, namely:
- Forward proxies
- Reverse proxies
- Residential proxies
- Datacenter proxies
- Rotating/dynamic proxies
- Static proxies
- Shared proxies
- Dedicated/private proxies
- HTTP/HTTPS proxies
- SOCKS proxies
- Transparent proxies
- Anonymous proxies
- High anonymity proxies
● Advantages of Proxy Products
Proxies have the following benefits/advantages:
- Online anonymity: They anonymize browsing by hiding the real IP address and assigning a new unique identifier
- Website performance: Proxies perform load balancing functions in addition to caching frequently requested files, thereby saving bandwidth and reducing loading times (reverse proxies and server-side HTTP proxies)
- Security: HTTP proxies filter responses and emails, preventing attacks
- Geo-restrictions: proxies help bypass geo-blocking by facilitating the access of content or websites that can only be viewed by residents of a given country
- Content control: transparent proxies are used to block access to specific websites
● Uses of Proxy Servers
The above-mentioned benefits, as well as other characteristics, make proxy servers ideal for the following use cases:
- Web scraping: this is the automated process of extracting data from websites. It can be used to undertake market and academic research, price monitoring, search engine optimization (SEO) monitoring, reputation and review monitoring, and more
- Accessing geo-blocked content
- Load balancing
- Caching frequently accessed content
- SOCKS proxies facilitate fast peer-to-peer file sharing as well as video/music/data streaming
- Ad verification
How to Choose the Right Proxy Solution
There are several considerations you can and should make when choosing a proxy. These considerations are based on a few criteria that, when implemented, help you make better decisions. Below are the criteria that can help you choose the right proxy server.
The various proxy products have varying prices. For instance, residential proxies, which assign rare residential IP addresses, are more expensive than datacenter proxies, which assign virtual datacenter IP addresses. Similarly, private proxies are costlier than shared proxies.
2. Use Case
It is important to consider the purpose for which you wish to use a particular proxy. This is because some proxies are better suited for specific tasks than others. For instance, a residential proxy provides greater online anonymity than a datacenter proxy, a property that makes it ideal for large-scale web scraping. Moreover, if you want to secure your web server, select a reverse proxy or server-side HTTP proxy rather than a forward proxy.
3. Security and privacy
The different proxy servers have varying levels of security and privacy. For instance, shared proxies are less secure than dedicated proxies. The former type can predispose you to cyberattacks because you share the bandwidth with multiple other users, some of whom may be driven by malicious motives.
4. Reliability of proxy service provider
A good proxy server is contingent on how reliable the proxy provider is. This is because the proxy should ideally be available 99% of the time. And only a reliable provider can guarantee this feat. Thus, before selecting a proxy solution, it is important to go through reviews.
5. Customer service
You should select a proxy that is offered by a service provider with great customer service. The provider should have a help desk that is reachable 24/7 to assist when something breaks.
6. IP network pool
You should choose a proxy and proxy provider that has a vast IP network pool. This ensures your browsing or web scraping activities, for example, continue smoothly even when one IP address is blocked.
7. Proxy management tools
A proxy provider should have proxy management tools such as a user-friendly dashboard to enable you to manage your proxy servers. This is handy whenever you have purchased different proxies.
Suppose you are looking to purchase a proxy server. In that case, it is important to consider parameters and factors such as the IP network pool, proxy management tools, customer service, reliability of the proxy provider, price, use case, and security. Using these considerations as your proxy selection criteria will help you choose the right proxy products.