If you look up about how IP addresses are classified then you’ll learn that there are five standard address classes which are defined as follows:
- Class A – these are assigned to networks with a large number of hosts. The first bit in a class A address is set to 0, and the following seven bits represents the network ID. The next twenty four bits (the last three octets) is used to represent the host ID.
- Class B – are usually assigned to medium to large sized networks. In this case the first two bits are set to 1 0 (binary) and the next fourteen (first two octets) represent the network ID. This leaves the last two octets (16 bits) available to represent the host ID.
- Class C – normally assigned for small networks. The first three bits in these addresses is set to binary 1 1 0 and the next 21 bits (finishing the first three octets) complete the network ID. The last 8 bits in this case are used to represent the host ID, obviously this allows much fewer addresses available for hosts.
- Class D – these are reserved for something called IP multicast addresses. The first four bits are set to 1 1 1 0 (binary). The remaining bits are used for the addresses that can be used as multicast groups.
- Class E – are experimental addresses reserved for future use, the first four bits are set to 1 1 1 1.
However in addition to this technical classification of the actual IP addresses ranges there is another broader classification which is important to anyone online – residential or commercial.
These two classifications are not technically defined but refer to the source of where the IP addresses has been allocated from. Commercial addresses are generally assigned to corporations and organisations, 99% of IP addresses assigned to datacentres (including the proxies, websites and VPN servers) are commercial.
Residential IP addresses are normally assigned from Internet Service Providers and allocated to home users. So when you connect your modem or router to your ISP that device will be allocated an IP address from a residential pool.
Why do People Pay for a Residential IP Service?
For many people the difference is unimportant and is unlikely to have any impact on their online experience. However for many others this difference is crucial, and there’s no doubt which IP address is most prized and that’s a residential address.
The issue is fundamentally a matter of trust, and the residential address is considered much more trustworthy than a commercial one. The reason is that virtually all spam, automated software and indeed any individual or organisation up to no good online will be using a commercial IP address. This could be directly from their device or more commonly routed through a commercial proxy or VPN housed in some data centre somewhere.
For this reason, many large websites will detect and log the use of commercial IP addresses. The connections may not be blocked automatically but often they will be flagged as potentially high risk for security or spam. If you want to fly under the radar for whatever reason, a standard commercial IP address is not the way to go.
Basically if you’re just looking for anonymity and some privacy then a commercial IP address should be perfectly fine. Indeed these are allocated to most commercial proxies and VPN services which people use everyday for normal access to the internet. The vast majority of websites even if they flag the use will normally not block or restrict commercial IP address access.
However there are certain situations where a commercial address won’t work at all. For example if you want to post to Craigslist or watch Netflix on your computer, you’ll get blocked if you attempt to use a commercial IP address range. Both of these companies only allow access to residential IP addresses due to various issues with people potentially abusing their services.
Craigslist is a local person to person advertising board, however many started posting thousands of adverts to the different regions. Although the site stopped people posting duplicate adverts by checking the IP address, people used proxies and VPNs to rotate their addresses. They made serious money but were deemed against the ethos of the site, so Craigslist instead also started blocking anyone who had a commercial IP address too.
This situation is becoming more common, pretty much all dodgy behaviour tends to come from commercial address ranges so lots of websites are starting to block them automatically. Blocking residential addresses is never likely to happen on any scale because it’s almost impossible to do without blocking real users and customers too.
Unfortunately although residential IP addresses are without doubt the best way of staying anonymous while allowing unfettered access to any website you like, there is a problem. The fact is that it’s relatively simple to get access to commercial addresses, but obtaining residential IP addresses is much more difficult and hence they can be extremely expensive.
There are some great options though for minimizing the cost of getting access to a large range of residential IP addresses. Our recommendation is below, check out their offerings of fast, available residential IP address solutions.