There is often a lot of confusion between datacenter and residential proxies and which ones are the best to use. Both represent a simple way to hide your real IP address when online, however which one you need very much depends on the task you’re trying to achieve. You’ll also probably have noticed that one group is much more expensive to purchase from the various providers.
Firstly lets start with the basic fact that if you just want to obscure your real network address then either will work perfectly as long as the proxy is configured properly. In fact the only real difference between them is the IP addresses which are assigned to each server. Indeed you can turn a datacentre proxy into a residential one in a few minutes simply by allocating different IP addresses to the server.
A proxy works by sitting between you and the servers or resources you’re trying to access. By acting as a sort of middleman, the proxy keeps your true IP address hidden from everyone. The added bonus is that you can effectively ‘change’ your IP address simply by modifying the address of the proxy server. Whether it’s a residential or datacenter proxy just depends on what the IP addresses it uses are classified as.
What are Datacenter Proxies
The majority of proxies you’ll find online will be datacenter ones. As mentioned previously if you’re looking for basic tasks and simply hiding your location then these will be more than sufficient and you can these from lots of places. They generally are set up and assigned in the large commercial datacentres all over the world. Your proxy will likely sit in one these datacenters receiving and forwarding requests to your client PC. The web sites will never see your real address, only the address of the proxy server being used.
Remember Datacenter proxies are simply those which are assigned commercial IP addresses, where they are physically located is immaterial. A more accurate description would actually be something like “datacenter IP proxies“. For years the vast majority of proxies have been these datacentre ones, and have been used by millions for all sorts of tasks.
Unfortunately as the use of these proxies has grown for bypassing things like geo-blocks and filters, websites are more and more likely to detect and block them.
What are Residential Proxies
If the IP addresses allocated to a proxy server are residential ones then you’ve created a residential proxy. This is the only real difference from a datacentre proxy but online a residential IP address gives you far more options, which is why they are considered the premium option.
Previously websites only looked at a couple of pieces of information when you connected. The physical location of your IP address and the cookies that are placed on your computer. They used these to determine what you could access and what content to deliver. However over the years as the use of proxies has spread, most of these companies have decided this is no longer sufficient.
The fact is that most home users are allocated residential IP addresses and when the website sees ‘non-residential’ addresses then it instantly become suspicious. These connections will be coming from computers usually housed in datacentres and are therefore unlikely to be normal human users. If you have an e-commerce or perhaps an entertainment website then this traffic is unlikely to be an existing or potential customer.
Datacenter Proxies vs Residential Proxies
The key determinant really are the websites you want to access via your proxy server. Most sites don’t really distinguish between the two types of addresses, yet there is a significant amount of sites that do. For example most e-commerce websites want traffic from residential IP addresses simply because they’re way more likely to be customers or potential customers.
If your key aim is anonymity then potentially there’s not much difference. If you use a search engine, it won’t generally care what your IP address is classified as. Typically the vast majority of sites are like this, but the number that are starting to check is beginning to rise.
Here’s a short list of example of where residential IP addresses do matter:
- Ticket Sites (e.g) Ticketmaster – these sites have big issue with people/firms using automated tools to make multiple purchases. As the majority of these come from commercial addresses then these are often blocked as a precaution. To use these tools you have to use residential servers designed specifically for the sites – they’re usually known as sneaker proxies.
- Social Networks – these sites are generally designed for social interaction from ordinary home users. Examples include sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but there are loads more. However many people use these sites from all sorts of places including their workplace which will usually have commercial IP addresses. Hence it’s unlikely Social Networking sites will block non-residential traffic completely anytime soon. However what they are likely to do is flag any account in case of any unusual behaviour. If you’re running lots of accounts or using promotional software then it’s much riskier using datacentre proxies.
- Netflix – the media streaming giant was the first company to put a complete block on access from non-residential IP addresses. It instigated this filter to prevent people from switching regions using VPNs and proxies. So if you want to access Netflix you have to use a residential IP from either a home connection or one assigned to a residential proxy server.
- E-commerce sites – their primary focus is on selling goods and services to ordinary users like you and me. However as long as the sales is legitimate then it actually doesn’t really concern them where the address originates from. After all many people make lots of purchases from work during their lunch hours. However if there are suspicions of fraud or when selling limited release items, the commercial addresses might cause issues. As such people who buy or sell online for a living will use residential proxies if they wish to hide their location or run multiple accounts.
How do Websites Detect Residential or Datacenter IP addresses ?
This is not an exact science and the method generally used is normally quite a simple one. They will pay a company who operate a central database of where the addresses are registered to. The majority of IPV4 addresses can be determined based on who actually registers the address range however this isn’t 100% accurate.
Here’s free source where you can actually determine a lot of the datacentre IP address ranges and the ASNs (Autonomous System Numbers) which are assigned to them.
So to summarise for basic online anonymity or for unlocking content which is blocked then normally a datacenter proxy will normally be sufficient. However the number of sites that either block or at least flag as suspicious IP addresses originating from datacenters is growing everyday. It is definitely expected that many of the online streaming services will follow Netflix’s lead and only allow connections from residential IP addresses soon. There are difficulties though as there is a significant grey area of how to classify some of these addresses and central databases often vary. As such there is a certain risk that normal, residential users will get blocked by mistake.
So if you’re involved in research, managing large numbers of social accounts or an internet marketer. Indeed any sort of commercial activity where you need to hide your location, or run different digital identities then it’s likely you’ll need to use residential proxies. This is only a general statement though and it may well be that datacentre proxies will be sufficient depending on what sites your accessing.
The caveat is that obtaining access to residential IP addresses is not easy in most circumstances and therefore the prices of these proxies are significantly higher. I’m afraid you want find any cheap residential proxies for sale because those addresses are so expensive to source. There are also may be additional complications or specifications such as the location of the addresses too. For instance posting to local versions of Craigslist is best done with a residential IP address located in the same general geographical region.
Fortunately the best proxy providers usually can help you with this if you give them some details. The requirements for different websites does change all the time though so it’s normally best to check and trial them out if possible. My personal favorite is the website below because they’re support is really helpful, you can trial most of their proxies first and they importantly own all the hardware that their proxies are installed on (which is actually pretty rare).
Give them a try out if you need residential or datacentre proxies.