There’s two ways of looking at Luminati and I must admit I regularly switch between the two views. The first time I encountered the company was many years ago in 2014 just after they started up. I was appalled and even wrote a brief post about them a little later, you can read it here. However this is very much from the perspective of a free user of Luminati’s client service called Hola.
Luminati has by far the largest proxy network in the world estimated at some 34 million clients. That’s a huge network largely built up from valuable, residential IP addresses. They did this through parallel companies – Hola on the client side offered free VPN and application services in exchange for routing some traffic through the user’s IP address when their machine was idle. Yes you heard that right, you get to use a secure VPN for free but in exchange allow complete strangers to route their own traffic through your internet connection.
It sounds though like a reasonable exchange, apart from in the early days they were rather underhand about the ‘traffic sharing’ part of the VPN free deal. It was buried deep in the terms and conditions and many early users of Hola had no idea that their computer was being used as a peer in a huge commercial network. It’s made much clearer now, and amazingly many people seem to accept it’s a fair trade ( or they don’t read the conditions properly). Still it feels way more legitimate than the rather sneaky early days of the Hola brand. The options have expanded to include games and applications all leveraging the Luminati SDK in exchange for some traffic routing.
The Luminati Proxy Network
Is impressive and in many ways the back end infrastructure that they have created is even better. First of all it’s worth considering those numbers – over 34 million potential residential IP addresses in countries all over the world waiting to route your traffic through them. The potential of course is huge, especially nowadays when the value of real residential IP addresses is growing increasingly valuable. You have to be able to control access, configure and utilise all these clients properly though to really make them work.
Imagine you can sit at your office or home desk and instantly switch your connection through a 100% genuine residential IP address anywhere in the world. What’s more you can pay and use resources all over the world only when required, not on some expensive dedicated rolling package reservation (although you can also do this if your pockets are deep enough!). All you need to do is to install the Luminati proxy manager on your computer and you can gain access to this global proxy network (well and you have to pay of course).
How Luminati Proxy Works
Here’s the Luminati Proxy Manager, which you can install on your Mac, Windows or Linux machine.
Here’s the description from Luminati
An advanced open-source (See project on GitHub) proxy manager to help you speed up development time with built-in data gathering features. The proxy manager is a forwarding HTTP/HTTPS proxy on your side, to accelerate / compress / rotate / distribute / manage / monitor / report / log / debug traffic to your proxies around the world.
You can install this on your client machine or better still on a server or VPS and it acts as a local proxy routing your data according to the configuration and options you specify. So for example you can set up proxies for whatever projects you need – e.g one for US residential, UK residential and then perhaps a South American datacentre proxy configuration. Each one can be configured exactly as required modifying all the different properties you need. Keep some IP addresses rotating on each separate connection whilst maintaining a static IP on others.
To call the proxy from the local machine you merely modify your proxy settings to point at 127.0.0.1 (the local address) and then choose the corresponding port to access your particular configuration. The setup can be fairly straight forward but also allows for very specific configuration allowing you to switch between different IP types, locations and lots more options. This is a very advanced and powerful tool of which there is currently nothing to match on the market, this is the proxy solution that the professionals use. It’s well worth spending a little time to learn how to use the Luminati proxy manager as it can make a huge difference in both effectiveness and the efficiency and cost.
Luminati Network Types
Luminati has four types of IP networks: Data-Center, Static Residential, Residential, and Mobile.
- Data Center: offers a machine generated IP it is the most cost-effective and is commonly used for mass crawling of non-sophisticated target websites. Constructs of 400k unique IPs.
- Static Residential Network: offers real residential IPs provided directly through ISP’s. These IPs are most suitable for use cases that require permanent, non-rotating IPs, or for whoever needs a small amount of residential IPs.
- Residential Network: provides a real, rotating, user IP, used for access to sophisticated target websites when you need to crawl, see and be seen as a real user. Constructs of 39+ million unique IPs.
- Mobile Network: connects through a real, rotating, mobile connection of 3G/4G, used for targeting highly sophisticated websites and collecting mobile specific web data. constructs of 3+ million unique IPs
Which one you need of course is dependent on the task required. The cheapest and usually the fastest is the Data Centre network and these are covered in the majority of Luminati countries. However as we all probably know these are the cheapest for a reason and it’s for the residential networks that Luminati is most renowned for. Certainly if you can build ultra effective Luminati sneaker proxies using the residential and mobile networks too.