A Comparison of Residential vs Data Center Proxies

June 13, 2022 | 3 mins read

Contents

  • When do I need proxies?
  • What are the types of proxies?
  • Conclusion

Generally, residential proxies are better and more reliable than data center proxies, as their IP addresses are less likely to have been blocked for being used as proxies or for nefarious purposes. They’re used by regular people so masking your real IP behind them is more powerful, making you appear as a real user rather than a data center bot.

For this reason, we only use residential IP addresses at ScrapeOwl to ensure that your requests are successful every time with the lowest cost possible. If you’re wondering how it works, a proxy basically allows your connection or request to originate elsewhere as though it was from a regular user of the web.

When do I need proxies?

Proxies are used for many reasons, such as web scraping and performing automated actions such as filling out forms or accessing content on a web site or app that may be beyond what the host of the service is expecting or has accounted for.

Typically, sites and platforms enforce limits on user actions to avoid overwhelming their servers and losing the ability to serve the requests of other users. Using different source (“from”) address is required in cases where you are trying to access web sites or apps that limit the number of actions a user from a single device or IP address is able to do, which is a basic security measure that most services apply to avoid straining their infrastructure.

There are several ways that hosts protect themselves from being accessed rapidly, such as using captcha challenges to ensure that the request is coming from a real human user and not an automated script or bot (however, captchas can also be bypassed by automated scripts), and using site caching services that simply serve cached (or static) versions of their pages to only consume network resources (bandwidth) and avoid dynamically generating the pages on every request, which would consume additional server resources.

What are the types of proxies?

Now that we’ve defined proxies, let’s lay out the two main types of proxies:

  • Data center proxies — these are readily available servers that can be configured to act as proxies. Their main drawback is that since they’re readily available, and since their IP addresses shared, they are likely to have been already used as source addresses and run as proxies, making them a known as a source of automated requests and blocked by sites and protection services.
  • Residential proxies – these are more difficult to detect as they use IP addresses from real people, which also include their mobile connections (mobile IPs are very valuable as they are unlikely to be blocked). For popular social sites, such as Instagram, and other sites using strong protection mechanisms, residential proxies are the only way to access them.

Residential IPs are sometimes also referred to as “ISP IPs” because they belong to an ISP that a human subscriber uses. As opposed to Data center IPs, which are owned by cloud or data center providers and are not used for any other purpose.

Ideally, you would want your residential IPs to be rotating with every request to ensure that not too many of your requests are sent with the same IP, which could easily cause it to get blocked.

This is not all to say that data center proxies are without their merits. One of their biggest advantages is speed and stability, which is because they are as named, based in data centers whereas residential proxies are end-users that based in a country that may not have the most stable or fast connections. Data center proxies are also cheaper and more available than residential proxies, but they are less suitable for web scraping.

Conclusion

If you’re scraping difficult websites that have protections, such as some e-commerce websites, social media websites, and sneaker websites, you want to use ScrapeOwl because it uses residential IP addresses for every request to ensure that you do not get blocked.

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