Choosing the Right Proxy: Residential vs. Mobile vs. Datacenter
Businesses that work with big data need a foolproof way to access loads of information on the internet. And what better way than proxy servers to accomplish this?
By acting as intermediaries, proxy servers can help businesses scrape the web for their desired data. But not every proxy server might be the best for your use case.
Should you opt for residential proxies or datacenter ones? When should you use mobile proxies? Let’s explore this in detail.
How Do Proxies Work?
First, let’s explain how a regular web request works. Let’s say you want to search for something on Booking.com. You type the URL in your browser’s search bar.
The browser sends a request to Booking.com’s server. Then, the server responds to this request by bringing back your requested resource.
But the destination server doesn’t know that Person A, sitting in a Starbucks somewhere in New York, is sending this request. Instead, how the server recognizes you is through your IP address.
The IP address is like your home address but for a computer or device. It’s a unique set of numbers that identify your computer and where it is located in the world.
When web scraping, you have to send a lot of web requests to the same destination server to scrape different pages. Most websites will blacklist or block an IP address that does this. Too many requests from the same IP can slow down a website. Plus, it raises suspicion about the request sender being a bot.
So, how do you get around this? You use proxy servers.
A proxy server will give you a substitute IP to send these requests. This way, you can mask your IP address and still get your required information.
Residential vs. Mobile vs. Datacenter Proxies: How Do They Compare?
Below, we compare the three main types of proxies (by source) with regard to their speed, performance, cost, and undetectability. Use this information to select the suitable proxy type for your needs.
The name gives it away. These proxies come from residential sources, i.e., real users. For example, you can let a proxy provider give your IP address to a proxy network, which their client will use. So, when you buy residential proxies from an ethical provider, they also gain user consent before handing assigning the proxy IP to their proxy pool.
Let’s look at residential proxies in different aspects:
- Performance: Residential proxies are some of the most well-performing proxies because of their minimal risk of detection. They come from real users. So, most websites let requests from residential proxies come through. After all, which website doesn’t want real users?
- Speed: While they’re sufficiently speedy, they’re slow compared to datacenter proxies.
- Undetectability: Residential proxies are unmatched in this regard. They are sourced from actual users, so the destination servers are least suspicious of them.
- Cost: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that residential proxies are costly. But they’re worth the price.
Opt for residential proxies if you want to scrape the web without interruptions like IP blocks and CAPTCHAs, and make your requests appear as human-like as possible. A few prominent use cases of residential proxies include market research, review monitoring, as well as travel fare data aggregation.
Unlike residential proxies, datacenter proxies come from data centers. They may be:
- Shared: These are shared between multiple users.
- Dedicated: A single user has access to the proxy.
Here’s a look at our comparison criteria:
- Performance: Datacenter proxies work pretty well. They usually also have high uptime and let you access geo-restricted content.
- Speed: Datacenter proxies are the speediest of the three proxies we’re comparing in this article.
- Undetectability: The downside to datacenter proxies is that they are easy to detect. Many websites also have datacenters on their radar and quickly flag any IPs originating from them.
- Cost: Since they’re easier to source, datacenter proxies are budget-friendly.
The best use case for data center proxies is sneaker copping. But you can also use them for web scraping and dynamic pricing.
Mobile proxies are somewhat like residential proxies, but they assign a mobile IP address to the client. So, when you access the destination server with a mobile proxy, the server will see the request as if it is coming from a mobile device.
- Performance: Mobile proxies do well not only in mobile-related operations. Since 95% of the global population accesses the web using their phone, these proxies are becoming increasingly popular now.
- Speed: Mobile proxies may be 3G, 4G, or 5G. Their speed depends on the mobile network standard, but even so, mobile proxies are naturally slower compared to residential and datacenter proxies.
- Undetectability: Mobile proxies offer a high level of anonymity since they also come from real users.
- Cost: Like residential proxies, mobile proxies are also on a more expensive specter.
Mobile proxies are ideal for web scraping projects such as ad verification, review monitoring, and testing mobile applications. They can also be used for social media marketing to access accounts from different locations.
The proxy you select for your use case will depend on your requirements. If you want high anonymity and don’t mind losing out on some speed, mobile and residential proxies will work for you. Meanwhile, datacenter proxies are better for applications with restricted timelines and low budgets.