What Are Residential Proxies, and Why Use Them?

Scraping Robot
August 2, 2023

For businesses looking to expand their use of big data analytics, collecting large quantities of data is critical to the success of those initiatives. However, tapping into various online data sources can be difficult. Many websites employ technology to make it more difficult to retrieve data.

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Residential proxies are one way to overcome limitations like IP bans and restrictions. They also help protect the identity of processes used for information gathering. Let’s look at the role of residential proxies, how they work, and the benefits they offer for data gathering.

What Is a Residential Proxy?

What Is a Residential Proxy?

Residential proxies are a network of IP addresses typically provided by internet service providers. They’re used to generate a unique identifier for a resident’s location. Because residential proxy IP addresses appear to be attached to a home location, this makes the user appear to be human. Individuals might use a residential proxy when they want to conduct online research. You can adjust the region of a residential proxy when you want to view information in another country.

The anonymity provided by residential proxies allows businesses to use web scraping technology with fewer worries about IP blocking. That’s because the movements are interpreted as coming from a regular user browsing the website, rather than from automation powered by a data center or server. You typically lease residential proxies from a company that specializes in managing these networks.

The main reason many businesses invest in residential proxies is the privacy they offer. They allow web scraping technology to function without detection. Residential proxies also provide an additional layer of network security protection. That makes it harder for hackers to use your technology and gain access to your internal systems.

How Do Residential Proxies Work?

How Do Residential Proxies Work?

Residential proxies funnel requests sent by users through intermediary devices. First, the connection goes through a proxy server. Your actual IP address gets replaced by one pulled from the residential proxy network. Requests are assumed to come from a human residential user, which allows them to get past web scraping protections. The proxy server forwards your request to a target website or service.

Once the website processes the request, it returns a response to your device. From there, you can store and manipulate data for other business purposes. Ideally, you should have many IP addresses to rotate through for web scraping solutions. Using the same IP address too often for data collection can increase the risk of getting blocked or banned outright.

How do residential proxies differ from data centers?

Data center proxy networks don’t connect IP addresses to a specific location. Instead, they’re pulled from a pool of addresses owned by a data center provider. While data center proxy addresses hide your identity, they tend to fit specific patterns that are more easily detected. Websites tend to view them as illegitimate and stop any process that uses those addresses from collecting information.

Data center proxies tend to focus on a specific country or region, making them less geographically diverse. Suppose your company needs to access data from websites in another country. In that case, data center proxies may not offer the flexibility you need to navigate locations worldwide.

How Can You Use a Residential Proxy?

How Can You Use a Residential Proxy?

Residential proxies can play a significant role in helping data-driven businesses gather information needed to help with decision-making. When combined with web scraping technology, residential proxies leave your data collection processes in a better position to access a website repeatedly without running interference from anti-scraping technology.

Another problem you might run into is search engine limits. They typically allow a certain number of requests from an IP address per minute. If your business only has a single server to work with, that can limit the amount of information your processes can collect in a given period. Using a rotating residential proxy that periodically swaps out IP addresses can get you past that barrier.

In addition to data collection, residential proxies can be helpful for the following use cases.

  • Manage social media — Users needing to manage multiple social media accounts from various locations can do so with the help of a residential proxy. That lowers the chances of their accounts getting suspended or terminated.
  • Bypass reselling restrictions — Residential proxies help online resellers get past restrictions placed by certain websites. That allows them to locate deals and increase revenue.
  • Compare prices — Gathering information from competitors is a big part of most organizational data collection efforts. Residential proxies allow web scrapers to gather product and service pricing information from websites in different countries and regions.
  • Gather marketing intelligence — Many companies use various processes to track customer behavior and product trends. That allows them to make decisions around improving marketing campaigns to boost the appeal of their brand to a target audience.

Is Using a Residential Proxy Legal?

Laws around using residential proxies can always change at the local, state, and federal levels. Keep in mind that some countries do have restrictions on using the technology. Businesses should always remain aware of the legality of using residential web proxies in places outside of the U.S.

Web proxies should not be used to engage in illegal or unethical activities. It’s one thing to send processes out to gather publicly available information from government websites. You might want to collect the most recent labor statistics or daily stock market prices.

However, you should avoid trying to get information locked down behind a login page or other protections. If you’re using web scraping tools, it should be within certain boundaries, especially regarding personal consumer data and intellectual property.

Laws and regulations

Other information may fall under international regulations. An example of that is the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It governs how businesses can gather and use consumer information. You should understand the impacts of violating those standards to avoid placing your business in legal jeopardy and on the hook for fines and penalties.

You also have to be careful how you handle U.S. residential proxies. California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which gives state residents control over the information businesses collect on them. It’s always a good idea to read up on laws around using residential proxies or web scraping tools in different states.

What to Look for in a Residential Proxy

What to Look for in a Residential Proxy

The best way to find the right proxy choice is by evaluating your business needs. Are you going to be doing low-level website scraping, or are you looking to bring back large data sets? This is one of those situations where you get what you pay for.

Residential proxies tend to cost more than data centers. However, they work a lot better in helping you avoid getting banned from websites targeted by your web scraping solutions. Residential proxy addresses belong to your organization. Data center IP addresses get shared among other customers. Any missteps in how they use the proxy could lead to more bans.

Another benefit of residential proxies is your ability to choose addresses from different locations. They make accessing websites in a specific city or country a smoother process. That may not be available if you go with a data center.

When to consider data center proxies

That doesn’t mean that data centers are never the right choice. If your organization focuses on sites that are unlikely to enact a ban, then a data center might be a more cost-effective option. Residential proxies typically charge based on internet consumption.

Data centers may be preferable if you need something fast. They have staff that do all the maintenance. Another advantage offered by data centers is that they’re housed in facilities with powerful hardware and high-speed internet connections. Because data centers don’t rely on user internet connections, they connect directly to target sites, resulting in faster response times and lower latency.

Other residential proxy considerations

Residential proxies can provide security, anonymity, and support for large-scale data needs. If you use a residential proxy for your organizational needs, choose a package compatible with your current automation tools.

You should also confirm the IPs available from your service provider. You don’t want to purchase a residential proxy package only to discover that the IPs you wish to use are already on block lists. Your proxy provider should be happy to review the details of what you will receive.

Make sure you understand the pricing model for your residential proxy. IP providers may charge by the amount of data transferred, per individual proxy, or for specific use cases like online data scraping or SEO monitoring.

Ask about guarantees around high availability and uptime. The infrastructure should be robust and capable of offering minimal downtime. Check a vendor’s track record around providing reliable service to other customers.

Evaluate whether your proxy can deal with varying traffic volume without performance impacts. Vendors with advanced networks typically have the tools and infrastructure to handle large request volumes while maintaining optimal performance.

Find Quality Data Collection Tools at Scraping Robot

Find Quality Data Collection Tools at Scraping Robot

Data proxies allow you to get the most benefit from your data scraping processes. Residential proxies offer the advantage of making web crawlers appear human, helping you avoid bans. They’re also helpful for other purposes like managing social media and gathering marketing intelligence.

You should do your homework regarding the legality of web scraping in different areas of the country and worldwide. You should also evaluate the quality of data proxies offered by service providers. Scraping Robot technology is designed to help you get around data collection roadblocks.

We offer simple pricing plans with no monthly commitment. Click here to learn more about Scraping Robot products and how they work.

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