Residential vs Datacenter Proxies: What is the Difference?

Excessive amounts of information about ways of changing your IP address might be disorienting. Everybody tries to sell their product making it seem like the best choice imaginable. To make such a choice, you need to know the difference between your options.

Proxies that provide a service of hiding your IP address through an intermediary server are among the most reliable and popular options. But they come in different forms. Ordinarily, there are two types of proxies – residential and datacenter. How do they differ?

Where does the distinction lie?

Both residential and datacenter proxies serve the same purpose. They are created to provide you with anonymity while you surf the internet, thus allowing you to avoid getting blocked or restricted in any other way. Changing your IP address is the means used to achieve that.

When a proxy is used, your requests do not go directly to the target server you are trying to access. A proxy server steps in and takes your requests, and forwards them to the internet, and then returns the response to you. This way nobody knows who the actual user is.

A datacenter proxy, as suggested by the name, uses a server that is located in a particular center. There your IP address is changed to a different IP address provided by the server.

A residential proxy does the same, but it uses different IP addresses that are assigned to real physical devices in different locations (residences), and these IPs cover yours.

The main difference in this regard is that a datacenter proxy gives you a fresh new IP address that is not given by Internet Service Provider (ISP), so your usage of that IP address is simulated; while a residential proxy enables you to use a different IP address that is allocated to a real physical device by the ISP in a different residence.

All other differences that are more important in respect of why you are using one type or the other originate from this main one. Therefore, knowing the difference between proxies requires understanding what the distinction of these types entails. Let’s take a look at it.

Main differences

  • Price

A datacenter proxy is more easily developed since it doesn’t use IP addresses allocated by the ISP. It directly translates into a lower price. A residential proxy, on the contrary, uses different IP addresses that the ISP has allocated to different devices scattered in various places. Therefore, a residential proxy is more expensive.

  • Safety

It’s more difficult to track a residential proxy because it uses a real IP address assigned by ISP. A datacenter proxy is pretty safe too and will provide you with more safety than you would have without it. But, compared with its residential counterpart, a datacenter proxy succumbs to the residential one. Although using either proxy is completely legal, a residential proxy is more legitimate in the sense that it’s harder to identify it as a proxy.

  • Speed

The speed of your internet connection is independent of other devices in the case of a datacenter proxy. Such a proxy operates without the help of the ISP. Accordingly, a residential proxy involves using other devices, and for this reason, it might slow your connection down. In short, a datacenter proxy is faster than a residential one.

  • Variety of IP addresses

A residential proxy works with real IP addresses in various locations, therefore, it provides many more available IP addresses. On the other hand, a datacenter proxy runs all its IP addresses through its server without using devices outside of the datacenter, and so it’s capable of providing a lesser variety of IP addresses which might limit your usage.

  • Availability

There are lots of datacenter proxies providers because datacenter proxies are easier developed. Consequently, they are not only cheaper or faster than residential proxies, but they happen to be more available too.

Which one to use?

Based on outlined differences, one proxy might be more applicable to some activities more than the other one. If you want just anonymous browsing or you are doing market or academic research, investigating your ads of your competitors, using bots for automated faster processes, or just gathering data from websites, a datacenter proxy will serve you well enough.

However, if you are interested in accessing more geo-restricted content, or you are working with more sensitive data, or you are scraping data extensively, or if you are working with bigger projects that need more security, a residential proxy is a better option for you.

Conclusion

If legitimacy and security are your priorities, even at the cost of speed, then residential proxies trump the datacenter ones. But if the fast connection is more important, than datacenter proxies will do just fine with its unmatched speed and the kind of protection, which is lesser than residential proxies’ but well nonetheless.

POOJA is a Passionate Security Enthusiast, CEH, ECSA, ISO 27001 Lead auditor, Ex-PCI-AQSA, CISSP, Security Researcher, Security blogger, and Author at GBHackers On Security.

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