- 1 What is a proxy server?
- 2 Factors that promote anonymity in proxies
- 3 Types of Proxies
- 4 Conclusion
Every time you connect to a website, the site accesses your IP address. This is because the web server uses the IP address to identify your computer, distinguishing it from hundreds and thousands of computers that have sent requests to connect.
In addition, the IP address also stores a lot of information about your approximate location, including your country, state, and city. It also identifies the organization that registered it, e.g., a data center, an internet service provider (ISP), or a mobile network operator (MNO). Fortunately, you can use trusty proxy servers from a reliable proxy service provider to hide this identity.
What is a proxy server?
A proxy server, also known as a proxy, is a gateway through which internet traffic is routed on its way to either the web server or the user’s computer. Therefore, it acts as an intermediary that intercepts outgoing web requests and directs them to the target website whilst simultaneously masking their real IP address and assigning a different unique IP address. At the same time, the proxy server channels all the web server’s incoming responses to itself before sending them to the user’s computer.
Factors that promote anonymity in proxies
There are several factors that promote online anonymity in proxies, namely:
IP addresses’ location markers
As detailed above, proxy servers provide online anonymity by simply hiding the computer’s real IP address and instead assigning a different unique IP address. In effect, the masking of the real identifier also hides the user’s real location as well as their ISP or data center. It simultaneously also assigns a new location and a new ISP or data center. To put it simply, a proxy server effectively hides location markers that could be used to identify where you are located and instead provides a location that’s, in every practical sense, inaccurate.
IP address rotation
To increase the level of anonymity, proxy service providers often use IP rotation tools, which periodically change the assigned IP address. The rotation limits the number of requests that are associated with the same identifier, helping mimic human browsing behavior. This way, such tools make it difficult for web servers to single out a user, thus promoting anonymity.
Large IP address pool
Proxy providers often have a large pool of IP addresses that can be made up of millions of identifiers from multiple countries. The sheer size of the pool ensures that users can get country, city, state, and region-level geo-location targeting.
Owner of the IP addresses
Anonymity is also anchored in the organization from which the assigned IP addresses are sourced. As stated above, the IP address contains markers that identify the organization which registered them. This could be a data center, ISP, or MNO. IP addresses that are registered to data centers are easily flagged as bots, while those that belong to ISPs or MNOs are rarely blocked or flagged as they are associated with real users. This fact, therefore, means that the latter group of IP addresses offers greater anonymity than the former. To paint a clearer picture, let’s discuss residential proxies, datacenter proxies, and mobile proxies.
Types of Proxies
This section will discuss the three main types of proxies:
Datacenter proxies assign datacenter IP addresses. They route traffic through data center servers, which can be as advantageous as it’s disadvantageous.
Pros of datacenter proxies
- They’re fast because they route traffic through powerful servers
- Datacenter proxies are cheap as the data center IP addresses are abundant
- They facilitate geo-location targeting
- They usually don’t have bandwidth restrictions
Cons of datacenter proxies
- They’re unreliable as they are easily flagged as bots
- They aren’t ideal for certain use cases, such as large-scale web scraping
Residential proxies assign residential IP addresses belonging to ISPs. In this regard, they route traffic through real users’ IPs, a fact that promotes anonymity.
Pros of residential proxies
- They’re fast
- They’re reliable as they aren’t easily flagged; therefore, they offer greater anonymity than datacenter proxies
- Residential proxies facilitate country, city, and state-level geo-location targeting
Cons of residential proxies
- They are expensive because residential IP addresses are rare
Mobile proxies route traffic through mobile netw. This means that the outgoing requests acquire the devices’ mobile IP address, which is registered to mobile network operators.
Pros of mobile proxies
- They offer a high level of anonymity as they route traffic through real user’s devices
- They provide automatic IP rotation because MNOs periodically and automatically change the assigned IP address
- Mobile proxies provide country-level geo-location targeting
- They provide Autonomous System Number (ASN) targeting
- Mobile proxies are fast, especially when the connection is via 4G or 5G
Cons of mobile proxies
- Mobile proxies are expensive
- They can be slow, particularly when the connection is based on a 3G network
Different proxies offer varying levels of anonymity. For instance, residential proxies and mobile proxies aren’t as easily flagged or banned as datacenter proxies. The anonymity level a proxy server can offer deeply alters the cost.