A 3-Step Approach to Understanding Which of the 3 Types of Proxies Are Best for Your Business
If you’ve been thinking of using a proxy to support your online business, you’ve probably noticed that the subject seems pretty complex.
That shouldn’t come as a total surprise. After all, the main point of the product is to hide your true IP address!
Add in some technical specs, marketing mumbo jumbo, and some skepticism of Big Tech (often justified, unfortunately!) and you’ve got yourself a great recipe for confusion.
So what you should do? What’s the best type of proxy?
The most accurate answer, unfortunately, is “It depends.”
In other words, you’re going to have to decide for yourself. But we can make that decision process easier for you! Let’s get started.
First, decide what you will be doing with the proxy.
There are a wide range of business use cases for proxies. Gathering competitive intelligence, scraping data, and protecting your brand, among others.
An obvious starting point to determining what type of proxy you need is determining what you’ll be using it for!
Second, decide how well you actually need to be doing those things.
Next, decide how well you want to gather competitive intelligence, scrape data, or protect your brand, etc.
Seems obvious? Actually, this is a common reason business owners trip up.
That’s because all proxies are not created equal. Just because you are using a proxy doesn’t mean it is delivering the performance you need.
And remember you might not want to do everything all at once. Prioritizing everything means prioritizing nothing. Be smart about what is actually going to drive the bottom line results you want.
Which brings us to the next point:
Third, pick the type of proxy that best supports what you’re doing and how well you’ll be doing it.
Generally speaking, any proxy will fall into one of three categories, depending on the location of the device whose IP you will be using to hide your own:
- Data center proxies, aka Virtual Private Networks are operated from — you guessed it — data centers. These are dedicated facilities with lots of physical and/or virtual computers in one place.
- Residential proxies are run on individual’s computers in their private residences.
- Mobile proxies use IPs assigned to internet connections from mobile devices. These IPs change frequently. For example, you practically always get a new IP address every time you reboot your smartphone and connect to the internet.
These differences might seem unimportant at first glance. An internet connection is an internet connection, right?
Wrong. Big Tech companies, your competitors, and other bogeymen can see the type of IP address you are using — and respond in a way that best suits their interests. In other words, the type of proxy you choose matters.
Here are some rules of thumb to help you think about this:
Choose data center proxies / VPNs to save money when you have basic, entry-level requirements or don’t need to see completely accurate information.
VPNs are very affordable. They’re also easy targets for AI-powered technology to block and show altered content to.
That means they’re a good option if you don’t want to spend too much on meeting relatively straightforward requirements or doing basic research your business doesn’t depend on.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to browse the internet or log into your WordPress website via a free, public WiFi network.
With a VPN, you can do that without getting snooped on by hackers or having your passwords intercepted, for example.
Or maybe you just want to make sure that your website is available to internet users in Canada. You can get a Canadian VPN, use it to open your site, and be reasonably confident that is available for anyone with a Canadian IP address.
But what happens when you need more than just reasonable confidence, i.e. that you aren’t being messed with by someone’s AI or machine learning algorithms? That your website isn’t just available to Canadian IP addresses but is also displaying the right content?
Then it’s time to go residential.
Choose residential proxies when you need real answers that the success of your business will depend on.
When you use a residential proxy, Big Tech companies and other censors can easily identify the connection as originating from a residential IP.
But residential IPs are not, generally speaking, top targets for them to block. They want people — who live in homes, not data centers — to see their content. So with a residential IP you are far more likely to get shown content that any other user would see.
That means that — in addition to getting the same security as offered by a VPN — you can verify your ads, optimize your SEO, and do just about anything else you need to do for your business better with a residential proxy.
Say, for example, that you are making an important decision about how to price your product versus competitors. And therefore you go to their website to check their prices.
If you do so with a VPN you risk getting identified by your competitor’s VPN detection software and shown a “special price” that is different from the actual price they are using to sell to real people.
If you do so with a residential proxy you will see that actual price.
Which price would you prefer to see? :)
Choose mobile proxies to future-proof your business with technology fully on your side.
Whereas it is extremely unlikely that your competitors, Big Tech, or anyone else will block a residential IP or show manipulated content to it, they might decide to do so one day.
It wouldn’t be impossible, for example, to identify a certain IP address — one used as a residential proxy — as being the source of unusual browsing patterns and block it. Just because it doesn’t look like all the other residential IPs .
Unfair? Yep. But fairness hasn’t always been their #1 priority, we’d say :)
With a mobile IPs, it is even more unlikely that something like that could happen. Remember that the mobile IPs are being passed around from user to user all the time. They do get temporarily blocked sometimes, but it just doesn’t make sense to cut it off completely when it will be passed to a new internet connection anyway.
That means the technology is fully on your side with mobile IPs, and you can get all the benefits of a data center proxy and a residential proxy with the additional peace of mind that the solution will work for years to come.
Finally, remember that you can always mix and match proxy types to achieve the ideal setup for your business.
You can, of course, use a combination of all three of the above mentioned proxy types to achieve your specific goals.
To make experimentation easy, consider using a provider that offers all three types. Especially a provider that prices them all the same rate — like Hprox!