A proxy or proxy server is a hardware- or software-based intermediary that routes internet traffic through itself, effectively masking the actual source or destination of the requests or responses. In addition, it hides the real IP address and instead assigns a different unique IP address. Generally, there are different proxy types, and in this article, we will discuss the most popular types of proxies.
Types of Proxies
There are different types of proxies, namely:
Residential proxies assign residential IP addresses, which are affiliated with home internet service providers (ISP). This means they route the internet traffic through real users’ internet-connected devices. As a result, the web requests appear to have been sent by real users even when they have been sent by bots such as web scrapers.
This proxy type is popular because it protects against IP blocks. Residential proxies are not easily blocked as they are associated with real users. However, this comes at an extra cost. This proxy type is expensive because of the arrangements that the providers have to enter with ISPs and their customers.
Generally, residential proxies are used in the following instances:
- Large-scale web scraping, including competitor analysis and product and price monitoring
- Search engine optimization, which entails scraping keywords from search engine results pages (SERP)
- Access geo-blocked content
- Anonymizing browsing activities
- Ad verification
- Social media management
- Accessing ticket and sneaker sites
Datacenter proxies are data center servers that are configured as proxy servers. As a result, they route traffic through these powerful computers and assign datacenter IP addresses, which belong to companies that own and operate data centers. Datacenter proxies are fast and inexpensive. However, this proxy type is prone to IP blocks.
This proxy type is used for:
- Small-scale web scraping
- Bypass geo-restrictions
- Anonymizing browsing activities
- Email Protection by scanning emails for phishing links, viruses, and malware
Private proxies assign each user a unique IP address. This means they route traffic from only one user at a time. This proxy type offers unmatched performance and speed because they avail the entire bandwidth to only one user. Additionally, private proxies guarantee security by preventing the likelihood of cyberattacks such as eavesdropping attacks. However, it is worth pointing out that these benefits come at a premium, as private proxies are expensive. Find more info here to read more on private proxies.
Shared proxies assign the same IP address to multiple users. As a result, they route traffic from different users through the same proxy server, which can throttle the connection speed if the number of users is considerably high. Furthermore, shared proxies are less secure as they can expose users to attacks, especially in cases where the proxy provider has not implemented security measures such as encryption. Additionally, this proxy type is unreliable because the server sources IP addresses from previously blacklisted subnets.
Rotating proxies change the assigned IP address. They do this by either associating a unique IP address to each web request or changing the assigned IP after a predetermined period. This arrangement prevents IP blocking since it limits the number of requests linked to a particular address.
This proxy type maintains the same IP address throughout the browsing session. As a result, all web requests retain the same IP address. This often leads to IP blocking, especially when many requests are sent out within a short period.
Forward proxies are configured on the client’s or user’s side of an internet connection. Their role entails sending requests from the computer to the target server. They, therefore, act as a buffer that protects users’ computers or networks against attacks.
Reverse proxies are found on the server’s side of an internet connection. Generally, they receive web requests on behalf of the server. In this regard, they protect the server against cyberattacks. They also perform load balancing. In some cases, they are configured to cache frequently accessed content, meaning they send responses on behalf of the server. This way, they free up server resources for other less common tasks.
HTTP/HTTPS proxies route web requests sent through the HTTP or HTTPS protocol. They are generally designed to filter the content sent via this protocol and are thus meant to boost cybersecurity. There are two types of HTTP proxies: HTTP client proxies and HTTP server proxies. The former is created by configuring a browser or operating system, while the latter is created by configuring a web server.
SOCKS5 proxies route Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) traffic on behalf of the client. They rely on the Socket Secure (SOCKS) protocol. SOCKS5 proxies are generally used for general web browsing, peer-to-peer sharing, video streaming, and other traffic-intensive tasks.
Proxies generally offer online anonymity. And depending on the proxy type, they promote cybersecurity by filtering content routed through them. There are various proxy types, with the most popular ones being residential proxies, datacenter proxies, rotating proxies, sticky proxies, private proxies, shared proxies, HTTP proxies, SOCKS5 proxies, forward proxies, and reverse proxies.