What Are Residential Proxies and How Can You Use Them?

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what are residential proxies

As per The Rising Demand for Data: Oxylabs’ 2020 Trend Report, the growth of residential proxy reached 165%

A residential proxy masks your online identity and grants access to geo-restricted content. It helps you enhance security and evade restrictions. 

You can deploy residential proxies for tasks like web scraping, bypassing censorship, and conducting market research, to name a few. 

Read on to learn more about residential proxies, their uses, benefits, risks, and more. 

Understanding Residential Proxies 

What are Residential Proxies?

Residential proxies act as virtual intermediaries between you and the internet.

Picture a residential proxy as machines in real locations, not data centers. The proxy uses the IP addresses of those devices picked by ISPs for you, creating a genuine & local feel in the digital connection.

But the question is, why do they matter? 

When browsing the web, you can use these proxies instead of directly connecting with a service. They make your online presence discreet & local by borrowing another IP address from a proxy pool physically located in the respective region.

How Residential Proxies Work 

Residential proxies work like digital middlemen between your device and the internet. 

Imagine sending a local person to a place near their house to fetch information. The residential proxy goes out, gets the data, and returns it to you.

Let’s zoom in a bit. 

When you make an online request, the residential proxy steps in and uses a unique IP address linked to a real physical location. This way, it’s like a local user checking something for you, keeping your identity private yet native. 

So, the service sees the proxy’s IP, not yours, and welcomes you like someone within the region requesting the service. 

Also, don’t fret about the limitation of IP addresses. Residential proxy IPs have an average increase rate of 44% per day, so there will always be a unique IP for you to borrow.

how a residential proxy server works visual

Creation of Residential Proxies 

Typically, residential proxies are obtained legitimately, reflecting real internet users and IP addresses. Companies work with ISPs to acquire permission to use these residential IPs. This is an ethical approach since users willingly share their IP addresses in a pool of proxies.

However, the legitimate creation and use of residential proxies must comply with privacy laws and user consent.

Some organizations also resort to unethical practices, like creating a network of infected devices and turning them into unsuspecting proxy sources. This method, known as a botnet, compromises user privacy and security, which is illegal.

Legality of Residential Proxies

Using residential proxies for legitimate purposes, such as privacy protection, security, or accessing geo-restricted content, is generally legal. However, users must adhere to the terms of service outlined by their ISPs to ensure compliance. Legitimate use aligns with user consent and respect for privacy standards.

  • Gray Areas and Unethical Practices: Unfortunately, residential proxy use is still riddled with unethical practices. A 2019 study shows that 9.3% of residential proxy IPs have malicious traffic destinations. The possibility of using unsuspecting users’ IP addresses for illegal activities raises serious concerns. 
  • Platform Policies and Restrictions: Some online platforms prohibit proxies in their terms of service. Violating these policies can get your account terminated or suspended. The only way to avoid legal consequences is to respect these rules. The services have restrictions to prevent spam, fraud, or other abusive activities.
  • Privacy and Data Protection Laws: Residential proxies deal with personal data, so following privacy and data protection laws is crucial. Inform yourself about the legal frameworks in your area, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

Residential Proxies Use Cases and Applications 

Residential proxies have many use cases, offering privacy, security, and access to information in various industries. Let’s delve into some of the more prominent applications of these proxies.

Scraping for Data Acquisition

Residential proxies mediate the interactions between the scraper and the target website. Instead of sending requests directly from the scraper, these proxies use real residential IP addresses to mimic genuine user behavior. This reduces the chances of getting blocked by websites that detect automated scraping activities. 

web scraping with and without a residential proxy visual

SEO Monitoring and Optimization

Search engines are the second most-visited destination in residential proxy traffic. That’s because many SEO experts use these proxies to mask their IPs and view localized search results. This way, they’ll understand how websites rank in different regions and tailor their strategies based on location-specific search trends. 

Sneaker Botting in the eCommerce Sector

Sneaker bots are specialized software that helps you quickly buy limited-stock items. With the help of residential proxies, these bots can use unique IP addresses to create the illusion of genuine users. This prevents online stores from linking multiple purchases to a single source. You’ll also be able to bypass limitations, such as IP bans or restrictions. 

sneaker botting using a residential proxy visual

Social Media Management and Engagement

Social media managers can use these proxies to control multiple accounts without raising suspicion. With diverse IP addresses from residential proxies, they can boost their clients’ content without getting flagged or suspended for excessive activity from a single location. 

Multi-Accounting Purposes

Residential proxies can help with multi-accounting by masking your true IP address and creating a unique residential IP for each account. Using the same IP address for multiple accounts can trigger flagging by social media platforms in a multi-accounting marketing strategy. Residential proxies, however, make it seem like a real individual operates each account.

Gaming Applications and Advantages

Gamers can leverage these proxies to access geo-restricted content or game servers, reducing latency. Plus, they combat Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks for a more secure gaming environment.

Ad Verification

Ads make up 75% of residential proxy traffic destinations. Marketing teams have recognized the benefits of their proxies in testing their ad placements across diverse regions and ensuring their campaigns are executed as intended. These proxies will help them simulate user interactions from various locations, verifying the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. 

Benefits and Risks Associated with Residential Proxies

 If you use them correctly, residential proxies have many advantages. 

  • Anonymity and Privacy Online: Residential proxies conceal the user’s true IP address and protect their identity while navigating the web. Instead, it’ll display a different but real IP address picked from a proxy pool. 
  • Access to Geo-Restricted Content: Users can leverage residential proxies to access content that may be unavailable in specific regions. This works for streaming services, research, or any online activity that requires access to location-restricted resources.
  • Web Scraping and Data Collection: Residential proxies facilitate easy web scraping by masking the scraper’s IP address, reducing the risk of being blocked. This is extremely valuable for businesses researching market and consumer insights.
  • Protection from IP Blocking: Rotating IP addresses through residential proxies can help evade IP blocking measures on websites or online platforms. That means you can benefit from uninterrupted online services without restrictions. In fact, only 2.2% of residential proxies get blocked.
  • Corporate Network Protection: Businesses can improve their network security with the help of residential proxies, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access or potential cyber threats. This is particularly helpful for companies dealing with sensitive information online.
residential proxy server pros and cons visualized

But it also has its fair share of risks. Before you utilize the benefits of residential proxies, here’s what you should know.

  • Lack of Encryption: Unlike VPNs, residential proxies do not offer encryption, so your data may get exposed during transmission. Invest in additional encryption measures when dealing with sensitive information.
  • Complex Configuration: Configuring residential proxies for optimal use requires technical expertise. The average user may find setting up and managing these proxies tricky since there’s a learning curve.
  • Somewhat Expensive: Residential proxies can be relatively expensive compared to other proxy options. Remember to compare the cost with other proxies and VPNs and weigh your options.
  • Potential Misuse and Unethical Practices: Residential proxies can be misused for unauthorized data scraping, fraud, or illegal online behavior. This 2020 study states that 16.8% of residential proxies are used for spam.
  • Speed Reduction: While residential proxies keep you anonymous, they can also reduce your internet speed. You probably won’t face this issue with a regular VPN. 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, residential proxies are online mediators that provide privacy and access to geo-restricted content. They use real home-based IP addresses to create a seamless digital experience. 

Residential proxies have many benefits, but potential misuse and lack of encryption pose risks. Choose wisely & responsibly to improve your internet experience with residential proxies.


Sources:

https://oxylabs.io/blog/oxylabs-trend-report-2020

https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/threats/botnet-attacks

https://gdpr-info.eu/

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8835239

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/9115039

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Expert in mobile proxies, internet privacy, SEO marketing and sales.
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