Here we go through everything you need to know about residential proxies, how they differ from datacenters, and how they might be useful for you.

We’ve already written a few articles discussing proxies, virtual private networks (VPNs), and how regulations of these can affect society. But residential proxies differ a bit from these.

Let’s delve into what residential proxies are, what services they provide, what they cost, what drawbacks they have, and how they can protect user anonymity.

image of a fingerprint on a keyboard for article Residential Proxies: What They are and What They do
Datacenters can help mask identities using IP addresses | TheDigitalWay | Pixabay

Understanding What Datacenters are and Offer

No, this isn’t that kind of datacenter you might have been thinking of. It regards IP addresses and third-party services that facilitate anonymity.

As you probably know, a proxy server functions as a computer system that allows for data exchanges between users on a network. In the more common parlance, the proxy is a hub or “middleman”. You can make indirect network connections using proxies.

However, a residential proxy isn’t just a local hub for your own internet access.

A residential proxy functions like an individual IP address given to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The majority of legitimate users (i.e. those who don’t want to remain anonymous) use their residential IPs or residential proxies.

ISPs don’t provide avenues for anonymity which is where datacenters come into play.

Generally, third parties provide datacenter proxies that don’t require wired hook-ups like your at-home internet connection and, by proxy (heh), your residential proxies. One example is the company Multilogin which helps control browser fingerprints.

In fact, most datacenter proxy services offer users a larger amount of IP addresses from which to choose. The varying IP addresses help maintain anonymity and location.

As such, acquiring datacenter IPs in bulk tends to be easier to accomplish.

image of houses in a neighborhood for article Residential Proxies: What They are and What They do
Residential proxies usually function for at-home networks | Free-Photos | Pixabay

A Deeper Look at Residential Proxies

Acquiring residential proxies in bulk remains not necessarily difficult, but expensive.

A residential IP, as provided by an ISP, acts as the foundation of a residential proxy. It identifies you and your account to your ISP as you access websites.

You can also have either a static (unchanging) or dynamic (changing) IP address. However, identifying factors generally remain the same in order to maintain your identity.

Sites like What is My IP Address can tell you what your residential IP address is. From it, you (and others) can identify your country, city, and ISP. Websites can access this information at almost any time.

As such, some people prefer to mask their residential IP with a residential proxy. It seems like a great idea to protect your information, but it generally comes at a cost, as several Redditors point out below:

image of Reddit users discussing residential proxies and sneakerbots for article Residential Proxies: What They are and What They do
Those looking into sneakerbots consider residential proxies | Reddit

Luminati.io is a viable option to get a residential proxy. But, as user PepeSilivaLovesCarol writes, their cheapest entry-level option is still $500 USD per month plus $12.50 USD per GB of extra traffic. The plan gives you 40 GB to begin with.

And, that price is just for shared IPs; dedicated IPs cost $560 USD per month starting. You can fiddle with the pricing tool on their website and get the final price up to around $160,000 USD per month.

But that comes with faster network speeds, concurrent sessions, exclusive IPs, and more.

image of a blackhat hacker for article Residential Proxies: What They are and What They do
Black hat hackers often use their skills for personal gain | MatiasDelCarmine | Shutterstock

Uses for Good and Uses for Not-so-Good

Residential IP addresses are naturally less likely to get banned from websites.

If a webmaster or someone else checked your address, they would see that it came from your ISP instead of a datacenter or elsewhere. That means, in theory, most residential IP addresses should be “normal” people surfing the web.

While there are legitimate residential proxy services, others will steal other people’s IP addresses and sell them. That’s one more reason why residential proxies cost much more than datacenter proxies cost.

If a residential IP address does get blacklisted, it can also be difficult to replace it. As such, sources like Rotating Proxies recommend having unique user agents for each IP address.

You should also beware of what’s known as backconnect proxies. Users can access websites using your IP address, potentially getting you blacklisted for someone else’s actions.

image of a map with different locations on it for article Residential Proxies: What They are and What They do
TheAndrasBarta | Pixabay

How can you Best use Residential IP Addresses?

While using Luminati or Geosurf works, it gets expensive and may not be viable for most everyday users looking for added anonymity.

However, using a datacenter proxy over a residential proxy isn’t a catch-all solution either. You can sometimes get blocked by certain websites if they detect odd IP address behavior. You also tend to have to fill out more Captchas, as well.

As with VPNs, speed can also be an issue when using a residential proxy. Because the information has to go through more hubs, the process takes more time. This, of course, translates into slower web speeds.

If none of these pose an issue for you, then a residential proxy might be what you need. But, fun fact: you can build your own proxy networks right at home, too.

What are your thoughts on residential proxies and would you use them over a standard VPN or datacenter proxy to protect your anonymity?

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