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It seems a very long time since I first starting playing around with proxy servers, indeed it was about 1996 when I had the opportunity to start playing around with them. I worked in a technical college and we were donated a hugely expensive Sun Sparc which nobody had a clue what to do with (including me) with a connection to JANET. Fortunately as it was a college, in the summer everyone disappeared bar a few full time staff and I had days and weeks to play around with my new toy and I read a document written from CERN about proxies by Ari Luotonen. I started to learn about proxies and even bought Ari’s book when he released it a few years later – Web Proxy Servers.
The technology was pretty exciting and new, in fact the first proxies were developed in the CERN labs alongside the birth of HTTP and the world wide web. Proxies even became a source of employment, as the internet age developed and we moved to a world where everyone wanted and expected the internet at their workplace. These web proxies were essential in controlling and managing internet access to corporate networks. Of course, as web presences developed there was even more ‘proxy based’ support work with the requirements reverse proxies being installed on coporate networks and datacentres to protect the back end servers too.
However fast forward to 2019 and I probably spend more time using proxies than setting them up and fixing them. Frankly it’s easier to let other people deal with the headaches of securing, configuring and optimizing servers which are almost always hammered most of the time. So I have become a bit of an expert in the proxy service market place too, which can be extremely bewildering when you first venture into it. Anyway the point of this post is in response to a couple of questions I got mailed to me on this site – basically where to buy residential proxies ?
When you’re looking online for proxies for whatever task, most of their descriptions now refer not to the specific technology but rather the IP addresses that they are allocated. So for instance you’ll hear about US proxies or datacentre proxies which basically refer to their location and the classification of the IP addresses they are assigned. As many of these servers are used to hide the client’s location, where and what the IP address is has become extremely important. If I want to use one to watch UK television for example then it needs a British IP address assigned to it other wise it won’t work. You can read all about what it takes to be a BBC proxy in another post on this site. Similarly as well as location, there is another component – whether the proxy uses IP addresses which are classified as residential IPs or commercial ones. A residential IP address is normally assigned by an ISP to home internet connections, so is among the most trustworthy of IP addresses available online. Which is why marketers, researchers, and spammers all prize these addresses highly – they make you look like an innocent home user.
Where to Buy Residential Proxies
So if you’re looking to place multiple adverts on Craigslist, buy limited edition sneakers or simply trying to run a number of Instagram accounts to fund your lifestyle then residential addresses are the ones you probably need. Herein lies a little problem as the reason they are so trusted is because they’re normally only assigned by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to ordinary users who sign up for broadband accounts with them. Therefore they’re very tricky to get hold of to exploit for commercial purposes but they’re definitely needed.
Just for illustration, for my security and privacy needs (as well as watching the BBC) I have used for many years the excellent Identity Cloaker. It’s fine for bypassing some blocks and great for online anonymity and security yet the vast majority of it’s IP addresses are from commercial ranges so for some purposes they won’t work. Lots of websites have determined that if you’re coming from a commercial IP range then there’s a high change you’re using a proxy server (particularly if there are multiple connections). So if you’re trying to run numerous online marketing tasks then you’re likely to get block or filtered very quickly.
Many businesses and marketers for example run multiple Instagram accounts in order to promote their businesses or products. It’s well known for being a great platform for doing promotional posts on. However if you run lots of accounts from commercial addresses you’re much likely to get flagged by Instagram as a commercial user and your accounts banned, restricted or even deleted. Yet if you run these from a proxy with a range of residential IP addresses then you’re much, much safer. The same can be said for hundreds of other platforms and E-commerce sites, residential IP addresses are great camouflage.
But as we mentioned earlier they are much, much harder to obtain. Fortunately though some of the more advanced companies have managed to establish decent networks of residential IP ranges to assign to their servers. These used to be very expensive but new technology like backconnect and rotating servers have brought the unit price down significantly.
Here’s are the companies I currently use to supply me with residential proxies. I like to use different companies as it helps rotate the addresses used with my various accounts.
Storm Proxies – these guys seriously know what they’re doing and have been around for many years. they have a fast 1GB network with thousands of proxies with all sorts of IP ranges including a large selection of residential addresses. You can also buy proxies optimised (usually means not used and blacklisted) for lots of different platforms for marketing on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and lots of others. Crucially they own the hardware that their proxies run on, whereas many firms simply rent or lease their servers. This improves support and gives them much more control on configuration of the services.
Rotating Proxies – a new find for me and I’m quite pleased about them. Recommended by a friend who runs a huge number of very profitable social media accounts, they have lots of different types of proxies include some great residential ones. The ones I was recommended are the premium dedicated residential proxies. They’re all super fast and have unmetered bandwidth, so you don’t have to worry about building up bills. They’re not as cheap as rotating and shared proxies but generally much safer because only you are using them, Unfortunately they only have US IP addresses at the moment but hoping that might change.
Now I’ve used a few others, but currently for residential addresses these seem to work best at least for my activities. There is one other company which you should be aware of, if only because they have by far the largest network of residential IP addresses. They’re called Luminati and have an enormous residential IP address network which dwarfs anybody else. I have used them in the past and it’s a very decent network with some of the best speeds for residential addresses. However these are not cheap residential proxies. They’re actually quite expensive but you can lower the costs by using their filtering options at the proxy dashboard which an adviser will help you with.
The reason that their network is so huge is that they’ve built it by creating an enormous P2P network. Residential users sign up for their free VPN service called Hola and in exchange allow the part use of their connection and computer. These millions of users are providing the residential addresses used by Luminati’s commercial network. I’m not entirely comfortable witht hsi method and would certainly never use Hola myself, but to be fair they have improved the visibility of their terms and conditions. Mind you I’d bet that a large percentage of users probably have no idea that they’re sharing their computer and connection in exchange for the free VPN. It does work though and means that you can grab residential IP addresses from virtually anywhere in the world from their 186 million users !!! I have to say if I was using other peoples money and marketing for a big client, I’d probably use them as they are the most business legitimate proxy company.