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How to Choose a Proxy Service?

We’ve prepared a list of tips that’ll help you find the right proxy service.

How to Choose a Proxy Service

The proxy market is booming more than ever – from business representatives to home users, proxy services benefit many areas of expertise. You can access geo-restricted content, buy limited edition sneakers, or perform sentiment analysis by scraping valuable data. And these are just a few of their use cases.

However, when the matter comes down to choosing a trustworthy proxy service, things get complicated. So many companies differ not only in price but also in quality. Some even “excel” in unethically sourcing IP addresses or basing their marketing campaign on false promises like the number of IP addresses they control.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. This guide will provide you with some tips on how to choose a proxy service.

Tips on Choosing a Reliable Proxy Service

1. Identify the Right Type of Proxy Server for Your Needs

Every use case requires a different type of proxy server. Finding the provider that offers the kind of proxy you need should be the first thing on your to-do list.

There are several types of proxy servers that vary in features and pricing.

  • Datacenter proxies are the cheapest and fastest yet simple to detect. They’re best for unprotected websites, use cases where you need speed or when you need to access geo-restricted content.
  • Residential IPs come in large rotating proxy pools and are hard to block. However, they also cost more. The most popular use cases involve search engine monitoring, large-scale web scraping, and buying limited edition sneakers.
  • ISP proxies (also called static residential proxies) are a middle ground between the first two (fast and hard to detect), but they’re even more expensive. These IPs are ideal for traffic-intensive tasks or accessing protected websites that require a constant identity.
  • Mobile proxies have the best IP reputation. They can handle mobile-based websites and are the hardest to block – but they’re also the costliest. Mobile proxies are used with the most sophisticated websites like social media platforms and for testing mobile apps.

For some use cases, you may forgo proxies altogether and instead get a proxy-based API. These tools outfit proxy servers with web scraping and sometimes data parsing capabilities, which makes collecting data from complex websites like Google or Amazon easier.

2. Check the Size of the IP Pool

The size of a proxy pool indicates how many IP addresses a provider controls. It’s one of the most important criteria when choosing a proxy service. Let’s see why.

Datacenter proxies, for example, often come from the same subnet – a block size of 256 IP addresses. If the proxy service has a small proxy pool, the subnet diversity will be low, meaning you’ll be offered IPs from fewer blocks. Websites can easily block the whole subnet of datacenter IPs, so you’ll have to buy additional addresses to cover the blocked ones.

The IP pool size has even greater importance when talking about residential proxies. Being a peer-to-peer service, it relies on the IPs addresses of real people. The advertised number of proxies in such pools is just an estimate – available addresses change daily since proxy peers can connect and disconnect their devices from the network anytime.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to look for the largest proxy pool within your budget, even if it may seem like an overkill. Some providers over-inflate their numbers; we’ve found that the more premium a company is, the more accurate its claims are. You can compare the real sizes of residential and mobile proxy pools here.

3. Discover the Features You’ll Need

You should also figure out which features you’ll need for your project. They can vary from IP rotation settings to location filtering options and authentication methods. These characteristics will determine how well a proxy service will adapt to your needs.

For example, you might want to rotate your IP address with every connection request when web scraping. Some services fail to offer this functionality despite having IP rotation. As a result, you may have to invest effort into setting up the service the way you want it, or adjust your setup based on the limitation.

Similarly, you might want a service that includes country, city, or ASN targeting. If the service offers a large location variety but no means to filter them, you won’t get reliable keyword, pricing, or other data for particular locales.

4. Test Service Performance

Performance benchmarks how robust the proxy infrastructure is. Many providers offer free trials or a money-back guarantee. If that’s not an option, there are other ways to gauge a proxy service’s performance.

You can read market analysts’ reviews, test proxies yourself or simply look at what customers have to say. But don’t follow them blindly – there are various use cases, and sometimes success may depend on other factors than the proxy network. Let’s say you were to scrape a well-protected website. No matter how good the proxies are, your IP will get blocked if you have a misconfigured or web scraper. See, in this case the proxy service wouldn’t be the one to blame.

If this seems too much and you don’t have time to research, check out our reviews of the leading proxy services. You can find which proxy services had the best (or worst) success rate, response time, and how they handled load.

5. Take Note of the Customer Service

Proxy services involve complicated processes that need continuous monitoring. Even though providers offer documentation, it can never solve all issues or address emergencies. It’s the customer support that will help you when things go south.

If you rely on the constant availability of a proxy service, 24/7 customer support is a must. But why would you need a service that works round the clock? The obvious – you may encounter issues throughout the day and night. Even if that’s not the case, sometimes you may fail to get support simply because you live in a very different time zone.

Good customer service not only responds quickly but also provides direct access via live chat, Skype, and other instant communication channels.

Some proxy services offer a dedicated account manager. They’ll be your single point of contact during service working hours. Account managers will help you with specific problems or simply provide expertise to meet your business goals.

6. Consider the Price

As a rule, good proxies are expensive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a reliable service that matches your budget. Taking stock of the aspects you find important can help you narrow down potential candidates.

For example, you may not need some advanced features like ASN targeting. Giving it up would halve the price of Bright Data and put a range of great providers like Smartproxy on the table. If your ultimate concern is performance, paying more doesn’t necessarily mean that the provider will have a better connection quality or faster speeds. However, proxy pool size is one aspect that usually comes with the price tag.

The prices largely depend on how the company positions itself. Providers that target smaller clients will have lower prices per gigabyte. Premium providers cost more, but if you need terabytes of data, the price difference can become much less significant.

7. Check Out the Proxy Management Tools

Proxy services include tools that simplify work with proxies like a dashboard, API, and browser extensions.

A dashboard determines how easy it is to set up the proxy server and whether the provider offers adequate usage statistics. You wouldn’t want to contact customer support whenever you want to buy additional proxies or get an invoice. Customers like simplicity, but a more advanced dashboard may seem appealing to those seeking customizability.

API access allows developers to manage the proxies programmatically. While you can get tools like browser extensions from third parties, an API is something that only the provider can give you.

8. Avoid Shady Services

If you don’t want to put the reputation of your business in jeopardy, look for a provider that offers legitimate proxy services. Otherwise, you can damage brand image and even face legal issues.

Proxy acquisition and use have always been contentious topics, especially when it comes to peer-to-peer proxy networks like residential proxies. A service that fails to screen customers and monitor use risks not only damaging websites but also harming the people whose devices are used as proxies.

Browse the web and see if the service provider transparently communicates about proxy acquisition and acceptable use policies, especially if you’re planning to get residential IPs. While this may sound like a hassle, providers that fail to communicate these things often turn out to be thinly-veiled botnets used for malicious activities.

To learn more about ethical proxy acquisition and use, you can read or watch our interviews with OxylabsBright Data, and Rayobyte.

The Don’ts when Choosing a Proxy Service

  • Don’t use free services. High-maintenance services need a lot of (paid) resources to keep going. Unless they’re getting something in return like money or your data, there’s no such thing as free.
  • Don’t be afraid to question. Contact customer support – they’re always there to help with your concerns. Or you can join different groups on discord and ask around about the service you want to purchase. But be aware – you’ll find many promotional tips out there.
  • Don’t stick with a service that you don’t like. If you bought a monthly plan and the service just doesn’t seem to be working out, try other providers.
  • Don’t think about using proxy services for illegal activities. Before getting a plan, you’ll most likely have to go through a KYC check. It usually takes up to three days but helps to keep the network clean.
Picture of Isabel Rivera
Isabel Rivera
Caffeine-powered sneaker enthusiast

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