Datacenter vs Residential vs ISP Proxies: A Comparison
Can't figure out which type to choose? Read this.
Datacenter, residential, and ISP proxies are IP addresses that replace your own IP in the eyes of websites. You can use all three proxy types to browse anonymously and change your perceived location. But they’re not really the same, whether we’re talking about price, features, or performance.
How exactly do these proxy types differ? And which one should you choose? This guide will help you answer all of these questions and more.
- Datacenter Proxies – Fast and Affordable but Easy to Block
- Residential Proxies – Highly Anonymous but Pricey
- ISP Proxies – a Mashup of the First Two
- Comparison Table
You can also watch our video comparing datacenter and residential proxies:
Datacenter proxies are IP addresses hosted in servers of various cloud and web hosting companies: Amazon AWS, Digital Ocean, and the like. When you use a datacenter proxy, your connection goes through the proxy server and then to the website you wanted to visit.
You usually pay per IP address.
- Fast and stable – because they’re held in powerful servers with fast connections, datacenter proxies have very good technical parameters. It’s not unusual for providers to advertise 1 Gbps – or even 10 Gbps speeds – and nearly 100% uptime. Connections made through datacenter proxies won’t slow you down much, and using them will be predictable.
- Shared or private – you can share a datacenter proxy with others to save costs or buy one for your exclusive use. This ensures no one can abuse the IP address.
- Affordable – a private datacenter proxy costs around $2. Shared proxies can be bought for cents a piece. That’s because they’re relatively simple to make: you buy a range of IP addresses and assign them to a server. This has created a lively market that’s easy to enter even for small players.
- Unlimited traffic – datacenter proxies often sell by IPs, and providers don’t limit how much traffic you can use.
- Few locations – to create datacenter proxies in different locations, you need servers there. Buying your own is very expensive, renting less so. Still, it’s rare to find datacenter proxy providers with broad location coverage – usually it’s 3-30 countries.
- Simple to detect – datacenter IPs are not assigned to a residential ASN (identifying number of the company that issued the IP). As a result, websites that care will see that you’re using a proxy, even if it’s otherwise fully anonymous.
- Low subnet diversity – datacenter proxies often come from related ranges of IP addresses (subnets). If you abuse several IPs from one subnet, websites won’t hesitate to block the full range. This means 256 IPs down the drain.
- Inconvenient to use – datacenter proxies traditionally come in the form of proxy lists: that is, you get a list of IP addresses in a text file. That’s it. Juggling with lists can be hard, and you lose perks like proxy rotation.
- No rotation – speaking of, there’s none with datacenter IPs. In other words, if you want to scrape the web, you’ll need to rotate these proxies on your own.
- Unprotected websites that don’t care about IP reputation too much.
- Experienced users who know how to work around the weaknesses.
- Use cases when speed is more important than successful requests. For example, when you a need a constant stream of near real-time data.
Residential proxies are IP addresses borrowed from real users: their laptops, phones, and other smart devices on Wi-Fi. When you use a residential proxy, your connection goes through a proxy server, a person’s device, and then to a website.
Usually traffic (like a pre-paid SIM card), sometimes ports (parallel connections you can make).
- Highly anonymous – because they connect via a real device, residential proxies are very hard to distinguish from regular users. Websites tend to give them the benefit of a doubt, even if the user is performing irregular, bot-like activities.
- Big proxy pool – major providers have millions of IPs under their belt, so you can make a huge number of requests without encountering the same IP twice. This translates into two further benefits:
- Many locations – those IPs are usually spread throughout the world. There are some dominant countries that take the lion’s share, but you can find proxies in the most exotic locations.
- High subnet diversity – another natural benefit is that residential IPs rarely share a subnet. So, you don’t have to worry about accidentally blocking a range of IP addresses at once.
- Easy to manage – residential proxies use backconnect proxy servers. You receive an address that resembles an URL, it connects you to a proxy server, and the server selects an IP from the provider’s proxy pool. This IP changes after a while, but your server’s address remains the same. This is very convenient for use cases like web scraping.
- IP rotation – backconnect servers also allow to automatically rotate IP addresses without any effort from your end. You can simply select a rotation frequency, and the provider will do the rotation on its end.
- Slower speed – residential proxies add another element to the connection chain (you -> proxy server -> device -> website), which costs speed. What’s more, you’re never sure if the end user has good internet. These proxies are several times slower than datacenter IPs.
- Unreliable connection – the end user can disconnect at any time, and your connection will be lost. So, even if a provider lets you keep the same IP for 10 or even 30 minutes, it has no way to ensure that you’ll actually be able to do so.
- Only shared IPs – backconnect servers give all users access to the same pool, meaning that you’ll have to share IPs with others.
- Expensive – because they’re harder to get and maintain than datacenter proxies, residential IPs cost more. They also have a different pricing model: traffic instead of IPs.
- Websites that have a strict protection mechanism. That would be social media platforms, sneaker stores, highly-scraped sites like Wayfair.
- Location-sensitive tasks. Residential proxies are very helpful if you need to view localized content (think city-level) or verify ads.
ISP proxies, or static residential proxies, attempt to combine the best qualities of the first two types. In essence, they’re the same datacenter IPs, only registered with an internet service provider.
Usually traffic, sometimes IPs (in the sneaker market).
- Good speed and uptime – performance-wise, ISP proxies are fast, stable, and always available on demand – just like datacenter IPs. That’s because they don’t need to rely on iffy end-user connections.
- Relatively hard to detect – ISP proxies hide behind the ASNs of internet service providers, which have a much better reputation than cloud hosting services.
- IP rotation – like regular residential IPs, these proxies tend to use backconnect servers. This allows providers to set up automatic rotation on their end. On the other hand, if you don’t need your proxies to rotate, that’s fine as well.
- Low subnet diversity – ISP proxies can’t escape the drawback of datacenter IPs – they’re simply too organized. Having neat IP ranges sacrifices diversity, and you still risk getting subnet-banned.
- Small ISPs – instead of persuading end users, here you have to woo ISPs. I imagine it’s hard to get big commercial providers on board, so many of the IPs end up registered with small, regional companies. IP databases often identify them as datacenter IPs, which negates the main benefit of ISP proxies.
- Limited locations – just like with datacenter proxies, it’s hard to get IPs in a wide range of countries.
- Expensive – static residential proxies cost around the same as residential IPs, sometimes more.
- Protected websites that require a consistent identity. What would that be? Social media comes to mind. ISP proxies are also a popular choice for sneaker copping.
Here’s how datacenter, residential, and static residential proxies compare with one another:
|Exclusivity||Shared or private||Shared||Shared or private|
|Best for||Unprotected websites, use cases that value speed over blocks||Protected websites, use cases that need many locations or precise targeting||Protected websites that require a consistent identity|