What Are Proxies Used for?
The main proxy use cases explained.
“What are proxies used for?” is a very frequent question among proxy users. For beginners, it helps to answer another important consideration, “Do I need proxies at all?” More experienced users turn to it trying to figure out, “What more can proxies do for me?”
There are many reasons behind using a proxy. For your convenience, we’ve divided them into two categories: proxies for individual use and proxies for businesses. In reality, the distinction is not as clear-cut, and the categories can overlap.
Proxies for Individuals:
- Improve Your Online Privacy
- Access Localized Content
- Overcome Website Blocks and Restrictions
- Buy Limited Edition Items
Proxies for Businesses:
- Scrape the Web
- Aggregate Data from Multiple Sources
- Collect Business Intelligence
- Perform SEO Monitoring
- Prevent Ad Fraud
- Manage Multiple Social Media Accounts
- Control Incoming and Outgoing Connections
What Are Proxies Used for by Individuals?
These use cases mostly involve efforts to improve privacy, avoid artificial restrictions, and buy hard to get items for individual use.
It’s no surprise that nowadays fewer and fewer people feel safe online. If you want to reclaim your privacy and make sure your sensitive information isn’t getting into the wrong hands, then using a proxy is the way to go. Given that your IP address can already let anyone know your location, you shouldn’t think twice about reclaiming this information.
If you told me you’ve never been denied access because of the lovely, “We’re sorry, this content isn’t available in your country” message, I’d have to call you out. Video content is the one restriction that we encounter the most often. YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, you name it – all have some content restrictions according to their users’ locations. The same goes for other kinds of websites, most commonly including e-commerce and retail. Proxies change your online location to any country in the world, letting you access content like a local.
Academic institutions, workplaces, and even some countries tend to put restrictions on what websites can be accessed. Proxies can help you go around them. For example, you can use them to unblock Instagram or Spotify.
This applies to all items that are high in demand and have limited supply. The most popular example would be buying shoes, widely known as sneaker copping. There is a big aftermarket for rare sneakers, and it’s very hard to buy a pair directly from the store without a sneaker bot and good sneaker proxies. Another example could be ticket scalping. Shopping for limited edition items can also be classified under businesses uses, depending on its scale.
What Are Proxies Used for by Businesses?
Businesses use proxies for tasks that are larger in scope and focus on commercial interests. In other words, there’s little reason to partake in them outside of the business hours. Except, perhaps, for web scraping, which is a fun thing to do for data nerds.
Web scraping allows any business to quickly gather large amounts of data from public sources. It’s especially valuable when you need to collect data from a website that has no API or when its limits aren’t enough. In practice, automated data collection is very hard to do with a single IP because websites limit the requests you can make. This is where proxies come in. Rotating residential proxies supply constantly changing IPs that belong to real devices.
A subset of web scraping, data aggregation lets companies efficiently collect data from several sources. Then, they process this data and selectively present it as a service. Such data aggregators include price comparison and travel fare websites, and they heavily rely on proxies to run their businesses.
Market research includes collecting product data, pricing information, doing sentiment analysis, and other similar tasks. Proxies help not only by speeding up data collection, but also giving access to information in different locales. One particularly attractive target for market research is Amazon, but it’s also impossible to scrape at any reasonable scale without a proxy server.
Proxies are especially relevant to the wide variety of SEO companies that work with keyword research, rank tracking, and SERP analysis. Their software continuously scrapes search engines – primarily Google, but also Yandex, Bing, and others – to produce insights for marketers and SEO specialists. Knowing how vigilant search engines are against bots, digital marketing would be much harder and slower without SEO proxies.
Ad fraud costs businesses billions of dollars every year. Ad publishers need to test if their advertisements appear as intended and where intended. Sometimes this includes localized content in multiple countries. Further yet, fraudsters often block the IPs of known ad verification companies and testers. Residential proxies help both to access geo-specific content and see through the eyes of a real user without revealing your identity.
Social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube strictly limit the number of accounts that can be run from the same IP address. Understandably so, many people want to overcome such restrictions in order for their business to operate properly. An example of such a business would be a social media management company that needs to run several different accounts daily without encountering any blocks or bans. Alternatively, maybe you have multiple social media accounts of your own and don’t want the risk of getting one or the other banned. Proxies can help you avoid this outcome.
A reverse proxy server can intercept all connection requests. It can then spread them around multiple servers to ensure a good performance. This way, a proxy server effectively functions as a load balancer. Further yet, you can set up proxy servers to allow or block certain domains, turning them into a firewall.