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Proxy Service Awards 2024

Another year has passed in the proxy server industry. The midst of 2024 brings us to a thriving ecosystem: more accessible, diverse, and competitive than it’s been in a long time. Prices are dropping, new providers are entering the market, while the old ones are turning up the heat. Sounds intense, right? It sure is, and we’re all the better for it.

At Proxyway, we tried our best to capture the status quo in the annual proxy market research. And now, it’s time to take a moment and celebrate the proxy providers that stood out among all the rest. 

These are 2024’s proxy service awards: 

best proxies for enterprise

Best Proxies for Enterprise – Oxylabs

Enterprise companies are a tough crowd, with scale and policies that put a burden even on the most established providers. These are the customers for whom you write SLAs, toll on certifications, and make sure that your proxy networks are spick and span – day in, day out. What’s more, the current focus on operational efficiency has made the selection procedure even more cut-throat than usual. 

When it comes to enterprise-grade proxies, we’d be hard-pressed to find a stronger choice than Oxylabs. Throughout weeks of testing, its proxy networks barely ever skipped a beat and were faster than all competitors, sometimes several times so. We also received access to proxy pools that were among the largest in the market. In short, we documented a story that repeats itself year after year. 

The best part is that Oxylabs doesn’t rest on its laurels. Compared to 2023, you’ll get more features (such as coordinate-level targeting), significantly lower rates, and even better performance. The last part is particularly impressive, considering how high the baseline already was. In fact, a better part of our tested providers are still catching up to the Oxylabs of yesteryear. Let that sink in. 

Of course, the improvements weren’t for nothing. There are proxy vendors, both entrenched and emerging, that are breathing down Oxylabs’ neck, and competition in general is fiercer than ever. Today, at least when it comes to proxies, Oxylabs remains the premium provider to beat.

Best Platform for Proxies – Bright Data

It would probably surprise no one if we said that Bright Data always had great proxy servers. Large, robust, and feature-rich pools made the provider into the company it is. Despite taking a less central role nowadays, they continue to propel Bright Data’s broader platform forward. 

And if there’s one thing that defines Bright Data in an industry where all gaps are closing, it’s the platform. We’ve criticized it for complexity and opaqueness; but after all these years, we have to admit that Bright Data’s tooling remains a north star for many providers aspiring to serve the most demanding clients. 

It would be hard to pinpoint one thing about it. But maybe that’s exactly what we shouldn’t do. Unlike many others, Bright Data has built a coherent experience that really makes you feel like you’re using a platform rather than a collection of individual products bunched under one dashboard. Account-based pricing, one API for all proxy networks, and tools like Proxy Manager are but a few examples to illustrate our point. 

And even if from this point onwards Bright Data decided to stop making improvements to its tooling, it would still take all but a select few competitors years to catch up. Acknowledging this, we’re happy to hand Bright Data our Best Platform for Proxies award.

Best Value Provider – Smartproxy

The concepts of cheap and expensive, despite being relative like most things, are straightforward to understand. For example, an expensive service carries the expectation of extra functionality, a more pleasant experience, and hopefully better performance. But will all this translate to better value for the price you’re paying? This is where a delicate and highly subjective balancing act begins.

Still, should we look for a combination of cost and benefit that covers a wide range of use cases, Smartproxy would probably be our best bet. Same as last year, or the year before it. Are we biased? Or maybe just lazy? That may be so, but give us a chance to explain ourselves.

After all these years, we still can’t find a provider that combines mid-market rates, premium-grade performance, and newbie-friendly user experience as well as Smartproxy. You can get proxies that work effectively as well or better than enterprise providers, without investing thousands of dollars to reach their bulk rates. The plans start at single digits, but even then you can make use of Smartproxy’s excellent customer service. 

Are there truly no worthy competitors? Not exactly. After its pricing overhaul in August, SOAX looked mighty strong, but it unfortunately tanked our benchmarks. IPRoyal is steadily improving every year, with a non-expiring pricing model that’s hard to pass up. Even so, we can’t push ourselves to hand this award to anyone else yet because Smartproxy remains such a well-balanced choice for most customers.

Contender of the Year – NetNut

When NetNut last won the Contender of the Year award in 2021, it was in a very different position. The provider had a unique selling point (the static residential proxy pool), but its marketing was opaque and performance frankly uninspiring. Even worse, NetNut was forced to compete with the parent company’s other product lines that were bleeding money and attention away from the project. 

Still, the provider had just launched two new proxy networks, and it seemed like it had the potential to compete with premium peers.

After three years, it looks like NetNut’s efforts are starting to come to fruition. Its owner, Alarum, shed all other initiatives to focus on the proxy server business. With more resources at hand (NetNut’s spending on IPs doubled from 2022 to 2023), the provider has grown, embellished, and solidified the proxy networks, to the point where they can stand up to the best competitors. Even the marketing has improved, which historically was NetNut’s weakest point. 

The efforts seem to have paid off: as a public company, NetNut has been demonstrating an impressive growth trajectory. It made over $20M in revenue in 2023, over $8M in Q1 of 2024 alone, and has two new lines of products to scale. All things considered, NetNut of 2024 fits our definition of contender to a tee. Congratulations!

Best Entry Choice – Webshare

We’ve mostly covered enterprise and mid-market so far; but what about customers who are just starting with these proxy server shenanigans? Whose needs are still small, intermittent, or who’d prefer to avoid expensive commitments until they’re more accustomed to the tool? This is the domain of entry-level providers, and Webshare stands at the forefront. 

Two things make Webshare stand out. First, the flexibility. We know very few alternatives that allow customizing so many aspects of the service, all on your own. You can get a thousand static proxies from thirty locations, or just one that changes every five minutes. The second is price. Once you dress down the proxies bare, it’s possible to still buy perfectly functional servers for less than $0.1 apiece (even ISP proxies). 

Alongside proxies, Webshare bundles useful features for both less technically experienced and developers. The former can choose to enable optional rotation without setting it up by themselves. The latter get surprisingly detailed statistics and programmatic access through an API that punches above its weight. And perhaps most crucially for this type of service, you can try it out without any commitment or time constraints by claiming the 10 free proxies offered to all users. 

There is one caveat: Webshare’s magic extends to datacenter and ISP proxy servers. The residential proxies, though strong on their own, currently lack the oomph compared to Smartproxy, IPRoyal, and even Dataimpulse at $50 and up. However, taken as a whole, we consider Webshare to be a top entry choice, well deserving of this award. Well done!

Newcomer of the Year – Dataimpulse

The decision of whom to give the Newcomer of the Year award this year was tough. There were three strong nominees from different market segments: Dataimpulse, NodeMaven, and Nimbleway. In the end, we chose the former, as entry-level providers are the least represented this year, with very little doubt that we’ll be seeing the latter two in years to come. 

Why Dataimpulse? In many ways, it reminds us of PacketStream: a self-grown pool of proxies, small barriers to entry, and prices that wipe away all but the biggest objections. But since 2020, when we awarded PacketStream for the very same reasons, its potential never materialized. The provider seemed content with the status quo, choosing to onboard new resellers rather than palpably improve the service. A pity. 

Where PacketStream languished, Dataimpulse looks intent to push forward. Between August 2023 and March 2024, the provider has notably improved in all metrics. Not only that – it’s also launched two new proxy networks, both exerting the same price pressure on the competition. 

In this context, two questions arise. Can Dataimpulse keep up the pace? And can it retain its defining qualities while doing so? This remains to be seen. But from what we’ve witnessed already, we believe the Dataimpulse is worthy of this award. Here’s to potential.

Picture of Adam Dubois
Adam Dubois
Proxy geek and developer.

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