Bright Data is an Israeli company established in 2014. It offers access to every kind of proxy server, multiple data collection APIs, no-code web scraper, and even pre-collected data sets.
Bright Data can safely be considered a premium provider, meaning that its services cost above the market average and scale well. This naturally shifts the favor toward enterprises and customers with large needs. To be fair, the company does offer an option to pay as you go that doesn’t require much commitment. Whether you’ll find the going rate financially worthwhile is another question.
Being a general-purpose provider, Bright Data tries to serve every use case it deems acceptable. The list includes many forms of web scraping for price comparison, SEO, and other purposes – even sneaker copping is on the table. But as far as proxy providers go, Bright Data is considered very strict, and it won’t hesitate to deny questionable uses.
From the technical point of view, Bright Data is a powerhouse. Its proxy servers are full of features that many competitors fail to offer. They’re excellent performers, too: in our tests, the residential proxies succeeded over 99% of the time and were several times faster than many alternatives. Save from Oxylabs and Smartproxy, few providers come close in terms of performance or pool size.
Tooling is another one of Bright Data’s strengths: both the proxy management infrastructure and data collection tools are polished and functional. In fact, we were so impressed with Bright Data’s products that we gave it the Best Tools for Data Collection award.
So, is Bright Data a no-brainer? Not necessarily. Despite all it offers, the company can’t be the best for everyone – or everything. And that’s where cheaper or more specialized providers find their opportunity to slip through. In this review, we’ll try to identify those cracks and how they can impact your decision.
- Great infrastructure
- All proxy types
- Many features
- Powerful proxy controls
- Can be hard to use
- Proxy types: Datacenter (dedicated, shared), residential, ISP, mobile
- Web scrapers: proxy-based API, search engine scraping API, no-code data collector
- Locations: Global
- Audience: Mid to large businesses
- Extras: API, browser extension, proxy manager
- Support: 24/7, account manager
- Payment options: PayPal, credit card, wire transfer, AliPay, Payoneer
- Trial: 7 days (businesses), 3-day refund (individuals)
Most old-timers remember Bright Data by a different name, Luminati. The company rebranded in early 2021, citing negative connotations associated with the name. (To be fair, Luminati does sound awfully familiar to a famous organization.)
Bright Data was one of the first services to introduce residential proxies – IPs borrowed from computers and phones of real people. At the time when most competitors still sold datacenter IPs, this gave the company a big advantage and allowed it to grow into a leading proxy provider. Despite tightening competition, Bright Data remains one to this day, boasting top universities and Fortune 500 companies among its clients.
The provider is very protective of its technology. In mid-2022, it was litigating with three major competitors – GeoSurf, NetNut, and Oxylabs – over patents concerning proxy rotation and residential IPs.
Bright Data also cares deeply about the ethical aspect of sourcing and using proxies. It was among the first to openly talk about how it acquires residential IPs. What’s more, it has strict procedures for vetting customers and preventing abuse (you can watch our video interview on ethics with Bright Data’s CEO here). The company even went as far as to reduce its proxy pool by 10% to cut off unethical partners. Despite this, Bright Data has had its share of controversy over the years, such as with Hola VPN or piracy app Mobdro.
For the last few years, Bright Data has been expanding its scope of services. While proxies remain important, they now have to share focus with other tools. Bright Data’s end goal is to become the go-to source for web data, whether you’re a developer or a company with no web scraping experience.
Bright Data (Luminati) Proxies
Bright Data offers every kind of proxy network available. You’ll be able to choose from shared and dedicated datacenter IPs, rotating residential proxies, ISP proxies, and mobile IPs.
How do these proxy types interact? Datacenter proxies are best suited for accessing lenient targets. Residential proxies are much harder to block, so they work better with protected targets or when you need precise location coverage. ISP proxies are similar to residential IPs, but they can hold longer uninterrupted sessions. And mobile proxies are harder still to identify, so you should use them with the most challenging websites.
Bright Data offers an interesting feature called Proxy Waterfall which automatically chooses the best IP type for the task. I talk about it more in the section on user experience.
Stacked, no matter the proxy type.
|Targeting||Country, state, city||Country, state, city, ASN|
|Rotation||Optional, customizable with Proxy Manager||Every request, as long as available, customizable with Proxy Manager|
|Integration||Gateway address / IP list||Gateway address|
|Authorization||Credentials, IP whitelisting|
|Sub-users||Up to 50 (more paid)|
|Other features||Multiple domains, unlimited bandwidth, 100% uptime||Exclusive IPs|
If I had to describe Bright Data’s proxy networks in one word, that word would be stacked. This applies to all four types.
First, there’s an option to choose between getting shared, dedicated, or rotating IPs where it’s possible – namely, under datacenter or ISP proxies. For example, you can get 10 datacenter IPs and share them with several other people or pay more and use them alone; alternatively, you can buy access to a pool of 20,000 addresses and pay by traffic. There’s a lot of variety. Even the residential and mobile services offer an option for exclusive IPs – 3 to 200 addresses that no one else will use for that specific domain.
Second, Bright Data supports fine-grained targeting options. Every proxy type comes with at least 50 countries. You can target those countries, or go deeper and pick cities within them. The residential and mobile services allow narrowing down the choice to particular ASNs as well. This feature is still rare among proxy providers.
Third, you get flexible rotation options, together with the ability to establish unlimited connection requests at once. They’re not that flexible by default: you can choose either rotation every request, or keep the IP for as long as available. However, Bright Data’s Proxy Manager lets you fine-tune the settings to your preferences.
Overall, whichever proxy type you get, it’s likely to contain everything you may need for your use case.
Very expensive, especially if you choose to enable advanced features.
|Model||Pay as you go, subscription|
|Format||Traffic / traffic + IPs||Traffic|
|Upsells||Unlimited traffic, domains, IP refresh||City, ASN targeting, exclusive IPs|
|Trial||7-day trial for businesses, 3-day refund|
|Starting price||$0.8/IP + 0.11/GB||$15/GB + $0.5/IP||$15/GB||$40/GB|
As with features, Bright Data is also very flexible with its pricing. You can either pay as you go, or commit a set amount of money each month to get better rates.
In theory, this makes the service highly accessible for all kinds of users, as you can start with as little as $15. In practice, however, the pay-as-you-go plans are very expensive per unit, and you’ll likely want to invest into a fixed plan. The smallest $500 plan costs 15% less, and you can get the initial price down by as much as 35% – or even more if you opt for a yearly contract.
But even then, you’ll be looking at some of the highest prices on the market. For example, here’s how Bright Data’s residential proxies compare with its mid-range and premium competitors. This table covers the full range of Bright Data’s plans without going into the custom enterprise territory:
|Provider||5 GB||50 GB||100 GB||250 GB|
One exception where paying as you go works out is when you need quality proxies but very little traffic. In this scenario, the other premium providers simply don’t have any plans for one or three gigabytes of data. I could see Bright Data competing with the many sneaker proxy shops that resell at a big markup, or web scrapers with small projects to run.
That said, the streamlined pricing table on Bright Data’s website doesn’t tell the whole story. There are plenty of small upsells you can get, which both improve your experience and increase the cost.
For example, the dedicated datacenter proxies by default have limited traffic and allow targeting only one website. Should we enable all domains and unlimited targeting (as most providers do), we’d have to pay nearly $4/IP for 10 proxies – or nearly twice the market price. In the same way, enabling the city or ASN targeting option for the residential proxies literally doubles the price.
Excellent residential and mobile proxies, middling datacenter performance.
We benchmarked Bright Data’s dedicated datacenter, residential, and mobile proxies for this year’s Proxy Market Research. Some of our tests involved making millions of connection requests throughout several weeks, so we can make pretty confident assumptions about the proxy networks.
Dedicated Datacenter Proxies
Let’s begin with the dedicated datacenter proxies. We tested 100 IPs in the US targeting seven popular scraping targets like Amazon and Craigslist. In total, we made ~1,500 connection requests per target.
|Avg. success rate: 82.25%||Avg. response time: 2.35 s||Download speed: 31.57 Mbps|
The aggregate results were decent for datacenter IPs, but Bright Data failed to stand out. Around 27% of our requests to Amazon and 42% to Craigslist were blocked. Considering that we made only 15 requests per IP, it means a good part of the addresses had already been blocked when we started.
The average response time and download speed were just average. You can find the details below.
Our residential proxy benchmarks were much more comprehensive. We ran 1 million connection requests to test the unfiltered pool and then 300,000 for each of several sought-after locations.
|Avg. success rate: 99.47%|
Avg. response time: 1.08 s
|Factual pool size: Very large|
% of residential IPs: ~98%
Bright Data’s residential proxies proved to be excellent performers. We received the most unique IPs out of all the providers we tested; the proxy pool was balanced and included proper residential addresses. To give you some context, Bright Data gave us 20 times more IPs in the US than PacketStream or IPRoyal – a huge difference.
Furthermore, the infrastructure barely ever failed, and the proxy servers connected very quickly. Bright Data was especially fast in Europe, where its average response time hovered around 0.7 seconds. The only other services at this level were Oxylabs (slightly better) and Smartproxy (slightly worse).
Our mobile proxy benchmarks were very similar to the residential proxy evaluations. The only difference is that we reduced the scope to account for smaller proxy pools.
|Avg. success rate: 98.41%|
Avg. response time: 2.56 s
|Factual pool size: Medium|
% of mobile IPs: Over 95%
Bright Data performed great here as well. The infrastructure put the majority of the requests through, and the response time was twice faster than SOAX, a mid-range proxy provider. However, it once again couldn’t beat Oxylabs, which was markedly faster.
The only area that made me hesitate was pool size. Despite advertising twice more proxies than SOAX, Bright Data actually had fewer unique IPs in most locations. For example, we only received over 5,000 proxies in the US against SOAX’s 13,000. This makes me question the provider’s marketing claims.
Web Scraping Tools
Bright Data offers three tools for data collection: Web Unlocker, Search Engine Crawler, and Data Collector. The first is a proxy network with integrated web scraping capabilities to ensure 100% successful delivery. The second is an API for collecting structured data from search engines (a SERP API). And the third is a complete cloud-hosted web scraper that requires no developer resources (or development knowledge) to use.
|Web Unlocker||Search Engine Collector||Data Collector|
|Type||Proxy-based API||Proxy-based API||No-code web scraper|
|Data parsing||–||Google, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo||Over 100 websites|
|Locations||Global with country & city targeting||Template-based|
|Integration||Proxy||Proxy, API||Templates via dashboard, API|
|Output formats||HTML||HTML, JSON||JSON, CSV, XLSX|
|Data delivery||Real-time||Real-time, batch||Real-time, batch, scheduled|
Search Engine Collector, on the other hand, not only accesses search engines but also structures data for further use. All elements of web search and some other properties like Google Shopping and Hotels are supported. In addition, you can integrate the Collector in more ways: for example, as an API with parameters. This allows sending batch requests and collecting data via webhook.
Data Collector goes a step further. It’s fully hosted on Bright Data’s platform, meaning that you don’t need to have any infrastructure for data collection. Furthermore, it requires no coding experience. Instead, you can choose from pre-made templates, tick the data types you need, and select how you want to receive it (for example, an Excel file every Tuesday over email).
If the templates are too basic – or there’s none you need – you can either request a new one or develop your own. Bright Data provides a cloud developer environment (IDE) to write or adjust the code. Technical users can also initiate collection and retrieve the data they scraped via an API.
|Web Unlocker||Search Engine Collector||Data Collector|
|Model||Pay as you go, subscription|
|Starting price||$3/1,000 requests||$3/1,000 requests||$5/1,000 page loads|
Mirroring its proxy networks, Bright Data allows you to either subscribe or pay as you go. Naturally, the first option costs significantly less per unit, but you have to commit at least $300 per month. Here are the four pricing plans:
|Experimenting ($300)||Starter ($500)||Production ($1,000)||Plus ($3,000)|
|Web Unlocker & Search Engine Collector||$2.73/1k requests||$2.55/1k requests||$2.40/1k requests||$2.10/1k requests|
Bright Data doesn’t really advertise its Data Collector plans. It just states that they “start from $500”, providing specific numbers only for the pay-as-you-go option.
We tested Bright Data’s Search Engine Collector for 2022 Proxy Market Research. The scope was limited (10,800 connection requests to Google), but it should give us some insights into how well the tool performs.
|Avg. success Rate: 100%||Avg. response time: 3.92 s|
With a timeout threshold of 150 seconds, Search Engine Crawler had no issues completing requests successfully. In fact, it did so the fastest among the APIs we tried, beating the closest competitor by two times. The output was neatly parsed and included all features of web search (though from time to time it would miss some paid results).
How to Use Bright Data
Bright Data is known to be strict about compliance, especially when it comes to the residential proxy network. You may be asked to enter your credit card information and add some funds on the platform. Furthermore, you may need to verify your identity by providing identifying documents and even jumping a on a video call.
Bright Data recently simplified the process: it now allows customers to reach over 200 websites via the residential proxies without undergoing the full KYC. However, some form of identification (most likely in the form of a transaction) still remains.
Bright Data’s dashboard is full of options. While there are instructions at every corner, the first exposure can be a little overwhelming. The good news is that compared to a year before, it has been cleaned up into a multi-level hierarchy, making things less cluttered.
The dashboard supports full self-service: you’ll be able to do everything from adding money to your account, setting up & authorizing proxies to viewing usage statistics and contacting support.
Naturally, the most real estate is assigned to managing Bright Data’s tools. This includes not only the proxy networks but supporting services as well, such as the browser extension or Proxy Manager. The dashboard also lets you collect data directly, using the templates of Bright Data’s Collector tool.
Security is another priority. Bright Data not only shows a list of events involving logins and zones but even allows setting up 2FA authentication to safeguard the account. You can get automated alerts for unidentified logins.
The final feature worth mentioning is network status. It shows the uptime of each service in real time and can send you notifications via emails if something goes down.
The dashboard is available in six languages, including Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Bright Data has put a lot of effort into statistics. The visual graph supports very granular filtering, both in time periods and metrics. You can see your usage anywhere between one hour to two years, for all or separate products. The metrics include not only bandwidth use but also requests, IPs used, error rate, and more.
I really like that the graph can visualize usage for multiple products. Other providers usually have separate tabs for different types of proxies – not to mention web scrapers – which can be inconvenient.
My one pet peeve is that you can’t really choose specific days from the calendar but rather have the current time as the reference point. That said, Bright Data allows you to plug in its Proxy Manager, which enables even more granular tracking.
To set up the proxies, you first have to create something called Zones. A zone is a combination of plan and sub-user. To create one, you’ll need to select a proxy type, pricing plan, and add additional permissions, if any. The configuration wizard will show you an estimated cost based on your choices. The final step is to name the zone and confirm its creation.
For example, suppose I wanted rotating residential proxies for a small project. I’d choose a Residential zone and the pay-as-you-go plan. Under Permissions, country targeting would be enough for me; otherwise, I could enable states, cities, and ASNs as extras. Then, I’d choose shared IPs, as I don’t need them for my exclusive use. At last, I’d press Add Zone.
To simplify the choice between proxy networks, Bright Data offers a special suggestion box. You can enter your domain in it, and the box will recommend the best proxy type for that website. My anecdotal evidence shows that you’re most likely to be guided toward Web Unlocker.
After creating a zone, you’ll need to integrate the proxies. You’ll be able to do this using the usual hostname:port format. But Bright Data’s dashboard also provides dynamic code samples for all the major programming languages, including Python, PHP, and node.JS. Some examples have advanced toggles, such as adding a user agent or choosing where to resolve DNS.
For some, this can be enough. But most likely, you’ll want to use Bright Data’s Proxy Manager.
Proxy Manager is an open-source tool for managing Bright Data’s proxy networks. It’s available on all major operating systems: Windows, macOS, and Linux distros. Installing extra software just for proxies might sound like a hassle, but it’s worth it.
In a nutshell, Proxy Manager makes every aspect of your work with the proxies better. It replaces the (still somewhat limited) usage statistics with detailed live logs; it allows better management of rotation settings (the dashboard is pretty meh in this regard); and it enables SOCKS5 for those who need it. These are just the basics.
One interesting feature is the Proxy Waterfall. Basically, whenever you make a request to a website, it first goes via the least effective (and cheapest) proxy network. If that fails, the system tries again with another proxy type, until you succeed. While that does sound nice in theory, I can see a few caveats: first, you’ll need to subscribe to multiple IP networks at once; second, this approach can be slower, so it could make sense to use the waterfall for gauging the tolerance level of a domain.
The breadth of features Proxy Manager offers is truly huge. They might help you, or simply confuse you, but they’re there. I’m just not sure how I feel about the fact that you need this tool for such simple things as adjusting the rotation time.
Bright Data offers an API for managing the proxy servers programmatically. It’s the most comprehensive and granular API I’ve seen in this industry, and you might have to get a new degree to make full use of it.
Another tool is a browser extension for Google Chrome. It’s pretty customizable and lets you change your IP address based on a Zone or a location. You can set up sticky sessions and even modify the request headers. Bright Data advertises the extension as a tool for manual scraping, but I think it’s better suited for viewing content rather than extracting it.
With such a complex service, Bright Data needs to have appropriate documentation to make sense of it. And it does. You’ll find answers and instructions both in text and video formats.
Perhaps your first resource should be Bright Data’s FAQ page. It’s large enough to crash some slower computers and answers all the basic questions about using the service. Then, there are webinars – they cover narrower concerns, such as reCAPTCHA avoidance and browser automation. There’s also a video-based learning hub, though it looks pretty much outdated and abandoned in comparison.
If, by any chance, you won’t find your answer – or simply get lost looking for one – there’s the hands-on support.
Bright Data offers a ticket system on the dashboard. Customers that commit to a plan also get an account manager. Else, you can contact the provider using WhatsApp, Telegram, and even a phone.
We found the answering time to be fast: we sent multiple email messages throughout the day, and a reply came in 14 minutes on average. Communication with account managers is even faster, but they don’t work round the clock.
The proxy networks Chris and I have tried were excellent: fast, stable, and large. They come full of features, and Bright Data makes sure to provide the tools to make best use of them. Pound for pound, there are few providers that can compare.
However, the privilege comes at a cost. Some may be put off by how technically complex Bright Data is; others may find its compliance process too invasive; but most likely, the main showstopper – if any – will be the price. It’s hard to find a provider that’s more expensive, especially if you require the features Bright Data considers premium (such as unlimited bandwidth for the dedicated proxies).
But if you don’t find price an issue, Bright Data really is one of the best options you can get.
Bright Data Alternatives
Bright Data’s closest competitor in the premium segment. It offers all the main proxy types and multiple APIs for web scraping, coupled with personalized customer service.
Smartproxy is a great choice if you want to save some money on rotating proxies. It offers multiple IP types, better prices, and is easier to use in exchange for fewer features.