With a plethora of options available in the market, finding the best proxy service provider can be a burdensome task. There are so many things to consider like price, features, and performance, to name a few. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of false marketing, get stuck with an expensive but low-quality service, or even unethically sourced proxies.
How to Find the Best Proxy Service?
When you browse the internet, your device is assigned a unique IP address, which acts like a digital identifier for your device on the internet. This IP address can reveal your approximate geographical location and potentially be linked back to your identity. However, by using a proxy service, you can hide your actual IP address and make your online activities anonymous. Here are tips to help you find the best proxy service provider for your needs.
1. Choose the Right Proxy Type
The first step in finding the best proxy service provider is knowing what type of proxy you need. Different proxies cater to different use cases, so the actual decision depends on your project parameters. There are four main types of proxies:
- Datacenter proxies are held in web hosting companies like Amazon AWS or Google Cloud. They are the cheapest and fastest, yet very easy to detect. A few years back, datacenter IPs worked with most websites; however, today, these addresses are not the best choice for well-protected websites like Amazon or Google.
- Residential proxies come from real user devices like laptops or smartphones. This type of IP address is issued by an Internet Service Provider, so it’s really hard to detect. However, residential proxies are pretty slow and cost more than their datacenter counterparts.
- ISP proxies are like a mixed package between the first two types – fast and hard to detect. ISP addresses are associated with Internet Service Providers but don’t depend on end users – they’re hosted in servers like datacenter proxies. On the other hand, they’re pricier and less diverse than residential proxy servers.
- Mobile proxies are the newest proxy type. They have the best IP reputation and can handle mobile-based websites without breaking a sweat. Mobile proxy servers send traffic via mobile devices connected to the networks of mobile carriers like Verizon or T-Mobile. But all these perks come down to high prices.
2. Consider a Provider with a Bigger Proxy Pool
Basically, the proxy pool size is the number of IP addresses available within your proxy provider’s network. In simple words – the bigger the proxy pool is, the better. And here's why.
Let's start with residential proxies – peer-to-peer addresses that rely on real people's devices. In this case, the number of IPs is never fixed; it rather fluctuates daily since people can connect/disconnect their phones or laptops anytime. So, the advertised number of proxies will always be an estimate. If you want a more realistic amount, divide it by 10 to 20 times. You can also ask the providers you're interested in to explain how they determine their proxy pool size.
When talking about datacenter proxies, they come in blocks of 256 IPs called subnets. So, if the proxy provider has a small datacenter IP pool, it'll most likely mean a low subnet diversity. In simple words, you'll get addresses from fewer blocks. Why should you care? Since datacenter IPs are simple to detect, the website can block all the addresses from the same subnet, which means you'll have to spend money on new IP addresses.
If this didn't convince you, a bigger IP pool also means more locations. Providers like Oxylabs, Smartproxy, or Bright Data, which control some of the largest proxy networks, cover all countries worldwide. And use cases like ad verification or account management are geo-location sensitive.
3. Identify Necessary Features for Your Project
When considering a proxy service, you should know what features you’ll need. From IP rotation to location filtering options, they determine how the service will suit your specific project parameters.
For example, if you’re doing web scraping, you should look for a provider that offers IP rotation, ideally with every connection request. Multiple account management, on the other hand, will require keeping the same IP for a longer period of time, so you’ll need sticky sessions.
Other use cases, like ad verification, are location-sensitive. That means your provider should have at least country and city targeting. Otherwise, a big proxy pool won’t be much of a help in your case.
Some proxy providers charge extra for location filtering, rotation, and other features, so be cautious – don’t overpay for what you don’t need.
4. Test Proxy Service Performance
Before making a decision, it is imperative to gauge the performance of the proxy service. There are several ways to do this.
First, you can read reviews online. You can find market analysts, such as Proxyway, that test major proxy providers. You can also check out customer reviews on Google, TrustPilot, or forums like Blackhatworld. But be cautious – many providers push their products, so don’t blindly trust marketing claims.
If you want, there are ways to test proxies yourself. Some companies offer free trials or a money-back guarantee. You can also find free tools like ipinfo.io or Proxyway’s Proxy Checker that will show you some information about the proxy IP address.
All in all, a good performance doesn’t guarantee 100% success. There are other factors that come into play. For example, if your browser fingerprint is misconfigured, you can still get yourself blocked.
5. Check Out User Experience
User experience is no less important than proxy infrastructure. It determines how easy (or challenging) the service will be to use, and how quickly you’ll find answers to your problems. Here are a few things to take notes of:
- Customer Service: Some issues concerning proxy usage require immediate attention Ensure there’s hands-on support available to assist you 24/7 You can always test the customer service even before subscribing – ask a question and see how fast and thoroughly the representative will respond.
- Dashboard: It’s the place where you start using the proxy services It should include all the necessary functionality to manage your subscription and proxies For example, you should be able to set up a proxy, track usage statistics, invoices, see active plans and buy new ones.
- Documentation: Good documentation will include a detailed start guide, and have integration instructions with automation tools, web browsers, and operating systems It should also explain the main concepts, features, and answer the most frequently encountered questions Some providers have advanced instructions like working with multiple programming languages.
- Proxy management tools: Proxy services offer various tools, such as APIs or browser extensions, to simplify proxy use For example, API access allows developers to manage proxies programmatically While you can get browser extensions from third-party services, you won’t be able to do the same with an API.
6. Set a Price Range
You’ve probably noticed that the prices for proxies vary greatly. These amplitudes mostly depend on 1) the proxy type you’re using, 2) features and 2) what clients – large or small – the provider targets.
Usually, well-performing services are expensive. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You can still find a provider that offers well-maintained proxies and mid-range prices. And vice versa – unstable proxy infrastructure but costly IPs.
Different aspects add up to the price. One of them is features. As a rule, the more features a service has, the more you’ll pay. And some companies charge extra for premium functionalities like ASN targeting. So, if you don’t need it, you can save a buck or two here.
Another criterion is the size of the proxy network. Larger proxy providers offer more IPs, and this usually comes with a price tag. If your use case doesn’t require a big proxy pool, you can look for a company that targets small customers.
One more trick – buy a yearly subscription. Most providers offer discounts of up to 40% off if you stick to the service for at least a year.
7. Avoid Sketchy or Free Services
Free or shady services are never a good idea – they don't care about security measures, making you vulnerable to hackers. Malicious actors could log your data, including sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and browsing history, which can then be exploited for various purposes.
Some services aren’t transparent about how they acquire proxies. It's especially important if you're planning to buy residential proxies – a service that doesn't look after the proxy network and its users may harm your device. So, you should always browse the web to see if the provider openly communicates about proxy acquisition.
Free proxies are often overloaded with users, leading to slow connection speeds, poor performance, or even leaving you offline. This will affect your online activities, especially when streaming or downloading content.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the best proxy provider will take time but will pay off in the long run. Make sure that your service has a well-maintained proxy infrastructure, a fully-stacked dashboard, and technical assistance. All this plays into the project's success and uninterrupted access using proxies.
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