What are Residential Proxies? Explained
Updated on
June 18, 2024
Proxy 101

What are Residential Proxies? Explained

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Residential proxies are a network of proxy servers sourced from residential home IP addresses provided by internet service providers (ISPs). These IPs are connected to real devices and physical locations, making residential proxies a go-to solution for completely anonymous web requests.

While it’s sort of an online secret about who invented residential proxies, they’ve evolved in response to a growing need for enhanced anonymity and the ability to bypass blocks. Just like datacenter proxies, residential proxies can also be used as forward and reverse proxies. So, let’s take a deeper look at what are residential proxies and whether they suit your operational needs.

How do residential proxies work?

How do residential proxies work?

At its core, a residential proxy server sends HTTP requests to websites on behalf of a proxy user. This is possible as it sits between the user and the target websites, forwarding all requests through an intermediary server and, in the end, hiding the user’s real IP address.

What is a residential IP address?

A residential IP address is assigned to an internet user by their internet service provider and is registered with the relevant geographic and ISP information. In a nutshell, they're internet network IPs used in homes.

How are residential proxy IP addresses created?

Residential proxies are created through partnerships with owners of residential IP addresses. Typically, a proxy provider fully discloses how the IP address will be used, and the IP owner gives consent in exchange for compensation, which can be financial or in other forms.

What are residential proxies used for?

Residential proxy strengths lie in their ability to access secured websites with anti-scraping measures active. Since residential proxies are created from genuine IPs, they work exceptionally well at bypassing CAPTCHAs, accessing geo-restricted websites, and reducing the chances of IP address blocking. Some of the most prominent use cases of residential proxies are listed below.

What are residential proxies used for?

Scraping website data

Web scraping is the process of using scripted bots to automatically visit websites, extract the data, parse it to include only the necessary data points, and save everything in a preferred format. Here, residential proxies are the top choice when target websites use anti-scraping measures that require more stealthiness to overcome.

Proxy servers are also easy to integrate with popular and free web scraping frameworks, including:

SEO monitoring

Residential proxies are highly effective in SEO monitoring, which involves scraping data from Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Popular search engines, like Google and Bing, may deny resource access when a datacenter proxy is used for HTTP requests. On other occasions, competitor websites can also restrict content to datacenter IP addresses. Hence, when a web scraper is equipped with a residential proxy, there’s a much higher chance of successful website access.

Ad verification

Ad verification is the process of collecting various metrics about how and where online advertisements are shown, whether they reach the target audience, whether they generate true traffic, and whether they aren’t used fraudulently. As ad verification is usually done by scraping websites, residential proxies make web requests appear as coming from a real internet user, essentially helping to overcome anti-scraping measures. In addition, they offer more precise geo-location targeting, which is crucial for confirming how advertisements appear to users in specific locations.

Social media automation

Such automation tools require proxy servers to continuously switch IP addresses; otherwise, social media platforms can block connection requests due to spammy or suspicious activities originating from the same IP. Datacenter proxies may not be the best option here, as they’re easy to detect and are usually flagged as suspicious.

Thus, residential proxies are commonly used instead for social media management tasks such as content scheduling, interactions with users, monitoring of brand reputation and user engagement, data harvesting for analysis, as well as handling multiple social media accounts.

Price monitoring

Price monitoring is the basis of maintaining e-commerce competitive advantage. It allows businesses to see how their competitors price their products in real-time, how the prices changed over time, how consumer demand and behavior influenced pricing and much more.

As price monitoring is a continuous web scraping process, popular e-commerce websites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Shopify block website access to bots using the same IP addresses or datacenter proxies. That’s why residential proxies are the key to success since their HTTP requests don’t stand out from real user requests.

Private browsing

Residential proxies are also great for anonymous browsing sessions, specifically due to their IPs originating from ISPs and real devices. They’re hard to detect, easy to integrate with applications and operating systems, and they easily bypass geo-location restrictions.

Accessing local content

As you’ve probably already noticed, residential proxies are remarkable at accessing geo-restricted websites. While datacenter proxies can also do this, there’s a much higher likelihood they’ll be detected and blocked. Residential proxies take it a step further due to their natural stealthiness and location, as target websites can’t easily distinguish them from local user requests. Since a residential proxy IP has a real home address, it additionally enables highly precise geo-location targeting. 

There are numerous scenarios where localized data is vital, with some more prominent use cases including checking for cheaper flight tickets or hotel availability on websites outside your own geographic area.

Travel Fare Aggregation

Travel fare aggregation is also based on accessing localized data using web scrapers for cheaper travel tickets. As mentioned previously, datacenter proxies are easy to detect and block; thus, residential proxies provide much-needed anonymity and enable aggregation tools to simulate organic internet traffic on travel fare websites.

Sneaker bots

Sneaker copping bots are a unique approach that helps users find and purchase limited-availability sneaker shoes. Again, web scraping is a fundamental part of these bots, with a residential proxy being a key component in avoiding IP bans and detection by online retailers.

What are the types of residential proxies?

Residential proxies can be categorized into three types that differ in use cases, pricing, and ability to overcome anti-scraping measures.

Rotating or static IP

A static residential IP address and a rotating one caters to different use cases due to the nature of how the use of the IP address affects web sessions and overall detectability.

A static residential proxy holds the same IP address indefinitely. Static residential proxies can be changed automatically if the user adds Auto-Refresh to their plan (i.e. choosing the frequency of getting new IPs). A standard residential proxy IP pool is rotated by the proxy service provider, every few hours or so. However, some users would like to rotate the residential proxy IP manually at each request. In order to achieve this, you can use rotating proxy endpoints, which are included free-of-charge for every Webshare user.

Let's go over main differences between a rotating and static IP address:

Static residential proxies Rotating residential proxies
IP amount A limited list of proxy IP addresses A large proxy pool
IP rotation None, but it can be set up manually using a programming language Automatic rotation that can be controlled by the user
Bandwidth Usually unlimited Usually limited

The most popular choice for individuals and businesses is rotating residential proxies, as they’re dynamic and generally offer a better value for cost. IP rotation and access to a large pool of IPs are outstanding in use cases like price monitoring, ad verification, SEO monitoring, travel fare aggregation, cybersecurity, and others, where the versatility of web requests is necessary.

When it comes to the less popular static residential proxies, they’re perfect in cases where you need to have full control of browsing sessions and maintain consistent access to websites. This feature alone allows static residential proxies to be the prime choice for brand protection, lead generation, app deployment, app testing and social media automation. These proxies can be cheaper than rotating residential proxies, yet the costs really depend on how much bandwidth you need, how many different IP addresses you need, and whether you require integrated IP rotation or not.

Dedicated or shared

Dedicated residential proxies belong to one user only. They provide privacy, security, and greater reliability as the user has complete control of how proxy IPs are used. Now, shared residential proxies are shared between multiple users and cost significantly less by sacrificing privacy and reliability. Thus, shared residential proxies are used for less demanding web scraping operations, as well as content streaming. In comparison, dedicated residential proxies excel in a wide range of tasks requiring anonymity, from e-commerce research to social media management and automation.

SOCKS5 or HTTP/HTTPS internet protocol

SOCKS5 and HTTP/HTTPS are internet protocols that add further functionality to residential proxies. HTTP and HTTPS are the standard protocols that most proxy providers offer, with the latter protocol being more secure. They handle HTTP and HTTPS traffic and are perfect for web scraping processes and web browsing.

SOCKS5, on the other hand, is much more secure than HTTPS as it supports safer authentication methods. It also provides exceptional speeds through UDP connections, and, most importantly, performs flawlessly with high volumes of traffic. Additionally, it can process a variety of request types, including HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, and SMTP. Hence, SOCKS5 residential proxies are commonly used for traffic-intensive web scraping tasks, though they tend to come with a higher price tag compared to the standard HTTP/HTTPS residential proxies.

How to get residential proxies?

There are two options to obtain residential proxies: you can purchase residential proxies from a reputable provider or create your own proxy pool using your internet network. The latter is the most complex as it requires resources and extensive technical knowledge. Therefore, acquiring a ready-to-use solution is the ideal choice for individuals and businesses that want a hassle-free, professional, and reliable residential proxy network.

At Webshare, we offer premium quality residential proxies with the most affordable price in the market. Feel free to look around to find the solution that suits your needs.

How to use residential proxies?

When you acquire Webshare’s residential proxies, you’ll receive your proxy authentication credentials to make requests through a proxy endpoint. You can then use these details to connect to the residential proxy network through your operating system, a web browser, its extensions, popular third-party applications, or within your programming script.

How to configure residential proxies?

Webshare’s residential proxies can be easily set up via three methods – a direct connection, a rotating proxy endpoint, or a backbone connection. Once you have your authentication credentials (username and password), open up the tool of your choice and use the proxy endpoint, port, username, and password to connect to a website. It’s also a good practice to test your configuration by checking the IP address of your requests in the tool or by visiting an IP lookup site. For more information, make sure to take a look at Proxy Configuration in our help center.

What are the alternatives to residential proxies?

The alternatives for residential proxies depend on your use case and the difficulty of the websites you want to access. Datacenter proxies (learn more here on what is a datacenter proxy) can fulfill some of the same purposes as residential proxies, particularly when target websites aren’t too keen to block resource access.

Now, if websites you’re trying to scrape use sophisticated anti-scraping techniques or simply block requests coming from datacenter IPs, then you should use residential proxies. While they’re notoriously more expensive and are typically slower, they provide the type of anonymity other proxies can’t, as they come from internet service provider networks.

When selecting a type of proxy server, there are other important aspects to consider as well, like budget constraints and operational scope. Let’s take a closer look.

Evaluate if the IP address source is important

Proxies can use IP addresses from two primary sources: residential or datacenter networks. When you make a connection request to a website, it’s able to see the source of your IP. Since datacenter IPs are commonly known to be used for web scraping, some websites are quick to block requests from datacenter IPs. Thus, you should use datacenter proxies when you’re certain that a website you’re trying to access doesn’t forbid datacenter IP addresses.

Calculate your budget

Residential proxies are typically more expensive than datacenter proxies. For this reason, proxy users use residential proxies only when the target site isn’t accessible with datacenter proxies. When there’s a combination of difficult and easy-to-access websites, you can utilize both residential and datacenter proxies, providing a balance between cost and performance.

Determine your project scope and goals

One of the most critical aspects when choosing a proxy server is the scope and goal of your project. Datacenter proxies are better suited for large-scale web scraping tasks due to their low cost, exceptional speed, and connection stability. However, residential proxies are specifically used to imitate organic user behavior, increase the overall success of scraping operations, and when geo-location precision is the top priority for accurate data.

Evaluate how much network bandwidth you’ll need

Residential and datacenter proxies also come with different bandwidth limitations. Residential proxy services at Webshare and most other providers are priced per gigabyte of bandwidth, whereas datacenter proxies offer unlimited bandwidth, and you only need to purchase the number of IPs required for your specific case.

How should you select your residential proxy provider?

A very common industry practice is to use unethically sourced residential IPs, which adds a number of dangers that can harm proxy users. Some of these unethical methods include:

  • IP gathering without consent;
  • Misleading the owner of the IP address under false pretense;
  • Using a network of compromised devices to harvest their IPs.

Webshare and other industry-leading providers strictly source ethical IP addresses, compensate the IP source providers for their bandwidth, and fully disclose the terms of usage.

At Webshare, we offer both static and rotating residential proxies. Visit the following links to make a purchase or find out more about static residential proxies and generally more affordable residential proxies with rotating IPs.

If you’re uncertain whether datacenter or residential proxies are the right fit for your needs, you can start off by getting 10 free proxies – no credit card needed. We also offer extensive API documentation, so check it out for a smooth proxy configuration.

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