If you’re searching for proxies on the web then you’ve no doubt seen the phrases “datacenter proxy” and “residential proxy” tossed around. If you’re particularly astute then you’ve also noticed that the residential proxies usually have a heftier price attached, and may even have a limited amount that can be ordered.
So why the extra price and limited quantities? Surely it’s not just the name, right?
What Exactly is the Difference Between Datacenter Proxies and Residential Proxies?
First, let’s look closer at datacenter proxies and residential proxies themselves to better understand the difference:
What is a Datacenter Proxy?
A “Datacenter Proxy” is a proxy server, running in a datacenter, on an IP address that is part of a whole block of IP addresses known to be used commercially by an ISP, BUT not by an ISP for residential internet access.
Datacenter Proxy PROs
- Price – Datacenter Proxies are far cheaper than Residential Proxies.
- Speed – Datacenter Proxies generally have much higher bandwidth than Residential Proxies.
- Stability – Datacenter Proxies are usually more stable than Residential Proxies..
Datacenter Proxy CONs
- History – Datacenter Proxy IPs have generally been proxies far longer than Residential IPs, possibly abused.
What is a Residential Proxy?
A “Residential Proxy” is a proxy server, possibly running on residential hardware, that runs on a residential IP from a residential-internet providing ISP.
Residential Proxy PROs
- History – Residential Proxies might not have ever been a proxy before, or even used at all, so the chances of having a blacklisted IP when using a Residential Proxy are much lower than when using a Datacenter Proxy.
Residential Proxy CONs
- Price – Residential Proxies can offer many benefits a Datacenter cannot, and therefor can cost 2-3x more!
- Speed – Residential Proxies are generally slower than Datacenter Proxies due to ISP speed caps that come with Residential IPS.
- Stability – Residential Proxies may be less stable than Datacenter Proxies due to lower quality infrastructure and hardware.
The Mystery Surrounding Residential Proxies..
You may have noticed the “Supposedly” above and wondered why it was there. Here’s the reason: ISPs generally split their available IP addresses into blocks. Some IP blocks are used for residential customers that are also getting internet provided to them by the ISP and not just an IP address. The other blocks of IP addresses are for commercial customers that not only need commercial internet for business, but also multiple IP addresses – some times numbering up in the millions. ISPs generally do not allow websites, email servers, or anything else business related to be run on residential internet access – even if you just have a one-person business making candles and would like to host your own candle website from home, the ISP is going to force you to upgrade to commercial internet to get a dedicated IP address, unblock port 80 for your website server, and possibly unblock some SMTP ports for emailing (that might also cost extra).
So, if a proxy provider is contacting an ISP about extra IP addresses for the servers they just setup in a datacenter – why would the ISP give the proxy provider a large amount of IPs from their residential IP blocks rather than their commercial IP address block? They wouldn’t..
What’s more than likely happening is the proxy providers are paying extra for commercial IP address blocks that have never been used and recycled before. These are often called Virgin IP addresses, or “Virgin IPs”.
Another possibility is something along the lines of the Hola VPN fiasco of 2015 where it was made known that Hola “Free VPN” users were having their home internet, and IP, used as proxy and VPN servers for other customers of Hola VPN and their sister-company Luminati. o.O
How to Choose Between Datacenter or Residential Proxies
If your proxies are sourced from a reputable proxy provider, then datacenter and residential proxies will both be fine for general proxy use such as privacy/anonymity, lowering ping, website scraping, forex, etc. However, datacenter proxies would be a far cheaper solution than residential proxies for every-day proxy use.
On the other hand, if your proxy usage includes making accounts at social media websites, buying high-demand items like Sneaker/Shoes/Clothes from sites that like to block commercial IP address blocks, or scraping Google SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions), then residential proxies would most likely be the far better choice. The probability of getting unused virgin IPs from residential proxy packages is far higher than with datacenter proxies. Unless the datacenter proxy provider can assure virgin IPs for whatever IP-strict service/website you are trying to use proxies with – always go with residential proxies.