Residential Proxies: Myths and Truths

Residential proxies are a type of proxies that have gain prominence because of their undetectable nature and effectiveness. However, that’s half the story, and the best way to tell the other half is by discussing them in the form of facts you should know.

Most Residential Proxy Services Liar about their IP Pool Size

IP Pool Size

One of the unknown facts that you need to know about residential proxies is that their providers are economical with the truth when it comes to the number of IPs in their pool.

If you are to look at the top providers, you will see that Luminati (now Bright Data) claims to have 72 million IPs, Smartproxy stated that they had got over 40 million, Shifter.io claim to have 31 million, and every other provider tries to inflate the number of IPs in their pool. In reality, they usually do not have as much as they claim.

In fact, it might interest you to know that of the IPs in the pool of each provider, a good number of the IPs are not active.

This means that if a provider has an actual pool with one million residential IPs, the active IPs are quite less and could be as low as 40 percent active.

Unfortunately, most providers do not provide details of their active pool. Of all the popular providers, only Proxyrack makes that information public at a glance.


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Residential Proxies are a Response to Blocking of Datacenter Proxies

Blocking of Datacenter Proxies

While you will have been sold the impression that residential proxies are next to sliced bread, you need to know that they are really not. The only reason we have residential proxies today is that datacenter proxies get easily detected as they use IP addresses from hosting providers.

When datacenter proxies were introduced, they got abused a lot by scammers, spammers, and hackers, and web services had to look for ways to detect and block them. Currently, many web services like Cloudflare, Wikipedia have the capability of detecting and blocking datacenter proxies.

Datacenter IP blocked by wikimedia

For this reason, residential proxies were invented to route requests via devices of regular Internet users and, as such, making it difficult to detect and block. Aside from them using residential IPs, which make them difficult to detect and block, nothing more.

They are quite expensive and, in many cases, come with limited bandwidth that would get you to spend more. Also important is the fact that they are slow when compared to datacenter proxies.


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Residential Proxies are Indistinguishable from Regular IPs

Residential Proxies ip address

Do you know why residential proxies are so much effective for carrying out tasks without being blocked?

The reason is simple; residential proxy IPs are not distinguishable from IPs used by regular Internet users.

This is because they are actually the same. In fact, most residential proxies route client requests via Internet-enabled devices with residential IP addresses assigned by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Because web services cannot distinguish residential proxies from IPs of regular Internet users, residential proxies have become some of the best proxies for anonymous Internet access, unblocking web services, and accessing geo-targeted content.


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Residential Proxies are a Product of Illegal Hacks

Illegal Hacks with Residential Proxies

This particular fact is true about residential proxy services that depend on peer-to-peer networks in other to get IPs. Many of the providers would say they seek for permission and consent before using the devices in their proxy network. In reality, only a few of them do. According to research published by IEEE, even top leading providers like Luminati and GeoSurf are not completely consent-based.

It might interest you to know that Bright Data (formerly Luminati) were found to use suspiciously compromised residential hosts. Ironically, if you visit the Bright Data website, you will see that they claim their Residential IPs are legal and they ask for users’ permission, but in reality, they are also part of these illegal acts.


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Most Residential Proxy Service Do Not Own the IPs they Use

Ip address

This fact is slightly associated with the one above. Bright Data (formerly Luminati) will tell you they have got over 72 million residential IPs, Smartproxy stated that they have 40 million-plus, Oxylabs will say they have got over 100 million IPs, and Shifter is claiming to have over 31 million IPs.

The truth about all of these millions of IP addresses they boast of is that they do not really own them. They are sourced from P2P networks. Regular Internet users join P2P networks in other to provide their Internet connection and IP addresses for use by the proxy service.

In most cases, users join without their knowledge and, in some cases, forcefully via hacks. However, there are some users that join either voluntarily in other to use a service just as Hola users would or to get paid in the case of PacketStream. Only a few providers actually own their IPs.

Not owning their IPs and thus, not having control over active status is the reason most residential proxies do not offer static IPs for long. They provide more of rotating proxies which is perfect for proxy services that do not own the IPs in their pool and aren’t sure a particular IP will remain active for long.


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Residential Proxies Are Slow

slow speed test

It is a known fact that you cannot enjoy the same Internet speed as you would enjoy without a proxy if you use a proxy server. The working model is simply the cause; having to route your Internet traffic via an intermediary server before getting to the intended website will definitely delay response time.

However, all proxies are not designed equal, and some are faster than the other. Take, for instance, datacenter proxies are generally fast and, as such, more suitable for online gaming, streaming, and buying limited edition items via botting.

Residential proxies are generally slow. This is because when you send a web request using a residential proxy server, it is routed twice before reaching its target website. The first routing is to the proxy server.

The proxy server then looks into its IP pool for available devices and then routes the request to the website via the device it picked. This leads to a decrease in speed.

While you can see that some residential proxies are fast, they are not as fast as datacenter proxies except if they are the hybrid proxies built on datacenter infrastructures but with residential IP addresses – ISP proxies.

Read more, Mobile Proxies Facts

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Bright Data is Arguably the Leading Provider in the Market

Bright Data

If you know of Luminati, then you know about Bright Data. Luminati rebranded into Bright Data. This provider is certainly not the first to provide a residential proxy service.

However, it can be argued that Bright Data reinvented and revolutionized the residential proxy market. All other providers are out there to compete with Bright Data and get a slice of their market share.

Currently, Bright Data is regarded as the market leader and has one of the largest residential proxy pools in the market, with over 72 million residential IPs in it. It has the best session control system and IP rotation support in the market. Its proxies are secure, reliable, and fast enough for most tasks. It is, however, expensive.


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Online Bad Actors Use them A lot

fraudulent activities with Residential Proxies

Proxies, in general, are not good or not. They are mere tools with which you can either carry out good deeds or even ones. An overwhelming number of residential proxies are used for fraudulent activities – the IPQualityScore hosts an article titled “How Residential Proxies Enable Fraud.

The IEEE published a paper that describes residential proxies as “Residential Evil” and sees the service they provide as dark service citing different reasons and examples – the paper is well detailed, describing how evil intend surrounds the residential proxy idea.

While you might want to argue that residential proxies have good use cases, including ad verification and site localization testing, among others, the fact remains that residential proxies are used more when one wants to use a web service contrary to its term of service or against government will.

Among some of the popular fraudulent users that make up a large chunk of residential proxies are scammers, spammers, cyberbullies, and criminals.


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Popular Web Services with proxies

Most web services, including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, BBC iPlayer, and many others, all prohibit the use of proxies. In fact, some of the web services put up proxy detection systems to prevent the use of proxies on their platform. However, it turns own that most of these services have or are still making use of proxies.

According to Bright Data, they have got Fortune 500 companies on their customer’s list. Aside from Bright Data, other premium providers do have top customers. So isn’t it an irony that web services that wouldn’t allow users to use proxies on their platform turn around to make use of proxies on other platforms?

Most web services nowadays depend heavily on data and in most cases, the data is available on platforms that do not allow automated access and, as such, would have to use a proxy. Take, for instance, travel fare aggregation websites depend heavily on scraping airline and other websites with travel fare prices.

However, most popular travel aggregation websites make it difficult for you to scrape, and they would block your access if they suspect you’re using a proxy server. It’s a kind of evil they commit but won’t take from others.


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Most Free Proxies are Low-Quality Residential Proxies

Free ProxiesHave you tried checking on free proxy list websites? If you look at the types of proxies, you will discover that most of the proxies are residential proxies. Ironically, these free residential proxies have the worse quality ever.

One thing you need to know is that these proxies are gotten from computers that were illegally infected and used without the consent of the user. The activeness is nothing to write home about; they are the slowest in the market and get easily detected by anti-proxy systems.


That’s all Must-Know Facts About Residential Proxies before you Buy!

With the above facts, non-techies would be able to catch and know both the good and the not-so-good aspects of residential proxies.

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