Internet user’s that genuinely care about their online safety and privacy probably heard about Web proxies. This networking technology is an essential part of the World Wide Web structure, ensuring speedy and secure access to data.
But there’s much more you can do with proxies. Currently, they are utilized by regular Internet users to gain access to a more open and secure Internet and protect their privacy, and marketing specialists and data analysts use them for data scraping.
This article explains what web proxies are and how you can benefit from them. And if you want to know the difference between Proxies and Scraper API? Read the blog to learn more!
What Is a Web Proxy?
A proxy is a device that functions as an intermediary between the user and the Internet. In a standard online communication model, the Internet user (called a client) makes a request to a specific website (called a server) to get some information (like videos, images, websites.) A client has a unique IP address (it’s like your device’s ‘home address’ on the Internet), and the website knows it must return specific information to that IP.
When using a proxy, your device sends requests to the proxy, which then forwards them to the target destination. Instead of seeing your IP address, the server sees the proxy’s IP address and sends the information there; the proxy then channels it to the user. Obfuscating IP addresses significantly strengthens online safety, neutralizing numerous IP tracking and online surveillance methods.
Although the concept is relatively simple, IP address obfuscation and traffic routing through an additional server have multiple use cases. Here are the most popular ones.
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1. Bypassing Geographical Restrictions
Much online content is geographically restricted to specific regions. For example, depending on where you browse from, Netflix offers very different libraries. This doesn’t sound fair because you pay the full subscription but don’t get the full package.
You can utilize proxies to bypass geographical restrictions and unlock more streaming options. For example, you can connect to a proxy server in the US or Japan to unlock their exclusive content. The same applies to other services that use geo-blocking, like HBO, Disney+, ABC, etc.
Remember that streaming content is not the only thing you can unlock via proxies. You can also access local news sites, online shops, and video game servers.
2. Web Scraping
The Internet is an endless repository of useful data, but accessing it can be tricky. Furthermore, manually gathering online information is a lengthy process and can be automated via web scraping. Web scraping refers to using additional tools to target specific websites like Amazon and extract valuable information like prices, reviews, shipping costs, etc.
Businesses tend to limit access to specific data because they deem it uncompetitive. However, the same businesses scrape other websites to get a competitive advantage.
Business websites monitor visitors’ IP addresses, and if they notice many data requests from the same IP address, they can restrict access.
Then, instead of using your own unique IP to crawl these sites, you can use proxies. Each proxy server issues a new IP address and avoids website detection. This way, you can target multiple sites simultaneously without being exposed.
3. Datacenter or Residential Proxies
Proxies come in various types, but the two most important are Residential and Datacenter proxies.
Residential proxies come from genuine users and physical devices. It can be a smartphone or a PC that willingly shares its Internet connection and IP address with you. Your device sends traffic to a residential proxy, which then forwards it, receives the information, and sends it back to the user. Residential proxies are the best for data scraping and content streaming because they are nearly undetectable.
On the other hand, datacenter proxies are easily detectable but provide better speed, availability, and lower prices. They often come from data centers with hundreds of proxy servers and sell their traffic to businesses and casual Internet users. However, websites can effortlessly detect that a visitor comes from a data center, so that’s no good if you want to bypass geo-blocks or remain private online.
Datacenter proxies excel at operations with a Cloud, large-file downloads, and information caching. Businesses use datacenter proxies to make their websites load quicker and transfer huge files much faster than with the regular Internet connection speed.
There are more proxy use cases, like network traffic control, market research, price comparison, and cybersecurity. However, most of them are for advanced users. Proxies take some time to master, but most proxy service providers offer useful online guides and self-help material. If you learn how to use proxies effectively, you will significantly improve your online safety and browsing experience.
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