When you browse the web, your digital identity details are there for all to see. This occurs thanks to your IP address. Cybercriminals can easily track you with your IP address. In the same vein, advertisements get to target you with unsolicited ads. All these, and more, can happen when your identity isn’t protected while browsing.
With a proxy, no one can monitor, trace or keep track of your online activity. Proxies solve these issues. But because technology keeps evolving, several types of proxies have been created to meet different needs. Hence, choosing a proxy service or server now depends on your needs.
So, this article will look through the different types of proxies and what specific needs they can meet.
What is a Proxy?
A proxy is a device, software or hardware working as an intermediate between internet users and the internet. A proxy helps users achieve anonymity, security, and increased performance in its intermediary role. These advantages are responsible for the massive popularity these devices have garnered.
Proxies are meant to protect internet users. Unfortunately, cybercriminals and hackers can also leverage them to execute illegal activities. However, the potential dubious use cases don’t rule proxy service providers out of operation.
Proxies have been iterated upon to deliver better performance and top-level encryption while keeping users safe. Proxy server providers have also been able to introduce features that create whole new use cases in different industries.
For instance, proxies can aid internet security. But they can also be used to make web scraping more effective. For businesses looking to expand, proxies can be used to facilitate global research efforts. A business can protect its websites and servers from intruders with reverse proxies.
Use cases, internet protocol developments, target audience, etc., have resulted in varying classifications for proxies.
How Proxies are classified
Before looking to choose a proxy type to use, identify your needs. Knowing what you need a proxy for will help you better understand how proxies based on the following classifications will help your cause.
Classification by IP address version
Two major IP address formats can be used to classify proxies. These are IPv4 and IPv6 proxies.
Classification by price
This is one of the most basic classifications of proxies. Internet proxies can either be free or paid. Free proxies are available to the public, while users have to buy paid versions from providers. The price of paid proxies varies based on the provider and the service’s functionalities.
Free proxies aren’t safe, as they could have been created by hackers looking to steal users’ data. Paid proxies, on the other hand, are safer, offer encryption, and provide support.
Classification by rotation
Proxies can also be static, which refers to proxies where IP addresses aren’t changing for long periods. On the other hand, there are rotating proxies where the IP addresses change per time.
Classification by direction
The direction of a proxy refers to the end of a connection that’s a beneficiary of the proxy server. So, it can only be two, either the user or a website server.
Hence, there are two types of proxies based on direction: forward and reverse. Forward proxies work for connection requests from a user to a website. Reverse proxies, however, are opposites of forward proxies and work to benefit website servers. Website server owners use reverse proxies to enhance the security of their systems. The website also uses reverse proxies for load balancing, bandwidth maximization, and protection against DDoS attacks.
Classification by presentation
Proxies can also be classified based on presentation – gateway addresses or explicit IP lists – into proxy lists and backconnect proxies.
Classification by anonymity
Proxies are meant to provide anonymity to users, and they come in three tiers.
There are transparent proxies, which are the least protective. They show your IP address and only work to route your traffic and dictate websites you can visit. These are the proxies you find with public Wi-Fi.
Anonymous proxies are the next tier of anonymity, which are semi-transparent. These proxies don’t disclose your IP address. Though, they have headers that detail your activities. Hence, they provide a level of anonymity.
The highest tier of anonymity is Elite Proxy. Elite proxies don’t reveal your IP address and don’t detail your browsing activities.
Classification by exclusivity
Residential and datacenter proxies are further sub-classified by exclusivity into; shared proxies, semi-dedicated proxies, and dedicated (private) proxies.
Classification by Source
The origin of proxies differs. There are datacenter proxies that get their IP addresses from data center servers. Residential proxies are those originating from actual devices. Mobile proxies are also residential proxies, with the primary use of handling social media accounts. There are also static residential proxies that combine both datacenter and residential IP addresses.
Classification by Protocol
Based on protocol, proxies are classified into HTTP proxies, HTTPS proxies and SOCKS5 proxies. HTTP proxies are the most common, using the HTTP protocol. On the other hand, HTTPS proxies use SSL protocols to encrypt data. SOCKS5 proxies function on a lower level than HTTPS proxies.
Top 3 types of proxies
Private proxies offer the best experience but are arguably the most costly. These are dedicated proxies that offer users great browsing experiences, as they are offered to one subscribed user per time. They are the opposite of shared proxies. One of the leading proxy providers wrote a blog post about how you can benefit from private proxies.
- Security of organizations’ network of sensitive information
- Manage different social media accounts
- Competitor research.
Rotating proxies provide connections where the IP address changes with every user’s internet request. Since no two connection requests carry the same IP address, the block rate is incredibly low. Users also don’t have to worry about where the next IP comes from, as there are multiple IP addresses in the provider’s pool to choose from.
- They are used in price aggregation, market research, and competitive analysis
- They are used in web scraping and SEO monitoring
- Used for travel aggregation
Static residential proxies
These proxies combine the strengths of data centers (performance – speed) with residential IPs’ (high-level anonymity) to give users an extremely effective internet service.
- Customer support for global businesses
- Web scraping
- Business automation
Each type of proxy offers unique benefits, which you must consider before you drop your hard-earned money.
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