Last Updated on October 14, 2022 by James Ewen
A simple search using the terms ‘proxy server provider’ or ‘proxy service providers’ yields listicles upon listicles wherein the authors claim to have come up with the top best proxy providers. While some of the results paint a true and accurate picture, it is important to arm yourself with information on what to look for when choosing a proxy provider. This information will help you sieve through the noise and actually come to the right conclusion. In this article, we focus on providing this information. Firstly, though, we shall explore what a proxy is.
What is a Proxy?
A proxy is an intermediary that can take the form of a software-based application or hardware (computer or mobile device). This ‘middleman’ routes outgoing HTTP and HTTPS requests through itself before quickly performing a number of important processes. First, the proxy hides the requests’ real/original IP address and assigns a new online identifier. Next, it sends the ‘modified’ requests to the target webserver. Once the web server responds, it is the proxy that first receives the responses before directing them to the browser.
Of course, all the proxy providers you will likely encounter will rate their products highly. In addition, they will often claim that their proxies are designed to be reliable and can perform the functions outlined in the definition above. In some cases, however, the claims could not be further from the truth, and that is why you need to take a few factors into account when shopping for a proxy.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Proxy Provider
Here are the essential considerations you should make before selecting a proxy provider:
- IP network pool
- Customer support
- Price and Offer
- IP Network Pool
The size of the IP network pool matters a lot. The pool describes the number of IP addresses the provider can assign its customers. Usually, a good proxy provider has a large number of IP addresses from a majority of the countries in the world.
A vast network enables you, as the customer/user, to utilize proxy rotators, particularly when web scraping or managing multiple social media accounts. This prevents IP blocking. Still, a large network provides a buffer even if an IP address gets blocked.
At the same time, an extensive network encompassing different countries allows you to bypass geo-restrictions, i.e., access content that can only be viewed by residents of a given location. For instance, a provider that promises to provide a reliable Iran proxy must have tens if not hundreds of Iran-based IP addresses in its network pool. Find more info here on Iran proxies and other similar location-based solutions.
- Customer Support
A good proxy service provider provides 24/7 customer support. This is an important consideration since proxies sometimes require regular maintenance. Similarly, they can break down or become unresponsive if you do not configure them correctly. And given that not all users are tech savvy, having access to customer support as and when they need it is crucial as they can get assistance immediately.
A reliable and good proxy provider ethically sources their IP addresses. This is particularly essential if you need to use residential proxies or mobile proxies, which route traffic through real users’ devices. Residential proxies assign residential IP addresses, which belong to internet service providers (ISPs). These IPs are assigned to the ISPs’ customers to enable them to access the internet via the ISPs’ respective networks.
Thus, a proxy provider must first seek authorization from an ISP’s customer in order to lease their unused bandwidth. By leasing the bandwidth, the proxy provider will have to route traffic through the user’s devices, and that requires consent as well as the installation of gateway software. An ethical provider follows the right procedures to lease the bandwidth.
- Price and Offers
Proxy providers do not set a uniform price for their services. In fact, some offer free services. However, free proxies are not reliable as they are mostly shared. In that regard, you should choose a proxy server that requires you to part with a fee. In addition, the proxy should be competitively priced, i.e., not too high to make it unaffordable nor too low to threaten reliability. Sometimes, you might encounter discounted offers, which you can consider if the proxy provider ticks all the other boxes.
Some proxy providers offer additional features, such as proxy management via a centralized dashboard. Others provide IP rotation capabilities as well as systems that filter requests and responses for added security. It is, therefore, important to check whether your preferred provider offers such features before making the final decision.
A good proxy provider is known for its reputation. And you can establish how decorated their reputation is by checking customer feedback and reviews.
Choosing the right proxy provider from a sea of options can be confusing. But you can and will make the right, informed decision by considering factors such as reputation, features, price and offers, ethics, IP network pool, and 24/7 customer support.
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco