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Mar 09, 2024
9 minutes read

What Is a Residential Proxy? Definition and Guide (2024)

Feeling concerned about protecting your online identity and privacy? Well, you're not alone! Many internet users have turned to residential proxies to help keep their information safe. In simple terms, a residential proxy is like a middleman between your device and the internet, helping you hide your real location and keep your online activities from being tracked.

But there's more to residential proxy networks, and you're in luck today because we're spilling all the beans on what you should know when choosing a residential proxy provider for all your online adventures.

What is a residential proxy definition by Smartproxy
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What is a residential proxy?

A residential proxy is an intermediary server that uses an IP address provided by an Internet Service Provider (ISP), not a data center. Each residential proxy address has a physical location. And even though billions of digital devices connect to the internet at any time, their IP addresses can pinpoint the location of any device. So, every time you go online, you give out information about your browser preferences, cookies and get logged with your real IP address.

How does a residential proxy work?

Trouble is, while the internet is a global community, many service providers will geo-lock content, so you can only access it from certain countries. Moreover, if you're trying to scrape data or use bots for social media automation or scripts for search engine optimization (SEO), your IP address might get blocked, and you won't be able to access the website.

Luckily, a residential proxy network is one of the most effective ways to get around these problems.

First, it's important to note that residential proxies are different from datacenter proxies. Residential proxies are more reliable and in demand, while datacenter ones are easier to block. They're cheaper and can work wonders for scraping targets that don’t have sophisticated scraping detection technologies. But let's talk about the real MVPs – residential proxies.

This is how the residential proxy magic happens:

  1. The proxies route your internet traffic through an intermediary server.
  2. This server changes the IP address of your connection request.
  3. Your IP is completely hidden, and you appear as a different yet completely normal user.

Residential proxies are exceptional because they're real mobile and desktop devices connected to a local Wi-Fi network.

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What is a proxy server?

A proxy server works as a middleman between you and the internet. It's like an invisible barrier that masks your real IP address and provides you with a new one. When you access the website through a proxy, the website sees the IP address of the proxy instead of your real IP address.

Equipping a proxy can be useful for a bunch of reasons, like maintaining your privacy online, bypassing internet restrictions, or accessing region-locked content.

It's like having someone stand in front of you at a concert and that makes you see better, except in this case, the proxy helps you access the online world without any restrictions. If you're interested in learning all the ins and outs of proxy servers, you can get more information by reading our proxies guide.

What is a residential IP?

A residential IP address is an IP tied to a physical device, for example, a mobile phone or desktop computer.

How to use residential proxies in Smartproxy dashboard: 1) select proxy location, 2) select session type, 3) access your target(s).

Internet service providers register residential IPs in public databases, which lets websites identify the device's internet provider, network, and location. Most online services recognize residential IP addresses as real people, as opposed to those equipped with datacenter IPs.

How do I get a residential IP address?

You can get a residential IP from various proxy providers. Some providers offer a list of IP addresses, while others offer endpoints. When choosing Smartproxy, we’re going to save you some hassle – there's no need to import proxy lists, and there's almost zero chance you will get a proxy that doesn't work.

Why use a residential proxy network?

We get it, you might wanna switch your IP for various reasons. From accessing geo-restricted content or managing multiple social media accounts to scraping targets, collecting accurate region-based data, and localizing ads. Rotating residential proxies work their magic for various use cases and allow you to complete your everyday tasks without worrying about IP bans.

Access local data with global residential proxy

Whatever the case is, a residential proxy network is great for hiding your true online identity. It allocates to you a genuine residential IP and hides your original IP address from servers for some serious online anonymity.

There is one snag, though – search engines will only allow you to make a specific number of requests from the same IP per minute. Thus, this type of single server setup can significantly limit your browsing options and even get a ban if you exceed the rate you're given. Luckily, our residential proxies come with advanced rotation, which does make it easier to get past this hiccup. You can change the IP every 1, 10, or 30 minutes and enjoy uninterrupted browsing with ease.

Pros of residential proxies

Residential proxies have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Here're some of the pros of using residential proxies:

  • Additional anonymity layer. Since residential proxies use IPs from actual residential locations, they can make it harder for websites to identify you as a proxy user.
  • Higher success rate. Residential proxies are less likely to be detected and blocked by websites since they mimic actual user behavior, so you can run various automation tools without worrying about bans.
  • Access to location-specific content. If you wanna access content that is only available in a specific location, residential proxies can do the job just right.
  • Increased security. Rotating residential proxies can help protect your personal information by hiding your real IP and providing an additional layer of security when you browse the web.

What are residential proxies used for?

Residential proxies can be used for market research, business automation, social networks, network penetration testing, and retail. Here's some info about what you can really do with paid proxies:

  • Social media management. Residential proxies allow users to manage multiple social media accounts from different locations, making it easier to avoid account suspension or termination.
  • Reselling. Online resellers use residential proxies to bypass restrictions that prevent them from accessing specific websites, enabling them to find better deals and make more profits.
  • Market intelligence. Businesses use residential proxies to collect market intelligence data such as pricing information, customer behavior, and product trends, which can be used to make more informed decisions.
  • Price comparison. Online shoppers use residential proxies to compare prices from different regions or countries, helping them find the best deals and save money.
  • Ad verification. Advertisers use residential proxies to verify that their ads are being displayed correctly and not being blocked by ad-blockers or fraudsters.
  • Entertainment. Proxies can be used to access geo-restricted content such as streaming services, TV channels, or gaming platforms, allowing users to enjoy their favorite entertainment from anywhere in the world.
  • Browsing. Users can use residential proxies to browse the internet anonymously, hiding their real IP address and protecting their privacy from online trackers and data collectors.

This is all great, but what about real-life examples? Do you wanna hear more use cases from entrepreneurs, social media managers, and small startups that used a proxy service to make it? Well, we're glad you asked. Some of our clients have shared their success stories with us, and we’ve put them up on our site.

Proxies working with every major browser

Our proxies work with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. You can also use proxies on your iPhone or Android.

What are rotating residential proxies?

Unlike regular residential proxies, which simply hide your real IP behind another IP, rotating residential proxies, also known as backconnect proxies, conceal you behind a pool of proxies. These proxies switch between themselves with every session or at regular intervals.

Here's what happens each time you make a server request:

  1. You send a server request through your normal connection. We will call this Connection 1, and let's say you search for “smartproxy”.
  2. The server returns you the result: If you keep repeating this search or run a bot to make multiple, high-rate searches, the search engine will flag this as suspicious activity and may even ban Connection 1.

Once you make the initial search, every subsequent search will be directed through a different proxy connection. By doing so, you reduce the risk of a block for too many requests. Then, the proxy rotates your IP, so you get a brand new digital identity for each request.

How to connect via rotating residential proxies?

Although you can try free residential proxy services, eventually, you’ll find out that it's best to sign up for a paid plan with a trusted proxy provider. This is much more reliable, quicker, and offers the greatest level of security and anonymity. Free proxy services often collect your data, passwords, and even hack their users.

Smartproxy offers a range of price plans to suit your needs and budget. Price plans are based on traffic usage and offer access to a pool of 55M+ proxies. All plans come with an unlimited number of connections, threads, and countries (195+ of them!) at any time. City-level targeting is included.

All you need to do to get started is to sign up on our dashboard. There you'll get to choose your preferred subscription, change your plan, or add Smart Wallet credits. For new users, we also offer a 3-day 100 MB free trial. Track daily traffic usage, add sub-users, or whitelist IPs and track their usage.

Rotating proxies

For more information, check out our FAQs, or get in touch via live chat.

How to set up residential proxies

Setting up Smartproxy's residential proxies is a simple process that can be completed in just a few easy steps:

  1. Sign up for an account on Smartproxy's dashboard and select a plan that fits your needs.
  2. Choose the device or application you wanna use the proxy with and follow the instructions for setting it up. Smartproxy offers detailed setup guides with screenshots and other helpful information to make it easy peasy.
  3. Once you have successfully set up your proxy, you can start using it for your desired purposes, whether it is for personal browsing or business automation.

If you encounter any issues during setup, Smartproxy's customer support team is available 24/7 to help you out.

Try powerful residential proxies for a bargain – prices start at $4/GB*.

Get residential proxies >

James Keenan

Senior content writer

The automation and anonymity evangelist at Smartproxy. He believes in data freedom and everyone’s right to become a self-starter. James is here to share knowledge and help you succeed with residential proxies.

Frequently asked questions

What is a residential proxy?

A residential proxy is a mobile or desktop device IP address used to mask a user's original IP address.

What is the difference between a residential proxy and VPN?

A residential proxy is an IP address that belongs to a real mobile or desktop device, while VPN encrypts your internet connection and routes your traffic through a server that masks your IP address. It might sound similar, but there're a few differences you should keep in mind.

Who uses residential proxies?

These proxies are extremely useful for both individuals and businesses. Users use residential proxies to access geo-restricted content and casual yet more secure browsing. Companies leverage a huge pool of residential IPs for getting market and sales intelligence, verifying their ads in different locations, running web scraping tasks, and managing multiple social media or eCommerce accounts.

Which is the best residential proxy?

When it comes to choosing the best residential proxy, there're a few factors to consider, such as reliability, speed, and price. While there're many residential proxy providers out there, you should look for a provider that offers quality services that meet yo' needs.

Some popular residential proxy providers include Smartproxy, Oxylabs, and Brightdata. These providers offer reliable and fast residential proxies that can help you bypass geo-restrictions, protect your online privacy, and run web scraping tasks to collect accurate data.

How long can I use residential proxies?

When you equip real residential IPs, you can keep the same IP for up to 30 minutes. Additionally, you can choose to rotate the IP each minute or every 10 minutes. Some providers also offer a rotating proxy that takes a new IP address with each request.

Can I use residential proxies anywhere?

You can get real IP addresses from all around the globe – we’re offering over 195 locations and 8 major cities. This selection is great for anything from web scraping to social media account management. Go on, localize those ads.

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