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What Is a Proxy Server and How Does It Work?

A proxy is an intermediary server between two devices on a network. When you use proxies, your internet requests are routed via proxy server before they reach the website or service you want to access. As proxies hide your IP address, they allow you to bypass website restrictions and keep your online activity private.

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What Is a Proxy Server and How Does It Work?

How does a proxy server work?

How Smartproxy proxy server works

When you use a proxy, all of your requests are first sent to the proxy server. Then, the proxy connects to the website or service on your behalf to request the data. The website sends the data back to the proxy, which then passes it to you. All while using a different IP address to keep your real identity hidden.

Residential proxies

Mobile proxies

Shared datacenter proxies

Dedicated datacenter proxies

What is it?

Residential IP addresses are real mobile or desktop devices that pinpoint a certain physical location.

Mobile IPs are virtual IPs from real mobile devices. These are connected to mobile carriers and run on mobile networks, which makes them the most successful among all proxy types.

Shared datacenter proxies are virtual IP addresses sourced at powerful data centers.

Dedicated datacenter proxies are datacenter proxies that belong to only you.

What can I get?

Our 55M+ ethically-sourced rotating and sticky residential proxies offer access to:

  • 195+ locations with country-, city-, state-level targeting;
  • <0.6s speed;
  • 99.47% success rate;
  • HTTP(s) + SOCKS5 support;
  • The best entry point with the Pay As You Go payment option;
  • Unlimited connections and threads.

With our 10M+ ethically-sourced 3G/4G/5G mobile proxies, you can enjoy:

  • 160+ locations worldwide;
  • 700+ ASNs;
  • HTTP(s) + SOCKS5 support;
  • OS filtering by iOS and Android;
  • Smooth proxy integration;
  • Advanced rotation;
  • Unlimited concurrent sessions.

Our 100K+ rotating and sticky datacenter IPs with 400 subnets has:

  • Locations worldwide;
  • <0.3s speed;
  • 99.99% uptime;
  • Intuitive proxy configuration and integration;
  • Flexible pricing options (Pay per IP and Pay per GB), allowing you to pay only for the features you need and be able to scale them up;
  • Unlimited connections and threads.

In addition to <0.3s speed, 99.99% uptime, unlimited connections and threads, our 400K+ dedicated datacenter proxies with 1500+ subnets from the US offer:

  • IP randomization and IP replacement options;
  • HTTP(s) or SOCKS5 IP type;
  • Sequential and non-sequential IP lists;
  • 99.99% uptime;
  • An epic entry point to test the waters with 3 IPs for $7.5.

Free tools

  • X Browser
  • Browser extension
  • Browser extension
  • Browser extension
  • Browser extension

Variety is proxies’ second name

Anonymous proxy, HTTP proxy, transparent proxy... See, there's quite a good slew of proxy types out there, allow us to present them.

HTTP(S) proxies

HTTP(S) proxies

HTTP and HTTPS are protocols for data transmission over the net. Use HTTP(S) proxies to stay safe from harmful content and malware, save traffic by recognizing and bypassing ads, and access geo-restricted websites.

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SOCKS5 proxies

SOCKS5 is a versatile protocol that handles various types of traffic, such as TCP, UDP, SMTP, and FTP. SOCKS5 proxies are used for use cases, like multiple accounts management, cyber and brand security.

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Anonymous proxies

This type of proxy servers hides your identity by not revealing your IP address and making all of the requests on their behalf. Anonymous proxies provide a high level of anonymity, privacy, and security.

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Transparent proxies

Differently from an anonymous proxy, a transparent proxy server doesn’t hide the user's IP; in addition, it doesn’t modify requests. This kind of proxy servers is commonly used for caching and content filtering.

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3G/4G/5G proxies

3G/4G/5G mobile proxies are IP addresses coming from real mobile devices connected to the internet via mobile data. They hide your real IP, allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and blocks, and are highly successful among all proxy types.

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IPv4 & IPv6 proxies

IPv4 proxies use an IPv4 protocol, and IPv6 proxies use a newer IPv6 protocol to mask your real IP address. However, both of the types are used to provide anonymity and privacy, and access any website you need.

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Rotating proxies

Rotating proxy servers change an IP address with a new one with every connection, which makes it harder for websites to track and block the IP used. It allows to avoid IP blocks and CAPTCHAs.

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Unlimited proxies

Unlimited proxies let you enjoy unlimited bandwidth usage. They can become very handy when you’re planning to use a large amount of traffic, for example, when streaming, or playing games.

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Shared proxies

Shared proxies allow sharing the same IP pool with multiple users. It lets you enjoy the top-notch proxy server quality, create successful connections – all at affordable prices.

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Dedicated proxies

Each dedicated proxy, aka private proxy, refers to a proxy type that is used only by one user at a given time. It gives you full control and ownership of the browsing history, acceptability, and health of your IPs.

Use proxy servers for various use cases

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Market intelligence

Monitor competitors, track local prices, and inhale industry trends to develop your business strategy accordingly.

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Multiple accounts management & automation

Automate and manage multiple eCommerce and social media accounts with no IP blocks or CAPTCHAs.

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Ads management & automation

Test ads, optimize CPA and verify links with IPs of real devices. Protect your ads by detecting fraud.

SEO research

SEO research

Monitor SERPs, audit websites, and research your competitors to boost your brand to the highest ranks.

Enjoy millions of IPs worldwide

Chrome

Chrome

Firefox

Firefox

Safari

Safari

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer

Ghost

Ghost

Android

Android

iPhone

iPhone

FoxyProxy extension

FoxyProxy extension

Frequently asked questions

How does a proxy work?

If you use a proxy, your connection goes through a proxy server. In other words, when you try to access a certain website, your connection request doesn’t go directly to the website. It first goes to a proxy server, which then forwards your request to the website you’re trying to reach. This way, your real IP address stays anonymous but you’re still able to access the information you need on that website.

What are the advantages of using a proxy server?

If you want to increase your privacy, gather data, manage multiple accounts, crack firewalls, or access location-specific content, it’s impossible to do all that from a single IP address. Using a proxy server enables you to use multiple IPs to access information from all over the world without restrictions.

What is the main function of a proxy?

The main reason why proxies were created was to hide your real IP address so that you could stay anonymous whether it would be for personal or professional use.

Is a proxy better than VPN? 

Both VPN and proxies hide the IP address of your device. Unlike VPN, a proxy server doesn’t encrypt your traffic. This is the key reason why proxies are generally faster than VPN. As a result, using a proxy will let you enjoy better download/upload speeds when compared to VPN.

How can I set up and use Smartproxy proxies?

Simply access our dashboard using the start guide. In the user-friendly dashboard, you can also monitor usage statistics, whitelist your IPs, and assign team roles. In case you run into any problem, don’t hesitate to review our resources or drop a line to our customer support team.

What should I consider before buying proxies?

We’ve drawn up this handy checklist so that you’d know what you should pay attention to before choosing proxies:

  • Traffic – think about how much traffic you’re gonna need so that it’d be easier to decide what pricing model (based on traffic or the number of requests) would suit you most.
  • Proxy pool size – check how many IP addresses are on offer and what the quality of those IPs is. Think of some extra details too, e.g. proxy speed.
  • Locations – do you have access to country- or city-specific ports, or both? How many countries does a proxy network cover?
  • Pricing – don’t get easily seduced by free proxies as they possess some cybersecurity risks and perform poorly. Always look for reasonably-priced proxies from reliable providers.
  • Customer support – make sure your proxy provider has unwavering customer support in case you run into any trouble.

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