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What are residential proxies? Are they legal?

There is a wide variety of proxy servers in the market. Residential proxies are one of many types of proxies that help individuals gain more anonymity online and a more competitive ground for businesses. But how do residential and other types of proxies work? Are they legal, and more importantly, which one should you choose?

What are residential proxies? Are they legal?

What are residential proxies?

Residential proxies can be described as a vast, web-like network of real IP addresses given by internet service providers (ISPs). A residential proxy network allows you to use its IP address and protect yourself on the web. The IP addresses are usually attached to physical locations and composed of various-size networks. These physical locations can be as small as your local area or extend globally.

How do residential proxies work?

Think of a residential proxy server as a mediator between all your devices and the websites you can connect to. These mediators lend you a helping hand in staying anonymous, not exposing your identity or your location while you surf the web. In other words, it borrows someone else’s IP address from a proxy pool and makes it yours so that you can become anyone, anywhere in the world. Cool, right?

How residential proxies work infographic

Main residential IP address use cases

There are many uses for residential IP addresses. Some use residential proxies for good, while others, unfortunately, exploit them for unlawful purposes.

  1. Social media management. No one doubts that social media is a huge part of today’s web marketing and vice versa. Residential proxies open the possibility of having several social media accounts on one device and juggling them successfully.
  2. Market price monitoring. Residential proxies come in handy if your business relies on customers. You can easily collect data, monitor and comply with pricing trends, all to keep your customers returning. Overall, residential proxies let you use different sales intelligence software.
  3. Cybersecurity penetration testing. Cybersecurity companies use different encryption techniques to hide IPs, and residential proxies are one of them. A cybersecurity penetration test recreates real-life scenarios and methods that cybercriminals use daily.
  4. Web data scraping. Companies use residential proxies for data collection and competitor monitoring. Gathering massive amounts of information is possible since IPs can be continuously rotated.
  5. Ad verification. Residential proxies play a considerable part in media monitoring, as they let you check and verify the ads displayed on your page. That means recognizing and blocking suspicious ads that can damage your business’s reputation.
  6. Site unblocking. Many service providers geo-lock content and websites, making them accessible only from certain parts of the world. Residential proxies allow you to reach them without being flagged or blocked while traveling. Residential proxies play a massive role in countries where free access to information is restricted.

Yes. Residential proxies are legal since everyone should be able to surf the internet safely and anonymously. As far as businesses are concerned, residential proxies help them monitor competitors, study markets, and even protect brand reputation.

What are the types of residential proxies?

Many different types of residential proxies serve a particular purpose. Let’s take a look at some of them to get a better understanding of their capabilities.

  • Shared residential proxies. The main advantage of shared residential proxies is price. They are among some of the cheapest in the market. In terms of speed, shared residential proxies are quite decent due to their powerful network architecture. On the flip side, they are less secure and reliable than other types and get blocked by websites more often than dedicated residential proxies.
  • Dedicated residential proxies. Dedicated residential proxies are the way to go if you are looking for the highest level of privacy and security. Moreover, they offer high speeds and reliable connections, but the setup is more complicated, and they tend to be more expensive.
  • Mobile residential proxies. Just like dedicated residential proxies, they provide a similar level of privacy and security but access websites differently. They use mobile IP addresses. The main disadvantage of mobile residential proxies is that they are blocked more often than other types of proxies.
  • Rotating residential proxies. Rotating proxies operate differently than other types. They rotate IP addresses by changing them randomly after a certain period, which makes them more challenging to detect. The rotation method makes them one of the safest proxies in the market, but they are also pricey.

What are the pros and cons of using residential proxies?

Like all proxies, residential proxies have their advantages and shortcomings.


  • pros
    Anonymity and privacy online. Residential proxies let users hide their IP addresses and virtual location, leading to better privacy and anonymity online.
  • pros
    Corporate network protection. They protect corporate networks from various online threats without investing in expensive hardware.
  • pros
    Reduced risk of IP blocking and blacklisting. Residential proxies are less likely to be recognized as proxies by various websites. As a result, less blocking occurs.
  • pros
    Access to geo-restricted content. Residential proxies provide users with secure access to restricted content while traveling by changing their IP addresses and virtual location. That makes residential proxies popular in countries where individual human rights are limited or restricted.


  • cons
    Speed reduction. Residential proxies might have slower speeds than other types of proxies because they depend on the internet speed of the assigned IP address.
  • cons
    Cost. Compared to data center proxies, residential proxies are more expensive.
  • cons
    Complexity of configuration. Some residential proxy servers are complex and require skill to configure, usually with the supervision of an IT specialist. This always comes with a price.
  • cons
    Limited availability. Proxy servers are unavailable due to legal regulations in some regions and countries.
  • cons
    Legality. Some activities of residential proxies, such as web data scraping, are illegal in some regions. Understanding the local laws and regulations before performing such tasks is essential.

Datacenter vs. residential proxies: What are the main differences?

Like all proxies, datacenter and residential proxies perform the same thing – they hide or mask IP addresses online. However, they operate slightly differently.

Datacenter proxies are created in large facilities equipped with multiple servers – data centers. It’s a “brick and mortar” model that carries advantages like high speeds.

Residential proxies are IP addresses assigned to existing homes, so they depend on particular homes and ISPs and can be slower than data center proxies. On the other hand, residential proxy IP addresses are less likely to be flagged as suspicious because they come from residential locations.

IP rotationRotating or multiple IPsStatic or fixed IPs
Anonymity and privacyHarder to blockEasier to block
SpeedMediumFaster than residential proxies
CostMore expensive than datacenter proxiesCost-friendly
Suited forBrand protection, review monitoring, web scraping for marketing researchAd verification, SEO monitoring, bypassing censorship
Source IPISP (internet service provider)Data centers, cloud

Things to consider when choosing the best residential proxy provider

  • Purpose and use. The main question to ask is why do you need proxies? Datacenter proxies might suit you if what you’re looking for is basic online anonymity and small-scale data scraping. Still, if you want a proxy for better anonymity and overall security, the residential proxy solution might be a better fit.
  • Budget. Residential proxies are pricey. The good thing is that many providers offer reasonable deals. Compare prices online and get the best value for your money.
  • Geo-targeting. If you are choosing residential proxies for business, it’s good to consider your geo-targeting needs. Residential proxies help to bypass geo-restricted websites and unlock content worldwide securely while traveling.
  • Compatibility with automation tools. If site optimization is what you are after, then it’s reasonable to check if the residential proxy plan supports SEO automation tools.
  • Speed and latency. Depending on your online activities, residential proxies might affect your connection. Better loading speed and lower latency are always better for web data scraping and other data collection activities.
  • Support and reputation. Great service is crucial when choosing a residential proxy provider since some plans and packages are expensive. Look for ones that have excellent customer service and are industry approved.