Proxy servers act as intermediary doors between our systems and the target destinations we want to reach in order to extract the necessary information for our private and business goals.
But not all doors work the same and not all proxies are equal.
If a normal user who just wants to access restricted websites can choose a free web-based proxy server, companies and individuals that are serious and want results will always select the high-quality level of a paid proxy service.
Furthermore, we have to remember that choosing a proxy server to forward our requests to various websites is similar to offering our bags to someone unknown to carry them at another address.
So, would you trust a stranger to handle your bags or would you rather entrust them to a reliable courier who can offer the necessary guarantees that your bags will reach the final destination?
And, to take our fictional scenario even further, let’s imagine that you don’t just send your bags to another address via another party but that courier must return with a different set of bags from the destination. And this time, the new bags are even more important for you.
Would they bring the right bags or would they bring something you didn’t actually request?
So, what is the difference between free vs paid proxies?
Let’s discover the most popular reasons you should always pay for your proxies, especially when you really want to receive the right ‘bags’ in the online environment.
All serious users who look for high-quality proxies are fully aware that you can’t find the right products unless you go searching first for a reliable provider.
A reputable proxy company brings to the table many years of experience and well-built products that can deliver stable proxy sessions for people involved in data extraction.
Since a proxy company has been dealing with numerous use cases and a great number of customers who need to access valuable information in the online space, it’s more than obvious that such an enterprise will always work to preserve the quality of its proxy pool, enhance its infrastructure and respond to users’ requests.
In return, if the user goes for a free proxy alternative, the chances of finding the same level of quality and excellence diminish very much as people supporting the free proxy servers have no strong reasons to maintain the quality of the network infrastructure.
Though newcomers may not be fully aware, there are many websites that have installed anti-scraping mechanisms and security tools which work by delivering a false set of data to users who try to scrape information via free proxies or proxy tools from unreliable sources.
Companies that have been involved in data scraping projects for a long time are totally aware of the difficulties that arise when trying to obtain valuable content from the online environment.
So, when the question of choosing between free and paid proxies emerges, experienced firms will always decide on paid proxies delivered by a recognized provider from the industry.
Further on, when trying to find the best supplier, companies that want to obtain real data for major projects will look to find a trustworthy partner who built a large pool of residential IP addresses to access a great variety of websites.
To obtain the right data, we must rely on reliable proxies delivered by reputable proxy server companies.
As a provider of proxy solutions, we’ve encountered a high number of businesses engaged in web scraping projects that make up an important chunk of their marketing and development plans.
In other words, the information some companies extract from various online sources becomes an essential element of their own business models and they would not be able to continue their activities without this type of content.
For this reason, companies have to always make sure they continue to keep connecting to the sites they target to obtain the required data.
Therefore, these users are fully aware that some websites monitor the list of IP addresses imposing limits according to their own internal rules, sometimes in an automatic manner. And when the user goes online with a free or shared proxy, the chances of getting blocked increase very much.
Since most free proxies are actually shared IP addresses that are used by more individuals - sometimes at the same time - they have already been marked as insecure by most websites and shouldn’t offer much help to users who are serious about scraping projects.
To make sure you won’t be kept away from the best sources of content, go online with proxy server solutions from reliable companies.
We added on numerous occasions that access is nothing without privacy and users engaged in data scraping need to make sure their IP addresses won’t get exposed during the data extraction jobs.
Further on - as we tried to emphasize in our article dedicated to the major fingerprints that could block your scraping activities - anonymity is difficult to be obtained on the Internet since our IPs, browsers, and systems reveal many details that can lead back to our private identities and business goals.
Thus, it is no wonder to see a growing number of users choosing proxy server solutions to access online data for a large variety of reasons.
Of course, now, another major question emerges: How good are the proxies you use? Do you trust some free proxies - which are shared by numerous people - to keep your real IP address hidden?
Or do you consider that experienced proxy providers working in this field for many years know exactly what types of proxy server solutions users need to remain private online?
Numerous companies rely on web scraping jobs to obtain the right information for business development. Some of them require a little bit of data, while others demand a lot.
So, when we talk about large-scale marketing activities that base their operations on large chunks of data, the speed factor becomes essential and needs to be taken into account.
For this reason, businesses that require not only easy access and online privacy but also a good connection speed and excellent bandwidth - to extract as much information as possible - may have a hard time using free proxies.
Free proxies are free for a reason.
Most of the time, they have already been used in multiple circumstances by a great number of individuals or they may still be in use. Therefore, users should not expect excellent bandwidth or great speed - not to mention easy access or privacy - from free proxies.
Further on, if we are to focus solely on speed and stability, we could mention the static residential proxies which are recognized as some of the fastest proxy solutions right now.
In addition, we have to add that fast static residential proxies are quite useful for startup businesses that just started their activities and need a lot of data to keep up with the market.
It goes without saying that users need to make sure the proxies they choose to go online should come from reliable companies that have some experience in the market and can provide a generous pool of reliable IP addresses.
All web-based companies that want to reach their business goals must rely on the power of proxies to gather the necessary information that would allow them to keep up with the latest developments in the industry.
And though we all admit that the online space is able to provide valuable content to those looking for it, at the same time companies involved in data extraction are equally interested in making the difference between real content and a false set of data that may be provided by the targeted websites.
So, how do we access the websites of interest without getting blocked? How do we improve our scraping methods to make sure we only obtain valuable data?
Since we almost reached the end of our article, you must already know the answer.
What is more than obvious is that the quality of our scraping attempts depends on the quality of our IPs which we can only obtain from a serious provider that spent time and financial resources to design and create a strong proxy network that is able to respond to all known and unknown challenges in the industry.
Free proxy server solutions can’t offer the required guarantees that your scraping attempts won’t be affected by the low quality of the proxies.
We’ve already established in our introduction that free proxies are difficult to entrust with our private or business information. As they offer no guarantees for individuals interested in safe browsing sessions, users should be careful not to insert important data when choosing them.
Another major issue with free proxies is that they are sometimes connected with online criminals and malicious software that aim to steal valuable information, from financial details to credentials we use to access online accounts. We can only imagine how useful all this data would be in the hands of hackers who are looking for vulnerable points.
As you’ve already noticed by now, it’s always a great idea to acquire proxies from a reliable proxy company that comes with the necessary experience in the market.
At the same time, the way you choose your proxy supplier depends not only on your goals but on the solutions they designed to respond to a great number of cases and scenarios, from private usage to the business level.
So, if you’re looking for the best proxy solutions in the industry, you want to choose a reputable brand that can guarantee the required speed and privacy in the online environment while delivering stable web scraping solutions for all use cases.
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Shifter was founded in 2012, as one of the first residential proxy providers, since then it has become one of the leading proxy networks in the world and it's used by more than 25.000 clients including Fortune 500 Companies. Users can connect from anywhere to access local data without any restriction, while preserving a high degree of privacy and security.