As the debate on data privacy rages on, choosing between private and shared proxies becomes increasingly important. These two types of proxies differ in terms of their basic and underlying operations. The differences affect performance, privacy, security, and their ability to provide anonymity. This article sheds light on these differences by discussing each of these proxies’ advantages and disadvantages, thereby providing the information you need to make a choice.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy is a gateway that stops direct communication between a computer and a web server. It intercepts web traffic, i.e., web requests and content sent by web servers, hides the computer’s IP address, and sends web requests on behalf of the computer. This gateway hides the real IP address and then assigns a new one, essentially giving you another online identity.
Importantly, while all proxy servers use this principle, they differ based on the types of IP addresses they allocate, in addition to how they give these identifiers. Shared proxies and private proxies, for example, differ in terms of how they assign IP addresses. Let’s get into that.
Types of Proxies
A shared proxy assigns the same IP address to multiple users, in effect creating a setup whereby multiple users’ PCs access the internet via a single gateway simultaneously. Therefore, all users share the same bandwidth, causing the connection speeds to dip the more the number of users increases. We’ll discuss this and other disadvantages in greater detail later on.
Still, shared proxies are advantageous as they provide a layer of security. Sharing the same resource makes it harder for anyone to identify a particular user. As a result, it is a haven for people engaging in illegal activities.
Private proxies, also known as dedicated proxies, assign each user a unique IP address. In this regard, every user has a dedicated server. Hence, the connection speeds are always high when using this type of proxies.
Semi-dedicated proxies are used by a limited number of users (up to 3). As such, they do not achieve the exclusivity of private proxies but also do not experience speed bottlenecks associated with shared proxies. Simply put, they incorporate some of the benefits of private proxies and eliminate some of the drawbacks of shared proxies.
- They are cheap since the proxy service providers share the cost of a single IP address among multiple users.
- They are readily available.
- They bypass geo-restrictions. For instance, using a German proxy that is shared gives you access to geo-blocked content on German websites.
- They provide additional anonymity. Many individuals share the same IP address, meaning that it would be nearly impossible to identify a single user.
- They are ideal for web scraping small sites which are yet to integrate anti-scraping tools.
- They are slow because of the shared bandwidth.
- They are unreliable because the slow connection speeds may be too extreme to the extent that websites become unresponsive.
- They increase user vulnerability since the actions of a single user could cause the IP address to be blacklisted, limiting access to that particular website for the rest of the users.
- Some shared proxy providers assign already used IP addresses that multiple websites have blacklisted.
- CAPTCHA prompts are very common when using shared proxies because multiple users could be accessing the same website simultaneously
- As a user, you run the risk of being hacked by malicious users with technical knowledge.
- Shared proxy service providers do not afford their users any technical support.
The advantages of private/dedicated proxies include:
- They are fast because you do not share the bandwidth with anyone.
- They are secure.
- They provide unmatched reliability.
- They give their users complete control of the proxy server.
- Reputable private proxy service providers offer customer support.
- They bypass geo-restrictions. For instance, a private German proxy enables you to access geo-blocked German content.
The disadvantages of private proxies include:
- They are more expensive than shared proxies.
- They do not have the anonymity associated with shared proxies since any activity is linked to you as the sole user.
The choice between private and shared proxies depends on your preferences. If the slow speeds and unreliability do not deter you, you can choose a shared proxy. However, if you are looking for a high-speed, reliable, and uninterrupted connection, a private proxy is your surest bet. Overall, private proxies are the best option, but then again, it all depends on what you want since, in certain instances, shared proxies will work just fine, as we have detailed. For example, a German proxy could either be a private or shared proxy but will ensure that you can access geo-blocked content on German websites. If you’re interested in using proxies for your individual or business needs, visit the Oxylabs website and find out more about getting multiple IPs from every country in the world.