Residential vs. Data Center Proxies: How do they differ?

Cybercrime is on the rise. And INTERPOL even projects that the cases will continually increase well into the future. As such, you need to protect yourself or your company now more than ever. What better way to start protecting yourself than using proxy servers?

What is a proxy?

But first and foremost, what is a proxy? A proxy server, or proxy for short, is an intermediary through which web requests from your computer go through before being directed to the target web host or website.

In essence, a proxy covers your tracks online by changing your original IP address to a new one. Depending on the type of proxy server you choose, the proxy server provider can even assign you a new IP address with every web request you make.

Types of Proxies

The types of proxies include:

  • Data center proxies
  • Mobile proxies
  • High anonymity proxies
  • Anonymous proxies
  • Residential proxies
  • Transparent proxies
  • Reverse proxies, etc.

They are quite a number. And each of these types has distinct characteristics. Specifically, though, this article is about the difference between residential and data center proxies. So, let’s get straight into that discussion.

Residential Proxies and Data Center Proxies

Residential proxies and data center proxies hide your IP address, thereby giving you the much-desired online anonymity. Regardless of whether you’re using the former or the latter, you’re guaranteed to access the geo-restricted content on websites such as YouTube. You can even work without worrying about your computer’s IP address being known or getting banned. Having said that, they differ in functionality. How so? Let’s find out.

Residential IP Address

At home, you access the internet via an internet service provider (ISP). Now, your ISP owns a pool of IP addresses, which it first registers in public databases before assigning them to your internet-connected devices, e.g., smartphone, PlayStation console, laptop, or desktop computer.

Notably, these IP addresses are known as residential IP addresses. Also, by virtue of being registered in the databases, websites can tell your ISP, network, and location easily by just reading the records. That said, what is a residential proxy?

Residential Proxies

Residential proxies utilize residential IP addresses, which are, in turn, owned by ISPs. In this regard, your preferred residential proxy provider routes your web traffic through another existing internet-connected device, known as residential proxies, before connecting to your desired website.

Residential proxies are internet-connected devices – laptops, mobile phones, or desktop computers – that enable you to use the IP addresses assigned to them by the respective ISP that your residential proxy provider will have chosen for a particular location. For this reason, residential proxies are real/genuine devices, a factor that makes it hard for websites to block the associated IP addresses.

Residential Proxies’ Use Cases

Residential proxies are ideal for:

  • Opening and managing multiple social media accounts
  • Web scraping
  • Ad verification
  • Driving traffic to websites

Data Center Proxies

Now that you know what a residential proxy is, let’s find out what a data center proxy is. A data center proxy can be termed as the complete opposite of a residential proxy. A data center proxy is a computer in a data center that randomly generates and manages IP addresses. It then assigns your web requests the generated IP address before connecting to the web server.

This is a complete contrast of residential proxies whose residential IP addresses are attached to existing devices. The IP addresses generated aren’t linked to a device; they exist in a virtual world. As such, data center proxies are virtual intermediaries.

Nonetheless, the fact that fast and powerful data center servers carry all these operations and management out implies that data center proxies offer high-speed interconnectivity. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the high speed is a double-edged sword.

On the positive side, this type of proxies offers excellent speed because the allocated bandwidth for each server is quite considerable. As such, multiple users can use the proxy comfortably. Secondly, it successfully hides all the users’ real IP addresses, thereby promoting anonymity and privacy.

However, the downside is that websites and security systems easily detect the high traffic volume that passes through data center proxies. As a result, it’s easier for a data center proxy to get blocked or banned compared to residential proxies.

Data Center Proxies’ Use Cases

Despite this inevitable drawback, data center proxies’ speed and support for large web traffic volumes still make them ideal for several applications. These include:

  • Web crawling
  • Web scraping (however, you can only succeed in your data mining engagements when using small websites that don’t have sophisticated security features. Large websites will nip the web scraping in the bud if you happen to use data center proxies.)
  • Accessing geo-restricted content


Data center proxies are faster than residential proxies. At the same time, the possibility of getting detected is higher for data center proxies compared to residential proxies. Furthermore, with residential proxies, you’ll appear on more genuine websites than data center proxies. Your choice, therefore, depends on your assessment of the situation.