Live Proxies

What is a Residential Proxy, Why You Need It?

What is a residential proxy? This guide explains how residential proxies work, and why people use residential proxies instead of datacenter and ISP proxies.

What Is Residential Proxy
Live Proxies

Live Proxies Editorial Team

Content Manager


1 May 2024

A residential proxy is a server that connects to a host on your behalf, from a real device within a residential network. Location within a residential network allows residential proxies to more closely resemble an authentic user, and more easily avoid detection by the host.

Residential Proxies vs. ISP Proxies

A residential proxy replaces your IP and sends the traffic back to you, from an IP that comes from an ISP within a residential network. ISP proxies are bought or leased from an ISP by an IP broker or proxy vendor, and then used as a proxy by end users. Residential proxies belong to real internet users, while ISP proxies are created artificially.

Residential proxies and ISP proxies both show up as coming from an ISP to target sites. While quicker, ISP proxies are from a more limited subnet range, and are sometimes hosted from a data center, making them easier to identify. Residential proxies are much more difficult to detect and block.

Residential Proxies vs. Datacenter Proxies

A residential proxy operates off a home device validated by an internet service provider (ISP), while a datacenter proxy runs off a server farm not attached to an ISP. While offering faster speeds, an IP from a datacenter proxy is more easily identified and blacklisted. A residential proxy is more anonymous, with realistic speeds.

Datacenter proxies are often used by many people at the same time, but there are private options too. A residential proxy is always a private connection.

How Do Residential Proxies Work?

Residential proxies work through a partnership between a proxy service provider and a residential proxy owner. The proxy service provider discloses how the owner’s IP address will be used, and the owner agrees in exchange for compensation or other perks. After an agreement is made, the residential proxy can be chosen by customers of the proxy service provider.

The Mechanism Behind Proxies

First, a request, such as entering a website address, is sent to the proxy from the original IP. The proxy server takes the request data and sends it to its destination, under the IP of the proxy server. The response, such as website access, is sent back to the proxy server’s IP. The proxy server then sends the data back to the original requester.

Rotating vs. Static Residential Proxies

Static residential proxies make requests from the same IP, while rotating proxies change IPs by request or in timed intervals. A static residential proxy offers consistency, while limiting how much a user can request. If someone makes too many requests from the same IP, or requests large amounts of data, it's suspicious. Rotating residential proxies lowers the chances of being detected.

Rotating residential proxies are better when you have to switch up your IP, such as web scraping e-commerce sites. Websites employ anti-scraping technology, and quickly ban users found scraping their valuable data. A static residential proxy is better when you need a continuous identity, such as copping sneakers in a multi-step checkout.

Legal Considerations

Since a residential proxy uses a device with an actual owner, it's important that the owner gives consent before becoming a residential proxy. Residential proxies are valuable for their anonymity and security, so sometimes businesses will trick homeowners into giving consent with vague terms of service. Make sure your residential proxy comes from a reputable source.

Why Use a Residential Proxy?

A residential proxy is useful for businesses or individuals interested in web scraping, market research, social media management, overcoming geo-restrictions, copping sneakers, overcoming IP bans, or any other digital needs for confirmed human IPs. Residential proxies offer you alternate IPs that are legitimate, consistent, and dynamic, so websites and internet service providers can’t tell the difference.

Anonymity and Privacy

Residential proxies are virtually undetectable, letting you remain anonymous without worry. Residential proxies are also owned by actual people, and so are better protected by privacy laws. Datacenter proxies belong to large companies, increasing the risk of your data being sold or spied on.

Overcoming Geo-restrictions

By choosing the location of your residential proxy, you are able to access content restricted to certain areas. This includes websites your country doesn’t allow, special prices for plane tickets, market-specific online games, or regional streaming services.

Enhanced Security Measures

Using someone else’s IP keeps you completely anonymous. Your behavior can’t be tracked by companies or rival businesses, and your system can’t be infiltrated by hackers. With so many users, datacenter proxies are also large targets for cybercrime, while single-user residential proxies are not.

What Are Residential Proxies Used For?

The most common and frequently cited uses for residential proxies are activities that are more efficient with a trusted home IP address, such as web scraping, ad verification, market price monitoring, social media management, SEO monitoring and scraping, and copping sneakers and tickets.

Here are what residential proxies are used for:

  • Web Scraping. Rotating between residential IPs lets web scraper bots extract data subtly, to avoid rate limiting and blacklisting. Anti-scraping technology has a harder time detecting automation from a human-owned source, especially if the data is being scraped one IP at a time. CAPTCHAs are also less frequently encountered.
  • Ad Verification. Logging into a residential proxy in the area you’re advertising lets you verify your ads are being served as intended, and maintain quality control. If you use a proxy scraper, the real user experience is more closely imitated through a residential proxy, allowing you more insight into true traffic.
  • Market Price Monitoring. Monitoring competitors, consumer demand, price fluctuations, and the behavior of your demographic is much easier and efficient with a data scraping bot. Major e-commerce sites prohibit such practices, and flag datacenter proxies as suspicious activity as well. Residential proxies steer clear of restriction since they are identical to real users.
  • Social Media Management. Residential proxies let you manage multiple social media accounts, schedule content, and interact with users without danger of being flagged or reported. Many social media sites discourage or prohibit automation, multiple accounts, and IPs associated with data centers. Residential proxies appear as organic human behavior on different verified IPs, from within a residential network, and avoid suspicion.
  • SEO Monitoring. Scraping SEO data from search engine results pages is easier with a residential proxy. To deter scraping, competitor websites and search engines like Google often deny requests from datacenter proxies outright, since they are a common source of SEO scraping. A “regular” user on a residential proxy is not denied.
  • Accessing Sneaker and Ticket Sites. If you’re copping sneakers or tickets with a bot, residential proxies help you avoid exposure and banning. Residential proxies also more easily bypass the CAPTCHAs of sneaker and ticket retailers, since they are from a dedicated IP that has already passed many CAPTCHAs and proved themselves as human.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Residential Proxies

Benefits: Reliability, Legitimacy, and Hard to Detect

  • Reliability. Residential proxies look like a normal home IP, so you can hide more freely without being throttled or blocked by the host or ISP. You also know what you are getting each time, since the IP and service standards don’t change. If you juggle multiple IPs with rotating residential proxies, you stay off the radar for larger projects.
  • Legitimacy. Residential proxies are connected to an ISP, and are treated like any other domestic user. A residential proxy owner is also fully aware their device is being used for anonymous purposes, so there is mutual trust.
  • Hard to detect. When used appropriately, the traffic from a residential proxy is indistinguishable from everyday internet traffic. Your activity won’t be tagged by either a human onlooker or a computer, since it looks just like any other domestic user.

Drawbacks: Cost and Ethical Considerations

  • Cost. To be ethical, residential proxy providers must sign open and honest contracts with the owner of the IP address. The contract is often paid, which increases cost to the residential proxy purchaser. Quality residential proxies are also limited since they are tied to real people, decreasing supply and increasing demand.
  • Ethical considerations. Residential proxies are valuable, so unethical providers sometimes trick homeowners into being a residential proxy without full transparency.

How to Choose the Best Residential Proxy Provider

A residential proxy provider needs to be ethical to ensure the residential proxy owner is fully onboard with their device being used for a proxy. A residential proxy provider must also have a wide base of IPs to choose from, robust support, and reliable ISP-installed proxy connections.

What to Look For in a Provider

A residential proxy provider must first be reputable and reliable. Residential proxies are not cheap, so consistent results and dependable IPs are paramount. Along with fair pricing options, a good provider must also offer a healthy and sizable network of IPs to choose from, quality customer support, and a user-friendly dashboard to install, manage, and track your proxies.

Ethical Considerations: Choosing an Ethical Provider Is Crucial

A residential proxy provider must be ethical, since you are using a real person’s home device to be your proxy. The contract between the proxy provider, the residential proxy, and the client must be as transparent as possible, to alleviate privacy concerns. Ethical proxy providers don’t collect personal data from their residential IP partners or their customers.

How to Set Up Residential Proxies

After buying a proxy from a trustworthy residential proxy service provider, you need a computer or server to host the proxy. You also need a steady internet connection to manage the traffic and maintain speed and reliability.

Here’s how to set up a residential proxy:

  1. Install and configure the proxy software. Your proxy provider should make it easy to install the proxy software on your server, and get up and running.
  2. Configure settings. You must configure the IP address, port number, and other custom settings. Consult your data proxy provider if you need help.
  3. Connect to the proxy, and test it. After the proxy is configured, connect to a residential IP and try to access a geo-restricted website from your residential proxy. If it works, you’re in!


What is the difference between a residential proxy and an ISP proxy?

Residential proxies use IP addresses provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), in a real user’s home, mimicking an actual connection. ISP proxies come directly from an ISP to an IP broker or a proxy vendor, and are then hosted. Residential proxies are better for tasks requiring high anonymity, while ISP proxies are suitable for tasks where speed is crucial.

Are residential proxies illegal?

No, residential proxies themselves are not illegal. Residential proxies are sometimes procured through illegal means. The use of residential proxies for illegal activities, such as fraud or hacking, can also lead to legal consequences. Always ensure you use residential proxies within legal boundaries and for legitimate purposes.

What is the difference between residential proxy and normal proxy?

A residential proxy provides an IP address from a real residential device, like a home computer or smartphone, offering authenticity and reducing the risk of detection. A normal proxy, such as a datacenter proxy, provides IP addresses from server farms, which makes them faster but more easily detectable and blockable by websites.

Are residential proxies safe?

Residential proxies are safe if obtained from reputable providers and used responsibly. Misusing residential proxies for illegal or unethical purposes can compromise security, privacy, and safety. It's crucial to choose trustworthy providers and adhere to legal guidelines when using residential proxies to keep both yourself and your residential proxy safe.

Why do I need a residential proxy?

You might need a residential proxy to conduct online activities like web scraping, ad verification, or accessing region-restricted content without being detected or blocked. Residential proxies provide genuine IP addresses from real devices, making your requests appear more authentic and reducing the risk of being blocked or flagged by websites.

How do I know if my proxy is residential?

To know if your proxy is residential, look at the IP information with online tools to see if it comes from an ISP (internet service provider), since residential proxies come from ISPs. Excluding ISP proxies sent by ISPs to proxy vendors and IP brokers, datacenter proxies don’t come from ISPs, and VPNs never do. If unsure, contact your proxy provider for clarification.

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