Choosing Proxy Servers: More Bandwidth or More IPs

Choosing Proxy Servers: More Bandwidth or More IPs

There’s a lot to understand when choosing a proxy server. It’s even harder when you want to make a cost-effective decision that will not make you spend most of your budget on proxies. The question of whether you should prefer unlimited bandwidth proxies or a large IP pool is central to this issue.

Running a quality proxy service is expensive for providers, so they must charge customers for either bandwidth or IP addresses. The customer has all the power for himself, as he is the only one who knows exactly where the proxy server will be used. But before making this choice, you should know the basics of what this decision entails. 

How do proxies work?

Each time you connect to the internet, your device sends a request to the World Wide Web. The server hosting a website or another online service then decides whether and how to send the needed data. Among things like your browser version and screen resolution, network requests include your IP address.

Your IP address is like a return address for physical mail. It allows websites to know your identity and approximate location for sending a response. Unfortunately, IP addresses also enable bad actors to track your online activity and limite your data access based on your geo-location.

Proxy servers work as relays that hide your original IP address, concealing it with one of their own. That’s why they are, first and foremost, devices with a connection to the internet. Whether it’s a smartphone, PC, or a commercial server, it’s a proxy if it can accept your requests and forward them to the web.

Proxies can also work in reverse – filtering incoming traffic to a device. In such cases, they perform monitoring and security functions. However, in this article, our object is forward anonymous proxies. As described above, they act as intermediaries for concealing your identity. There are a few types that differ in their functioning.

  • Residential proxies run on physical devices in ordinary households. One device is used to supply one IP address, which will appear as a legitimate user on every web server you connect to.
  • Datacenter proxies are run on commercial, often third-party, servers. IPs there are created by hosting multiple virtual machines on one server. Such proxies are quite affordable but might lack the legitimacy of residential ones.
  • Mobile proxies use mobile devices that connect to the internet through cellular towers. As with residential proxies, one device is used to run one mobile IP. However, the connection created will imitate that of a mobile internet user.

Setting up and maintaining proxy servers requires special software and hardware solutions that need to be maintained to ensure steady performance. Providers must choose what to charge their customers for – bandwidth or IP addresses. Let’s start with bandwidth.

Proxy bandwidth

The term’ bandwidth’ refers to the capacity of how much information can be transmitted over a network. If a part of such a network is a proxy server, then its bandwidth limitations are the limitations of that network. 

It’s a common misconception to mistake bandwidth for transfer speed, but they are two different things. Imagine water flowing from a pipe. How fast the water flows is the speed, and how much of it can go through depends on the width of the pipe. The latter is bandwidth.

In a similar manner, the bandwidth of a proxy server can be limited while retaining a high-speed connection. The proxy server might forward your requests quickly, but how many of them will be transferred depends on the bandwidth you purchased. Simply put, you are paying for the gigabytes used.

The main benefit of paying for the bandwidth of a proxy server is that you won’t be paying for more than you actually use. It’s best for cases like bulk purchasing online or social media management, where you need lots of IPs but won’t transfer much data.

A drawback of bandwidth-based pricing is that once you need to transfer more data, your project will become a lot more expensive. A good example is web scraping, as even the smallest data collection projects tend to grow in scale later.

Purchasing IP addresses

Another pricing model is when proxies are priced per IP address. A customer simply pays for the number of IP addresses he can access while transferring as much data as he wants. Such proxies are often called unlimited and are most often applied to IPs that aren’t especially valuable.

The servers used for datacenter proxies, for example, are very powerful and can transfer enormous amounts of data. How much bandwidth one user takes does not make much impact, but how much users can access IPs does. So, it makes sense for providers to charge for access to IP addresses.

Residential proxies, on the other hand, are more often priced per bandwidth used. It’s expensive to create residential IPs as they require a physical device running 24/7. Every gigabyte transferred will affect its maintenance costs, which is why residential proxies are more commonly priced for bandwidth use. 

Purchasing IP addresses is beneficial when you need only a few IPs to transfer a lot of data. Cases like web scraping, video streaming, or ad verification benefit from such pricing.

IP address-based pricing is disadvantageous when you risk getting your IP addresses blocked or otherwise restricted. This can happen when you need to access specific accounts.

It’s worth noting that unlimited residential proxies can combine the best of both worlds. They ensure that you get the best legitimacy, and you won’t need to worry about paying for the bandwidth. 

Wrapping up

While the choice of bandwidth vs IP pool size often depends on your use case, in most cases, you are better off with a trusted unlimited proxy. One quality proxy will be cheaper and require less hassle when integrating with various software solutions. If you are still not convinced, I suggest choosing a provider that can provide you with both options.