Both the marketing and web-developing world have been lately “hit” with the terms mobile and residential proxies. There aren’t many people knowing the difference between the two. And more important, they don’t know if they can use these proxies in their marketing or development projects. 

Do you want to know what the difference between them is? Look no further; we sat down with Chris Roark from BestProxyProviders to find out more about proxy servers and the proxy market. As such, in this article, you will find out:

  • what are proxy servers
  • what are mobile proxies
  • what are residential proxies
  • the difference between them
  • the Pro and Con of using residential IPs
  • why you should or shouldn’t buy residential proxies

Here’s what we found out.

Proxy servers 101 – what are they, what do they do

Simply put, we can consider proxy servers as a digital middleman between its users and the rest of the Internet. The sole job of a proxy server is to handle its users’ web requests and to hide their real IP address and location. It acts as an intermediary between you and the Internet, providing a higher level of privacy, anonymity and security.

It does this by taking your web requests and forwarding them to the websites you want to access. And the websites you access won’t see your real IP address and location, but only the proxy server’s one. They are providing you with increased privacy and the ability to access websites as much as you need or as private as you have to.

What are private proxies

Just a few words here. These proxies are called private because their servers are maintained by a proxy provider. And the access to them is limited based either on a subscription or usage. 

For example, if you buy a dedicated private proxy for Instagram, you are the sole user of this server IP. And its IP’s history is clean and can be used on Instagram without risking an account block.

What are mobile proxies

Now, let’s get back to the main topic of this article. 

Mobile proxies are private proxies using real mobile devices (smartphones), connected through mobile ISPs, to forward its users’ web requests. 

In other words, a mobile proxy masks your requests to show as you’ve made them from a mobile device. Nothing more, nothing less, it handles your requests in the same way as a regular private proxy does. Only that it uses a mobile ISP, such as Sprint, AT&T or Vodafone.

What are residential proxies

Going forward, residential proxies, which were “launched to market” before mobile ones, are something similar. They are proxies that use devices connected to regular broadband connections, such as a home (residential one). To forward your requests, residential proxies might use laptops and PCs connected through a residential Internet Service Provider or mobile devices connected to a home Wi-Fi.

And the only difference between them and other proxy types is… you guessed it: the ISP. Residential proxies use residential Internet Service Providers such as Comcast or BT (depends where you live). So, when using one, your requests will show as coming from a regular home connection. Like the one, you use at home, from your laptop.

What’s the difference between private, mobile and residential ones

There isn’t a big difference in what all these proxies are doing. In the end, all of them handle their users’ requests and mask their real IPs and location. 

The only difference between them is what they display to websites when they forward your requests. A private proxy will show the ISP of the datacenter where the server resides (usually a data center provider, different than most regular, consumer-oriented ISPs). A mobile proxy will display a mobile, 4G Internet Service Provider. Finally, a residential one will exhibit a residential, regular ISP. 

The above is the only notable difference between proxy types. It all boils down to what should your proxies display to the websites you want to connect. As an example, social media marketers use dedicated Instagram proxies for marketing campaigns on Instagram. And some of these marketers will use 4G mobile proxies to make their accounts’ connections look more authentic. Remember, Instagram is used primarily through its mobile app, not through its websites. That’s why, for some marketers, their accounts managed through social media automation tools, like Jarvee or Followliker must use a mobile ISP to connect to IG servers. 

To cut it short, apart from the ISP advertised to websites, there isn’t any other major difference between these proxy types.

PRO of mobile and residential IPs

The main advantage of using either mobile or residential proxies is the ISP they display. And the power it gives you when you need to login accounts on restrictive websites. By using these IPs, your connection looks more natural and you decrease the risk of an account block.

CON of mobile and residential IPs

There are a couple of issues with both mobile and residential proxies. Their prices and their rotating setup. 

Both mobile and residential proxies are expensive because their providers need to “rent bandwidth” from other Internet users, like you and me. And this rent comes at a cost. If you want to understand how these providers get their IPs and why they are more expensive, you can check Luminati’s SDK

The second CON of these proxies is that they rotate. Because these providers do not have their own IPs but rent them, they can rely on them only for limited periods. Hence, they will switch the IP you display to a website on every new request. This can be a CON if the provider allocates you a blocked IP. 

Let’s take our example above. Imagine our marketer uses residential proxies for Instagram and he receives a blocked IP on IG. Subsequently, his account will be blocked until verified. And this can be an issue if the marketer is hired to manage to account and is not its owner.

Should you get residential proxies

By now, you know what mobile and residential proxies are, how to use them, their PROs and CONs. 

When it comes to using proxies, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. So, you need to think about what you want to achieve with your use of proxies. And if you need the benefit of displaying a mobile or residential ISP for the extra cost of these proxies.