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Shared Proxies: Top Providers, Use Cases & Best Practices in '24

Shared Proxies: Top Providers, Use Cases & Best Practices in '24Shared Proxies: Top Providers, Use Cases & Best Practices in '24

Shared proxies are one type of proxy servers that are used by multiple users simultaneously. Since they are shared among several proxy users, they are ideal for those seeking a low-cost solution. However, it is essential to choose a reputable proxy provider that offers high-quality shared proxies to decrease the likelihood of being detected and blocked.

This article explains what shared proxies are, how to use them efficiently and ethically. We will also evaluate the best shared proxy services, along with their features and pricing plans.

Top 5 shared proxy providers of 2024: Quick summary

There are many proxy providers offers shared proxy solutions, but we selected proxy services with the highest customer reviews and scores to focus on market leaders. Our vendor comparison table only features those who meet the following  verifiable criteria:

  1. Number of employees: 10+ employees on LinkedIn
  2. Number of B2B reviews: 5+ reviews on different review platforms like G2, Capterra and Trustradius.
VendorsIP PoolStarting price / moFree Trial
Bright Data20K$0.066/GB7-day
Smartproxy40K$0.7/GB14-day money-back
Oxylabs22K$0.65/GB7-day
NetNut100K $1/GB7-day
Oxylabs29K$0.65/GB
IPRoyalN/A$1.75/GBN/A

Comparing the best shared proxy service providers

1. Bright Data

Bright Data offers 20,000 shared IPs, including residential, datacenter and mobile proxies in 195 countries. You can rotate residential IPs between countries, cities, and ASNs using their proxy manager. Shared proxies are suitable for enterprise-grade applications.

Features:

  • Shared proxy network: 20,000 shared IPs
  • Additional features: Proxy manager, proxy rotation, country and city level targeting, extended session control
  • Supported protocols: HTTP(S) & SOCKS5 protocols

2. Smartproxy

Smartproxy offers shared residential and datacenter proxies with rotation and extended sticky sessions options. The proxy provider offers semi dedicated proxies including residential and datacenter IPs. If you need proxies that are particular to US, Smartproxy offers shared datacenter proxies that are located in the United States.

  • Shared proxy network: 40,000 shared datacenter proxies
  • Additional features: Rotating IPs and extended sticky sessions up to 30 minutes, unlimited concurrent connection requests.
  • Supported protocols: HTTP(s), and SOCKS5

3. Oxylabs

Oxylabs provides 22K shared datacenter IPs in 15 locations, such as the United States, Europe, and Asia. Unless the proxy user request a sticky session, shared datacenter IPs rotate for per connection request.

  • Shared proxy network: 29K
  • Additional features: Automatic IP rotation, authentication by username and password
  • Supported protocols: HTTP protocol

4. NetNut

NetNut is a proxy provider that offers various types of proxy servers including shared datacenter proxies. It enables proxy users to rotate IPs automatically based on their particular needs. The proxy provider also offer dashboard to manage and monitor datacenter proxies usage.

  • Shared proxy network: 100,000 shared datacenter IPs
  • Additional features: Built-in IP rotation management layer, IP Whitelisting, US city & state proxy selection
  • Supported protocols: HTTP(S), SOCKS5

5. IPRoyal

IPRoyal offers shared residential, mobile and sneaker proxies to avoid geo-restrictions and other IP-based barriers. If you intend to access a website that have robust security measures in place, residential proxies are ideal for tasks that require a high degree of security.

  • Shared proxy network: N/A
  • Additional features: Flexible rotation/sticky options, city/state targeting
  • Supported protocols: SOCKS5

What is a shared proxy?

A shared proxy is an IP address used and controlled by multiple users simultaneously. Multiple users share the same IP address assigned by a shared proxy to mask and hide their real IP addresses while going online.

How does a shared proxy work?

Every computer has an IP address that identifies its location on the local network. IP addresses are used for direct communication between computers online. Proxies are servers that act as an intermediary between users and the target website, allowing them to remain anonymous while surfing the web. The basic shared proxy workflow (see Figure 1) is as follows: 

  • With shared proxies, many users request to access the same or different websites at the same time. 
  • Shared proxies receive user requests, mask and hide their IP addresses, and then forward the requests to the website. 
  • The website receives requests and gives users access to the website and the requested information.

Figure 1: Representation of a shared proxy server process

The figure explains how shared proxies work. All users' requests are forwarded to a shared proxy server. Then a shared proxy assigns the same IP address to them.

Types of shared proxies

  1. Shared static IPs: Maintains the same shared IP over time, making them suitable for websites require a consistent IP to keep the user logged in.
  2. Shared rotation IPs: Changes IPs at regular intervals or after each connection request to the target website. Shared rotating proxies are useful for tasks involve large volumes of requests, such as large scale web scraping.

Shared proxies vs. dedicated (private) proxies

Understanding the main differences between shared and dedicated proxies is important to choose the right proxy solution for your specific application and needs.

Figure 3: Shows the key differences between a shared proxy and a dedicated proxy

The table compares the shared and dedicated proxies based on their performance, security and pricing.

1. Performance

The main difference between a shared proxy and a dedicated proxy is the number of users. A dedicated proxy, also known as a private proxy, can only be used by a single user, as opposed to a shared proxy. A dedicated proxy provides users with a private IP address. 

In shared proxies, all users share the same IP address and use it to access websites. As the number of users increases, the speed and performance of a shared proxy server decrease. On the other hand, a dedicated/private proxy server assigns an IP address to only one user, who benefits from the IP address alone in terms of speed and performance.

2. Anonymity

Shared proxies are highly anonymous. It is hard being detected by website servers when using shared proxies. Multiple users share the same IP address with you at the same time. Even if your activity is tracked, it is impossible for someone to identify your real identity due to a large number of users’ activities. You can benefit from shared proxies in terms of security if you use them correctly.

3. Authority

A shared proxy assigns the same IP address to all users when they browse and make requests. You cannot see what others are doing and have no control over their actions. Because you have no control over the activities of other users, it is easier to get blocked compared to dedicated proxies. You cannot ensure that all users understand how to use proxies while online. 

A dedicated proxy allows the user to take control of each activity. Because no one else uses the same IP address as you, you will be solely responsible for your actions.

4. Pricing

Because dedicated proxies are featured, they are more expensive than shared proxies. Shared proxies are less costly than other types of proxies since they assign the same IP address to multiple users. You shoulder the entire cost of a dedicated proxy alone.

Top use cases of shared proxies with challenges & solutions

1. The most affordable method of data extraction

You need to extract data from multiple websites for market research, lead generation, competitor analysis, SEO monitoring, and other purposes. However, it is not all about data collection. Businesses still have many difficulties scraping web data from different web sources. A proxy server allows individuals and businesses to avoid difficulties during web data scraping. Shared proxies enable users to simultaneously make multiple requests with the same IP address. If you 

  • Scrape web data on a small scale, 
  • Do not have enough budget, 
  • And the destination website does not use anti-bot tools. 

shared proxies might be a good option for your web scraping project.

Challenge

Many web scraping challenges can arise when collecting web data from web sources, such as 

  • Robots.txt
  • IP blockers
  • CAPTCHA blockers
  • Dynamic content

A shared proxy server makes requests for websites with the same IP address. This increases the risk of being identified as a web scraping bot by the website. If the destination websites or web sources are well protected and use anti-scraping tools such as CAPTCHAs, your web scraping bot will most likely be detected and denied access.

Tip for solution

A shared proxy is incapable of dealing with such issues. You can use shared residential proxies for the highest quality IP addresses. Residential proxies offer greater anonymity because they assign real IP addresses to users. 

If you scrape the whole website with the same IP address, the web scraping bot will be blocked by the website. Another option is to divide the web scraping project into different times. You should limit the number of requests to the same website. 

To help you select the right residential proxy service, we compared different residential proxy vendors in terms of key features, performance, and pricing.

2. Providing high anonymity when accessing geo-restricted contents

Different countries use various content suppression methods to block or filter public access to various resources such as social media channels/accounts, television, radio, etc (see figure 4). The main goal is to gain control over who can access which information. It can be done either by a government or a business (self-censorship). The content is accessible in certain countries. 

Proxies are mainly used to gain access to such blocked websites. They enable users to bypass geo-restricted content imposed by their country’s censorship system.

Geo-blocking issues can be overcome by using shared proxies. The website to which you want to make a request can identify the location of your IP address and track your activities, such as how long you browse the website and how many times you visit it. While browsing, a shared proxy keeps you anonymous and protects your real IP address.

Challenge

Your connection speed decreases as the number of clients sharing the same IP address increases. 

Tip for solution

You can utilize a shared residential proxy to boost your speed.  In shared datacenter proxies, fewer people share the same IP address. Shared datacenter proxies set limits to ensure connection stability and speed. 

However, keep in mind that they will be more expensive than other regular shared proxies. When you need to complete tasks quickly, a shared datacenter proxy is preferable to shared residential proxies.

Figure 4: YouTube blocking by countries

The image shows youtube blocking by countries.

Source: Wikipedia

Further Reading

If you want to learn more about web scraping and how it can benefit your business, feel free to read our articles on the topic:

If you still have any questions about how to choose a shared proxy service that is suitable for your specific application, feel free to read our data-driven whitepaper on the topic:

Proxy Service Selection Guide

Also, don’t forget to check out our sortable/filterable list of proxy service / server.

For guidance to choose the right tool, reach out to us:

Find the Right Vendors
Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Gulbahar Karatas
Gülbahar is an AIMultiple industry analyst focused on web data collections and applications of web data.

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