Whether you want to scrape the web without being blocked or are just looking to browse the internet while hiding your IP address, a good proxy server is a very useful tool to have.
Proxies come in several different types, each type functioning differently. So, before you sign up for a service, it’s essential to do some research and find out how each type could meet your needs. In this article, we’ll discuss the proxies known as “distorting proxy servers.”
What is a distorting proxy server?
The term “distorting” refers to one of three levels of anonymity available in proxy servers. In the generally accepted classification, “distorting” is the middle level, below “elite” but more anonymous than “transparent” proxies. With a distorting proxy server, you can access remote websites while keeping your real identity hidden, although the sites could still detect that you’re working behind a proxy server. By passing along a “substitute” IP address, the distorting proxy protects you from targeted marketing and can help you get around content restrictions.
Any device used in internet access is assigned a unique IP address. The IP will point to the device’s identity as well as the current location from which it’s accessing the internet. Detection may go deeper, to include the user’s name and even the street they’re on. A distorting proxy server (in common with elite proxies) provides an intermediary between you and the internet, protecting your identity with an IP address of its own. Via this IP, it forwards your requests to remote websites and their responses back to you.
“Distorting” vs. “Transparent”
Let’s compare a distorting proxy server with a transparent proxy, which has the third level of anonymity. The distorting proxy offers a higher level of security. A transparent proxy filters content but does not mask your IP address to make it anonymous. A distorting proxy will protect your identity, though remote sites can still recognize it as a proxy. Transparent proxies can also be readily recognized. Some remote sites automatically terminate proxy connections.
Marketers and business people, among others, can find distorting proxies helpful to their use cases, such as online data research. Again, keep in mind that some remote sites will terminate an IP address coming from a proxy. Remote sites, however, often need time to analyze and block proxied IP addresses, and this can be offset by rapid proxy rotation, with a new IP chosen at random for each request. That’s useful for rapid, high-traffic operations such as web scraping.
Another important benefit is the distortion of location data. With a proxy’s IP address, for example, you can appear to be in a country that restricts access by IPs outside that country. That can be useful for projects ranging from political research to entertainment. But be aware that, in this example, using an overseas IP can mean slower data transmission.
For most users, the best feature of a distorting proxy may be the personal anonymity it provides. Today’s online environment can be dangerous, and the value of good security can’t be overstated.