On the Internet, a proxy server (also called a “forward proxy”) acts as a go-between for computer users requesting data from other servers. An anonymous proxy conceals the sender’s IP address and omits any other identifying information from the web request. (See Proxy Anonymity for details.)
You could set up a proxy server yourself, to mask your own IP address, but the proxy would send just the one unchanging IP address to a remote server. Remote servers can detect and block a proxied IP address that they think is staying on the site too long, making too many data requests. For effective anonymity, you’d need the proxied IP to change periodically – tedious and time-consuming if you have to do it manually.
But you don’t. That’s where rotating IP addresses come in. While concealing your actual IP address, a rotating proxy changes the “go-between” IP address frequently, drawing from a sizeable number of IPs to reduce possible detection, timeouts, rate limits, and bans.
That’s why you may want to use a rotating proxy service, especially if you’re planning a high-traffic research project and want to carry it out quickly and efficiently. For example, you may need web data to:
- Generate sales leads
- Keep track of the market
- Develop employment data
- Gauge sentiment on social media
Projects on that scale – best done with web scraping or crawling – can be great candidates for a rotating proxy service. But a rotating proxy may also fit quite different needs:
- Getting access to information censored by dictatorships
- Bypassing geographical restrictions on entertainment sites
- Sidestepping corporate restrictions on surfing by employees
- Avoiding timeouts and rate limits
Features to look for
Those are just some of the possible use cases. If one or more of them are yours, you’ll want to give thought to how a rotating proxy service can best support them. Consider the following features:
- Reliable, high-level proxy anonymity
- Security of data and customer information
- Number and type of proxy servers
- IP addresses available per server
- Connections per IP address
- Geographic location of IP addresses
- Frequency of rotation (swapouts) of IP sets
- Method of IP assignment
- Authentication method
- Bandwidth provisions
- Availability of custom headers to control IP addresses
- User interface, messaging, and help
Recommended Forward Proxy Services
ProxyMesh.com is an excellent choice to do the work of rotating proxies and IP addresses for you while protecting your own identity. The service implements the HTTP protocol – supported by practically all client software – as well as IP address authentication, making configuration simple. It can be installed on any of the major computer platforms and configured for HTTP requests in most popular programming/scripting languages.
Here’s how ProxyMesh stands on features to evaluate:
|Anonymity||Level 1 Elite, the highest class of proxy anonymity|
|Security||Security measures include encryption, firewalls, and access controls.|
|Up to 10 shared data center IP servers, based on plan selection. Beyond the 10 maximum under paid plans, users can arrange for additional proxies. A World Proxy is also available, providing a static set of up to 25,000 IP addresses located all around the world.|
|IP addresses available per server||10|
|Connections per IP address||100|
|IP rotation method||An IP is chosen at random for each request. Every 12 hours, the current 10 IPs are swapped for a new set of 10 IPs.|
|Bandwidth||Bandwidth pricing is geared to paid plan selection. Additionally, prepaid bandwidth is available on higher plans to save money. Easily track bandwidth usage on your dashboard. You can set your own bandwidth caps. No actual limit to the amount of bandwidth you can use in a paid account.|
|Custom headers||Custom headers available to control the IP address used for a request.|
|Interface and messaging||A user-friendly dashboard to help you authenticate your IP address, choose your proxies, and configure for your use cases. You don’t have to be a programmer to use the service. Current, prominently displayed messages on proxy and system availability and condition.|
|Help||Email letters to help customers get started with the service and to update them on current proxy topics. User-friendly, easily searchable online help articles. Responsive, expert support staff available 24/7.|
We also recommend Crawlera, a popular choice for large scraping operations. A solution architecture team works with customers to meet specific requirements and legal compliance standards. Output is deliverable in a wide range of formats. Crawlera also offers one-time data extraction services.
Storm Proxies provides rotating proxy services using data center IPs as well as reverse proxy services and residential proxies. The company offers IP rotation of varying duration based on the length of time commonly required for a given web activity. You can also choose dedicated proxies for many different use cases.
ProxyRack has a network of rotating HTTPS and SOCKS proxies. You can choose to get a new IP on every request, or have a “sticky” IP. They also offer private proxies as well as a VPN service.
We hope this article helps you select the rotating proxy service that works best for your projects. Please contact us if you have any questions.