Your online fingerprint is your IP address. This can be used to keep an eye on your browsing habits and even your exact location. And there are several reasons why you might want to hide your own IP address like protecting yourself from hackers, accessing geo-blocked content or if you want to hide your online activity from ISPs and others.

Users who wants to conceal their online fingerprint log in using a VPN or proxy servers to change their IP address. This can either be a residential IP proxy or a datacenter IP proxy. Learning the difference between these two will help guide users on which IP proxy to take.

What is a Residential IP Address?

When a user is connected to the internet, an IP address is assigned by the internet service provider. Information about the IP address is readily accessible, such as the ISP and the approximate location of the user. The name and the exact address of the user is not revealed.

So, if you are using a residential IP address as your proxy when accessing the internet, it means you’re utilizing a genuine address provided by an ISP. Your real IP address will be masked and you will be utilizing an IP address that is connected to a real residential address, which makes it difficult for websites to block or ban.

What is a Datacenter Proxy?

Datacenter proxies are not owned by internet service providers. They do not lend out IP address for the user to use in place of their own IP address. How it works is, it acts as a shield between the user and anyone (websites) who are trying to look up the user’s IP address. Instead of revealing the user’s IP address, the datacenter proxy provider’s details will come up.

What Are The Differences?

The difference between these two types of proxies is that residential IP addresses give the impression of a regular household browsing the web while datacenter proxies make it clear the user is utilizing them to hide their identity.

There’s also a significant difference in cost. Residential IP addresses are considerably more difficult to procure and can be a bit costly while datacenter proxies can be created and used in significant numbers easily.

Datacenter proxies

It should be noted that datacenter proxies can be detected and blocked much more easily by websites and others. Part of the reason why is because most users who have malicious intent use the datacenter proxies.

There is however, a small amount of legitimate users of datacenter proxies such as corporate offices but mostly, it is users who do not have good intentions who use them. As a result, website security systems pay a lot more attention to datacenter proxies compared to residential IP addresses. Streaming services have also been known to ban datacenter addresses without hesitation.

Considering these risks, some people still prefer to use datacenter proxies as they can be purchased or rented in such significant numbers for a reasonable cost. It makes it easy for a user to cycle through several of them, a task is oftentimes preferred if you need new IP addresses on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, due to this difference in cost, some nefarious companies will pretend to sell datacenter proxies but say they are residential IPs and earn a significant amount of money through this deceptive tactic, so purchasers need to be careful and ensure they’re getting exactly what they’re purchasing.

Additionally, some not-to-be-trusted companies simply steal residential addresses and sell those to unbeknownst users.

Residential IP addresses

Obtaining many residential proxies can be difficult since they are mainly intended for residential purposes. Also, there are fewer residential IP providers which makes it more expensive than datacenter proxies. They are costly yes, but, they are considered to be more genuine and legitimate.

Residential IPs are a lot better than datacenter proxies however, they aren’t perfect. Sometimes they tend to be abused as well that is why certain security technologies blacklist them.

Users also have to consider when a residential IP address is blocked by one or more websites. It can prove to be a financial burden as another purchase might be required to access those sites.

However, do your research as some providers will replace the residential IP with another in these types of cases. Some will simply allow you to rotate amongst a number of residential IPs regardless of whether you’ve been blocked by any websites.

So Which is Better?

When deciding whether to use a residential IP or a datacenter proxy, take into account what you are going to be using the internet for. Doing something like video streaming might require a residential IP address while other activities can simply be done with datacenter proxies. Your budget will also play a significant role given how much more expensive residential addresses can be.

If you are undecided, using a datacenter proxy can be a good start since they are much more affordable and maybe switch to a residential IP address when the need arises and the budget allows. This is generally a much easier move to make than the other way around.