10 Awesome Ways To Use A Proxy (For Yourself And Your Business)
From gameplay to SaaS analytics, the reasons one can use a proxy are as many as they are varied. And if you are a newbie to the world of proxy IP addresses, it might all be a little confusing. In this article, we attempt to clear away every iota of confusion by diving deeply into what proxies are and why you should be using them. If you already have a basic idea of how proxies work, feel free to jump forward using the table of contents. But if you’re a total beginner wondering exactly what a proxy is and if it’s a good tool for you, read on from the beginning.
What do proxies do
When you browse websites and complete various tasks on them the regular way, requests flow from your computer directly to the website via your IP address. The website can identify your device via this address and trace its general location. Having your IP address exposed like this can have a lot of negative implications. This is where the need for proxies comes in.
A proxy – or proxy IP address to be precise – acts as a middleman between your device and the internet. The proxy has a distinct, separate IP address which effectively sets up a barrier between your IP address and the websites that you access.
The word proxy is often confused with another term “proxy server”. Sometimes the two terms are even used interchangeably but they have very different meanings. While proxies are the IP addresses used to indirectly communicate with websites, proxy servers are the devices on which a large collection of proxy IPs are stored and managed.
Now that you understand what proxies are and how they work, the next question on your mind is probably, “Why do people use proxies?” There are several reasons why people use proxies on both personal and enterprise levels. It is impossible for us to cover all of the many uses in a single article but below, we outline 10 of the most prominent ones.
Why Use a Proxy
On a personal level, there are several ways proxies can prove advantageous for you. They help break numerous barriers and offer many benefits that are sure to take your online experience to the next level:
1. Stronger security
If you’re using your device on any kind of public Wi-Fi, proxies are a great way to make sure that your information isn’t susceptible to a hacker. It’s much more difficult for bad actors to hack your IP address if a proxy server is effectively throwing them off by redirecting them to an IP address located in a different country.
2. Faster connections
Since using proxies allows you to connect from servers around the world, your speed in accessing certain websites can vastly improve. This is especially true when playing video games like Overwatch. If you want to set up a game that’s hosted on a server in, for example, Sweden, connecting through a proxy server located in Sweden will give you a clearer, faster connection. You’ll be less likely to experience interruptions in gameplay and have an overall better experience.
3. Location switching
Switching the location from which you’re connecting through a proxy server is one of the most popular reasons to use proxies. While we don’t advocate for using proxies in a way that violates the terms of service of any website or business, people often choose to use a proxy IP to access content only available in specific countries. If you are traveling to a country that blocks your social networks or other websites you need to access for work, you can use a proxy to stay connected and complete necessary tasks.
4. Combatting bans
Proxies provide a solution to the problem of IP address banning. When someone else using the same IP address as you does something suspicious and gets it banned from a website you love, a proxy gives you an alternate IP address that you can use to connect to the website and continue using it.
5. Online shopping
From helping sneakerheads stay ahead of the latest shoe drop on sites like Adidas to making it easy to find the best products on Amazon, proxies can improve your experience on E-commerce stores in many ways.
Using Proxies for Your Business
While proxies are great for individual web surfing, they are arguably even better for businesses as a whole. Here are a few ways you can use a proxy to level up your business’s operations:
6. Preventing data breaches
For a business that has a ton of sensitive or private materials stored on its servers, proxies are a great way to protect data and prevent fatal data breaches. Proxy servers have a phalanx of protection strategies that are especially helpful for businesses like banks, insurance companies, and market research firms.
7. Placing restrictions on company devices
If you’re worried about employees spending the day on time-wasting websites or going to potentially harmful websites, a proxy can help. Proxy servers can be used to block unsecured or inappropriate websites and networks.
In order to avoid employees accidentally getting viruses, malware, or potential data breaches on their work computers, administrators can use the proxy server to restrict which devices have access to the network and which websites those devices can access.
In addition to blocking suspicious or phishing sites, administrators can manage the amount of time company devices are allowed on notoriously time-wasting sites.
8. Creating multiple social media accounts
You can use proxies to create multiple accounts on social networking sites. Most sites will flag and ban a bunch of accounts associated with one IP address. But with multiple proxy IP addresses, you can create as many accounts as you want to.
If your business has several branches, for instance, this system will allow you to have as many social accounts as you need without getting kicked off the platform.
9. Facilitating remote work
Businesses that have entirely remote teams or a lot of remote employees in different parts of the world should consider using proxies as they can be particularly beneficial. Employees in a particular country might sometimes need to conduct tasks on websites that are not available in their country of residence. With a proxy IP address linked to a different location, they can gain access and get the job done.
10. Web scraping
Another answer to the question of why use proxies is to conduct tons of market research quickly and efficiently via web scraping. Web scraping refers to the automatically collection of data using a bot. With a good data scraper, you can collect huge chunks of data within minutes and have it presented to you in a neat Excel or CSV file.
However, most websites are very sensitive to this kind of high-data collection. Even though the scrapers are not actually doing anything wrong, their behavior resembles that of malware. And when websites detect them, they are quick to ban them. By providing alternate IP addresses for the scrapers to use after a ban has been issued, proxies are the perfect solution to this problem. They allow you to scrape huge volumes of data quickly and efficiently. Here are some ways such efficient data collection can help your business:
- SEO – Some proxies are optimized for SEO research and they can help you quickly collect data such as keywords your competitors are ranking for. Such information can help you buff up your SEO strategy to help your customers find you more easily.
- Sentiment analysis – Sentiment analysis refers to the process of analyzing the emotions and opinions behind pieces of text. By allowing you to collect relevant data quickly, proxies can power this process to help you gauge your customers’ opinions, better tailor your services to them and so much more. Learn more about using proxies for sentiment analysis here.
- Competitive pricing – One factor that can make or break an e-commerce business is product pricing. Obtaining data such as the pricing lists of your competitors can help inform competitive pricing and can give you an edge over them.
Should I Use a Proxy That Is Free?
There are many free and public proxies available, but the only benefit of using such proxies is the fact that you don’t have to pay anything for them. Since they are free, more people are likely going to be using these servers and network speeds are very likely to be slow. Also, most free proxies run on an honor system with the hope that no one will try to hack other users. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens quite often. As such, when you use such proxies, you are exposing yourself and/or your business to security threats.
Think about how many different transactions, surveys, and general information you have to input through websites these days – if someone can get into the proxy that routes all of that information from your IP address to the website, they’ll have access to credit card numbers, birthdays, social security numbers, and even medical data. A free proxy is a treasure trove for identity thieves. Additionally, it can open you up to viruses, malware, and constant pop-up advertisements that can also steal data and slow down your network.
Whatever proxy server you end up using, you have to trust it. A proxy server routes all of your web activity from your IP address through to the website. As such, the proxy server has access to a lot of intimate details about you and you need to be sure that you can trust the provider with all of that sensitive information. A proxy server you have to pay for wants to keep you happy as a consumer, and a big part of that is not sharing user data or allowing it to leak.
Use a Proxy From a Reliable Service Provider
To make sure you can completely trust your proxy, it is best to invest in a paid service. Buying proxies from a reputable provider will yield a return on the investment almost immediately. It costs much less than having to deal with identity theft or a broken operating system due to a virus. And since it is in the best interest of a paid provider to encrypt your data and keep it safe, you can rest assured of top-notch security.
Blazing SEO is a prime example of a reliable service provider. We offer proxies that run at a high speed of 1GBS without any bandwidth limits. You can choose IP addresses from up to 26 countries worldwide – and you can get more locations added on request!
We have a wide variety of proxy types available at affordable prices. For instance, our residential proxies are great for large web scraping projects. They allow you to scrape huge volumes of data with very little risk of being detected by websites. If you need a proxy for more simple use cases like increased security or gaming, our datacenter proxies are an excellent choice.
Outside of security, market research, and greater access to the services you need, many people have their own specific answers to the question “why use proxies?” Think of proxies as international passports that allow you to enter any country you desire. Whether you use a proxy for personal or professional reasons, you can break barriers and, overall, improve your online experience.
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