Residential vs Datacentre IP Addresses: The truth behind the hype

Explaining the Demand for Residential IPs

If you’re reading this, chances are you value your online anonymity. You probably know that the top real estate on the web try their best to collect information about you. Through your web browser or similar software, websites can identify your screen size, operating system and browsing habits. These fingerprints are useful tracking tools for any website.

The most telling piece of information a website can get from us is our actual IP address, which we’d rather keep to ourselves. That’s why many of us go the extra mile to use services such as microleaves Backconnect proxies.

However, websites are wary of addresses that come from most datacenter IP services and proxy service providers. Such addresses are associated with scraping, web crawling or even DDOS attacks. Once detected, these addresses are often banned.

That’s why residential IPs are in demand. They are the kind of addresses that websites want to see; they are assumed to come from the homes of actual humans. Humans who can buy things, respond to ads and generate buzz. For those who do data harvesting, these IP addresses evade detection beautifully.

So, when and why should you acquire a residential IP pool? To answer this question, we should look at both types of IP address in detail.

About Residential IPs

These are the kind of IP addresses issued by your local ISP when they connect you to the internet. If you browse the web directly through your ISP connection, your IP address and other associated data will be visible to anyone who’s looking. A residential IP reveals information like approximate geographic location and the name of your ISP.

The upside of these kinds of IP is that web servers are very welcoming of them because more often than not, they are used by real people.

Now, if you visit a website while using another residential IP as a proxy, you can hide your IP address without running the risk of being flagged and banned. This is what makes these IP addresses so desirable.

What about Datacenter IPs?

When we connect to a web server using a datacenter proxy, only the datacenter ‘s IP and information are visible. Our actual IP address remains hidden. The advantage of datacenter IP addresses is that they are easy to acquire in bulk.

The downside of datacenter IPs is that they have a bad reputation, which in some cases, is deserved. This is because only a small percentage of legit users use these kinds of addresses. In contrast, almost all users that have ‘bad’ intentions use datacenter IPs.

When we connect to a web server using a datacenter address, the server’s security will probably notice. What happens next is like an encounter with airport security:

  1. We are immediately flagged for extra scrutiny
  2. The web server’s security will then determine if we’re using a VPN or a datacenter proxy. The VPN will have only one port open, probably port 80. The proxy will have multiple ports open.
  3. It we’re using a VPN, we’ll be allowed to use the website. Use of VPNs is not considered suspicious, it is seen merely as a security precaution on the user’s part
  4. If we’re found to be using a datacenter address, we will be delayed at best or banned in the worst case.

So, which of the two is the better option?

Residential IPs are trusted, which makes them perfect for evading detection when web crawling, for example. Routing our traffic through a residential IP means that a website’s security cannot tell if a we are using a proxy to visit the site.

Residential IP addresses are, however, a rare resource. Which makes obtaining a large pool of addresses hard. That’s why few providers offer residential IP proxies. And for all their trustworthiness, they are not immune to blacklisting. If abused, residential IP addresses can be flagged and banned by vigilant security systems.

Though most datacenter addresses are regarded with suspicion, there are exceptions. If we use a clean and reputable datacenter, and if the rest of our information/fingerprint is credible, most websites will let us in. But a credible fingerprint is not enough. To avoid leaving footprints that could raise red flags on a website, fingerprint masking is needed. Why? Because a web server will be suspicious of multiple IP addresses that have identical browser fingerprints.

It’s important to note that sites like Craigslist do not allow the use of datacenter IPs. So the only way to use such sites is through residential IP addresses.

How to acquire residential IP addresses

1. We can create our own pool of residential IP addresses by having our ISPs allocate addresses dynamically. Dynamic IP addresses change periodically, but we need to change them whenever we want. We do this by restarting our ADSL connections, modems or routers.

2. We can also use cell phones to access the pool of residential IPs provided by the phone company. All we need to do is create an internet connection from the phone to the host. Like in step 1, restarting the phone’s mobile connection results in a new IP address.

The problem with the first two methods is that they are slow and labor intensive. For those who need a pool of residential IPs for large scale data operations like data harvesting, the third option is the sensible alternative.

3. Residential IPs can be acquired through residential IP proxy services. Most of these services require payment since genuine residential IPs are a scarce commodity. As buyers, we should be careful to identify providers who offer genuine IP addresses.

How to tell if a residential IP proxy service is genuine

A genuine provider will most likely have a peer-to-peer network of hosts who own IP addresses allocated by internet service providers. The P2P network is in fact the address/proxy pool for the residential IP proxy service.

The hosts in the P2P network are offered some incentive in exchange for allowing their IP addresses to be used as proxies. For example, some providers provide free VPN services to hosts that allow the use of their residential IP addresses.

Proxy services for small, medium or large scale data operations

Microleaves provides residential IP Backconnect proxies through a P2P proxy network of only residential IPs. This allows subscribers to perform data harvesting on any website, and on a scale of their choosing.

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