When businesses carry out market research, they often need access to a large number of worldwide IP addresses to target audiences across different locations. At the same time, they might also need to mask their IP addresses to remain anonymous or bypass anti-bot systems used by website administrators.
Why Residential Proxies
VPNs provide a good way for individuals to browse the web anonymously by masking the user’s IP and routing the web traffic through a private network operating across multiple continents. But they may not be the ideal option for market research. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Even though paid VPNs usually provide a large number of geolocation options, businesses often require access to localized IP addresses specific to particular cities
- Websites can often blacklist a range of IP addresses belonging to particular VPN providers, So, if a particular business is trying to access a website or service using a VPN service that the website has already blacklisted, it wouldn’t be useful.
- Even if a particular VPN provider isn’t currently blacklisted by a service, it’s fairly easy to track down and block requests from VPN providers if the site administrators notice suspicious web activity. VPNs often use data center IP addresses, which is different from the IP addresses used at homes.
Instead of VPN services, businesses and individuals often lean towards residential IPs to conduct targeted research anonymously without the fear of getting blacklisted.
Unlike data center IPs, residential IP addresses belong to actual residences and are allotted by an Internet Service Provider or ISP. Hence, any web request coming from residential IP addresses would be indistinguishable from a request coming from an actual user.
Here are a few more use cases for turning to residential proxies:
- Gathering intelligence about potential business competitors
- Location-based quality assurance and stress testing
- Search engine optimization
- Targeted advertising campaigns
- Web scraping & content aggregation
- Social media marketing & management
- Craigslist Proxy
In this article, we’ll look into a particular residential proxy service provider named SmartProxy.
SmartProxy Residential Proxy Service
Use residential proxies across worldwide locations
SmartProxy offers over 10 million residential IP addresses across 195+ different locations, including major countries such as the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, India, and Japan. City-specific residential proxies are also available for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami, London, Berlin, and Moscow, with more IPs consistently being added.
Reliable proxy servers with maximum uptime
SmartProxy claims that its proxy servers have a reliable uptime of 99.99%. Thus, your business research is unlikely to be affected by the unavailability of service.
Use Rotating & Sticky IPs as required
SmartProxy provides the option to choose either rotating or sticky IPs depending on the specific requirement. If you’re running ad campaigns, market research or gathering intelligence anonymously, it’s better to switch to rotating proxies, which automatically change the IP addresses either on each request or after a specific time interval.
Easy setup & implementation
Thanks to the intuitive and easy-to-use UI, you can set up and start using SmartProxy residential IPs in a matter of minutes. Moreover, the service can be easily integrated with automated workflows and supports a wide range of popular programming languages.
Compatibility with universal proxy authentication techniques ensures that SmartProxy is compatible with just about any device or application that lets you configure a proxy using a proxy address, a port number, and user credentials.
Note: Normally, when you configure residential proxies, your web browser or internet gateway might keep asking for user credentials as long as you’re connected to the proxy network. SmartProxy has a whitelisting feature that lets you whitelist specific IP addresses, where repeated authentications would be avoided. This is a convenient option that improves the user experience.
Keep your Bandwidth Usage in check
SmartProxy lets you create different proxy users, and assign bandwidth limits to each of them. That way, you can be certain that no proxy user (intentionally or by accident) uses up more bandwidth than they’re supposed to, keeping your overall bandwidth usage under your control.
Competitive Pricing model
SmartProxy offers more competitive pricing options. In addition to the dedicated monthly subscription plans, SmartProxy also has Micro and Starter plans priced at $75 and $200 respectively.
These packs are comparatively more pocket-friendly and are well suited for individuals who want to use or try residential proxies for a temporary basis. Unlike some of the competitors, all of the pricing tiers provide access to all residential IP addresses available without any restriction. The only limitation that varies with the price is the usable bandwidth. With Micro, you get up to 5 GB bandwidth, while Starter includes 20 GBs.
A better Craigslist proxy
Craigslist usually limits posting ads to your locality. That means, if you were intending to put up an ad running across different US cities or states, Craigslist wouldn’t let you do that.
On top of that, Craigslist uses VPN blockers, so you can’t use VPNs to spoof your location. With their competitive Micro and Starter plans, SmartProxy residential proxies could serve as a great proxy for Craigslist. Smaller pricing tiers make residential proxies accessible to not just business owners & marketers, but to regular individuals as well.
And then there are the Regular, Advanced, Premium, Professional and Enterprise plans that cost $400, $600, $1000, $2000 and $3000 respectively. The higher the pricing tier, the more the base available bandwidth available with the plan, and the lesser the cost of additional bandwidth purchase.
How to set up and use SmartProxy Residential Proxies
The below steps will help you to get familiarized with the SmartProxy dashboard and start using the residential proxy service.
- Register for a new SmartProxy account and purchase a pricing plan suitable for your needs.
- Login to the SmartProxy service if not already done, to access your Dashboard.
- The Traffic usage tab shows your current bandwidth usage. You can also download your bandwidth usage history on this page.
- On the Proxy user tab, you can manage (create, modify or delete) and set bandwidth limitations for active proxy users that are allowed to use the SmartProxy service. You need to provide any of the active user credentials in your proxy configuration settings, along with the specific proxy host and port number.
- In the Whitelist tab, you can add a list of trusted IP addresses that don’t require proxy authentication.
- The Endpoint tab is where you get access to the list of residential IP addresses and port numbers. You can filter the list by location and choose whether you want to use rotating or sticky IPs. You may even download the list of available IPs for reference purposes.
- Finally, the Pricing tab allows you to buy or switch between available pricing tiers.
Once you’ve set up the proxy users and determined which residential proxy address you want to connect to, just head over to your device or browser proxy settings and enter the proxy address, port and user credentials obtained from the SmartProxy dashboard. SmartProxy also allows you to set up the same programmatically.
Where SmartProxy could improve
Although SmartProxy presents a compelling overall package, there are still areas of potential improvement that would impact the quality of end-user experience. Below are some of the areas where there’s room for improvement.
Support for more cities
Even though SmartProxy offers north of 10 million proxies across several locations, the service only supports 8 major cities at this point. One of the important use cases for utilizing residential proxies is localized targeting. The addition of more popular cities would be an added incentive for subscribing to SmartProxy residential IP service.
Option for a free trial
Customers often look for a free trial option before they sign up for a new service, especially when significant investment is involved. SmartProxy offers no free trial and users have to pay for the service just to begin using the product. While this is not a deal-breaker (and to be fair they do have a 3-day money-back option), a free trial is certainly a nice-to-have option.
Decent speed across all the locations
In our testing, we noticed that apart from some of the popular US and European cities & countries, in most of the other locations supported by SmartProxy (especially the Asian countries), the residential IPs provided by the service were often slower than usual.
While it’s expected for residential IPs to vary in speed, a faster proxy server would usually be preferred for sending bulk requests compared to a slower one.
Unblock Google by default
One of the more serious issues we came across in our testing with SmartProxy residential proxy, was the fact that Google wasn’t accessible while on the proxy network. Depending on how you wish to utilize residential IPs, this could be a potential deal-breaker.
According to a company representative, the team is aware of the issue and they’re doing it for “protecting the pool”. However, customers can get in touch with SmartProxy support to enable Google access if they wish to do so.
Should you get SmartProxy?
With more than 10 million residential IPs in their pool, SmartProxy covers a wide range of countries around the globe. However, if you need to use IPs at the city level, do note that the service only supports 8 major cities.
SmartProxy’s pricing tiers start at a much lower range compared to its competitors. So, if you’re especially a beginner to residential proxies, SmartProxy’s Micro and Starter plans could just be what you’re looking for.