A proxy server is similar to a waiter in a restaurant. They take your order and deliver it to the pastry chef, cook, and bartender. In doing so, the restaurant is able to ensure each employee receives the information relevant to them and can offer an enjoyable, seamless dining experience. The waiter, in this scenario, is the proxy server and the customers ordering the food, the users of the server itself. The exit nodes are the different areas within the restaurant all contributing their own part and in the end giving the customer what they ordered. The exit nodes are the specific IP addresses the proxy servers provide as a replacement for your IP.
Within a proxy network, the proxy server acts as a gateway, forwarding requests from the user of a proxy to any number of outbound (exit) nodes before being sent to the target site. The exit nodes are alternate IP addresses and by exchanging one IP for another you can appear as a completely different user in a geolocation of your choosing. In masking your previous IP, proxy users are able to verify the accuracy of information when collecting data, access content that is location-specific such as advertisements or pricing information and emulates different online environments when testing websites.
When you type in the address or URL of a site you are requesting access to that domain. This request provides information to that specific domain from your device, cookies and most importantly the IP address. Your IP address is similar to a mailing address and contains information including how to send the information you requested back to you. The IP address provides location data so the site can respond by providing the web page content relevant to you.
In many cases, it is necessary to emulate a different user by using a different IP address and that is where proxy servers come into play.
By using a proxy server requests are sent from a user, these requests are received by a load balancing super proxy server which forwards that request to the right exit node. These exit nodes are in the form of different IP types and the request is then sent to the target site from the IP chosen.
Shared IPs allow you to maximize value while minimizing costs. An example of this is when gathering data from sites with request limit blockades. A request limit blockade is a common security feature sites implement that detects and flags suspicious activity such as too many requests too quickly from the same IP. This is normally used to prevent bots from crawling a site. These blocks can be avoided by changing the IP every x number of requests. By switching the IP, you can avoid being flagged, maintain a high success rate and ensure continuous data collection.
A proxy server’s exit nodes consist of IPs provided by a data center server or peers (real devices) originating from a mobile or a residential network. Each network type offers different IP types that provide specific benefits. Datacenter IPs are commonly used for mass crawling of target sites. Residential IP and Mobile IP networks allow users to emulate a real user in the geolocation they require by forwarding requests through peers within the network.
Ensuring a target site only sees the exit node and not where the request originated from is the main purpose of using a proxy server. This can be used for security, to collect geolocation specific data or to see a site using a different user-agent (for example a mobile phone vs. desktop computer) which is commonly used in data aggregation, verification, testing and more. A proxy server provides the ability to get the most accurate web data available by ridding the internet of targeting bias.
As demographic targeting becomes more sophisticated to cater to the needs of customers, the ability to tailor that information is common practice. A truly enjoyable experience when wanting to make a purchase and the site already knows your location, provides the information in the right language, the appropriate currency, and includes relevant shipping details. However, these changes in the offered data can be detrimental to the operations and sales forecasts of a business especially when it comes to protecting their brand, verifying advertisements or extracting web data.
Ad verification relies on targeting specific audiences to ensure the ads displayed are relevant to those seeing them. In order to verify the ads are compliant, companies require a proxy server. Those taking part in fraudulent activity use the information provided by the IP address to determine if the request is coming from a bot or partner so they can serve a different ad that complies with what was agreed upon. By using a proxy server with an exit node that provides the data the campaign is targeting, companies can verify their campaigns and be certain of their compliance.
With websites, it is important to test the site from multiple places in the world on different devices such as mobile phones and desktops. A proxy server can allow you to create the environment you require to ensure your site works in Germany on a mobile device, while you are sitting on your desktop in South Africa. It allows you to guarantee the site is displayed in german, provides pricing in euros and so forth.
Ecommerce is highly competitive and sites crawl through their competitor’s sites to compare prices. Comparing prices has become more commonplace and with it, websites have started to track who is accessing their site. These websites are able to change their pricing and mislead the competition while still showing the right prices to potential customers. By utilizing a proxy server with the right exit node, those aggregating price comparison data are able to ensure the data being collected is accurate.
A proxy server exchanges your IP for one or a million others. Similar to a waiter taking your order at a restaurant and in turn receiving a variety of food and drinks. By utilizing a proxy server and masking the IPs origin, with the correct proxy manipulations, you can create any reasonable scenario and in doing so accomplish a variety of online tasks with the utmost accuracy.