Shared proxies, or public proxies, are proxies that allow several connections through a single address. In many cases, this can mean several thousands of people are connected to the internet via the same IP address.
Shared proxies are immensely popular for one simple reason: they’re dirt cheap.
In fact, a quick Google search of the term “shared proxies” will return hundreds of thousands of different results, many of them free. If you’re a regular user looking to access restricted content, the public nature of shared proxy addresses might not be an issue.
But if you’re sending or receiving private personal information, or your business relies on a stable and reliable proxy connection, then shared proxies, especially free ones, are a bad idea.
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The primary selling point for any shared proxy is its low cost. Shared proxies are significantly cheaper than private or even semi-shared services. But remember, you get what you pay for. If the proxy service can’t promise reliable uptime on their addresses or its users are conducting activities that cause the IPs in their pool to become frequently blocked, it might not be worth the money saved.
Anonymity in a Crowd
An understated benefit to shared proxies is higher anonymity (theoretically). Since so many users share one IP, any party who intends to track your activities will have a hard time differentiating you from the hundreds of other people that trace back to the same address. In practice, however, the effect of crowd anonymity is negligible. A good private proxy offers comparable privacy and security
The Bad Neighbor Effect
Sharing an IP address with other users also means you’re susceptible to what is known as the “Bad Neighbor” effect. Simply put, the Bad Neighbor Effect means that you suffer from the ill-advised (or illegal) actions of the other users that you share an address with. Another user’s actions could lead to the shared address getting banned by websites and social media, effectively making it unusable for all other users.
For regular users, having to frequently reconnect to new addresses might be a minor nuisance. But for businesses, this can affect the performance of their marketing and data gathering tools. Businesses that rely on high-level web scraping, for instance, can’t afford to have their scrapers going down due to blocked proxies.
Depending on the nature of your business, unreliable proxy servers could trigger a domino effect leading to long-term repercussions to your bottom line. In the case of aggregators, an unreliable proxy could make it completely impossible for their business to function.
The most obvious drawback to shared proxies is the low performance and poor connection speeds. You are, after all, sharing limited bandwidth with many other users. This leads to packet loss, dropped connections, and lots of frustration.
Simply put, if your business is on the search for a proxy provider, do not invest in a shared proxy. Their low reliability and poor overall performance will just lead to headaches that could be avoided by spending a bit more every year. You’ll likely find the extra money is well worth the time saved not having to constantly switch addresses or deal with poor transmission speeds. Additionally, many cheaper shared proxy providers don’t even allow you to choose the location of your proxy. This is especially important if your business deals with regional SEO.
Avoid Free Proxies!
There’s no denying the appeal of something that costs nothing. The trouble is so many users are willing to put their personal and private information on the line in exchange for a free service. For some, the loss of privacy is an acceptable compromise for not having to spend a few dollars a month. Others have no idea about the danger they put themselves in when accessing the internet through a free shared proxy.
First of all, running a proxy service costs money — lots of it. Remember that you’re connecting to the internet through their service, so every request you send passes through their servers. In order to make a profit without charging their users, free proxy providers will actually track your browsing activity.
They then sell this information to the highest bidder. Then, of course, there’s the issue of security. If you’re accessing social media, e-mail, or other personal services through their servers, every bit of data you send goes through them first. Do you trust them with that information?
Shared proxies are proxies that allow several users (sometimes thousands) to connect through the same address. Businesses that rely on stable and fast connections to proxies in different locations around the world should think twice before buying into a shared proxy plan. Shared bandwidth and the Bad Neighbor Effect negatively impact the performance of shared proxies, in turn affecting the stability and uptime of proxy-dependent functions.