What is an Anonymous Proxy?

What is an Anonymous Proxy
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An anonymous proxy is a type of proxy that does not transmit your information to the destination server. If you are using an anonymous proxy, the website, application, or any other machine to which you connect through the internet thinks that the proxy, not your device, is the one making the request.


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As the name suggests, these proxies provide a lot of anonymity online. They can be understood in contrast to another type – transparent ones. Transparent proxies transmit your information to the destination server. As a result, the server sees information about your machine and the fact that you are using a proxy server.


How do anonymous proxies work?

A proxy server is an intermediary between your machine and any internet connection. It can be any device that is also connected to the internet – a personal computer, mobile phone, tablet, etc. Everything that has an assigned IP address can be used as a proxy server.


They work as a simple internet traffic relay. Instead of sending and receiving data from a website, application, or something else directly, the traffic is first routed through the proxy server in both cases. The proxy server in question delivers the data to the intended target.


A transparent proxy does everything outlined above, however, it also adds the user’s data when relaying. Any destination server knows where the connection request truly originated from. In other words, for anonymity and privacy purposes, transparent proxies do basically nothing. They also don’t have any encryption available.


An anonymous proxy, on the other hand, is different. As mentioned above, the destination website thinks that the proxy server is the original issuer of the request. Anonymous proxies achieve such a task by modifying the request sent by the original device. They add their own IP address and other data in order to imitate the request.


It should be noted that doing any proxy connection that does some type of modification takes a small amount of time. Anonymous proxy servers are thus a little slower than transparent ones. Most of the, however, the slowdowns are negligible, especially if the anonymous proxy server comes from a reputable provider.

Free vs paid anonymous proxies

There are a lot of websites that supposedly provide free anonymous proxies. We cannot recommend ever using these. High anonymity proxies are fairly hard to acquire and maintain. They also require some maintenance. In other words, they cost time and money.


So, anyone offering free proxy servers has to make the money back somehow. Otherwise the service wouldn’t be up for long. Additionally, one of the ways these websites acquire “free” proxy servers is through grey-area practices or even straight up malware.


Additionally, most of these proxies will be shared. Dedicated (only one user per IP address) anonymous proxies are even more costly, so most of these providers turn to sharing them. Usually, there’s no set connection limit and, since they are free, there’s a lot of people using the same IP address. These practices can lead to frequent bans by a web host or significant slowdowns.


We aren’t even delving into some shady practices that might be involved. It’s fairly likely that these providers collect data such as search history. That data, that may even include all browsing history, is then sold to companies who want to enrich advertisements.


Where are anonymous proxies used?

One of the benefits of anonymous proxies we have yet to mention is that they provide their own IP address and everything that comes with it. Most importantly, they not only change the IP address, but the predicted geographic location as well. If you are familiar with virtual private networks, it’s a lot like using a VPN server, but it’s significantly faster and grants more privacy.


As a result of these modifications, the web host receives connections from a particular geographical location. Since some content (such as videos or articles) are only available if you are from a specific location, anonymous proxies allow users to bypass geo blocking.


Additionally, anonymous proxies have one more trick up their sleeve. While VPNs are usually made for a specific operating system (or several), proxies are much more ubiquitous. Anyone with any setup can find a way to use proxies.


Therefore, anonymous proxies are frequently used wherever geo blocking is relevant. Companies use these proxies wherever geographically sensitive data is needed. Common use cases include price comparison, travel fare aggregation, data from search engines collection etc. Regular users use anonymous proxies to bypass blocked videos, articles, music, etc.


Additionally, anonymous proxies offer a solution to frequently change your IP address. Since most proxy server providers sell pools, you get access to millions of internet protocol addresses. So, anonymous proxies grant the opportunity to rotate them as frequently as needed.


These use cases mostly involve all sorts of internet automation. Sneaker bots, web scrapers, etc., all can make use of the proxy pool. Changing IP addresses in such a manner is useful for any automation, because any web host is usually fairly keen on banning anything they consider to be inorganic traffic.


Can you detect an anonymous proxy?

Yes, it is certainly possible, but unlikely. There are numerous methods that can be used to detect anonymous proxies such as fingerprinting. Most of them, however, are resource intensive and are usually not worth the effort.


Additionally, while the identity of the user is nearly impossible to uncover, the usage of an anonymous proxy server can be detectable. It all depends on the source of the anonymous proxy server.


There are two primary sources – data centers and residential IPs. The former are proxies created by powerful servers in data centers. Since most of them are owned by businesses, they have a lot of benefits such as impressive connection speeds and overall reliability. Additionally, they are also a lot cheaper than their counterparts.


Data centers do have a drawback, however. Since most of these IPs come from one server, they come in large packages (also called subnets) that make the addresses seem similar to one another. While finding out the identity is still inordinately difficult, detecting that an anonymous proxy server is in use is possible.


Residential proxies are much harder to detect. They come from household devices, which gain IP addresses from internet service providers. Therefore, while the web host might see the ISP account name and other data, most of it is useless. Detecting that a residential proxy is being used is a lot harder.


Unfortunately, residential IPs are significantly slower as they use any internet service that is available to a household. Some of which might be slow and unreliable. 


Also, users have no control over the IP addresses as the owner of the device might simply decide to shut it down. Therefore, while there’s a small margin of extra privacy granted, it’s gained by sacrificing speed and reliability.


An anonymous proxy is a multifunctional tool. They can be used for simple purposes such as getting an extra layer of security and anonymity online. Yet, they can also be used for much greater tasks such as automated data collection, geo block bypasses, and botting.


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