Scraping with free or paid proxies – what is the difference?

Anything free always sounds appealing. And we are often ready to go an extra mile to avoid expenses if we can. But is it a good idea to choose the free option when it comes to using proxies for data scraping? Or should you stick to the paid ones for better results?

Let’s weigh all the pros and cons to see why you should consider using residential IP providers like Infatica, Bright Data, NetNut, Geosurf and others.

What is a proxy, and why do you need it for scraping?

A proxy is a remote server that becomes a mediator between the user and the destination server. It masks your real IP address allowing you to access restricted resources. This service is crucial for data scraping since most sites do not welcome scraper bots.

Servers are usually protected from DDOS attacks. And if you send several thousands of inquiries per minute, it looks just like a DDOS attack. That’s why the server simply denies all your inquiries and leaves you with no data at all.

To bypass this restriction and avoid possible bans, you need to use proxies and, preferably, a lot of them. Each proxy will send an inquiry from a different IP address, making them look legitimate and not raising any alerts. Thus, you will send thousands of inquiries from allegedly different machines, bypass the security system, and receive the data you need. And since all the inquiries are distributed among the proxies, none of them go beyond the limit, and they don’t get banned.

Types of proxies

To be honest with you, all proxies are divided into two large groups: free and good. But seriously, there are different types of proxies. And to make the right choice, you need to understand the details. Choosing to get free proxies, you have to know what you will sacrifice, and getting paid proxies you should know what you’re paying for. That being said, let’s dive into the details.

Roughly proxies are divided into three kinds:

  • transparent
  • anonymous
  • elite

What are transparent proxies, and what are they used for?

Transparent proxies are the simplest ones. They will route and process your inquiry. But they will show the destination server your authentic data as well. Why would you use them then? Transparent proxies, also called “caching proxies”, are used for corporate needs. They are useful for optimizing the narrow bandwidth. Then, these proxies play the role of a cache for the Intranet – the private network that is accessed only by staff. In this case, transparent proxies improve the connection and filter the traffic.

Unlike other proxies, transparent ones reveal the authentic data of the user. While this is useful for the optimization of the internal bandwidth, such a feature will sabotage the whole process when it comes to data scraping. Transparent proxies are often free, but their usefulness is very limited.

HTTP header for the transparent proxies looks like the following:

REMOTE_ADDR: Proxy IP address
HTTP_VIA: Proxy IP address/hostname and details
HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR: Your real IP address


  • Great for internal bandwidth optimization
  • Are usually free


  • Are useful only in a few situations
  • Reveal your authentic IP address

What are anonymous proxies, and what are they used for?

Just like transparent proxies, anonymous ones will send your inquiry, but they will not reveal your authentic IP address. However, it can be detected by the fact that you’re using a proxy. The anonymous proxy will send your inquiry, erasing your IP address from any page requests and replacing it with its own to hide your real data. But it will show the destination server that you’re masking your IP address. Sending the request the anonymous proxy adds a header saying that the proxy is being used. Also, anonymous proxies are usually quite slow which often results in a timeout error.

Anonymous proxy does not hide REMOTE_ADDR and HTTP_VIA HTTP header:

REMOTE_ADDR: Proxy IP address
HTTP_VIA: Proxy IP address/hostname and details


  • Keep you anonymous
  • Are often free


  • Reveal the fact that you’re using a proxy
  • Can sabotage the data scraping
  • Are quite slow

What are the elite proxies?

Elite proxies are the ones you need for data scraping. They’re much rarer than transparent and anonymous proxies, and often payment is required. Elite proxies will send your inquiry, hide your authentic IP address AND hide the fact that you’re masking your data.

Elite proxies hide both REMOTE_ADDR and HTTP_VIA HTTP header:

REMOTE_ADDR: Proxy IP address
HTTP_VIA: blank

These proxies are very hard to detect, that’s why they’re used for parsers.


  • Will keep you anonymous
  • Will hide the fact that you’re using proxies
  • Are great for data scraping
  • Are hard to detect


  • Are usually paid for

Buying elite proxies, you should trust only the reputable providers that will not leave you with low-quality and useless proxies. The great sign that you can trust the vendor is that it allows you to test proxies. It is important to try them before paying for the service. Sometimes certain proxies can simply not work out for your specific project. By buying them right away, you might waste a lot of money.

That’s why we will study elite proxies taking Infatica as an example. This provider offers two kinds of elite proxies: residential and data center. Both kinds are available for a 3-day test, and prices are significantly lower than other providers offer. Unlike others, Infatica has fixed monthly rates with no traffic limits. You will pay for the number of your streams. This approach makes the service much more affordable.

They have great support that helps you configure proxies for various tasks. Proxies support  HTTP, HTTPS and Socks5 protocols. Plus, there are standard features like: set the desired connection duration to create a schedule, and change the IP address with each request to get the maximum anonymity and avoid bans.

Residential vs Data center proxies

What are residential proxies?

This is an IP address issued by a real IPS. It belongs to an existing device that is completely genuine. Therefore, if you’re connecting to the destination server using a residential proxy, it is impossible to tell that you’re masking your authentic data.

Infatica offers high-quality residential proxies that will make you seem like a local online. They will hide the fact that you’re parsing the data. Also, this provider has a wide choice of locations of IP addresses. Thus, you will never feel limited.


  • Are great for scraping
  • Will hide both your data and the fact that you’re using a proxy
  • Are unlikely to get banned


  • Residential proxies are shared with other users
  • The speed can be inconsistent
What are data center proxies?

While residential proxies are shared with other users, data center ones belong solely to you. You will be the only one using them. Consequently, you will get the widest bandwidth possible, and you won’t have to worry about the proxy getting banned because of the actions of other users.

Infatica offers flexible pricing plans for data center proxies allowing you to save money. Simply choose the plan that fits your needs and get access to plenty of high-quality data center proxies.


  • You don’t share the proxy with anyone
  • High speeds
  • Complete anonymity and safety
  • Perfect reliability


  • Data center proxies are the most expensive

Proxy protocols

Protocol is a set of rules that allows computer network devices to communicate. These rules determine how the information should be displayed and exchanged to ensure a successful data transfer.

Proxies can use either HTTP or SOCKS protocol. And to choose the suitable one you need to understand the difference between them.

HTTP proxies

This protocol is much older than SOCKS, but it is still popular. It can understand traffic that comes over a TCP connection – that’s something SOCKS can’t do.

They can receive requests right from the apps that are also using HTTP. And while this protocol has its limitations, its primary advantage is the ability to understand the data. The HTTP proxy can get the required information from the server, throwing away everything irrelevant. Thus, it fetches cleaner data saving your time and efforts. That’s why HTTP proxies are better for data retrieving.


  • Great for data scraping
  • It’s easy to get many HTTP proxies
  • Affordable prices
  • There are free HTTP proxies


  • Less secure than SOCK proxies
  • Works only with the limited types of connection
SOCKS 4 and SOCKS 5 proxies

SOCKS is a protocol created specifically for proxies. SOCKS 4 is a more outdated version, while SOCKS 5 is a recent one. The latest version offers much more security and many more possibilities than SOCKS 4 and especially HTTP. The SOCKS 5 proxy will work in any situation since it is compatible with different technologies, and it is highly reliable.

SOCKS protocol can be used only by residential and data center proxies. Therefore, SOCKS proxies are usually paid, but they’re impossible to detect because neither residential nor data center proxies reveal your authentic data or the fact that you’re masking it.


  • Work in most cases
  • Are highly reliable
  • High level of security
  • Can’t be detected


  • Are usually paid
  • It’s hard to gather many good SOCKS proxies

Can one use free proxies for data scraping?

As we’ve studied all types of proxies, you could probably see that free ones are not suitable for data scraping. Of course, you can find elite proxies for free, but what are the chances that they will be of good quality? Often, free or very cheap elite proxies appear to be banned by many servers, or they simply disappear at some point – the device with this IP address becomes unavailable.

That’s why you should stick to paid proxies if you want to scrape data consistently and without any headache. Elite proxies will provide you with the anonymity and speed you need for your parcer to work properly and quickly.

If you’re worried that proxies will require a lot of spending, let us tell you that you don’t need to do that. Check out pricing plans Infatica offers. With this provider, you will get elite residential and data center proxies that work perfectly well at an affordable cost. Simply choose the plan that fits your budget and requirements, and get on to effortless data scraping. Once you become a client, Infatica will provide you with high-quality proxies and 24/7 support.

If you’re still not sure, Infatica offers a free trial. To apply for it, you have to complete the form on the provider’s website. Also, there is a refund policy that keeps you safe.

One reply on “Scraping with free or paid proxies – what is the difference?”

I would like to agree with the author of this article – free services aren’t good enough when it comes to scraping. You might unknowingly sell your own data and often when you use free proxies their IPs are already abused or flagged and that won’t help to mask your scraping tool from the website and stay undetected. Since there are many great proxy providers like smartproxy, netnut, highproxies, etc. you can choose paid services, stay safe and succeed in your web scraping tasks.

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