Why You Shouldn't Use Free Proxies - Risks & Reasons
Flipnode on Mar 31 2023
Assuming you're new to the concept of proxies and looking to scrape data from a website with location restrictions, it's understandable to consider using free proxies. Why pay for something when you can get it for free, right? But as you dive deeper into the subject and do some research, you'll soon discover that free proxies come with a host of worrying problems. So, let's explore the fundamental question: can you trust free proxies?
Are free proxies safe?
Free proxies may seem appealing with their ease of use and convenience, but as with many things in life, if it appears too good to be true, it probably is. Here are five reasons why it's best to steer clear of free proxies:
1. The vast majority of free proxies don't use HTTPS
Despite the fact that the HTTPS protocol ensures encrypted connection, it is surprising that almost 80% of free proxy servers do not support HTTPS connection. As a result, any data you transmit can be easily monitored. Therefore, if you are concerned about data privacy, using free proxies is not a wise decision.
2. Your connection can be easily monitored
One of the main speculations for the absence of HTTPS on most free proxies is that their operators intend to monitor users. This isn't surprising, given that many free proxies have been created for this very purpose in the past.
When you use a free proxy, you're essentially taking a chance and hoping that the owners won't misuse or sell your data, which is a concern you definitely don't want to have.
3. Cookie stealing
Protecting your cookies is crucial because they contain your login information and other sensitive data to facilitate the login process. When using a proxy server to access websites, the proxy owners can easily steal your cookies as they are being established, which could lead to online impersonation and unauthorized access to sensitive websites you have visited.
4. The issue of malicious software
All the concerns related to free proxies share a common theme - they rely on the hope that your data won't be misused, without any guarantees. The issue of malicious software is no exception. Technically, nothing prevents proxy owners from infecting your hardware with malware.
What's more, some malware could be introduced inadvertently, even without the owners' knowledge. As free proxies typically rely on ads for revenue, they may unknowingly display harmful ads that contain malware.
5. Low quality service
After considering all the aforementioned risks, the benefit of using free proxies is minimal. Typically, free proxies are much slower than their paid counterparts due to insufficient funding and the likelihood of multiple users accessing them simultaneously.
In conclusion, free proxies are a service that carries a high risk and low reward.
What is a premium proxy?
In contrast to free proxies, premium proxies offer top-notch service. They are speedy, dependable, transparent, and secure. They provide a range of options, whether you require Datacenter or Residential Proxies, or perhaps a Scraper API is more suitable for your needs. This customization allows you to tailor your proxies to your specific projects. Additionally, premium services offer access to cutting-edge solutions that continually evolve. The premium proxy providers prioritize constant improvements in quality and speed.
Premium vs free proxy: the advantages
To keep the focus on the topic of why free proxies should be avoided, only the fundamental advantages of premium proxies will be highlighted, as listing all their benefits and features would require a separate article.
The safety concerns associated with free proxies are significant. However, with premium proxies, you can be assured of unparalleled protection, as top providers take full responsibility for ensuring the safety of your data. Data security is a critical feature that is both a value-generating property and a factor that cannot be ignored without serious consequences for proxy providers. By prioritizing data safety, top proxy providers can provide near-certainty that their customers' data is as secure as possible.
2. Quality and speed
It's not surprising that paid proxy services are considerably faster than their free counterparts. However, uptime is just as important as speed. Free proxies have no obligation to ensure their connections are always available. Although technically, premium proxies are not required to do so either, large businesses require both fast speeds and uninterrupted uptime. As such, top proxy providers usually offer both.
Industry-leading proxy companies also put a lot of effort into obtaining high-quality, ethical proxies. This fact is closely related to uptime and stability as it reduces the likelihood of various proxies disappearing without notice.
3. State of the art technology
Efficiency is crucial for any large-scale project, including the use of proxies. In the IT industry, technological advancements play a significant role in achieving the highest levels of efficiency. The proxy and data gathering industry is continually evolving, and premium proxy solutions often incorporate cutting-edge technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) that greatly enhance the effectiveness of proxies, particularly in web scraping.
It's worth noting that while these state-of-the-art technologies are highly beneficial to large businesses, they may not hold the same value for smaller-scale operations. Free proxies are still used in certain cases where a simple task may not require the speed, safety, and anonymity that paid proxies offer.
What to look for when choosing a proxy provider
Here are some essential factors to consider before selecting a proxy:
1. Choose the right proxy for the job
Determining your specific needs is essential when selecting a proxy type since each has its own strengths and limitations. Residential proxies, for instance, are more expensive but minimize the risk of getting blocked. Meanwhile, Datacenter proxies are faster and less costly, making them a good option for testing if simpler IPs get blocked.
2. Large proxy pools
A proxy provider's pool size determines the level of location targeting they can offer. Smaller pools may not be able to provide targeting at a city or state level, and may face blocking issues more frequently. It's important to verify a provider's claim of having a massive proxy pool, as the actual size can vary greatly among providers.
Deciding on a proxy provider can be overwhelming, but price can be a deciding factor. However, pricing for proxies is not always straightforward due to the various factors that determine their effectiveness. While some providers may appear to offer a cheaper option that meets your requirements, closer examination may reveal issues with technology, speed, and availability. Therefore, it's essential to research and compare the offerings of each provider and determine if their pricing aligns with the value they provide.
It may seem like a simple tip, but it is important to mention that reviews are a crucial aspect when choosing a trustworthy proxy provider. It is important to look at both the quantity and quality of reviews. A provider with five 5-star reviews may not be as reliable as a provider with 5000 reviews averaging at 4.5 stars. It is also important to read both positive and negative reviews to determine if the issues mentioned by other users can impact your web scraping projects.
It's clear that using free proxies comes with serious underlying issues that won't go away. However, despite the challenges, free proxies still have a role to play. For smaller projects, using free proxies may not pose a significant risk, but it's still somewhat of a gamble. As projects scale up, the use of free proxies shifts from being risky to being downright dangerous.
As with the central theme of this post, it's crucial to determine your precise needs and make an informed decision accordingly. Even after deciding to pay for proxies, you still need to choose a provider carefully.