The Best Proxy Server for 2021: Keep Your Business Private

By Dusan Vasic November 2, 2021

Proxy servers are used as an intermediary between you and the web. In normal circumstances, you would directly connect to a website you’re visiting. When using a proxy server, you connect to it first, and it then acts on your behalf and sends your traffic to the target website – hence the use of the term “proxy.”

One of the main benefits of using the best proxy server is that it allows you to change your IP address and location, circumventing geoblocking. Additionally, your browsing history and online activity won’t be stored on your computer but on the proxy server instead. Perks such as these have become invaluable in the age of increased internet censorship and invasion of privacy.

These are only some of the benefits a proxy service can bring to the table. Proxies are also massively used by businesses, providing them with extra levels of security, control, and stability. Here, we focused mainly on best proxy services for corporate use, but many of the providers mentioned here offer plans for individual use too.

Top 5 Proxy Servers

  • Huge number of IPs
  • High success rate
  • All proxy types
  • Expensive
Price $300/mo
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  • Search engine proxies
  • Powerful extensions
  • Anti-detection tool
  • Lacks flexibility
Price $75/mo+ VAT
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  • Product insurance
  • Ethically sourced IPS
  • No bandwidth limits on data center plans
  • No mobile proxies
Price $180/mo
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  • Completely free
  • High level of anonymity
  • Fast
  • Only for individual use
Price FREE
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  • Flexible plans
  • Huge number of proxies
  • No bandwidth limits
  • Only whitelisted IP authentication
Price $3/day
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Guide for Picking the Best Proxy Servers

What Are Proxy Servers Used For?

One of the most common uses of proxies is to circumvent internet censorship and geo-restrictions. In countries with stringent internet censorship laws – such as China and its Great Firewall – people are often prohibited from accessing certain sites such as Facebook or YouTube. However, by using good proxy servers (or advanced VPNs), you can circumvent these internet blockades.

This is due to the fact that proxy servers can supply you with a new IP tied to a different location. Therefore, when you access an otherwise blocked website through a proxy, you’ll effectively trick the website that you’re in another location, and you’ll be allowed access.

In the same vein, the use of a different IP gives you a dose of anonymity, as your online activities can’t be traced back to you as easily. However, unless you go for dedicated anonymous proxies, chances are the proxy service itself keeps logs. If an investigation was launched and these logs were given over to authorities, you could be identified based on that information.

While individuals mainly use proxy servers to preserve anonymity and to circumvent geo-blocking, businesses find a significantly wider scope of use for proxies.

  • Restrict and control employee internet usage. Somewhat contrary to how individuals use proxies, companies can use proxy servers to limit what their employees access when using the company’s network. By using the best proxy sites, a company can deter workers from accessing nonwork-related and risky websites, which heightens both the productivity and security of the business.
  • Handle traffic spikes. Companies tend to have multiple servers that host their website and services, with the servers being scattered around multiple locations. The way you unify access to multiple servers hosting your content is through a proxy server, helping you handle much higher volumes of traffic without crashing the servers.
  • Keep business operations private. Through the use of top proxy services, businesses, just like individual users, can keep their operations and activities private. Whether it’s company whistleblowers, R&D teams, or security officers, everyone can rest assured that sensitive activity will be kept safe from prying eyes. Sometimes, corporate researchers might use proxy IPs to scout out other companies and gather large amounts of publicly available data.
  • Added security. A company using the best proxy server also has the benefit of extra security. Since the proxy server handles most outside requests for access, hackers might breach into the proxy server, but your true network will remain safe, at least for a while. Proxy servers are also great for email security and handling potentially harmful attachments.
  • Speed and bandwidth. Just like VPNs, proxy servers can sometimes slightly slow down internet connection speeds, as each connection request has to go through the proxy first. However, proxies can also cache frequently visited websites and services, leading to massively improved load times and less bandwidth used.

1. Bright Data

" Best overall "

bright data logo
  • Proxies:
    Residential, ISP, mobile, data center
  • IP pool:
    Over 72 million residential IPs
  • Protocols:
    HTTP, HTTPS and SOCKS5
  • Web scraper:
    Yes, web unlocker
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live support
  • Success rate:
    100%

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Huge number of IPs
  • High success rate
  • All proxy types
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Huge number of IPs
  • High success rate
  • All proxy types
  • Expensive
  • Proxies:
    Residential, ISP, mobile, data center
  • IP pool:
    Over 72 million residential IPs
  • Protocols:
    HTTP, HTTPS and SOCKS5
  • Web scraper:
    Yes, web unlocker
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live support
  • Success rate:
    100%

Bright Data (previously Luminati Networks) is a flexible proxy service that offers the largest IP address pool we’ve come across. When it comes to residential IPs alone, Bright Data offers more than 72 million of them, spread across 195 countries.

Besides residential IPs, Bright Data offers data center proxies (over 700k), static residential IPs (85k), as well as mobile proxy IPs (7.5M). With such a diverse proxy offer, and a huge number of IPs for each type, Bright Data easily beats other top proxies.

Naturally, residential IPs are the most coveted ones, as they come with the lowest risk of being blocked and reducing success rates. If you’d like to get an even better batch of addresses, you can go with the static residential IPs that haven’t been previously used at all.

In addition to standard proxy services, Bright Data also brings two extremely useful tools to the table – Web Unlocker and Search Engine Crawler. Web Unlocker is an automated website unlocking tool that promises to vastly increase your success rates. This top proxy tool automatically chooses the best IP and browser profile to reach the target site, in addition to solving captchas and overcoming other obstacles to a successful connection to the target. While this tool comes as a paid add-on, you’ll only be paying for successful requests.

Search Engine Crawler is practically an SEO tool. When you hit SEC with a keyword query, it collects SERP data, as well as images, shopping information, maps, and videos for any given keyword.

According to its site, Bright Data comes with a 100% network uptime. This high-speed proxy also supports unlimited concurrent sessions and comes with 24/7 support. On top of that, Bright Data offers a robust Proxy Manager tool that lets you handle and oversee all proxies under your control and requests made through those proxies.

All of these tools and features make Bright Data an immensely powerful and flexible proxy service. However, there is one significant drawback – the price. First of all, the pricing structure itself is convoluted and often hard to make heads or tails of.

There are five pricing plans available, each coming with a minimum monthly commitment. The cheapest plan costs $300 a month, while the most expensive one is $3,000 per month. The company also offers a pay-as-you-go option for customers who are still figuring out the right plan for their needs.

The perk of going with its best proxy service plan is that you’ll be paying a smaller price per gigabyte. Different proxy types come with different pricing (residential and static IPs being the most expensive), with additional services like the Web Unlocker tool further inflating the price.

All in all, we found Bright Data to be the most capable and adaptable proxy service around, with an obvious focus on data collection campaigns.

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2. Smartproxy

" Best for web scraping "

smartproxy logo
  • Proxies:
    Residential, data center, dedicated data center, search engine
  • IP pool:
    Over 40 million
  • Protocols:
    HTTP/HTTPS
  • Web scraper:
    Yes
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    92-95%

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Search engine proxies
  • Powerful extensions
  • Anti-detection tool
  • Lacks flexibility

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Search engine proxies
  • Powerful extensions
  • Anti-detection tool
  • Lacks flexibility
  • Proxies:
    Residential, data center, dedicated data center, search engine
  • IP pool:
    Over 40 million
  • Protocols:
    HTTP/HTTPS
  • Web scraper:
    Yes
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    92-95%

Smartproxy is somewhat of a newcomer to the proxy sphere, but it has managed to quickly carve out a piece of the market for itself. This is, of course, due to its great offer that focuses mainly on residential proxies, which is the best proxy websites can offer.

Smartproxy has over 40 million residential IPs across 195 countries, which isn’t exactly on Bright Data’s level but should prove more than enough for most companies. Besides residential proxies, Smartproxy offers data center, dedicated data center, and search engine proxies. Dedicated data center proxies represent a middle ground between residential and standard data center proxies, as you’ll have IPs available only to you, but they won’t be tied to an ISP/actual device.

The search engine proxies are basically Bright Data’s Search Engine Crawler and Web Unlocker tools combined in one. This Smartproxy tool retrieves paid and organic data, keyword information, and monitors prices and SEO. Most good proxy sites offer this type of service that both provide insight into SEO metrics and boosts the success rate of data retrieval by automatically resolving captchas and finding the best IP to access each target.

Smartproxy offers browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. These extensions allow you to instantly access localized and geo-locked content by assigning you a residential or data center IP from the target country.

We found the X Browser feature to be very useful as well. This anti-detection tool lets you swap among browser profiles and tons of unique fingerprints. This allows you to both prevent websites from detecting you’re using a proxy server and practically removes the risk of any internet activity getting traced back to you.

The capabilities of this dedicated IP proxy service don’t stop there. The proxy address generator can instantly fetch a list of up to 50,000 proxies, which you can then export to any software you’re using. On top of that, Smartproxy comes with its own data scraping tool that makes data collection both quicker and easier.

Smartproxy provides you with helpful documentation to integrate the service with other apps and bots, as well as to integrate it in various programming languages.

Proxy server costs here are actually pretty affordable. The residential proxy plans start at $75 + VAT, with the cheapest plan bringing a 5 GB traffic limit. It allows for one proxy user and one whitelist and charges $15 per additional GB. The great thing is that you can always just pay for additional traffic without upgrading to a pricier package.

Data center proxy plans start at $50 + VAT (100 GB traffic limit), while the cheapest dedicated data center proxy package stands at $39 + VAT (25 IPS).

Smartproxy might lack the flexibility of Bright Data, but its affordability and huge IP pool make it a worthwhile investment.

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3. Oxylabs

" Best success rates "

oxylabs logo
  • Proxies:
    Data center, residential, next-gen residential
  • IP pool:
    Over 100 million residential IPs
  • Protocols:
    HTTP, HTTPS, and SOCKS5
  • Web scraper:
    Yes
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    99.2%

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Product insurance
  • Ethically sourced IPS
  • No bandwidth limits on data center plans
  • No mobile proxies

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Product insurance
  • Ethically sourced IPS
  • No bandwidth limits on data center plans
  • No mobile proxies
  • Proxies:
    Data center, residential, next-gen residential
  • IP pool:
    Over 100 million residential IPs
  • Protocols:
    HTTP, HTTPS, and SOCKS5
  • Web scraper:
    Yes
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    99.2%

Proxy servers, just like VPNs, are often used for not-so-legal activities. A lot of users are in search of the best proxy server for torrenting, while the partial anonymity proxy servers provide can also be used for corporate espionage, unlawful data scraping, and more. Oxylabs decided to separate themselves from potentially morally ambiguous use cases, specializing their services strictly toward completely legal activities.

Oxylabs does this in two ways. First, it guarantees that its over-100-million-strong IP pool is ethically sourced, meaning that all end-users gave their consent for their IP to be used inside proxy networks. Secondly, Oxylabs offers an insurance policy for all of its products, underwritten by Lloyds.

Like most of the best proxy servers we’ve reviewed here, Oxylabs offers both data center and residential proxies. Oxylab boasts over 100 million residential IPs, with a 99.2% success rate and 0.6s proxy speed. There are no CAPTCHAs involved, and it allows for pinpoint targeting down to the city level.

Oxylabs has more than 2 million dedicated data center proxies. According to the company, the average uptime is 99%, with no concurrent sessions or bandwidth limits in place.

Oxylab’s unique selling point are its next-gen residential proxies. Harnessing the power of machine learning and AI, next-gen proxies are practically advanced data scrapers. According to the company, data scrape requests with this tool have a 100% success rate, thanks to rotating proxies from the company’s immense pool. The AI is there to circumvent IP blocks and CAPTCHAs by mimicking real human behavior.

What cemented Oxylab’s place on our “Best proxy server software” list is the addition of specialized scraper APIs. The company offers a SERP scrap API, an eCommerce API, and a generalized web scraping API. The web scraping API is actually a real-time crawler, allowing for real-time collection of data on a massive scale, even from JavaScript-heavy targets. The real-time scraper also utilizes AI and a proxy rotator to guarantee a 100% success rate. What’s even better is that you’ll be only paying for successful requests, offsetting any needless costs.

Proxy server pricing for data center proxies starts at $180 per month, while residential proxy plans begin at $300 per month. As for next-gen residential proxies, the cheapest package you can get costs $360 per month. All the scraping APIs have the same starting cost of $99 a month.

The real-time crawler and AI-driven residential proxies are the clear winners here. Even with these great features, the pricing remains at an acceptable level – unless you’re looking for small-scale solutions. If you happen to dislike the service – or its cost – you’ll have three days to cancel for a full refund thanks to Oxylab’s money-back guarantee.

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4. Hide.Me

" Best free proxy "

hide.me logo
  • Proxies:
    Shared
  • IP pool:
    N/A
  • Protocols:
    SOCKS
  • Web scraper:
    No
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    N/A

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Completely free
  • High level of anonymity
  • Fast
  • Only for individual use

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Completely free
  • High level of anonymity
  • Fast
  • Only for individual use
  • Proxies:
    Shared
  • IP pool:
    N/A
  • Protocols:
    SOCKS
  • Web scraper:
    No
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    N/A

Widely considered to be the best proxy server free solution out there, Hide.Me offers a lot for a service that’ll cost you exactly $0. According to the company, Hide.Me is the quickest proxy server around, which is something we can agree with after giving it a run.

One of the explanations for Hide.Me’s speediness is that it doesn’t keep logs, which frees up more resources for proxy requests. Speed is not the only benefit here. The fact that the company doesn’t keep logs is crucial for privacy-oriented users, as any online activity conducted through the proxy can’t get traced back to you. Known widely as a no-logs policy, this marker is especially important when browsing for a VPN.

Coincidentally, most of the best proxy sites that are free also offer paid VPN services as a way to earn money. Hide.Me is no different. As for its proxy service, there are two ways to use it. The first one is just by using the built-in free private proxy browser on its website to access certain sites. While useful at times, this is really a suboptimal way to use the company’s proxy services and is meant more for testing or for accessing a few sites from time to time.

The other, better, way of using Hide.Me is through its browser extensions. Hide.Me’s best free proxy server list can be accessed through both Chrome and Firefox extensions. Once installed, you can use Hide.Me’s proxy infrastructure to freely access sites, without the fear of your activities going public.

Another feature that adds to the level of anonymity is the inclusion of the SOCKS5 proxy. This both increases privacy and optimizes speeds, which makes it ideal for more bandwidth-intensive tasks. While the SOCKS proxy is better used within a VPN ecosystem, it still comes with a lot of perks – especially when it’s free.

Of course, when you compare a paid proxy vs. free services, the free options are bound to come with some caveats. The first one is that free options lack enterprise-level capabilities, making them less than ideal for business use. Additionally, you’ll be faced with ad popups during use, but mainly for Hide.Me’s VPN service and not random annoying ads from the internet. Lastly, the company doesn’t divulge the number of IP addresses in its pool, making it hard to assess the service’s full capabilities.

While free solutions such as this one are obviously targeted toward individual users, companies can still use them for smaller, simple tasks. If you plan on using a free proxy solution, Hide.Me is definitely the best one.

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5. RSocks

" Best anonymous proxy "

rsocks logo
  • Proxies:
    Residential, mobile, exclusive, data center, personal, shared
  • IP pool:
    13 million + residential IPs
  • Protocols:
    All protocols supported
  • Web scraper:
    No
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    75-80%

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Flexible plans
  • Huge number of proxies
  • No bandwidth limits
  • Only whitelisted IP authentication

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Flexible plans
  • Huge number of proxies
  • No bandwidth limits
  • Only whitelisted IP authentication
  • Proxies:
    Residential, mobile, exclusive, data center, personal, shared
  • IP pool:
    13 million + residential IPs
  • Protocols:
    All protocols supported
  • Web scraper:
    No
  • Customer support:
    24/7 live chat
  • Success rate:
    75-80%

The next provider we’re reviewing for our best proxy server roundup is RSocks. While providers like Oxylabs work hard to signal that their service is meant for legal use only, others sometimes embrace the legally gray area of proxy usage. RSocks falls into the second group, but that shouldn’t keep you away from the company. This is something that’s already pretty common among VPNs and isn’t necessarily a signifier of the quality of the service.

RSock offers a very diverse portfolio of proxy services, including residential proxies, shared proxy lists, mobile proxies, data center proxies (called server proxies here), dedicated IPs, and exclusive proxies.

What makes RSocks potentially the best proxies website is the lack of any bandwidth limits on its plans. This is a great plus for companies looking to launch massive data scraping campaigns, as you won’t be constricted by any traffic limits, and you won’t be forced to pay up if you cross them. You can run up to 500 concurrent threads with all plans too, which should prove enough for most companies.

The exclusive tier brings forth 8 million IPs of high quality. If you opt in for exclusive proxies, you’ll be paying only for the traffic you use, which is an added benefit. The 8-million-strong pool contains both mobile and residential IPs, allowing you to reach most targets online easily.

According to RSock, these are all completely private proxy servers, meaning your anonymity will be guaranteed during use. All its proxies support all widely used protocols, including HTTP, HTTPS, and SOCKS5, adding to their quality.

In addition to its proxy service, RSock also has pretty robust VPN software on offer, although it really can’t compete with bigger names in that niche like ExpressVPN.

Another great thing about RSocks is that it offers a completely free proxy service tier that holds 500 updatable proxies and supports HTTP, SOCKS4, and SOCKS5 protocol. When it comes to its paid plans, the company offers extremely flexible and cheap proxy plans. You can either go with hourly, daily, monthly, or weekly packages. Residential IPs start at $10/hour, while shared ones start at $3/day. Of course, you can fine-tune things like the number of concurrent threads or the number of IPs you want, too.

We really liked how flexible RSock’s plans are, as well as the fact they all come with unlimited bandwidth. However, their service does lack the bigger IP pools of its competitors and supports only whitelisted IP authentication.

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How We Found the Best Proxy Server

Identifying the best proxy server to use will always depend on your company’s exact needs. There are, however, some universal metrics and characteristics to look at that’ll help you assess the worth of each individual proxy provider.

Traffic Limits

Some proxy server providers might impose bandwidth limits based on the pricing plan you go for. For enterprise solutions, there usually are no bandwidth limits, but if there are, we take them into account.

Customer Support and Reliability

For a provider to land on our best proxy server list, it needs to have a knowledgeable and diligent support team that’s available round the clock. When using a proxy server in a business setting, the last thing you need is to be left to your own devices when the service goes down in the middle of the night.

IP Locations/Pool Size

One of the simplest ways to rank proxy server providers is by looking at their IP address pools. Proxy providers have a certain amount of IP addresses spread around multiple countries that they assign to users utilizing their services. As you might expect, the more IP/locations, the better. In your search for the best paid proxy server, the number of IPs will mostly be important to businesses that deal in data collection, as a small number of IPs making thousands of data requests could get them blocked for a short while.

Uptime/Success Rate

Network stability is paramount for a proxy server to be considered good. While individual users just trying to access geolocked sites could contend with occasional downtimes, businesses don’t have that luxury. As such, even the best free proxy server is usually not stable – or powerful – enough for enterprise use. Thankfully, most providers offer uptime guarantees that give you insight into how stable their service is.

Additionally, you need to consider proxy success rates. A proxy success rate represents the percentage of successful connections/data retrievals of a proxy server. For example, a 90% success rate means that you’ll be able to successfully connect or get data from nine out of 10 sites you visit. This is also extremely important for data-scraping campaigns, where IPs that were already massively used for these purposes might be blocked and therefore reduce your success rate.

Types of Proxy Servers

There are several types of proxy servers, which differ in structure, resource allocation, and level of anonymity. When browsing proxy providers, make sure to check which types of proxy services they offer and whether these services meet your needs. These are the most common proxy server types you’ll come across:

  • Shared proxy – a proxy server model in which server resources are shared among all users. This model can be problematic in cases when one party pulls more resources, leading to slowdowns across the server.
  • Semidedicated proxy – a marriage between shared and dedicated proxies, the semidedicated model limits the number of users per server, reducing the risk of slowdowns.
  • Dedicated proxy – the best web proxy server option you can go for (when it comes to resource allocation) is a dedicated proxy. With a dedicated proxy, all the server’s resources will be at the disposal of a single user. Naturally, this is the most secure and stable option.
  • Residential proxy – these proxies provide IP addresses obtained from ISPs and attached to real devices. As such, residential proxy connections are impossible to detect and differentiate from individual visits from actual visitors. Most of the high-end residential proxies are rotating, meaning IP addresses are constantly rotated to avoid any of them getting blocked due to making too many requests. Hence, they’re probably the best proxies you can get when it comes to IP quality.
  • Data center proxy – data center proxies are the opposite of residential ones. Instead of giving you real IPs attached to an ISP and device, data center proxies provide IPs from cloud server providers. While cheaper, they’re not listed as ISP IPs and have probably been used for data scraping purposes before, leading to many of those addresses being blocked already.

FAQ

Are proxy servers illegal?

No, the use of proxy servers as such is completely legal. However, it’s how you use the top proxy servers that determines the legality of your actions. Protecting your anonymity, lawful data scraping, market research, and other similar actions are completely legal. However, using proxy servers for email spam campaigns, to spread malware, or download copyrighted material is illegal.

Are free proxy servers safe?

While there are safe free proxy servers out there, like Hide.me and HideMyAss, a lot of free proxies offer little to no anonymity. On top of that, they might collect and sell user information, putting your privacy and security at risk.

Which is faster, a VPN or proxy?

Normally, a VPN is faster than even the best proxy server. However, when used in a business setting, proxies can be used to cache frequently visited pages and actually result in quicker connection speeds (and less bandwidth use).

Can a proxy server be traced?

Yes, in case the proxy provider collects and stores user data, that information can be used to trace down the person using a proxy server.

Who is the strongest proxy?

Out of all the proxy servers we’ve reviewed, we have found Bright Data to be the best, providing a huge amount of IPs coupled with great success rates and stability.