If you’ve ever done a fast Google search on proxies, you’re well aware that the internet is littered with thousands of free shared proxy services. However, did you realise that only 14% of over 25,000 free shared proxies were deemed safe in a study?
Let’s take a step back and discuss why and how these companies are able to provide free proxy services, what shared proxies are, and why you should think twice about connecting through one. On the internet, a proxy serves as an intermediary for data exchange.
Rather of directly obtaining information from a website or server, you tell the proxy service what information you require, and it obtains it on your behalf. Proxies are a wonderful way to keep your online identity safe because the site you’re visiting only communicates with the proxy, so it has no way of knowing it’s you behind the request.
In your online transactions, you effectively borrow the proxy’s online identity. Many new proxy companies have sprung up in recent years, almost overnight, to meet the growing need for such services. The free “shared” proxy is one of the most popular of these new proxy services.
A shared proxy is a single proxy connection that you and several other users share. In essence, all users connected through this proxy have the same online identity. Because dozens, if not hundreds, of users share a single IP address, they don’t need to have a large pool of proxy servers running, which keeps expenses down.
“What’s wrong with using a shared proxy?” you might ask. Many of them are completely free, and the majority of them do not even require you to register your personal information!” The advantages of shared proxies sound almost too wonderful to be true: no or minimal expenses, no lengthy registration process.
This is due to the fact that they are. Here are five of the most important reasons why you should avoid shared proxies like the plague.
1. Slow Speeds and Poor Connectivity
Sharing a single connection with several users involves splitting the proxy server’s available bandwidth, and the more people on a connection, the smaller your slice of the pie becomes. As a result, shared proxies are notorious for their slow speeds and poor connectivity.
When it comes to free proxies, the considerably bigger user base exacerbates the bandwidth-sharing problem. If your organisation relies on reliable, fast proxy access, shared proxies’ slow speeds should immediately put you off.
Modern marketing and analysis jobs that rely on automated bots or data scrapers are nearly difficult to complete with a slow and unreliable proxy connection.
2. No (or Poor) Customer Support
Free proxy providers can only stay in business if they keep their operating costs low. The costs of employing and managing customer support staff to handle user concerns are included.
If you’re utilising a free or low-cost shared proxy service, don’t anticipate much assistance if you lose connection unexpectedly. In most cases, there isn’t even a community forum where you may air your grievances.
3. The “Bad Neighbor” Effect
When you incur consequences as a result of your neighbours’ conduct, this is known as the “Bad Neighbor” effect. You’re sharing a single online identity with dozens of other people when you utilise shared proxies.
The more people who connect through your proxy connection, the more likely it is that someone will do anything that violates a website’s terms of service. If a user is detected using a shared proxy connection to run a poorly built social bot, the proxy’s address may be banned or blocked.
Anyone attempting to connect to that website through the proxy will now be denied access. When using a shared proxy, you’re always at danger of losing connection owing to the behaviour of other proxy users.
Bad neighbours have an impact on your connection’s overall reliability and the quality of your browsing experience. Imagine having to check the proxy for each of your dozens (or hundreds!) of bots on a regular basis if your company uses proxies for automated operations like data scraping.
4. JS or HTML Injection
Because a proxy receives data first, it has the option to change it before sending it to your computer. Many free proxy providers take advantage of this to saturate your browsing experience with adverts.
Some take it a step further by putting cookies and trackers into your browser, allowing them to collect all kinds of information about you and your online activities, such as which sites you visit, where you reside, and how you utilise proxies. These companies capture browser behaviour data from thousands of users via JS and HTML injection, then sell it to the highest bidder.
5. Forced Deactivation of HTTPS
HTTP is a protocol for sending and receiving messages between web servers and browsers. It’s essentially a system of rules that governs how people communicate online. HTTPS is an HTTP extension that adds an extra layer of encryption.
HTTPS is a secure web communication technology that protects personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers from prying eyes. Many free shared proxy services make money by selling your browser activity, as stated above.
This implies they want to know how you navigate the internet and what you look for. They use their position as an intermediary for your data to the web to urge the deactivation of HTTPS because it prohibits them from eavesdropping.
This means they force HTTP connections to their proxies, giving them complete access to whatever you type and send over the internet. You can image the threat to your personal privacy this creates! If you’re a firm that uses this type of proxy, you’re jeopardising your company’s and all of its employees’ identities and privacy.
A shared proxy is a proxy that allows numerous users to connect to the same server using a single proxy connection. This helps them to keep their operating costs low and offer their services at very low pricing (sometimes for free!). Though they are inexpensive, they have speed and connectivity concerns, as well as little or no customer assistance.
Ironically, many of these free shared proxy services that claim to shield you from eavesdroppers actually track and sell your surfing behaviour to the highest bidder! You should avoid shared proxies if you need to keep your data private, circumvent geo-restrictions, or deploy data scrapers and bots. They’re slow, unreliable, and potentially dangerous to your data.