Technology

The Risks of Using Free Proxies

Internet

How to use a proxy? Find a free proxy server and start using.

WRONG.

More often than not, the main motive behind using a proxy server is security and anonymity. You might want to browse and scrape your competitor’s website anonymously without revealing your identity, and free proxies might look like a great idea to you.

But, WAIT.

Do not let the free proxies attract you. While the tag FREE might be lucrative enough, you might soon run into various other kinds of costs afterward.

So what are the risks of using a free proxy? Let’s find out.

Risks Posed by Free Proxies

  •       Security risks

Needless to say, a proxy acts as a middle man by design. It routes your traffic through a different IP address, thus keeping you safe and anonymous. However, this is where free proxies play the game.

Most free proxies misuse their status as a middle man, intrude the privacy of their users, and even steal or change their data.

A lot of studies have revealed that free proxies modify the JavaScript and manipulate the web traffic going through them.

This is enough to gauge the number of risks that free proxies expose you to. Not only this, but it was also found that a large number of proxies even downgrade your secure HTTPS connection to an unencrypted one without letting you know. This could interfere with your web scraper, and infect your scraping script.

  •       Reduced performance and reliability

In an ideal case, a proxy server will help you in speeding up your connection. It will cache the data from the destination and will deliver it to you faster. However, this is not the case with a free proxy server which downgrades your connection. This is because a free proxy handles a lot of connections, which takes a toll over its bandwidth.

Thus, if you are using a free proxy for scraping certain websites, rest assured, it is going to take ages.

  •       Malicious malware

Let’s face it: free proxies can expose you to malicious malware which could prove to be harmful in the long run. Assuming that your free proxy server is completely clean and will never abuse your connection, the chances are high that someone else will.

Since free proxy servers are available for free, a lot of proxy providers rely on ad revenue to keep their service running. For this, they inject advertisements into the online content that is delivered to you. This way, whenever you click on any of these advertisements, they are able to earn a certain amount of money.

However, this is where free proxy servers are exploited. Hackers and attackers inject malware into the advertisements before displaying them to you. This process is called malvertising and could infect your computer.

These were just a few risks that free proxies expose you with. So what is the ideal solution here? Should you stop using proxies?

Definitely not! Instead, you should try paid proxies.

Advantages of Paid Proxies

Thankfully enough, paid proxies,such as data center proxies, can help you in scraping websites securely and anonymously without any risks. These proxies take care of your data, protect you from getting hacked, and also help you in circumventing websites. They do not interfere with your scraping speed as well, instead, they boost it.

Benefits of Paid Proxies over Free Proxies

Although you need to spend a small amount of money to access paid proxies, these proxies definitely provide you with a better service when compared to free proxies.

  •       Quick web scraping

So you want to scrape certain websites? Fret not! A paid proxy server can help you do that without revealing your identity!

  •       Circumventing

Various advanced websites equipped with high-end security features often tend to limit or block traffic from an IP address once it exceeds a preset traffic limit. This makes web scraping difficult. This is when a paid proxy server can help you in circumventing websites and helps you in spreading the requests across multiple IP addresses in a process called IP rotation.

  •       High performance

Quite different from the free proxies, paid proxies will not interfere with your web scraping speed. On the other hand, they enhance it, all thanks to the multi-threaded software that they make use of.

  •       24/7 support

Stuck somewhere? Facing a technical glitch? Paid proxies have got you covered. These proxies provide you with round the clock support. Thus, your team doesn’t have to face downtime anytime which is not the case with free proxies.

  •       Automated dashboard

A lot of advanced proxies also provide an automated control panel for easy management on the go.

  •       Simultaneous usage

Paid proxies allow you to add an array of IPs at a time. Thus, your entire team can use the proxy simultaneously!

The Wrap Up

Undoubtedly, free proxies are cost-effective when it comes to web scraping, but they prove to be costlier in the long run. What’s more, they are ultimately a dangerous way to scrape websites. They could interfere with your security, infect your scraping script, steal your data, and can even compromise your identity. This is the reason why you should use paid proxies, and have quick access to better services.

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