Free vs. Paid Proxies: The Pros & Cons

Oleg Peshekhodov
Community manager @ SOAX07 December, 2020

In this article, we’re going to break down the differences between free vs. paid proxies, and provide you with an insight into why “free” does not always mean “better”.

Should you use a paid proxy service instead of a free one? Is there any difference between the two? Since there are so many free proxies available for use nowadays, both of these questions are understandable. After all, it’s always truly tempting to opt for a free service whenever you can. However, free proxies do come at a certain price, despite what the name suggests.

Before we dive into the comparison, let’s have a quick review of what a proxy is. Proxies allow you to access restricted website content, hide your identity, and protect your information online. All that is made possible because a proxy server acts as an intermediary between you and the website you’re accessing. In short, proxies offer you an extra level of security when browsing the web or collecting specific data.

Now, why would you want to pay for a proxy service instead of signing up for a free one? Let’s consider some of the pros and cons of both types of proxy services and find out.

Free proxies: what are the pros?

First, they are free. Well, kind of. But, as a general rule, you don’t have to pay for a free proxy service if you are an occasional user who doesn’t need much.

Second, they do serve the basic purpose of hiding your IP address whenever you access a restricted website.

Last but not least, free proxies can easily be found by doing a quick Google search. They are always available at any time, to anyone.

So, what are the risks?

Here’s where things start getting really interesting. Despite offering the benefits mentioned above, free proxies impose a great load of security risks. In reality, free proxies offer little to now protection from various outside threats, including malicious software attacks, traffic interceptions and data theft.

Free proxies are almost always poorly encrypted, or not encrypted at all. And the last thing you want to do is send unencrypted data to an unauthorized third party. Imagine sending your full credit card data in plain text to someone you don’t know. That would be a foolish thing to do, right? If you’re planning to use a proxy service, you must be 100% sure that all of your valuable data is completely secure.

There’s also the case of poor maintenance and lack of customer support. If the service crashes or if your device gets infected with malware, no one can be held accountable for that but yourself. Free proxies are dangerously unreliable, because there are too many people tempted by the idea of not paying a single dollar for the service.

Free proxy lists are often full of blocked or dead proxies. The important thing to remember here is that when you use a public proxy list you are sharing IP addresses with other users who care less about IP bans. In short, don’t get too excited when you find a free proxy list with thousands of IPs on it. Chances are you will only be able to use a mere 1 percent of that list.

Free proxies are incredibly slow. On top of that, they are not always entirely free. Sure, they are advertised as free, but as soon as you sign up you may find that there’s quite a bunch of hidden costs that prevent you from doing what you need to do.

Why use free proxies then?

The main rule is quite simple. If you are serious about data collection and online security, never use free proxies. The only thing that might make sense here is basic, casual use. For instance, free proxies can help you access a couple of restricted websites to view specific content, but no more than that. For those businesses and individuals who take security seriously, paid proxies offer a much higher level of protection, more reliability, flexibility, and better customer support.

The pros for using paid proxies

Paid proxies offer a lot of features and benefits that cannot be found in free proxy services. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key advantages of using a paid proxy service.

Better security

Undoubtedly, paid proxies offer better protection of important information and personal data. If you opt for a paid proxy provider, you can rest assured that no unauthorized third parties will ever get their hands on your valuable data. With paid proxies, you get access to an exceptionally clean pool of carefully selected, whitelisted IP addresses that will never let you down.

Higher reliability

Unlike free proxies that can be shared between countless users across the world, paid proxies are available exclusively to those who pay for them. The thing with residential proxies, for instance, is that they offer IPs tied to a particular device owned by a genuine network provider. When using a residential proxy, you don’t just hide your IP address from the websites you’re accessing, but also virtually become another real user from another geographical location. On top of that, paid proxy services offer automatic IP rotation, which ensures that you will always work with a live, whitelisted IP address no matter what.

Better anonymity

Apart from being highly reliable and secure, paid proxies help you stay anonymous in any situation. As already mentioned, paid proxy services are not associated with any black lists, and they offer better rotation mechanisms. Besides that, they offer flexible geo targeting capabilities meaning that you can easily pick a target location of your choice.

The SOAX Proxy Exchange Platform, for example, allows you to target specific countries, cities, regions, or even Internet service providers. All that, paired with an extensive pool of more than 65 million residential IPs, ensures higher anonymity than any free proxy service might offer.

Better maintenance & support

Maintenance and customer support are always included in the price you pay for a proxy service. Unlike with free proxy services, you get 24/7 support via a variety of communication channels, which means you can request immediate assistance whenever needed.

Conclusion

We get that it’s tempting to sign up for a free proxy service, but still, it’s worth remembering that your own online security is at stake here. If you are a casual user who needs to access a restricted website from time to time, then a free proxy service will most probably do the job for you. However, if you’re serious about your security, or if you want to find a reliable proxy solution to support your business needs, then you should consider choosing a paid proxy provider instead.

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