One of the most important distinctions between proxy services is the difference between public and private proxies.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of free public proxy services available on the web, and it’s important to understand how and why these services are offered for free.
Public proxies or “open proxies” are usually advertised as free services. Public proxy servers come with a number of risks, most importantly, your security and browser performance. The IP address you are assigned typically does not last for long, which may affect your browsing experience, and they frequently crash if not set up to handle a high volume of activity.
Open proxies can be exploited for dubious means, and since they are readily available to the public, they can be overrun quickly by an influx of users. In addition, it’s essential to understand the motivation behind setting up a free proxy service.
Hackers and bad actors can use free proxy services to harvest unused bandwidth from other computers on the network, essentially turning it into a botnet, or run ‘man in the middle’ attacks to infiltrate other networks. The administrator of the network may even sell your email address, which will result in increased spam to your inbox.
If you don’t know who configured the network or who manages it, you could be at risk of someone monitoring your communications, stealing data, or spreading malware through your system.
Private proxies assign a dedicated IP to each user, resulting in higher speeds and better reliability. A private proxy service has the benefit of sustained, reliable connections that don’t require you to reconfigure your settings over and over.
Secure private proxies usually offer much greater bandwidth than public proxies, and users can typically request a refreshed IP address after some time. Private proxies have significant advantages in security, anonymity, performance, and more when compared to a public or shared proxy.
Private proxies come in many different forms, and the ideal proxy server often depends on the user’s need.
Other common terms for proxy servers include: