What Exactly Is A Distorting Proxy? How Does It Work?

A proxy server serves as the gateway between your device and the internet, but it has a specific and vital function. It masks your identity by essentially hiding the actual IP address of the device. If that’s the job of a proxy server, then what is a distorting proxy?

The term distorting proxy has gained a lot of interest, especially among those looking to use proxies without paying anything. In this post, we’ll dig deep into distorting proxy server, how it works, and whether it’s a good choice for you.

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The Real Deal: What Is a Distorting Proxy?

The Real Deal: What Is a Distorting Proxy?

First things first, there’s really no such thing as a distorting proxy. A distorting proxy server only differs in one way from other proxy servers. It can alter the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) header of the user’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.

In other words, what most people call a distorting proxy is a server that passes a false IP address in the HTTP header to mask the real IP address of the user. This way, users can reap some of the benefits of using an actual proxy server with a real IP address. It can also conceal that the user is using a server, although that’s rarely the case.

This server appears to have an IP address, but that IP address is false. These IP addresses have been taken from other servers and users from different locations in many cases. As a result, users may be able to access content based on the location of the false IP address without necessarily routing the request through that proxy.

One can achieve the same effect by using rotating proxies instead, which use actual IP addresses, unlike these distorting servers.

How to use a distorting proxy 

The so-called distorting proxy is not much different from a proxy server.

So how do you set up a distorting proxy? It’s easy to use these proxy servers with virtually any browser. Moreover, distorting proxies are readily available for free online.

A fresh working distorting proxy list would have the IP address, port number, location, etc. You can copy it into the proxy settings of your OS or browser. Once the IP address is changed, the requests will go through the distorting server, where they will be assigned a random false IP address.

Distorting proxy use cases 

Proxies, in general, have many use cases. Those use cases can also be achieved by distorting the IP address.

For the most part, distorting proxy is for people who perhaps want to shield their IP address for one-off use. However, as you’ll learn in the next section, this kind of proxy use is not the most sustainable.

But for the sake of argument, here are some of the applications of a distorting proxy:

  • Web scraping: Scraping the web for data is perhaps the most common application of web proxies. With websites deploying sophisticated security protocols to catch scraping bots, proxies can help dodge the nets. With proxy servers, the actual IP address is not visible.
  • Shielding IP addresses: For many users searching for free distorting proxy, the purpose is simple: shielding their IP address. They don’t want the website servers to get their IP address or location.
  • Avoiding geo-blocking: Many websites have geo-blocking that restricts users from certain countries or even whole regions from accessing those websites. A user may be able to access the website using a distorting proxy server, so long as the IP address is from an allowed location.

The Disadvantages of a Free Distorting Proxy

The Disadvantages of a Free Distorting Proxy

Distorting proxies are a double-edged sword because there are certain benefits and drawbacks. And truth be told, there are more disadvantages than advantages to the distorting proxies free of charge.


You’ve probably heard many times that nothing in life is free. If that’s true for one thing, it’s proxies. A free distorting proxy server is not trustworthy or reliable enough for sensitive applications, and you’ll pay for it in security risks.

For instance, if you’re using it for web scraping, there’s a solid chance that you’ll be made. The website server can quickly discover that you’re snooping around for data and block the IP address.

You’ll have to change IP addresses in intervals which is time-consuming to do manually.

Falsely appear as proxy servers

The biggest problem with these so-called proxy servers that push false IP addresses is that they appear as regular proxy servers. While they are not proxy servers, a web server would see them as one. This is problematic and raises a red flag for websites with solid security provisions.

Depending on the type, a good proxy server would not appear as a proxy server but rather as a real user or user agent.

May compromise security

Using free proxies or free IP addresses is simply a bad idea because you don’t know where those proxies are from.

Have they been sourced ethically? What purpose were they used for before you got your hands on them? Unfortunately, those questions most likely don’t have positive answers.

So what’s the result? Not only do such proxies fail to achieve what you’re trying to do with them, but they may also compromise your own device. Hackers use free proxies as bait and can hack into your device to steal data or leave destructive malware.

Safe Alternatives for a Distorting Proxy Server

Safe Alternatives for a Distorting Proxy Server

The mechanism of a distorting proxy can easily and reliably be achieved with rotating proxies. These are real proxies with real IP addresses that rotate in fixed intervals, so there are fewer chances of getting caught.

You’ll need static IP addresses from actual devices and proxy servers for rotating proxies, which you can get from a proxy provider.

This approach is particularly best for web scraping use cases. In these use cases, one proxy should not exceed the request rate limit set by the website. If it does, it can set off the alarm and alert the web server, which may find out that the requests are coming from a scraping bot.

It’s best practice to use proxies you have paid for as these are more reliable than any proxies readily available on the internet for free. One can only imagine the stuff these proxies may be getting used for, so it’s best to stay away from them.

The Best Proxies

The Best Proxies

Rayobyte is your one-stop solution for all things proxy. Rather than risking your operation and security by going with a so-called distorting proxy, it’s much safer to go with a legit proxy provider that ethically sources the best proxies, many of which have never been used before.

At Rayobyte, you can find different proxies at affordable rates that can easily be set up with any browser or tool. More importantly, as a U.S.-based proxy provider, you can be sure about the quality and ethical source of the proxy.

Unlike those free proxies, these proxies get the job done and are yours exclusively. So you don’t have to worry about using one that’s probably already blocked or blacklisted.

Residential proxies from Rayobyte are hands-down the most reliable. These IP addresses come from real users from many locations around the world. Unlike a distorting proxy server, a residential proxy doesn’t give away that you’re using a proxy. Furthermore, you can buy a bunch of high-quality residential proxies and rotate them to achieve the same impact as distorting proxies.

ISP Proxies are the next best thing as these have IP addresses provided by real internet service providers or ISPs. With 1 Gbps speed, you can also use these to improve browsing and other online activities. With the authority of residential and the speed of data center, they are truly the best of both proxy worlds.

Data Center Proxies are popular because they are more economical but also reliable. Data center proxies are good if you’re looking to purchase proxies in bulk, but don’t offer as much authority as ISP or residential proxies.

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Now that you know what a distorting proxy is and why it’s not reliable or safe, you can choose the safer alternative of real proxy servers from a proxy provider like Rayobyte.

On the surface, the concept of distorting proxy sounds good, but it has many drawbacks that may end up causing more harm than good. So whether you want a proxy for surfing the internet or need one for web scraping or other uses, it’s best to pay for one. Any type of proxy, be it premium residential or economic data center, is better than distorting proxy and false IPs.

The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.

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