Static Vs. Rotating Proxies (And How To Use Them)
Table of Contents
Whether they’re concerned about protecting their privacy or scraping the web for much-needed data, proxies have become an integral part of the way many companies do business. Proxies route a user’s requests through a different IP address than the one found on their device. That makes them useful for safeguarding sensitive data, accessing geographically restricted sites, and much more — but you have to know which is right for you.
There are several kinds of proxies to sort through — data center, residential, mobile, and ISP, to name a few — and one important distinction is static vs. rotating proxies. Both offer unique traits that make them suitable for specific applications, and there are pros and cons to using each.
So what’s the difference between static and rotating proxies, and how do you know which to use for your application? Read on to find out!
What Kinds of Proxies Are Static and Rotating Proxies?
For all the unique types of proxies out there, there are two main categories that they all fall into: data center and residential. The difference between them is where the IP addresses come from, as residential proxies originate from real peoples’ connections, while data center proxies come from servers in data centers.
For the most part, static proxies come from data centers, while rotating proxies are residential, but two exceptions exist. There are data center proxies that rotate in a scheduled manner to imitate residential behavior, and there are static residential proxies that give human users greater anonymity. These are less common than static data center proxies and rotating residential proxies, though.
Are both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses static and rotating?
There’s much more to Internet Protocol versions 4 and 6 (IPv4 and IPv6), but both can supply static and rotating proxies. You might have a harder time getting a static IPv4 proxy given that they’ve all been assigned, but they can still be supplied — and since IPv6 has trillions upon trillions of IP addresses left to claim, you certainly won’t have any trouble getting either of them from there.
What’s a Static Proxy?
When someone who uses proxies sends a request to a server, they can either cycle through a series of IP addresses or continue with the same one. The latter is a static proxy.
Static proxies allow you to connect with a site through a single IP address, and they last for a fixed duration. This “sticky session” interval can range from as little as five minutes to 45 minutes or longer. It’s why static proxies are also known as “sticky proxies” — they stick with the user throughout the connection.
This makes static proxies less customizable than rotating proxies, and they differ from ISP and mobile proxies whose IP addresses are eventually changed. We’ll discuss it in more detail later, but the fact that static proxies offer a constant connection gives them a higher speed and slightly improved stability over rotating proxies — and once you own one, it’s yours for the rest of its lifetime.
What’s a Rotating Proxy?
While a static proxy IP address remains with the user for the duration of a session, rotating proxies cycle through their addresses periodically throughout a session.
Rotating proxy servers achieve this by accumulating a wide number of IP addresses and then establishing criteria to determine when to switch from one address to the next. Auto-rotating bots also cycle through IPs based on other features, like the number of IPs or the location of the addresses.
While static proxies can better resemble human behavior for some websites, like e-commerce platforms, rotating proxies can mimic user behavior better for other platforms, as they often come from residential IP addresses. They’re also good for massive data collection and web scraping and can get past CAPTCHAS and bots more effectively.
Should I use a free rotating proxy provider?
No. You should not.
Not only do many free rotating proxy services offer low-quality proxies that have often been banned or blacklisted as a result of prior use, but some bad actors may attempt to use the information they gather when you use their proxies to steal your sensitive data.
Free rotating proxy providers also rarely review the activity of the users they get their proxies from. The result is often lower speed, more bans, and more failed scraping attempts. It may be tempting to go the free route, but using a reputable provider that only offers ethically-sourced proxies will yield much better results.
The Pros and Cons of Static vs. Rotating Proxies
Because they each have different features, there are advantages and disadvantages for static and rotating proxies. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each.
The distinguishing property of static proxies is that a single IP address connects to a server throughout a request. That gives them a few benefits and some drawbacks too.
- Higher speed. When you connect to a website using static proxies, you are routing your request through an intermediary server that links to the site with a separate IP address. Because you remain connected with that IP address the whole time, there’s no need to route through a gateway server, making for fewer steps in the process. That means static proxies give you a higher speed than rotating proxies — and the connection is more stable.
- Mimics user behavior. Some websites, like those found in the e-commerce sphere, have features that require you to stay connected with the same address. Shopping carts and step-by-step checkouts are some examples where you’ll need to maintain the same connection for the site to remember you. Static proxies are better at mimicking the behavior of human users with their continuous connection.
- Lower price. Their prices vary according to their address and provider, but static proxies are usually less expensive than rotating proxies.
- Limited range. Static proxies use only one connection per request, meaning each IP address comes from the same geophysical location each time. Some websites block visitors based on their location, so geo-sensitive data may be off-limits if using static proxies.
- Limited scale. If you try to use static proxies for large-scale data collection or web scraping projects, you’ll have to send many requests with the same IP address to do it. This can often get you banned after a certain number of requests, so static proxies aren’t ideal for this application.
- Easier to detect. Their prolonged connections may mimic user behavior and appear legitimate to some servers, but since static proxies don’t originate from ISPs like residential proxies, they may be relatively easy to identify — and to ban.
While static proxies can maintain their connections using a single IP address, rotating proxies route their requests through a gateway server that regularly switches the address. This can happen as often as the auto-rotating bots specify, offering several advantages over static proxies.
- More customizable. Rotating proxies can mix up their IP addresses based on physical location and other properties and send as many requests from different addresses as the user specifies. This makes them more versatile than static proxies and grants you access to some geo-specific data that would otherwise be unavailable.
- More scalable. Because rotating proxies can deploy so many requests at once, they are better at large-scale data collection, like the kind often found in web scraping. Go with rotating proxies if you need to scour massive amounts of data across the web.
- Less detectable. Rotating proxies are mostly residential and originate from actual ISPs. Between that and the fact that they can be replaced if banned, rotating proxies are generally harder to detect.
- Lower speed. Unlike static proxies, which connect to websites in a single “hop,” rotating proxies must travel through a gateway server. That extra step makes them slower than static proxies.
- Smaller bandwidth. Rotating proxies are usually residential and don’t typically come from data centers, so they may have a lower bandwidth than static ones.
- Higher price. Rotating proxies are often sold based on the traffic they need to handle, and a provider also has to source and maintain all those addresses. That often makes them more expensive than static proxies.
While the primary factors to be considered are security, performance, and price, there are too many variables to say that one kind of proxy is always better than the other. Ultimately, it comes down to what you plan to do with them.
Sticky vs. Rotating Proxies: Uses and Applications
Since they both have advantages and disadvantages, the best way to choose between static vs. rotating proxies is to consider the application you’ll be using them for. The steady, single connections of static proxies may be better for multistep interactions or those requiring a longer session, while the versatility and scope rotating proxies provide make them a good choice for projects involving web scraping or other data collection.
There are other factors to account for, but the stability of static proxies makes them well-suited for plenty of applications. Their higher speed and bandwidth can also give them greater functionality. Here are some of the most common applications for sticky proxies — though many others exist.
Whether you’re looking to become a top seller on eBay or hoping to use your sneaker bot to cop the newest pair of kicks, the e-commerce world regularly uses proxies to do business.
Many e-commerce sites employ shopping carts that “hold” the items a customer is purchasing until they finally check out, but they’re only able to do this if they can keep track of the same IP address. A different IP address will look like a different customer, so not only will any purchased inventory be lost if a request is sent through a different address, but other personal information like financial data or shipping destinations will also be lost.
If a server sticks with the same IP address throughout a session, its behavior will look much more similar to that of a human customer, so a static proxy is much less likely to be banned. That makes a static proxy ideal for e-commerce sites.
If you’re researching social media accounts, you’ll probably have greater success with a static proxy.
Social media bots don’t want to see an account getting accessed repeatedly from multiple IP addresses, as this doesn’t resemble human behavior. If you use a static proxy IP address, you’ll be more likely to crawl social media accounts undetected. From there, you can use your web scraping data to see how a platform’s algorithms rank profiles above one another so that you can climb your way to the top.
Remember that static proxy IP addresses come from a single location. That can be a downside if the data you want to access is restricted to an area outside your proxy, but it can be an advantage if you want to focus your research on a single geographical location — as is often the case in marketing research.
Much of a company’s content marketing can vary by location; you wouldn’t advertise beachwear as heavily in snowy regions as you would along the coast, would you? If marketers wish to gain a perspective on what content their audience in a given location receives, they’ll need to hone in on that specific area. Sending server requests through static IP addresses with a fixed geophysical location can help them see how their audience in that region is being targeted, giving them a clearer idea of how best to reach them.
As today’s cybersecurity threat landscape becomes increasingly dangerous, it’s become critical for businesses to be fully aware of any weaknesses in their tech stack. When used internally, static proxies can give clarity on a company’s attack surface area, safeguarding them when a threat comes their way.
For example, penetration tests are an excellent way to identify internal vulnerabilities, as they simulate threats from the outside. The stable connections and high speeds that static proxies provide make them useful in conducting penetration tests, which can even help satisfy some of the recommendations laid out by ISO 27001:2022, a leading standard on information security frameworks. That means static proxies are effective tools for gathering information on the outside and can keep companies safe.
Rotating proxies also have their own use cases. The sheer volume of addresses a provider can offer makes rotating proxies ideal for en masse data collection, including a few of these applications.
If your project involves big data, then rotating proxies are probably right for you.
A rotating proxy has several properties that make it the right choice for massive data scraping. First, the large number of IP addresses allows you to make many collections simultaneously, allowing you to gain all the data you need. The “hops” involved in switching IP addresses also create the appearance of residential user activity, making rotating proxies harder for certain websites to identify (if they’re not looking for prolonged connections, as e-commerce sites do for static proxies). Rotating proxies can work concurrently to gather large quantities of data without getting detected — ideal for large-scale web scraping projects.
In the same way that obtaining data from a single geographical location can be advantageous for marketers, conducting research across multiple regions can also be of some help. Rotating proxies work better when you need to gather data from several locations, giving them a place in market research too.
For instance, suppose a marketing company wants to gather data on a certain demographic based on age wherever their product is sold. Rotating proxies can come from all over the globe, so marketers can use them to break through geographical boundaries and access the data they need.
Understanding the external conditions your potential customers face and the alternative providers you’re competing against is critical to reaching your base. Conducting a competitive analysis can help you assess the landscape around you and can yield numerous insights, like:
- Market size
- Economic indicators (income level, employment rate, etc.)
- Market saturation
- Much more
Many of these insights can be obtained through web scraping with rotating proxies. For example, a new startup might be looking to enter the retail market in a given area but would first like to evaluate its potential for success. It might start by scraping pricing data from the sites of leading competitors by using a BigCommerce scraper or obtaining economic data on the community it plans to enter. Some of this information might not be readily available, but the anonymity that rotating proxies provide could unlock the data startup needs to enter the market strategically.
It’s no secret that rising to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) is an essential part of getting your company noticed. Rotating proxies can help you implement an effective SEO monitoring strategy so that you can stay relevant to Google’s search algorithms.
For example, a company may wish to conduct keyword analysis on their competition to see what their customers are searching for and tailor their content accordingly. By using rotating proxies, companies can scrape their competition’s product descriptions to find which keywords are used most. With this knowledge, businesses can create content that better aligns with the language their customers use, making them more relevant and profitable.
Another benefit of rotating proxies for SEO monitoring is that they allow you to remain anonymous as you research your own company. A search engine will likely place a cookie on your device if you search for your own company without a rotating proxy, which can skew your search results. Routing your IP address to another location can safeguard your privacy, enabling you to objectively analyze your website — and rotating proxies make it all possible.
Case Study: Using Static vs. Rotating Proxies for Footsites
Both static and rotating proxies have many applications, and sometimes they even overlap. That means you might have a different use for your proxy within the same application — so how do you know which one to choose? One surprising industry gives a helpful example: sneakers.
Grand View Research estimates the sneaker industry to be worth about $78.59 billion, and the frenzy that comes about when brands release the newest sneaker grail shows how big the market is. It’s no surprise, then, that proxies are used to get a leg up on obtaining the latest sneakers — the only question is which type to use.
Those looking simply to cop their favorite new pair of sneakers would likely be better off using a static proxy, as these have longer sticky sessions and can prevent you from timing out and losing access to those sought-after shoes. Those attempting to scrape sites for info on inventory might prefer a rotating proxy, as these can scour multiple sites undetected, revealing where those new sneakers are available. You have to be fashion-, business- and tech-savvy to get into the sneaker game, and proxies help make it happen.
From greater online privacy and data accessibility to enhanced cybersecurity and better business intelligence, proxies offer many benefits across many industries. Understanding them can help you choose which one best suits your project.
At Rayobyte, we provide our clients with the proxy services they depend on for all their data projects. Whether high-speed static proxies for e-commerce applications or rotating proxies for web scraping, our proxies can give you the anonymity and big data collection capabilities you need. If you’re unsure which one is right for you, our experts can help you weigh the pros and cons of static vs. rotating proxies, so contact us today to see how we can help.
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.
Sign Up for our Mailing List
To get exclusive deals and more information about proxies.
Start a risk-free, money-back guarantee trial today and see the Rayobyte
difference for yourself!