Update July 2020 – SmartProxy have extended their city based residential proxy ranges, you can now target 8 specific US locations – New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. Obviously select Los Angeles if you need a proxy server based in California, although I believe some San Francisco addresses should be available soon. These will give you a legitimate Californian IP address from a residential device – either a computer or mobile phone. There are lots more options if you need datacenter addresses however.
It sounds rather ridiculous, specifying an exact region for your proxy server to come from ! Of course people who use proxies understand that the country is often important, but surely that’s enough. In fact it’s not and server detection and geo-targeting are becoming increasingly precise with businesses wanting very specific information about their visitors and how the site interacts with them. The technology is not even that new, most of the decent search engines have been doing this for years. If you type some generic trade into Google without further information, you should get web sites of local businesses based on that trade. If you type ‘plumber’ into the search then it’s likely you’re looking for plumbers in your area.
This level of detail is now being used by most large websites for all sorts of reasons. Obviously marketing is one, tailoring your offerings to very specific markets obviously makes sense if you’re selling online. It also allows sites to serve only relevant content and filter anything which they decide isn’t suitable for this particular area. Global streaming services like Netflix use it to direct users to their localised version of the service, so you’ll get content tailored for where you happen to be located. This can cause frustrations too, like when the Japanese businessman travelling is denied access to his Japanese version of Netflix simply based on his location.
So with this increasing localisation it’s easy to see the requirements from the other side of the coin too. For example if you conduct online research then your entire experience will be linked to your physical location. The website components you see, the adverts that are server and even the videos and audio you can access. Which is fine if you’re just researching your local area and market but fairly useless for a customer based on a different location. Proxies have always offered the ability for people to maintain multiple identities nowadays for many it’s becoming increasingly vital in order to do their jobs.
But a Californian Proxy Server Really ?
Yes really, a US proxy or a European proxy isn’t usually enough anymore for a huge number of people. First we should of course explain how a proxy server can be classified in this way, after all don’t they all just sit in massive datacentres? The location is tied to the IP address which the proxy is using. Although it should be noted that an IP address registered in India will always be used in an Indian Datacenter and so on.
The fact is that the actual location of the proxy is not that important beyond the specific country if you’re just using datacenter IPs as they are easily detectable by most e-commerce sites anyway. However if you’re using residential IPs designed to make the connection look like a normal home user then it’s much more important, in fact it’s pretty much crucial.
Imagine you’re using your proxies to buy concert tickets for an event in California. When you visit Ticketmaster will carefully analyse your IP address and check on it’s location. Now it’s not going to block you if your address originates somewhere else in the USA but having a Californian IP address is easily the ideal location. Firstly it’s logical that a large number of Californians will try and get tickets for this local event via Ticketmaster. Furthermore a Californian IP address will be nearer the target server with a quicker connection and hence more likely to succeed. Individually these factors may be small but if you’re using any form of automation software then these factors are crucial. Using a California proxy server would be the best option and indeed the best proxy servers for Ticketmaster are nearly always those with local residential IP addresses.
Don’t Use Free Californian Proxies !
Honestly, it’s tempting I know especially when you find some huge proxy list which you can filter to country/region and city levels. However although using these lists might make you feel as though you’re using the high tech, elite hacker type method nothing could be further from the truth.
Here’s a proxy list from one of these sites, with the IP censored. It looks great and perfect for anyone who needs a supply of proxies for something like Craigslist adverts. The list makes it look like you’re getting a checked and verified list of amazing fast proxies ready for any purpose you require.
The reality is different, this page simply runs a script which looks for open proxies and then populates the page – it looks badass but no-one who knows anything about proxies would use these. These will be hacked, broken or accidental proxies possibly the worst place to tunnel any information through. Many of them will be being actively used to steal personal details and user credentials, by hacked and cyber criminals.
Sure they might be free but that’s about the only thing going for them. The best case scenario is that they’ve been accidentally left open by mistake, however even then you’re potentially committing a criminal act by using them without the owners permission. Even then they will be pretty useless for most online tasks simply because they’ll be overloaded with spammers, kids downloading porn torrents and people using them for various criminal acts. Any connections made to any major social networking or e-commerce sites will often result in banned and blacklisted accounts.
Honestly they’re free but they’re of no use whatsoever and carry a huge risk. You’ll get accounts blocked, data stolen and possibly some nice malware or adware installed on your computer when you’re using them.
California IP Address Ranges
Finding specific residential proxies where you can actually specify to the level of a California IP address are actually very rare. Many proxy services will offer the facility for datacenter proxies but not those needing a residential address. It’s actually very difficult to build a network based on these criteria for residential IPs, you also need a huge range available in order to guarantee availability of specific locations. So although it’s fairly simple to find a US proxy, a Californian proxy server is harder to obtain.
You should also be careful if you need static addresses, many residential addresses will rotate quite frequently. You can ensure that the address remains in the target area usually though, you can use the ‘sticky address feature’ in Luminati for example to reduce the rotation (although it won’t eliminate it).
Only the largest proxy companies will offer this facility, you can specify up to exact city using Luminati by using their proxy manager application. The other possible solution is to use a company called Smart Proxy who also have a huge residential IP network which you can filter to some extent to City level too although not as specific as Luminati.
It’s one of the reasons and difficulties which many have been increasingly switching to mobile proxies for automated software especially with platforms like Instagram.