Why You May Need a Residential VPN Solution in 2021
Most of the popular VPN services rely on a network comprised of servers located in datacentres across the world. This is probably the ideal location as they ensure fast, available connectivity to the internet. However these servers also use IP addresses registered by these datacentres which means they are extremely easy to identify.
If you want real anonymity and privacy then you need to look further. Most professionals and those who value their anonymity in 2021 use something called residential VPNs.
Lets first clarify this – to a computer network a residential IP address is exactly the same as a datacenter IP address. There’s no real technical difference and both can allow any device to communicate online as long as they’re valid addresses. However there is a difference in their origin and how they are treated by web sites everywhere.
It’s very similar to a physical address in some ways, standard format but there’s a definite difference about how they are perceived. If my address is the 23rd floor of a high rise flat in a very bad neighbourhood then there’s a certain amount of information I can infer from that. Rightly or wrongly you could probably assume I’m not in a high paid job, I have low savings, a lower standard of living etc, etc than if I had an address in a very expensive area.
If you’re connecting from a home connection, then your public IP address will be a residential one. However if you use a proxy or VPN then that will change instantly and not always to your benefit.
Companies and marketers have been using information for many years, targeting their products and services at the right audience for their products. IP addresses also have a classification which can be used to determine what sort of user is connected using it to some extent. For example if an IP address is registered to a educational establishment then there’s a likelihood that the user is in some sort of college or school. If the IP address is from a commercial range then there’s a strong possibility that the user is at a business or place of employment.
If it’s from a residential range then these are almost exclusively assigned to ISPs for home internet connections. So these residential IP addresses are considered highly likely to be from ordinary users connecting via their internet connections. This also makes these users the most attractive to the majority of businesses as they’re likely to be potential customers.
Of course there’s a certain amount of generalizations here – after all many of us sit on our company network buying all sorts of stuff while we’re at work ! However it’s a very useful piece of marketing information for many websites.
Most Trusted IP Address – Residential
The reason is straightforward, you can’t get these IP addresses easily unless you’re an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Which means that there is a very high probability that the user is someone at home browsing the internet, sending emails and using apps.
These are the gold star users for many websites and the people they have usually built their sites on.
Datacentre IPs are a bit Shady !
If you connect from a datacenter IP address then it’s much less clear what you are and what are your intentions. You could be a business user, a bot, automated or you could be a VPN or proxy user.
For some sites the traffic from these IPs has significantly less value and worse still carries much more risk. E-commerce and entertainment sites in particular are always on the look out for proxies and VPNs. They don’t like hidden connections and an IP address registered in a datacenter has a high possibility of being a VPN or proxy server! If you’re using a VPN to keep a low profile and some privacy then having your account flagged as security risk is not ideal !!
Remember 95% of all VPNs services use datacentre IP addresses. If it’s not specified in the sales page then presume that the VPN you’re looking at is the same.
What is a Residential VPN
So you’ve probably guessed already, that a residential VPN has one important component which differentiates it from a standard VPN. This is of course it’s IP address – a residential VPN will always make it’s outbound connection using a residential IP. Which means when you connect to any site, you’ll look like a normal, standard home user browsing the web. For privacy enthusiasts it’s pretty much essential, it’s the only way to blend into the background and keep your data hidden.
There aren’t many of these residential VPNs simply because it’s actually very difficult to get hold of residential IPs. As mentioned these are only handed out to ISPs to be assigned for their home customers. Which means none are directly available to VPN and proxy companies who want to create the ultimate anonymous tool.
Update: These have now actually started to appear, proxies using residential IPs direct from the ISPs. Who knows how they’ve agreed this but they’re called ISP Proxies ! Great for just about everything even the difficult stuff like sneakers.
Where Do They Get a Residential IPs ?
A few years ago you simply couldn’t get hold of a residential IP address to use with a proxy or VPN service. One of the very first companies in this market was a company called Storm Proxies who created probably the first ‘commercial’ residential network (if that makes sense). They did it using their own hardware and borrowing and sponsoring internet connections privately to obtain access to these addresses. So they’d be paying high fees to lease residential IPs from the ISPs and their customers. It was effective but very time consuming and expensive, which meant you paid a lot for obtaining access to something like a US residential VPN.
Over the years other techniques have developed making the residential addresses more accessible. They’re still much harder to get than datacentre IP addresses but there’s certainly a lot more options now, particularly if you don’t need a static one. If you check out Storm Proxies prices now you’ll see they’re much cheaper than they were some years back. Storm Proxies is now one the better low cost options for getting residential IP addresses though they are generally supplied through proxies not as a VPN with residential IP access.
IPs Direct from Home Users
This is were the real revolution happened with regards to obtaining residential IPs. Instead of trying to negotiate deals with the ISPs or leasing IP addresses individually, the companies developed a different technique.
Pioneered by a company called Luminati (now known as Bright Data) they started to create a huge residential IP network through a collaborative system. The company supplied useful software and applications free of charge to users. In exchange for using the software the users would allow the company to utilize a small part of their internet connection and indeed the associated IP address. Network connections were routed through the users computer or device and the IP integrated into their residential IP network. Millions of people used the software so Bright Data have access to all their IP addresses when the connection is active.
Requests from the residential VPN could then be routed through millions of ordinary home connections all over the world. These IP addresses make the VPNs virtually undetectable, perfect for anonymity or people running multiple digital online identities. The addresses are not flagged by any detection systems simply because they belong to ordinary home users. These are probably the best residential VPN services simply because of the quality of the IP addresses.
Origin of the Free Residential VPN
These ‘free applications’ where you allow use of your IP address in exchange for software ironically also include a free VPN. So you download the VPN client software and use it in exchange for letting someone else use your internet connection whilst online. Basically you’re swapping your current IP address for the VPN encryption and to use someone else’s IP address to hide yours.
The most popular of these ‘free VPN services’ is called Hola who are actually owned by Bright Data. This is how they created the majority of their massive residential network by piggybacking on home user’s connections. It’s probably the best free residential VPN you can get, however obviously sharing your internet connection with complete strangers has limited appeal for many of us !
Other Free Residential VPNs
The other popular way for harvesting these residential IPs is slightly less ethical. Some networks use home users connections but without their knowledge. The connections are hijacked through malware and spyware which are installed silently without the users knowledge. The connections and IPs are then used to sell onto premium customers or just to carry out illegal activities online.
If you find anything too cheap, offering lots of residential IPs be wary that it’s not an illegal network like this. Sending your data through hacked computers on a network run by cybercriminals is probably not a wise idea.
Reasons to use a Residential VPN
The growing problem with using a VPN from a datacentre is that it’s increasingly it’s the IP address that’s important. Certainly any VPN can hide your location and encrypt your data. However if you’ve got a datacenter IP address then everyone knows you’re using a VPN or proxy to do it.
Increasingly people use VPNs for online business, using them to operate different digital identities. It’s therefore vital that these addresses are legitimate and don’t provoke suspicion. Many websites will actually treat datacenter and residential IP addresses completely differently. Indeed platforms will sometimes even block datacenter addresses from their sites especially if they’re from well used IP address ranges shared by thousands.
If you’ve got valuable social media accounts on platforms like Instagram or Facebook, lots of people use residential addresses to manage them. This avoids the risk of bans or blocks to the accounts especially if you’re managing several.
Difference between residential and conventional data center VPN
Technically there isn’t much difference but that IP address is vital. Indeed if you want to operate as a standard home user, a residential VPN is becoming almost essential. Many e-commerce platforms won’t even allow you to purchase anything from a datacenter one.
People who operate any sort of buying/selling business online will normally only use residential VPNs.