What is a Shared Proxy?

As the name indicates, a shared proxy is typically used by a number of people rather than just one. Shared proxies are used by organizations and companies for filtering content, as well as by private persons for unblocking restricted content and browsing the Internet anonymously.

What is a shared IP address?

A shared IP address is one that is used by many users at the same time. In the case of using a shared IP to browse the Internet, literally hundreds, or even thousands, of people could be using a single IP. A shared IP address works a bit like public transport – it gets users from one destination to another, but they’re sharing the ride with complete strangers.

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What is a shared proxy?

A shared proxy means using the same proxy server as what many other users do. This is commonly done with a shared IP address. These users are not limited to a company, region or even a country, but can be located anywhere in the world.

Shared Proxy - How does it work?

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What is the use of a shared proxy?

There are various reasons why shared proxies are used:

  • Browsing the web anonymously – as the same IP address is used by many users, making it more difficult to identify one specific user and its browsing activity.
  • Geo-unblocking / Media streaming – Specific content on some media streaming services is only available for specific locations, areas or countries. In other cases, media is not allowed and therefore censored in various countries. In both of these cases, using a shared proxy will overcome the restrictions, as the proxy will make it appear as if you’re located somewhere else.
  • Downloading torrents anonymously – the same logic for browsing the web anonymously applies.
  • Hide your IP address by using shared high anonymity proxies.
  • Check keyword rankings – SEO agencies use these proxies for monitoring keyword positions on Google and other search engines.
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Types of shared proxies

All types of proxies can be shared between multiple users. Here are the most common:

  • Web proxies – a web proxy is by definition a shared proxy as it provides a user interface that can be accessed by anyone. Thus, all the users of a particular web proxy are sharing the public proxy server and obtain the desired Internet resources using the same IP address.
  • HTTP proxies – an HTTP proxy can be both shared by a number of users (if it is open proxy and listed on proxy lists or used by more clients of a premium proxy service) or dedicated (if it is used only by a small number of persons and does not share the IP with other proxy users).
  • SOCKS proxies – a SOCKS proxy, as well as an HTTP proxy, can be shared or dedicated (private proxy server).
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Where to find shared proxies?

Most of the proxies offered by proxy services or those you may found on proxy lists are shared as they are cheaper and easier to maintain. They come with unlimited bandwidth, multiple locations, multiple subnets, instant activation, money back guarantee. You may take a look to my proxy tools page, check my Instant Proxies review, MyPrivateProxy review, or take Google search on “shared proxy”, “shared IP proxies”, “buy shared proxies”, or “shared HTTP proxy.”

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Advantages of shared proxies

Shared proxies actually have many advantages over dedicated proxies:

  • Shared proxies are cheaper – The price difference is substantial, as a dedicated proxy will typically cost 3 to 5 times more per month than a shared proxy will (and they also main involve setup fees). The reason for the higher price per proxy is that it’s a lot cheaper to maintain shared IP servers. As a result, proxy providers can pass some of the savings down to their users and can afford to offer the lowest prices for their services.
  • They offer high anonymity online – The primary advantage of shared proxy servers is that it improves the privacy of the end user. With multiple users sharing the same proxy, and therefore the same public IP address, it is difficult (although not entirely impossible) to recognize one specific user when looking at the history of their IP. The more users per proxy server, the more difficult it becomes to identify a single user. It pretty much becomes a case of searching for a needle in a haystack.
  • BitTorrent users love using shared proxies, as it’s incredibly tricky to trace torrent activity to one precise account based on historical IP addresses. This is especially true if the proxy provider does not keep connection logs, or deletes these logs within seven days or less.
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Disadvantages of shared proxies

The only real downside of using a shared proxy is that you may be blacklisted on specific websites, even if you did nothing wrong. This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘the bad neighbor effect.’ As you share the same proxy, and therefore IP address with many other users, when some, or even one of the other users do something undesirable or illegal, the IP is blacklisted, resulting in everyone using the shared proxy being affected. If you are using a paid proxy service, you may submit a ticket or contact them via live chat and there are chances to get the blacklisted proxy replaced.

Interestingly enough, there is another situation where a shared proxy will be blocked, and it has nothing to do with users doing something wrong. If there are too many users with the same IP address try to use Google at the same time, it will be interpreted as spam. Google will often respond by displaying a captcha message that has to be filled in before being allowed to search.

Shared proxy - Google Search - Captcha message

These are unfortunate side effects of shared proxies, and in some cases may even cause you to be blocked entirely by websites that have very strict security and antispam settings. Thus, shared proxies are not suitable for copping sneakers, posting classified ads, for using them as ticketing proxies or gaming proxies.

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Conclusion

The advantages of shared proxies outweigh the disadvantages by such a significant margin that many believe that it’s just not worthwhile spending extra money on a dedicated proxy. While this generalization may be accurate, there are still those that have valid reasons for preferring to use a dedicated proxy.

Being occasionally blocked or having to put up with additional captcha is a minor annoyance, and most are willing to accept this in return for the improved anonymity.