Residential Proxy Vs VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Back to blog
Proxy 101

Residential proxies and VPNs are not far apart in terms of functionality. Both can reroute user traffic, mask IPs, and facilitate access to regional content in other locations. However, where a proxy is simply a tool for gaining access and increasing the efficiency of online activities, VPNs are primary security tools. This difference in classification comes with some different features, advantages, and disadvantages. Read on to learn how they both work, their benefits, use cases and how they compare. 

Why Use a VPN or Residential Proxy

  1. Privacy and anonymity. Both VPNs and residential proxies help users hide their IP address, spoof new locations, and surf the web anonymously.
  2. Security. VPNs are an actual security tool to protect data transmission over the internet. They encrypt and encapsulate data to block out eavesdroppers and hackers. Residential proxies, though, have their own security benefits, which include protection from trackers and access control.
  3. Access to content. VPNs and residential proxies reroute traffic through servers in other locations, making it seem like the connection originates from there. Due to this, they are effective at helping their users access localised and regional content. The rerouting is also useful in accessing a fuller catalogue of available content from streaming platforms.
  4. Avoiding network restrictions. Certain institutions and organisations may employ network restrictions to control resources accessible on their premises. VPNs and residential proxies can help individuals to access sites and platforms despite these restrictions.
  5. Data scraping and bot use. Data scraping usually requires the use of a scraping script, bot, or tool to automate requests to the website. These bots can lead to network congestion because of the sheer number of requests they can make. Residential proxies for data scraping and VPNs allow their users to scrape sites and use bots for automated tasks while protecting their actual IP address from an IP ban.
  6. Avoid bandwidth throttling. Some internet service providers use bandwidth throttling to control user data consumption during activities like streaming. The use of VPNs and proxies can hide the activity of a user, making it more difficult for ISPs to identify these activities and throttle their bandwidth accordingly. 

What are Residential Proxies?

A residential proxy routes traffic through proxy servers, just like a traditional proxy. However, they use IP addresses assigned by Internet service providers (ISPs) to residential locations. Not every proxy type uses this, and the residential IP addresses make this particular proxy type more anonymous. User activity while using them, appears to originate from a user in the residential area. 

How do they work?

The following steps summarise how a residential proxy works:

  1. The user sends a request to access a website
  2. The proxy server intercepts the request
  3. The proxy server forwards the request to the destination server of the target site
  4. The target site receives the request, processes it and sends a response to the residential proxy server
  5. The server receives the response and modifies it according to criteria present in the proxy’s configuration
  6. Finally, the residential proxy server sends the altered response back to the user’s device


  1. Elite anonymity. Based on the degree of anonymity provided, elite proxies are the best and residential proxies are elite proxies. They offer high anonymity, protecting users from detection, flagging, and IP bans.
  2. Access to content from anywhere. The rise of localized and regional restrictions on content locks out potential viewers. Quality residential proxies with wide coverage can unlock such content for users wanting to consume them.
  3. Circumventing IP bans. If for one reason or another, a website has blocked a user’s access to their content and service, it’s not the end of the road. Residential proxies can bypass the ban by assigning another residential IP address to user traffic.
  4. Improved success rates. Due to the legitimacy associated with residential IP addresses, they have higher success rates in activities that frown down on bots, such as web scraping, ad verification, multi-account creation and management, etc.

Example Use Cases

    1. Web scraping. Businesses, researchers, and organizations use residential proxies to facilitate scraping bots because of their high anonymity. Rotating residential proxies are particularly sought after for this purpose.
    2. Ad verification. Advertisers and marketers use residential proxies to monitor the content and placement of their ads in other regions. This helps them identify ad fraud where it exists.
    3. Accessing content. Individuals can use residential proxies to access otherwise unavailable content, such as streaming content unavailable in their region or country.
    4. SEO monitoring. SEO professionals employ residential proxies to tap into other geographical regions, monitor search engine rankings from those regions, and analyze them to identify new insights.
  • E-commerce. E-commerce has made the world one big marketplace and upped competition for sales all around the world. Proxies can help retailers monitor and scrape competitor prices, product description information and customer reviews, as they look to gain an edge.
  1. Social media management. Proxies for social media management can facilitate automated tasks in social media use. This can reduce the amount of effort required for marketers and social media managers to handle several accounts.

What are VPNs?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a tool that encapsulates and encrypts data transmission over the internet when in use. In other words, they secure data transmission and facilitate private communications. They do so by creating a protected private network (via encapsulation) over the public network the user is employing. Functionally speaking, they mask the IP addresses of users, spoof locations, and encrypt data. 

How do they work?

The following steps outline how a VPN performs its functions:

  1. The user connects to the VPN and establishes a secure connection to the VPN server of their choice.
  2. The user initiates a request for access to the destination server of the website they intend to access
  3. The VPN encrypts the request before it leaves the user’s device, and sends the encrypted request to the VPN server
  4. The VPN encapsulates the encrypted request, creating a secure tunnel between the user’s device and the VPN server. This tunnel prevents the interference of any entity attempting to compromise the data transmission
  5. The VPN server decrypts the request and forwards the decrypted request to the destination server of the target site. As a result, the origin IP address on the request the site receives changes to that of the VPN server.
  6. The website processes the request and sends a response back to the VPN server
  7. The VPN server encrypts the response and forwards it to the user’s device via the secure tunnel
  8. At the user’s device, the VPN client decrypts the response allowing the user to view and consume it.

Benefits of VPN

  1. Improved security. The VPN uses its encryption protocol to make the contents of user online traffic impossible to understand. Its tunnelling protocol then encapsulates the traffic, making it difficult for eavesdroppers and hackers to access the encrypted traffic. The tunnelling also makes it hard for online trackers to function.
  2. Enhanced privacy and anonymity. VPNs keep user activity private by masking their IPs and effectively rerouting their traffic. Websites can’t see the actual online identity and profile of the person from which the traffic originates.
  3. Access to more content. The use of VPNs and subsequent rerouting of requests can help users access otherwise unavailable content like regional data, localized content, etc.
  4. Avoiding bandwidth throttling. By using a VPN, users can hide their activity from their ISPs (internet service providers), thus making it difficult for them to identify and throttle targeted activities. 
  5. Securing remote access. While proxies can be used to gain remote access to resources, VPNs can enable employees to do so securely. This helps to preserve the integrity of the company’s data. 

Example Use Cases

Remote work

VPNs, and their private networks, are perfect for helping remote and hybrid workers in modern workplaces access company resources securely. They can help such workers tap into the company’s network from different locations.

Streaming services 

Individuals can use VPNs to improve their access to video and audio streaming catalogues. In other words, they can use them to consume region-specific video and audio content from streaming platforms.


Online gamers can use VPNs to access regional releases they may not have access to. Similarly, they can serve as added security against doxing, swatting, and DDoS attacks, common in gaming communities. 

Online privacy

VPNs are a handy tool for individuals wanting to browse the web anonymously, whether it is to bypass censorship, avoid targeted ads, or for any other reasons. 


Travellers can use VPNs for multiple reasons. One of these is the ability to access their origin country’s local content without restrictions. Another is to secure their online activities if they ever find themselves connecting over public Wi-Fis.

Comparison – Residential Proxy Vs VPN


Residential proxies do not offer encryption. They instead function mainly as intermediaries that mask IP addresses, simulate locations, and facilitate access to resources and content. VPNs, on the other hand, have encryption as a major function of theirs. In fact, it is their ability to encrypt data that merits their classification as a security tool.


Residential proxies usually offer pools of IP addresses numbering in the millions and obtained from a wide range of countries and locations. Thus, they are very beneficial for accessing localized content. VPNs, however, generally do not have nearly as wide a coverage. They also make use of IP addresses from data centers, reducing the degree of anonymity of their servers.


Residential proxies are more expensive than VPNs due to their use of residential IP addresses as opposed to the datacenter IP addresses of the VPNs. However, they offer more flexible pricing plans (ranging from free trials to annual plans), bulk purchase discounts, and pay-as-you-go pricing.


The speed of residential proxies varies depending on the quality of the ISP in the location, and the degree of network congestion in the residential area. However, VPNs and their data center setup are more efficient and faster, despite their much weaker anonymity. Unfortunately, the speed advantage of the VPN might be eroded due to the need for two sets of encryptions and decryptions in the data transmission cycle. 

Ease of Use

Residential proxies are complex to set up compared to VPNs which are likely one-click tools with dedicated apps and extensions. However, the complexity of the residential proxy provides more configuration flexibility for their advanced users to leverage for further gains.

Detection and Blocking

The residential IP addresses of residential proxies make them less detectable than datacenter proxies. This results in higher success rates for sensitive tasks like web scraping when residential proxies are the tool of choice.

Where to Buy Residential Proxy

There are many proxy providers on the market. However, none combines best-in-class proxies, affordable rates, and flexible pricing as we do. Here are the reasons why our residential proxies are so popular with users: 

  1. Wider access to content. Our proxies provide users with wide coverage and deep IP address pools to facilitate access to localized content in restricted regions. Our rotating residential proxies allow users to do so anonymously, while our static residential proxies provide more consistent access where necessary.  
  2. Responsive and available customer support. We offer experience-dependent onboarding help, a user-friendly interface, an interactive dashboard for proxy management, 24/7 support to solve technical issues, and quick responses to help users get the best out of our proxies.
  3. Cost-Effective Proxy Solutions. Our residential proxies all have quality active IP addresses, free from damaging histories, and are constantly updated to guarantee their security. Importantly, though, we also price these proxies to meet the needs of different client classes, from individuals to large organizations. Our pricing is flexible and affordable.  
  4. Broad Geographical Coverage. Proxy Cheap residential proxies provide access to 8M+ IP addresses in over 125 locations. We allow our customers to connect to websites and platforms from almost any country. 

Frequently asked questions

Is proxy or VPN better for scraping?

Proxies are better than VPNs for scraping because of their potential for IP rotation, speed, and reduced detection. The proxies most suitable are the residential proxies. Vendors usually provide the IP addresses for rotating residential proxies in a pool, thus allowing for IP rotation in addition to their improved anonymity. Clients that want speed in addition to anonymity can opt for ISP proxies.

Why use a proxy over a VPN?

There are many reasons to use proxies over VPNs, including higher success rates in sensitive online activities, scalability due to their efficiency and large IP address pools, ease of integration with other tools, and flexibility in applicable use cases. 

Can I use a VPN and proxy together?

Yes, you can use a VPN and a proxy together, allowing the security of the VPN to complement the functionality of the proxy. Using both tools together could double the layer of anonymity cloaking your activities and enhance security. However, using them together is not straightforward. Some of the strategies for combining both tools include: using VPNs but configuring browsers to use proxies as well, proxy-chaining the proxies and VPNs, and using dedicated management tools capable of simultaneously setting up and using both tools.


Augustas Frost

Support Manager

Augustas Frost is a valued contributor at Proxy-Cheap, specializing in proxy-related content. With a knack for simplifying complex topics, he's your go-to source for understanding the world of proxies.
Outside his work, Augustas explores the latest tech gadgets and embarking on hiking adventures.