The internet is a magnificent source of information and valuable content. But yet, a considerable fraction of this content lies behind IP restrictions and geo-blocks. With a rotating IP address, you can easily bypass these restrictions and access the content that you want.
In this day and age, tons of data are available, literally at your fingertips. Students, analysts, and specialists of all kinds cull data from the internet for various purposes. Much of the data is publicly available, and it’s thus easy to scour the internet for whatever you seek.
Today, various automation tools help us quickly acquire web page data. This is an alternative to simply copying and pasting as text or into Excel or sheet format. In particular, web scraping has gained popularity as a means for people to get their hands on website data.
However, certain websites have protocols in place that make web scraping almost impossible. Even more, several platforms such as Netflix and Prime restrict their media content to specific locations. In such scenarios, the best way to bypass these restrictions is to use a rotating IP address.
This article will comprehensively examine the concept of IP rotation and explain how it can benefit you. Read on!
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a unique sequence that identifies your browsing device on a local network or the internet. IP stands for Internet Protocol – a set of rules that apply to data formats transmitted over the internet.
An IP address can be likened to your house address that identifies it in a wider location, helping anyone seeking you out to narrow it down. Likewise, the internet is a vast network, and various elements must identify your device as unique from the plethora of similar devices.
Websites and routers are other elements that use IP addresses. Without IP addresses, everything would be overly complicated, and it would be impossible for service providers to customize your user experience.
An IP address is a four-set number sequence separated by periods, with numbers in the sets ranging from 0 to 225. As you’d expect, each IP address is unique and not randomly assigned. They’re assigned to your device by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), which may vary. For instance, your service provider at home will assign you a different IP address from the WiFi network assigned to you when you switch networks at work.
In summary, your ISP facilitates an internet connection by first assigning you an identifiable, unique IP address and then rerouting the connection through its network to the wider internet.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is a gateway that facilitates secure, virtually anonymous access to the internet. Although there are various kinds of proxy servers, each varying in functionality, privacy, and security, the core concepts are still the same.
Every time you launch your browser and enter a web address, the traffic flows through the proxy server before reaching the requested address. Simultaneously, the data request flows back through the same route, that is, via the proxy server.
A proxy server is unique in providing users access to a veritable pool of IP addresses. The data traffic is also highly encrypted and secure, while the availability of multiple IPs means that users can bypass geo-restrictions and access a wider range of web content.
A proxy server facilitates IP address rotation, as the IP addresses can be configured to change every few minutes or hours.
What is a Proxy Rotation, and is it Beneficial?
A proxy rotation is a mechanism that alternates IP addresses for devices with each internet request. The proxy pool usually has a pool of available, unique IP addresses.
Proxy rotation uses proxy servers to access vast quantities of IP addresses, often amounting to thousands. A random IP proxy is assigned for every connection, meaning that each website you access that collects your data receives a different IP address from the next.
Proxy rotation is highly beneficial, as it makes it easy to simulate multiple users accessing an online service rather than singularly making several requests. As a result, you’ll be able to bypass geo-restrictions and have multiple alternatives in case one IP gets blocked.
Why is IP Rotation Essential?
If you’re seeking to access more content that you’re geo-restricted to, or you’re into web scraping, IP rotation is something you cannot do without.
Proxy servers can rotate or back-connect to change IP addresses each time you request an internet-based domain. Let’s examine some of the reasons why IP rotation is essential:
1. Internet anonymity
Despite its several uses, the internet is not altogether safe. Hackers are ever active, seeking ways to steal user data and compromise your online accounts. Whenever you access the internet, some data is logged by various networks and service providers. This data may inadvertently fall into the hands of malicious elements, which will use it as a basis to launch targeted cyber attacks.
As IP rotation involves switching IP addresses constantly, it makes it difficult (if not impossible) for hackers to target you. As such, you’re afforded more than bare minimum protection whenever you access the internet.
2. Lead generation
As a business, or an individual seeking to generate leads for various purposes, IP rotation can help to optimize your efforts. Using rotating IPs allows you to gain a competitive advantage in identifying prospective clients and customers in your target location.
For instance, you can rotate IPs when scouring networks like LinkedIn. You can take parsing analytics to a new level by acquiring relevant structured and unstructured data sets. Your sales or recruitment team will easily narrow down targets in their search for customers or other recruits.
3. Bypassing geo-restrictions
With so much content on the internet locked behind geo-restricted firewalls, it becomes essential to use rotating IP addresses to access them.
Geo-restrictions are inconvenient. They may not necessarily have to do with accessing media content from streaming platforms like Netflix, BBC One, and Prime. Rather, certain essential content may be restricted, leaving you with no option but to bypass it.
Rotating IP addresses is the ultimate solution, making it essential to have.
4. Web scraping
Web scrapers don’t always have it easy when scouring data from various websites. Some services have anti-scraping measures in place that make it impossible for web scrapers to carry out their activities. In other instances, requesting IP addresses are blacklisted, leaving users without access to these web services.
By using rotating IPs, you can access all kinds of data from all over the internet and across various web pages without worrying about geo-restrictions or having your IP address blacklisted.
5. SEO Intelligence
As a website owner or webmaster, one of the best ways to make your site rank highly is by using recommended SEO techniques. IP rotation can help you with SEO by granting you access to keyword rankings across various locations, e.g., Brazil, USA, France, Morocco, and Thailand. With access to such specialized information, you can optimize your SEO techniques accordingly and improve your website’s ranking.
How to Rotate an IP address?
Now that we have a clear grasp of IP rotation and its importance to certain web operations, let’s take a cursory look at the process itself.
With no further ado, we examine some of the prominent methods involved in rotating an IP address:
1. Use a VPN solution
VPN services are a decent alternative to proxy servers as they perform much the same function. A VPN tool reroutes your internet traffic through specialized servers, encrypting your connection and rendering your online activities virtually anonymous.
However, VPN solutions may not be as efficient as other alternatives in IP address rotation. This is because the service does not offer a limited amount of flexibility. For instance, certain VPN services may allow users to schedule IP address rotation at intervals. However, only one IP address will be made available each time.
Besides, using a VPN only guarantees IP change. It doesn’t offer true anonymity since certain online elements can see you using a VPN service.
A VPN tool can make the going rather very slow for activities like web scraping. With it, you can’t scrape data off web pages as you could with a different solution.
And that’s where the next item on the list comes in.
2. Use Proxy servers
Proxy servers are much more efficient than VPN tools regarding IP rotation. For one, there’s a wide pool of IP addresses to choose from, and you can set up the mechanism to alternate it at preset intervals.
If avoiding geo-restrictions is your aim, you can select specific IP addresses unique to various locations globally.
Using Rotating IPs with Proxy Servers
When setting up rotating IPs with Proxy servers, there are three options available:
- IP rotation software
- IP rotation service
- DIY IP rotation
The first two options may appear similar, but they’re actually different. Let’s take a closer look at the three options:
1. IP rotation software
An IP rotation software is the ideal choice if you aren’t tech-savvy to build the required code base. Several software programs are available on the market that provide IP rotation services. Once activated, they randomly rotate IP addresses from your available list of proxies.
However, IP rotation software works best with small-sized projects. Another solution would work better for you if you’re doing tons of web scraping.
2. IP rotation service
This solution is the complete package. You don’t have to worry about getting a proxy first. Plus, it’s super efficient. Each time you make a connection request, your IP address changes, making IP rotation a perpetual thing as far as your online activities are concerned.
IP rotation software and services differ in how they route your data. IP rotation services don’t directly give you access to the IP address pool. Rather, they use backconnect proxies to serve the IP addresses. This way, there’s no need to worry about importing lengthy lists of IP addresses.
3. DIY IP rotation
This method is for tech geeks with the knowledge of requisite programming language skills.
However, you should note that it’s not an easy task, and not ideal if you’re just learning to code. Additionally, you may find it hard to maintain without top-notch technical skills, especially if you plan to rotate IP addresses for large-scale projects.
4. Pre-configured IP rotation
This involves a preset configuration that automates IP address changes at regular intervals. Upon the elapsing of the preset duration, the user is assigned a new IP address.
5. Specific IP rotation
This technique is more commonly observed in VPN solutions, where new IP addresses are assigned for each browsing session rather than per connection request.
That is to say that users only get new IP addresses after the termination of the internet connection- to be used upon relaunching the connection.
6. Burst IP rotation
There’s a connection limit here, with IP addresses rotated based on limit expiry. For instance, it can be preset such that a device accesses a service with the same IP address for 40 connection requests. Upon the 41st connection request, the IP address changes.
7. Random IP rotation
Here, the IP addresses are randomly and continually rotated for each connection request.
A comparison of proxy servers
Proxy servers work in different ways and operate via various protocols. Let’s examine four kinds of proxies:
HTTP proxies are designed for HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) connections. They stand at the gateway between server and browser connections and deliver connection requests to the client (browser).
Like HTTP, SOCKS is an internet protocol. SOCKS proxies route traffic to and fro the client through TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connections.
Reverse proxies hide the identity of servers and can be used for load distribution to multiple web servers.
Forward Proxies are the opposite of reverse proxies. That is to say, they mask connection requests from the client party and web browsers.
Forward Proxy vs. Reverse Proxy
In any internet connection, there are two sides: client and server. The client makes the connection request while the server delivers or serves the request.
With a forward proxy, internet connections are refined to suit the proxy purpose before it is forwarded to the destination. An example of a forward proxy is a VPN service. On the other hand, a reverse proxy does the opposite. An example of this is a data center proxy.
Our guide on Forward Proxy vs. Reverse Proxy explains their differences in detail.
SOCKS vs. HTTP Proxy
HTTP proxies provide a secure channel to the server, which the client receives and validates. It deviates from a SOCKS proxy because the latter does not interpret web data.
Instead, SOCKS proxies are designed to facilitate traffic with websites with firewalls. For a detailed breakdown, see our SOCKS vs. Proxy comparison article.
Use cases of IP Rotation
We’ll discuss the use cases of IP rotation in two dimensions – for good and bad. You must be well-informed about the latter, as the knowledge can aid you in taking adequate steps for cybersecurity.
Here are some ways in which IP rotation can be used.
Data is the fuel of digitalization. With so much online information, it’s essential to devise efficient mechanisms to cull said data.
IP rotation makes data mining and web crawling doubly efficient for researchers and analysts who web scrape for various metrics and performance analytics.
Hackers may use rotating IPs to launch spam and other cyber attacks. Distributed Denial of Device (DDOS) attacks are often carried out this way.
As a result, many web services may find it difficult to identify the source of these IP addresses and avoid permanent blocking.
Things to note when using rotating IP addresses
Like all other dimensions in web technology, users must note certain perks to rotating IP addresses at all times. Here they are:
- Using anonymous proxy servers doesn’t necessarily guarantee anonymity. At best, it encrypts your network traffic, so third parties cannot tamper with the connection. However, to those with the right tools, it informs them that you are indeed using an anonymous proxy server.
- Do not use sequential IP addresses.
- Use elite proxies alone.
- Your IP address can still be blocked while rotating it. This is because session cookies may register your online activity as suspicious, especially if the website requires that you log in before accessing content.
- Break down your proxies into groups for maximum efficiency and switch the groups after a given duration.
IP rotation is an invaluable tool for various website experts. As such, they have multiple use cases. However, these use cases are not altogether benign. For every curious mind out there using IP rotation for web scraping to analyze data, there’s a hacker with malicious intent.
Nevertheless, its overwhelmingly positive use cases mean that IP rotation services and software will continue to be in high demand as web technology evolves.
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