Sticky vs Rotating Proxies: which one to use?

November 9, 2022 Β· 6 min read

The difference between sticky vs rotating proxies lies in their mode of operation.

A proxy is a web server acting as an agent between a user and the server containing information.

Businesses, developers and Internet marketers use web proxies for various reasons. For example:
  • E-commerce businesses can use proxies to extract public product data from common marketplaces like Amazon.
  • Typical internet surfers can use free proxies to bypass content bans in restricted regions.
  • Internet marketers use proxies to do SEO checks on competitors' websites.
  • Data scientists, engineers and developers also use proxies to collect vast amounts of data and save time without getting blocked.

In this guide, you'll understand the key distinctions, specific use cases and examples of industry-leading tools. Before diving into any of these scraping operations, users have to understand the difference between sticky vs rotating proxies.

Let's brush through the basics of sticky and rotating proxies, as well as the differences.

Difference between sticky and rotating proxies

Understanding the difference between a sticky proxy vs rotating proxy will help you choose the right tool for each workload.

In general, rotating proxies are ideal for heavier workloads because they alternate connections from a pool of various IP addresses. The main difference between sticky and rotating proxies is that a sticky proxy associates a single IP address per user request while a rotating proxy assigns various IP addresses for each new request.

What Is a Sticky Proxy?

A sticky proxy gives one IP address for an anonymous connection. It has several limitations since anti-scraping technologies can easily identify heavy traffic coming from a single IP address. Sticky proxies anonymize connections from a single IP address, known as sticky sessions.

An example of a sticky proxy provider is the free web proxy tool by HMA.

Free web proxy
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As you can see, the data centers we can choose from are limited. Other examples of static proxy vendors include Psiphon, Apify, Bright Data and many more.

To make sticky proxies more efficient, users need an inbuilt feature known as a proxy rotator. Unless you're using a VPN, mobile phones don't provide the privacy you need to scrape a website.

That's because anti-scraping bots can recognize when there's heavy incoming traffic from that IP address, which leads us to rotating proxies.

What Is A Rotating Proxy?

Sticky vs rotating proxies
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A rotating proxy tool provides a wide pool of IP addresses to choose from and, unlike a sticky proxy, rotating proxies have no need for a proxy rotator. They generate a new unique IP address for each new request or browsing session.

The target site receives connections from various whitelisted IP ranges, making it difficult for the host server to detect any suspicious activity. Developers can configure specific commands within rotating proxies to define how they connect to various servers in different geolocations.

Now that we've gone through the basics, let's see why the sticky proxy vs rotating proxy comparison is relevant in terms of use cases.

Sticky vs Rotating Proxies: Which Should I Use?

Choosing between sticky vs rotating proxies can be confusing at first. But once you understand use cases, it's easier to make the right decision.

For example, the competitive nature of online businesses has a real need for rotating proxies. If multiple sellers have the same product, the chances of customers shopping around for the best deals are high.

To keep up with trends, marketers can use a rotating proxy to check e-commerce websites for data like prices, product descriptions and other attributes. Also, rotating proxies can extract and export millions of requests without getting blocked.

Extracting large datasets from various geolocations is a time-consuming process which is why developers prefer rotating proxies. Let's talk about some pros and cons of both rotating and stick proxies.

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When To Use Sticky Proxies

PROS

Sticky proxies aren't bad, here are some of the things they can do:
  1. Manage social media accounts.
  2. Monitor e-commerce deals across regions.
  3. Conduct market research.
  4. Browse for longer periods.
  5. Minimize data exchange.

1 - EASILY MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

There are limits to what a social media marketer can do with a single social media account. A sticky proxy helps you bypass common social media limitations by creating new accounts from different IP addresses.

Users can access each account from one IP consistently without getting banned by robots. A sticky proxy can generate long browsing sessions, tricking host bots to think you're accessing the site from one IP. A common use for sticky proxies includes ad accounts, social media and sensitive payment gateways like Paypal.

2 - MONITOR E-COMMERCE DEALS ACROSS REGIONS

E-commerce is growing and so is the number of yearly promotions you won't want to miss out on. The downside to some of these deals is that they are only available to a specific region. A static proxy can be used to access region-specific deals.

Remarks: note that static proxies help eCommerce end users to avoid missing out on a particular deal. This shouldn't be mistaken for e-commerce price monitoring, a specific feature in rotating proxies.

3 - CONDUCT MARKET RESEARCH

When comparing sticky vs rotating proxies, sticky proxies are good for doing market research from one portal. Online repositories act as a good source of information centralized on one platform. Repositories can limit the number of accounts per user.

A sticky proxy server lets people create many accounts using a different IP address. Users can then log in the accounts from a consistent proxy server.

4 - BROWSE FOR LONGER PERIODS

Similar to rotating proxies, sticky proxies can assume the connection of a typical residential user which allows the session to last for longer periods. You can choose from a 10, 20 to 30-minute session to access specific IP addresses without interruption.

5 - MINIMIZE DATA EXCHANGE

Sticky proxies provide session stickiness which minimizes processes of exchanging session information as in rotating sessions.

CONS

The downside of using sticky proxies is that it doesn't give you a dynamic pool of IP addresses. This makes it easy for intelligent bots to identify irregular usage patterns, blacklist the IP address and halt web scraping operations.

When To Use Rotating Proxies

Do you get accounts banned? Are your workflows crashing in the middle of an operation? Perhaps it's time to leverage rotating sessions.

Rotating proxies use a backconnect technology to change connection ports for each session. Such IP rotation enhances anonymity among many other advantages.

PROS

Some of its use cases include:
  1. Web scraping.
  2. Monitoring SEO.
  3. Sessions.
  4. Proxy variety.
  5. Anonymity.
  6. Generating leads.
  7. Navigate Cookie Tracking.
  8. E-commerce trend analysis.

1 - WEB SCRAPING

Scrapping from a single website gives unreliable and insufficient bits of data. What if we want to use data for comparison purposes? Instead of accessing many sites from different IPs manually, we can use different IP addresses from one proxy pool. As a result, users can generate averages, mean, median values and the most popular data types.

2 - MONITORING SEO

Competitors' analysis is a big part of SEO, however some of these competitors can be in different geolocations, which affects location-specific keywords, SERP rankings, and much more. A rotating proxy can help users keep track of the competitors' ever-changing rank results to identify new SEO trends.

3 - SESSIONS

A sticky proxy connects one server over long periods and this is not ideal for many requests which lead to spam. A rotating proxy generates continuous rotating sessions through new IP addresses per session.

4 - PROXY VARIETY

There are various kinds of rotating proxies that overcome loopholes associated with sticky proxies.

5. ANONYMITY

VPNs use rotating proxies to access websites anonymously while maintaining personal privacy.

6. LEAD GENERATION

Users can use rotating proxies to create custom rules to extract customer information like name, job title, email address and so on, without triggering a captcha or identity verification.

7 - NAVIGATE COOKIE TRACKING

AI can recognize common web scraping patterns. Cloud security usually involves a series of rules ranging from identity access management, firewalls, encryption, cookies and many more. A good rotating proxy provider will rotate from a wide pool of whitelisted IP addresses while creating a new connection.

8 - E-COMMERCE BENCHMARKING

The most ideal use case is real-time monitoring of the performances of e-commerce products. Easily analyze data to find bestsellers, products with the most reviews, most performing niches, and much more.

CONS

The downside of a rotating proxy is that users might have to overcome javascript challenges from Bot detection systems. Some rotating proxy providers have a limited pool of IP addresses which increases the risk of getting blocked along the process.

How do I know which Proxy to use?

Let's get the confusion out of sticky vs rotating proxy. The best proxy to use depends on the task you are looking to complete. Rotating proxies are perfect for scraping e-commerce websites while sticky proxies are perfect for buying from a store in a different region.

Large-scale operations require a rotating proxy but if you want to do a light social media scraping job, choose a sticky proxy.

What Proxy Pool Will Help You To Web Scrape?

The best proxy pools use white-listed IP addresses to make fresh connections.

ZenRows has the best proxy pool. It's a web scraping API that includes Smart Rotating Proxies that handle all proxy management to save you time and avoid headaches. Test it out by taking advantage of the free trial available.

Conclusion

We have gone through the basics of sticky vs rotating proxies, we discussed the differences, as well as the best use cases for each proxy. The proxy to use depends on the type of task you are looking to complete.

As a quick reminder, sticky proxies are perfect for:
  • Managing social media.
  • Keeping tabs on products.
  • Conducting market research.
While rotating proxies are perfect for:
  • Web scraping.
  • Monitoring SEO.
  • Generating leads.

Did you find the content helpful? Spread the word and share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Frustrated that your web scrapers are blocked once and again? ZenRows API handles rotating proxies and headless browsers for you.
Try for FREE

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