Sticky vs Rotating Sessions

Sticky vs. Rotating Sessions

Staying competitive in e-commerce and other business ventures requires keeping a close eye on market trends, competitor activity, and more, and that means collecting as much data as possible from the relevant websites while sidestepping bot detectors and other security measures.

Proxy networks make web data scraping easy and safe, with a variety of options to meet the many different needs of marketers, researchers, and anyone who needs to gather massive amounts of information online. Depending on your goals, you can opt for sticky or rotating proxy sessions. Here’s how they work — and how to decide which is right for you.

What Are Proxies and Why Should You Use Them?

All devices that connect to the Internet have a dedicated Internet Protocol — or IP address that’s assigned by an Internet Service Provider — and that unique address appears in every request the user makes to a remote server. For most browsing purposes, that’s not a problem, but when many requests originate from a single IP in a short period of time, that can trigger the target site’s bot detectors and other security features. The result? The searcher’s IP could end up being blocked or misdirected.

For online entrepreneurs, researchers, and advertisers, though, it’s essential to conduct a high volume of search activity across many websites to collect massive amounts of data for purposes such as verifying advertising campaigns, researching competitor sites, tracking keywords, and monitoring trends in pricing. Since that can be a time-consuming, inefficient, and error-ridden process when done manually, web scraping software automates the process and helps users mine those databases for the insights that drive marketing decisions and research outcomes.

Using proxies — IP addresses other than your own — conceal your identity and location during any online activity. That preserves privacy and online security, and it can also be useful for visiting sites that are restricted to specific locations or users. But the need to conceal a user’s unique IP address is even more important in situations involving a high search volume, or multiple server requests from the same address in a short period.

Proxies can make it appear that search requests or website action originate from different, unique IP addresses so that high volume search activity escapes the notice of site security protocols. To do this, proxy services provide genuine residential IP addresses or generate new ones. In either case, users can typically manage how their proxy networks behave by setting when, or if, they change in a given session.

One option is to rotate proxy IPs with each new search request in a given session. But under some circumstances, it’s more useful to make a proxy “sticky” or to keep a single proxy IP in place for a specified period.

Rotating Proxies for Secure, High Volume Searches

Rotating proxy setups, which are also called backconnect proxies, are designed to pull a different IP from a pool of proxies for each server request. That makes it seem as if a target site is being visited by many unique users instead of a single user making a large number of search requests from the same IP. That allows for web scraping and high-volume research without triggering a website’s bot detectors and other security protocols.

Rotating proxies can be customized to suit a user’s specific needs. Proxy IPs can be set to rotate with every new search request or on another schedule. They can also be limited to specific geographic locations or websites. Rotating proxies can be set up with legitimate residential IPs or those generated by datacenters, but because datacenter proxies appear very similar, they may be more vulnerable to blocking or reporting.

Who Should Use Rotating Proxies?

Since rotating proxy sessions can pull from a pool of hundreds or even thousands of unique IP addresses, these constantly changing IPs can be a key tool for anyone who needs to gather massive amounts of data from many websites in a very short time. And because this kind of proxy setup makes it appear that each request is from a different user, it becomes much easier to avoid triggering the target site’s bot detectors.

That can be essential for a wide range of data mining tasks including advertising and market research, news reporting, and site auditing, a process that examines a website’s search visibility relative to factors such as traffic and search engine rankings. Common scenarios include monitoring advertising and social media campaigns, checking pricing trends in specific niches, and monitoring sites in geo-blocked locations. But rotating proxy sessions can generate a high volume of new traffic to targeted sites, which can slow network connectivity and compromise the experience of real, individual visitors — and that might also raise red flags with a site’s security system.

Sticky Proxy Sessions for Targeted Browsing

Any proxy setup will conceal a user’s original, unique IP during server requests, and individuals might need only one, or a few, specifically for privacy and security. But even if you’re using rotating proxies from a large pool of IPs, in some circumstances you might want to stick with just one proxy IP address for a while.

Sticky proxy sessions are also called session persistence. In these situations, a single proxy IP is set to remain in use for a specific time, such as five or ten minutes. During that period, all server requests during that time originate from the same IP, rather than rotating to a different one with every new request. In most proxy accounts, users can control the amount of time a proxy “sticks” and other parameters, such as which geographic locations and sites it connects with.

Why Use Sticky Proxies?

Rotating proxies make it appear that each new search is originating from a different, legitimate website visitor, but sticky proxy sessions can be useful when you want to appear to be the same, legitimate user visiting a website for a longer period. When a particular site has multiple pages to browse, or the site is outside a proxy user’s home area, a sticky proxy session allows for lengthy browsing without triggering a sudden, suspicious flood of new traffic that can slow performance and create a poor user experience for everyone visiting the site.

Sticky proxies can also be helpful when setting up multiple social media accounts under different IPs and identities — a useful option when testing advertising campaigns or gathering insights from social media activity on customer behavior and brand awareness. Likewise, sticky proxies can be useful for targeting a specific website in a geo-blocked location, or for carrying out multiple actions on a single site.

Both sticky and rotating proxy sessions cloak a user’s actual identity behind proxy IPs for privacy and security, but they provide different benefits for anonymous online searching. With a different IP for every request, rotating proxies are the standard for web scraping and high-volume searching without triggering blocks and restrictions. Lasting from just one minute to around half an hour, sticky proxy sessions allow users to create accounts anonymously or interact with target sites like any individual user would. But depending on your goals and the scope of your online activity, both sticky and rotating proxy sessions can provide the insights and data that shape successful online campaigns.

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