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Cover image for Does Proxy Slow Down the Internet? Speed: What Actually Affects Proxy Speed and How to Improve It
dnasedkina for SOAX

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at soax.com

Does Proxy Slow Down the Internet? Speed: What Actually Affects Proxy Speed and How to Improve It

Because of the proxies’ complex nature that depends on many variables. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned proxy user, there are always some technical details that might need additional clarification. In this article, we will try to unpack the mystery of proxies’ speed - how providers achieve high connection response times, and what might influence it.

Speed is one of the crucial proxies’ features because you need to get your data quickly (nobody has time to wait more than several seconds for a connection to happen, it’s 2022, after all). For example, SOAX residential proxies’ response time is an impressive 2.34s (according to Proxy Market Research 2022). They describe the details of the experiment how the test proxy speed was achieved. But would you be able to replicate the exact conditions?

However, some knowledge of the behind the scene of proxy life can help you understand why your connection time might be slower at times or explain some peculiar speed-related cases in your practice. By peculiar cases, I mean something like:

  • A big range during proxy speed testing, as it is not uncommon to be connected to a considerably fast proxy server (with a speed up to 50 MB per second) and then, after rotation, get connected to a slower one.
  • A slow proxy server becoming faster over time.

Let’s start with the basics - how do proxies actually work? Essentially, web browsing through proxy happens in 5 steps:

  • Your device connects to a proxy server
  • A proxy server connects to IP in a chosen location
  • A proxy server via a new IP sends the request to a requested site
  • Requested data from a site is sent to a server
  • A server sends data back to you

The full proxy speed during all of these steps depends on different things and can be manipulated.

To paint a better picture, let’s use Jack’s case of using proxies as an example.
Jack is an entrepreneur building a platform that aggregates real-time rental offers for office buildings in Brazil. He is based in France and uses SOAX proxies to scrape the Brazilian real estate market. To deliver on his business goals, he is using Brazilian IPs with city targeting and requires not only good speed but also steady rotation.
Jack
Now let’s see what might influence Jack’s proxy speed on each of the aforementioned steps.

Step 1: Connecting to a proxy server

At this point, several things can influence the user’s connection:

  • Internet speed of a local provider If the provider’s speed is not satisfactory, other than changing ISP, there is little that can be done.
  • Distance between the user and a proxy server Basically, the further the user is from it, the longer it takes for a signal to reach the server. Ideally, processing a request should take milliseconds.

_So how is Jack doing at this point?
Before starting his web scraping activities, Jack did some research and purchased a plan from a local ISP that has the best offer when it comes to the speed and reliability of internet connection.
As for his proxy provider, Jack chose SOAX, which was very wise of him because one of SOAX’s proxy servers is located in Europe. Being in France, Jack is very close to the server, and his server connection time should be instantaneous. _

NB: SOAX has multiple servers worldwide to provide users from different continents with consistently high connection speeds.

How to affect speed on this step?

  • Change an ISP provider.
  • Choose a proxy provider with a proxy server close to your location/ has servers in multiple locations.

Step 2: The proxy server connects to an IP in a targeted location

This step is the one that influences speed the most. A provider can only have a certain number of servers, while targeted locations can be virtually anywhere, resulting in distances between the server and the IP location still being quite long.
Another factor is an ISP provider of an IP that the user gets connected to. If the ISP signal transmission quality is subpar, unfortunately, you just have to deal with it (or rotate your proxy in hopes of connecting to an IP of a different provider).
And finally, an excessive number of people simultaneously connected to the same IP can slow down their speed. Some providers do not control this moment; however, reliable companies with large proxy pools have smart systems behind IP rotation to avoid such conundrums.

As for Jack, his request from the fast proxy server in France is now travelling to an IP in Brazil. This is quite a trip, considering there is an ocean between these two countries, so the speed might slow down here a bit.
Then Jack gets connected to an IP that is working just fine. However, after rotation happens, he notices that the speed goes down. Here, Jack can check what ISPs provide both of these proxies and then filter further IP connections by the provider with faster IPs.
If the connection time is still unsatisfactory, Jack can contact support@soax.com (he loves working with Kate, a proxy fairy who manages to always solve any possible issue) to consult if his signal could be transferred to a different proxy server. Sometimes it might help with the speed.

jack 2

NB: Overall time between the user sending a signal and connecting to an IP in the requested location is usually about 3 seconds. So when I say that speed slows down or is unsatisfactory, I mean that it takes ~2 more seconds to connect. If your current proxy provider’s connection speed is more than 10 seconds (especially if it is counted in minutes rather than seconds), please, do yourself a favour - change your provider.

How to affect speed on this step?

  • Switch the port number to get a faster IP
  • Filter IPs by ISP (if you know which one has a faster connection)
  • Consult support for transferring your signal to a different, quick proxy server

Step 3: The signal goes back to a proxy server

After the user’s request has been fulfilled (i.e. all necessary data has been collected from targeted sites through someone's IP), this data needs to be transferred to the user. But first, it needs to get back to the proxy server. It usually happens in milliseconds, but sometimes due to the same issues as in the 2nd step, it might take a bit longer.

After Jack noticed that the Brazilian IP he received wasn’t fast enough. He switched the port number to receive a new IP address and improved speed.

How to affect speed on this step?

  • Switch the port number to get a faster IP
  • Filter IPs by ISP (if you know which one has a faster connection)
  • Consult support for transferring your signal to a different proxy server

Step 4: The signal goes from a proxy server to you (finally)

The distance, network workload, user’s local Internet speed, and used IP’s ISP speed play a huge role here.

_Since Jack was already using the fastest local internet and changed his assigned IP, he did not experience any speed-related issues here and got his data just the way he wanted.
_
How to affect speed on this step?

  • Increase your local download speed by switching your Internet provider
  • Switch the port number to get a faster IP
  • Contact support@soax.com to get a consultation on other available proxy servers

To Wrap-Up

The main things that can affect proxy speed are:

  • User’s local Internet speed
  • Distance of the user from the proxy server
  • Distance of a targeted IP from the proxy server
  • Speed and quality of ISP signal transmission the IP has at the moment
  • IP load

Depending on the reason, the speed of proxy can be improved by:

  • upgrading your local Internet speed by reaching out to your Internet provider
  • connecting to a closer proxy server (usually through support)
  • switching your port number to get a new IP that could be faster
  • filter IPs in the region by an ISP with faster internet
  • contact support if all else fails :)

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Proxy speed FAQ:

What is a good proxy speed?
Proxy speed is individual for each IP you have and it is safe to say that good proxy speed is the one that allows comfortable work for your particular use case. Proxy speed above 2 Mbs per second is considered to be a high proxy speed.

Does proxy increase internet speed?
It does not. Proxies are not designed to enhance your internet speed and do not directly influence it either.

Do proxy servers slow down internet?
Proxies do not slow down your internet connection per se. You might notice that when using proxies sites are loading a bit slower than usual BUT it is not because proxies have an effect on the speed of your Internet. There are multiple things that are engaged in the work of proxies and influence their speed, like distance between you and a server, internet speed of your ISP or ISP of an IP that you are connecting to. All these together are responsible for the speed you are getting which might be slower than usual.

How to check proxy speed?
You can test proxy speed by visiting fast.com or any other speedtest website. Please be aware that for testing you are downloading a file, so your package traffic can be used very quickly.

How to increase internet speed using proxy?
Depending on the reason, the speed of proxy can be improved by:

  • Upgrading your local Internet speed by reaching out to your Internet provider
  • Switching from free to paid proxies or changing your proxy provider
  • Connecting to a closer proxy server (usually through support)
  • Switching your port number to get a new IP that could be faster
  • Filter IPs in the region by an ISP with faster internet
  • If nothing works, contact support

Is proxy faster than VPN?
Neither is faster. Speed is not something inherent and fixed neither for proxy nor VPN. Their speed is a sum of factors, such as distance between you and a server, internet speed of your ISP or ISP of an IP that you are connecting to. Instead, it is more accurate to compare service quality of proxy VS VPN providers, because it is their job to come up with solutions that provide users with high speed while using their products.

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