Choosing the right proxy host is absolutely fundamental to a successful proxy site. The wrong host will leave you with horrific downtime, intermittent service and no support. The net is full of nightmare stories, so it really is a case of buyer beware. A poor proxy host will cost you money in lost revenue, even if it seems like you’re saving money. Follow our proxy hosting guide and you’ll avoid any problems with your host.
The most important thing to understand about proxies is that they use a lot of server resources. Some proxy scripts are better than others, and there modifications that can be made to improve things slightly. However, there is no escaping the fact that by their very nature proxies are resource intensive. This can lead to problems unless the right host and correct hosting plan are chosen.
There are three main options available to proxy webmasters:
Shared Hosting is the cheapest and most common type of hosting that you’ll find. As the name suggests, you ‘share’ space on the server with other peoples’ sites. Most of the ‘big name’ hosting companies (Hostgator, 1&1 etc) offer incredibly cheap plans that allow unlimited sites and unlimited bandwidth. However, most of these plans specifically prohibit any proxies to be hosted on their servers. This is because proxies will use too many resources and affect the other sites hosted on the server. Some hosts do allow shared proxy hosting, but most successful proxies will cause problems for the server. Shared hosting is certainly the cheapest option, but it is also the most problematic. Proxies can use a lot of bandwidth, CPU resources and RAM. Some firms or individuals are simply reselling space on shared servers, so it’s always important to find out what exactly you’re paying for. There are some reliable shared proxy hosts around, but don’t expect unlimited sites and unlimited bandwidth for $5. The more reliable shared proxy hosts will limit the number of proxies permitted per server, and this pushes the price up.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS) is a form of hosting that is perfect for most proxy webmasters. It is more expensive than shared hosting, but considerably cheaper than a dedicated server. Essentially, VPS bridges the gap between shared hosting and dedicated servers. Hosting is shared, but the resources are split so sites run completely independently from other users’ sites. This allows users to run their own operating software, and to reboot their ‘portion’ of the server if necessary. This means that if your proxy hogs all the resources it will only affect your own sites and nobody else on the server. The flip side to this is that your sites will never be offline or running slowly due to another person’s sites. VPS is therefore a great option for proxies, and starting prices are reasonable too ($20). This is the logical next step once your proxies inevitably outgrow the shared hosts, and offers you a considerable amount of control.
A Dedicated Server is basically your own server, which can be managed or unmanaged. There are no other sites on the server to share resources with, which means that they are ideal for the high traffic proxies. This type of hosting is the most expensive. However, if you need a dedicated server due to the resources that your proxy is using then you’ll have a high level of traffic. This means that your revenue will be higher, and these earnings should easily cover the costs of a dedicated server (and leave you with profit). There is no need for new proxy webmasters to sign up for a dedicated server straight away, as shared hosting or VPS will suffice. However, eventually many proxy webmasters move their sites to a dedicated server and reap the rewards of a constant, fast and reliable proxy service. There are many different options available to suit all site requirements.
Most proxy webmasters (ourselves included) have been let down in one way or another, but here are some key points to help avoid bad hosting providers:
- Check for reviews (proxyhost.org is a good place to check). No provider will score 100%, but are there plenty of other customers happy with the service on webmaster forums?
- Be extremely wary of ‘new’ hosts offering amazing deals. Wait until the host has become established so you can get some feedback.
- Don’t put too much money up front. Plenty of hosts want you to sign up for months or even a year. If it goes wrong, you’ll have difficulty getting the money back. Trial it for a month or two (at least) first.
- Are they just reselling shared hosting plans? It can be hard to tell, but always try and ascertain exactly what you’re getting, and go direct if possible.
- Check and re-check the terms of service (TOS). More unscrupulous hosting sellers might advertise on webmaster forums and claim that proxy hosting is permitted, but always check the terms.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! If you can put up with downtime and an intermittent service then go for the cheapest. But generally speaking, you will get what you pay for.
Make sure that you keep regular backup of all your site files. If your hosting provider does let you down, they are extremely unlikely to provide you with backups. Having up to date backups will help you get your sites back online as soon as possible.
Choosing the right proxy host will save you a lot of time in the long run, and will more than pay for itself. There is nothing worse than moving from host to host; it really is a false economy. So take your time to choose your proxy host, and remember that this is one area where increased costs can definitely lead to more profit.
Check proxyhost.org for reviews from proxy webmasters