When describing proxy servers and web proxy types it is essential to specify the difference between free and shared proxies. It often influences the quality, security and the speed of surfing the Web. That’s why it is necessary to consider the advantages and disadvantages of every type of proxies.
Internet users commonly have no will to pay for using services that have free versions. That’s why chargeless proxies are more widespread. They have lots of obvious advantages but also habe some disadvantages which may sometimes be cruicial when choosing free or shared version.
Let’s consider the main factors that influence users’ selections.
Disadvantages of free proxies
1) The main disadvantage of free proxy servers is that they are often owned by some enthusiasts or are made by programmers for their own use. Sometimes large service providers create free proxies in order to attract the audience's attention. Obviously free proxies are clear demonstration of a "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" proverb. They usually (but not always) provide poor quality of surfing (low speed, fullness of loading data etc.).
2) The second disadvantage is a relatively short duration of free proxy servers’ life. They either disappear or turn into shared ones. This happens if there is a stable demand and the proxy owners are willing to support the service.
3) The third disadvantage of free proxies is that not all of them conceal users’ activity, e.g. some of them do not provide anonymity. Frankly speaking up to 99% of all free proxies' administrators actually keep the history of users' surfing.
4) Finally an important disadvantage of free proxies is the lack of any guarantees. Although the risks of using free proxy are not crucial it is highly undesirable to enter and transfer discreditable or secret data while surfing the Web through a proxy. Otherwise there is nobody to complain because service is provided on an “as is” basis.
Advantages of free proxies
1) The key advantage of free proxies is the fact of their being free of charge. Users (especially russian-speaking) usually have no will to "pay for free services" though such a "freebie" is rather discussional and users’ computer are very often infected by different kinds of viruses.
2) The ability to use proxy several times consequentially makes it possible to hide users activity. But the need to restart proxy many times is dictated by the low reliability of the connection and other previously described disadvantages of free proxies.
3) Some proxy provide high quality of access and a good speed of surfing but these services are rather sparse and they usually don’t exist for long.Disadvantages of shared proxies
Although shared proxies shouldn’ have any drawback they still have some. Let’s consider the main:
1) The key factor is the need to buy services that is unacceptable for many Internet users. Taking into account the fact that in some cases shared proxies have failures the problem enhances.
2) In contrast to the free proxy, shared ones are more expensive to use repeatedly in order to ensure anonymity. Furthermore it significantly reduces the web-surfing speed.
Advantages of shared proxies
1) Sellers of shared proxies provide tools for customizing server features – the speed, caching (volume, filter), access regulating, response time, etc.
2) Shared proxies are serviced by qualified administrators so customers can be sure to get a quick response and support if necessary.
3) The owner (or the tenant) of a shared proxy server can grant access to other users and get some income from advertising etc.Thus shared proxies have obvious advantages that overpower the subjective flaws and completely outperform their free "brethren".