So why would anyone be trying to find a VPN with a residential IP? Well, for the sake of clarity, there are certain distinct classifications of IP addresses which are becoming more and more important. It refers to the actual categorisation of their use rather than any complicated technical property. The fact is that there are only two of these categories –
- Commercial IP Addresses – allocated to private companies and datacentres
- Residential IP Addresses – allocated to individuals usually through Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
There’s no technical distinction, no difference in structure or allocation – you can’t tell simply by looking at an IP address which is commercial and which is residential address. In fact it’s entirely possible for addresses to switch between the two categories if they are reallocated. However the classification is being used increasingly by web sites and services to distinguish between customers.
Take for example a standard residential IP address assigned from a small ISP, any website can determine that this is likely to be a private individual likely to be surfing from their home computer. The origin of a commercial IP address is much more difficult to determine – it could be from a commercial organisation, from a wireless access point, directly from a server or bot or perhaps a standard user who is using a VPN or proxy server. If you’re a website owner looking for customers for example, it’s the residential traffic that is going to interest you most not the commercial stuff.
It’s a classification which is now being used by many websites to block traffic from specific sources. You can see in this post about VPNs being blocked by Netflix that the media giant is using this classification to stop people bypassing the region blocks by using proxy type servers to hide their locations. Netflix has simply decided that if you are originating from a commercial based IP address then you can’t access their service irrespective of whether you have a subscription or not. Which is why people are becoming increasingly desperate to find a VPN with a residential IP address.
It’s not just the media companies who are starting this, other sites are increasingly looking to block all non-residential based addresses too. There are advertising sites like Craigslist and Gumtree who want to isolate their services to specific local home markets and people using VPNs or commercial servers to access them globally aren’t in that category. There are casualties of course, VPNs are important ways to maintain the security of your internet connection and privacy yet using one is likely to get you blocked from certain sites. Additionally there are many countries where it’s not safe to post openly and a VPN is essential to use the internet securely.
There are a few VPN services which now offer residential IP addresses included, like this one at Identity Cloaker which routes Netflix traffic through residential address to avoid being blocked. However they are quite rare simply because the addresses are very difficult to obtain and cost much more than standard commercial IP addresses available from a datacenter.