Light Data Review | Tech Radar
Bright Data (formerly Luminati Networks) is a web data giant that offers a full range of proxies in countries and cities around the world.
Need residential proxies? The company has 72 million shared and exclusive IP addresses in 195 countries. They come from users’ devices, but if you’re looking for more reliability and speed, Bright Data also has 600,000 proxies coming directly from ISPs.
Mobile proxies give you IP addresses from real mobile devices. Most proxy providers don’t offer them: Bright Data has over 7 million.
If your needs are simple, enterprise data center proxies offer excellent performance at a much lower cost. But even here, Bright Data outperforms most of the competition, with a pool of over 700,000 proxies spread across over 3,000 subnets, and targeting at the country and city level.
Using Bright Data in a basic form can be as simple as setting up its Chrome extension. There’s no coding involved and it’s only slightly more complicated than using a commercial VPN.
Bright Data’s open-source proxy manager also bypasses the need for coding, but adds many powerful and advanced features: SSL decryption, smart routing, custom rules to reduce bandwidth usage, and more.
Additional products add web scraping and related capabilities. Web Unlocker can solve CAPTCHAs and retry automatically for better success rates; Data Collector retrieves hundreds of standard data types (Google search results, Amazon products, social media profiles, YouTube content) using your search terms; Search Engine Crawler lets you get precisely geo-targeted search results for any keyword, on every search engine.
However you use it, support for unlimited concurrent sessions helps optimize performance. A quoted 99.99% residential proxy uptime guarantee suggests that Bright Data is confident in its technology, but if you run into any issues, support is available 24/7 to get your project running smoothly again.
Bright Data offers multiple pricing options for each of its four IP address types: data center, residential, static residential, and mobile.
Simple pay-as-you-go plans are available for $0.90 per IP and $0.12 per GB for data center IPs, or $0.50 per IP and $29 per GB for static residential IPs . Residential IPs are priced at $25 per GB, Mobile IPs are $60.
By committing to a monthly payment, you get traffic and IP at a better price. For example, $1,000 per month for the residential production plan reduces residential proxy costs to $10 per GB, while mobile traffic drops to $28 per GB.
Signing up for a year saves you an additional 10%. Opting for the $270 per month experiment plan gets you data center proxies for $0.558 per IP and $0.0873, for example, with residential proxy traffic at $13.50 per GB. At the other end of the scale, the $2,700 per month Plus plan charges $0.45 per IP and $0.063 per GB for data center proxies, and $7.65 per GB for residential.
There are trials in certain situations, although the rules are quite complicated. You can get a 7 day trial for residential proxies, for example, but only the rotating type (not static), and you sign up for a company, and you can verify company registration and ownership, and you’re spending less than $500 a month. Freelancers have to make do with a 3-day money-back guarantee.
These prices are above average and you can get lower starting prices with most providers. Smartproxy’s Micro plan lets you dive into residential proxy waters starting at just $75 per month, and its $15 per GB cost is only slightly higher than Bright Data’s. And you can bring that down to $8 per GB for a very reasonable price of $400 per month, while Bright Data is asking $2,700 per month to hit a similar price.
Bright Data is however to be commended for its pricing flexibility, and the Pay-As-You-Go option makes it easy to see if the proxies have the quality to justify their price.
Access to Bright Data begins with providing your details to create an account. Everything is set up in seconds and the website redirects you to Bright Data’s web dashboard.
This prompted us to choose the type of product we needed – data center proxies, mobile, residential, etc. – before displaying a basic cURL request to see how the service works.
The site then asked us to verify our identity. It’s a problem, but Bright Data has found a way to make it more palatable. Hand over your credit card, PayPal, Alipay or Payoneer details, the company charges you $1, but credits you $5. There’s no commitment and you’re not automatically charged again, but having a positive account balance means you can access Bright Data’s dashboard and run maybe 5-6 GB of proxy texts from data center.
If you’re new to the proxy world, or just used to much smaller providers, Bright Data’s Web Dashboard might come as an intimidating surprise. No simple text boxes with proxy lists here: instead there’s a bunch of summary information, graphs where you can monitor your proxy usage later, and a sidebar with icons for various domains Service: Zones, Chrome Extension, Proxy Manager, API Configuration, Reports, Account Settings, Billing and more – and many of these have their own complexities to explore.
Check out the guides in the “Get started using Bright Data” section of the support site, and you’ll start to see that it’s not as complicated as it looks.
The site first asks you to create a Zone, for example? A what? It turns out that it’s really just a group of parameters that define your project: the type of IP addresses you want to use (data center, residential, residential static, mobile), your type Preferred IP address (shared, exclusive), country, state, city, carrier IP address and more.
Once you’ve created a zone, you can customize it in a number of ways, such as limiting zones to particular domains or adding specific domains that you don’t want to target.
The value here is that you can create multiple zones, each with their own settings and permissions, and reuse them with particular project types. (Bright Data allows you up to 50 zones for free, and you can pay to add more if needed.)
But if you don’t need any of those interface or management extras, you can access all the usual data you need with a click or two. A zone details page lists your proxy username and password, for example; gives you the ability to add trusted IP addresses to an allow list; and can view your allocated IPs, or download a file containing your IPs in the form IP:PORT:USERNAME:PASSWORD.)
There’s still a lot more to learn with Bright Data than almost any competitor. But it’s not difficult, and those extra layers come in handy for power users or anyone with multiple projects to manage.
Bright Data’s web dashboard may be jam-packed with proxy management technology, but that’s not all the company has to offer. There are other tools to help you access, use, and manage your proxy projects.
Bright Data Proxy Browser Extension is a Chrome add-on that allows you to use your proxies directly from the browser. In its simplest form, you can use it much like a VPN: pick a country, connect, then visit your target sites, search, and do whatever else you need to.
Since it’s Bright Data, of course, the proxy is also incredibly configurable. You can change the user agent, of course. Customize DNS. You can even allow other people to use the extension without giving them your Bright Data ID, which comes in handy when you need help managing a project.
Bright Data’s Proxy Manager is an open-source desktop tool that’s packed with ways to automate and optimize your proxy projects.
You can create custom rules to define which requests are routed through the proxy and which can use your usual connection, for example to reduce costs. And smart connection issue management includes the ability to automatically retry on failure or blacklist IP addresses that give you poor results.
Bright Data also provides a custom API. You’ll need some development experience to use it, but Bright Data Web Dashboard does a lot to speed up the process by making it easy to automatically generate the necessary code.
At a minimum, this could involve choosing your zone, exit node country, and destination side. Other options cover routing, DNS preferences, and your choice of user agent (Chrome, Firefox, IE, or none).
By default, this generates sample shell code, but Node.js, Java, C#, VB, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Perl scripts are just a click away. If that’s not enough, there are also custom instructions on setting up a browser or other custom software with the details it needs. (We’re also not talking about a generic “go here to configure proxy” text – it contains the proxy name, port, and user credentials you need to configure the software for. the settings you have chosen.)
It’s a complete setup that should get you started very quickly. You’ll probably still have a lot of work to do to get everything working as expected, but Bright Data’s support pages have more details and sample code.
Bright Data is more expensive than most providers and can be much harder to set up. But its vast network, flexible billing, and highly powerful, configurable tools make it a must-have for serious users and demanding projects.
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