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The Complete Guide to Proxies for Web Scraping

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10 Sep. 2020

Introduction

If you are into web scrapping activities, you should know how important it is to use proxies while scrapping the web. But how do you select and manage the most effective proxies for web scraping? Although there are several factors you need to consider, your proxy provider plays the most crucial role in the success of conducting web scraping activities. You are probably wondering why you need to use proxies for web scrapping. Well, this article will discuss proxies and why you need them for web scrapping.

What Are Proxies and Why Do You Need Them for Web Scrapping?

Proxy servers act as an intermediate between the tool you are using for web scrapping and the website it is scrapping. So, when you send your HTTP request to a website, it will first pass through the proxy server and the proxy server will use its credentials to pass on your request to the target website.

The target website will not know where the request is coming from because it can see is only the normal HTTP request. The following are the reasons why you need proxies to scrap through a website:

1. Proxies Hide Your Scraper's IP Address

Because proxies use their credentials when sending your request, the websites you are scrapping will not see your scrapper's IP address. This is the primary function of proxies and that makes it crucial for your web scraping activities. IP masking enables you to remain anonymous regardless of the number of activities you perform online.

2. Proxies Help You Avoid IP Blocking

Since proxies use their credential to send your requests, your target website cannot block you from accessing some resources. Your IP address is invisible to them, so, the sites can only block the IP address of the proxy you are using. Although this could temporarily interfere with your scrapping activities, you can remedy this by switching to a different proxy server.

3. Proxies Help You Bypass Limits Set by Your Target Website

With the help of certain software tools, websites set limits on the number of times users can send requests in a given period. It is not just about the number of requests by one IP address but, the frequency at which these requests are sentin a short period. If you have set your scrapper to obtain hundreds of data from a site in say, 10 minutes, this could be a big problem.

To help you bypass the limitations, you can distribute your requests across many proxies so that your target website can see requests coming from different IP addresses.

Other than simplifying your web scrapping activities, proxies have the following advantages:

Faster load times. Proxy servers cache data the very first time you send your request. If you send a request for the same data, the proxy server returns the cached data making load times shorter.

Enhances security. For website owners, you can use proxy to block malicious users from accessing your website.

Proxies for Web Scrapping

Proxies exist in 3 main forms: public, shared, and dedicated proxies. However, for web scrapping, dedicated proxies are the best choice you can ever think of. Why dedicated proxies? With dedicated proxies, you own the bandwidth, servers, and IP addresses. In other words, you will have all the proxies for yourself.

You may be tempted to use shared proxies because they tend to be cheaper than dedicated proxies. However, since you will be using all the resources with other users simultaneously if other users scrap the same sites you target, you are taking a big risk of limiting your requests and being blocked.

Public proxies, on the other hand, can be accessed by anyone for free. Most users with bad intentions access other sites using this proxy server. For this reason, it is not a secure choice if you want to succeed in your web scrapping activities.

Apart from the fact that you are insecure with these proxies, they are also of low quality. Since they are free, many people around the world use them. So, imagine what happens when say thousands of people connect to one proxy server. You know what happens. It will lower load speed.

Types of Proxy IPs

Apart from knowing the types of proxies that you can use for your scrapping activities; you also need to understand the types of proxy IPs to identify your best options. The three types of proxy IPs include:

1. Datacenter IPs

This is the most common IP used by most companies doing web scrapping. They are maintained by datacenter servers and not Internet Server Provider (ISP)

2. Residential IPs

Residential proxies are more expensive because obtaining them is difficult as compared to other IPs. Residential IPs are assigned by ISPs to residential homes.

While residential IPs make your web scrapping activities appear like they are from a residence. They are also questionable especially when the IP owner is not aware that you are using their home network for doing your web scrapping activities.

3. Mobile IPs

As the name suggests, these are IP addresses maintained by mobile network providers. They are also difficult to obtain hence very expensive to acquire.

Like in residential IPs, the device’s owner may be unaware that you are using their IP address in performing your web scrapping activities. This makes it an insecure option for your scrapping activities.

The best choice for your scrapping activities is datacenter IPs. Of course, people think expensive things are quality. But that isn’t the case here. Datacenter Ips are cheaper to acquire and they give you the same results just as mobile and residential IPs.

Conclusion

Up to now, you have seen that proxies play a crucial role in your web scrapping activities and that you need to be careful when selecting the proxies that will work best for you. Some are insecure and expensive at the same time. While you may think price determines quality, it may not be the case with proxies. The number of proxies you need, however, depends on the number of proxy activities you are looking to perform within a given period.

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