Web scraping is becoming more and more popular by the day, especially for data scientists. Gathering essential information and data from websites and databases is very important for researches. The only challenge is that multiple requests of data from one IP address in a short time can be linked back to the user and thus blocked by the website. To avoid getting blocked, web scrapers make use of proxies to route requests to a website using different discrete IP addresses provided by the proxy server. This places great importance on proxies when looking to get serious with web scraping, especially when dealing with very large web scraping projects. However, not everyone understands why it is important to use proxies when carrying out web scraping.
In this article, we would go into details about using proxies for web scraping, what they are, and how they can make web scraping easier for you.
Web scraping is also called web harvesting, which extracts relevant data in large quantities from a target website. The information harvested via web scraping is mostly stored locally on a spreadsheet to give businesses insight into how to plan strategies for marketing and other major analysis from the obtained data. Web scraping simplifies data extraction, fastens the process, and aids business analysis. The information gathered from web scraping can be used for lead generation, brand monitoring, market research, anti-counterfeiting, artificial intelligence, and many more. Despite the great benefits of web scraping, using a proxy during web scraping is very important.
You must have come across an IP address like this – 22.214.171.124. This is a combination of different numbers that is unique to a particular device and is assigned to the device when accessing the internet. It is called the “Internet Protocol” or an “IP.”
Now let’s see what a proxy is. A proxy is a third-party server that allows you to use another IP address to route an HTTP request to a website with the proxy IP address instead of going directly to the website with your original IP address. This means that your HTTP request first goes through the proxy server before it gets to your target website, thereby making the HTTP request on your behalf and returning the response to you.
Often, the target website has no idea or information about your IP address or your device; they only see the proxy server’s IP.
There is a great relationship between the types of IP used when considering web scraping and the proxy you are looking to employ for the project. Before we talk about the different types of proxies, let’s discuss the underlying IP addresses. Three main types of IP addresses exist from which you can pick from:
Amongst all the IPs, datacenter IPs are the most commonly used. These are IPs that are housed in data centers. They are also the cheapest to buy amongst all the IPs. Using a datacenter IP and the right proxy management solution can help build a solid crawling and web scraping solution.
When we talk about Residential IPs, we are referring to IPs of private residences or residential networks. This means that the request is routed through a residential network and can be very hard to come by. Residential IPs are hard to get and thus very expensive. Moreover, they are generally faced with legal issues since you are using a person’s private or personal network to scrape a website. But when using a proxy service, this should not concern you since the proxy service is responsible for the legalities related to setting up their network correctly.
Just as the name implies, Mobile IPs are the IPs obtained from private mobile devices. They are also challenging to acquire and, as such, very expensive, just like residential IPs
Most times, it is advisable to make use of datacenter IPs alongside a complete proxy management system. This will most likely produce the best results with lower cost implications. Using the right proxy management will ensure that you get similar results as if you were using a residential or mobile IP.
There are three types of proxies you can pick from:
Whatever the case, always avoid public proxies or open proxies as they are of low quality and can pose a lot of danger to your system. Public proxies are opened for anyone to access and make use of. This makes public proxies a quick option for dubious requests to different sites. This will eventually result in the IPs getting banned or blocked and, in most cases, blacklisted by most websites. Furthermore, most public proxies are infected with malware and viruses, resulting in you infecting your device with such malware and viruses.
On the other hand, choosing between shared proxies and dedicated proxies is a matter of opinion and how large your project is. A lot of consideration goes into picking either a dedicated or shared proxy; it ranges from your web scraping project size, budget, and the desired performance. In most cases, if your project is not so large and performance is not an issue, then you can opt-in for a shared proxy where you pay for access to a pool of IPs. When the project is a large one, and you are very keen on performance, you should opt-in for a dedicated proxy.
Picking the right Proxy is just a part of the entire picture; the next and most tricky part is managing your proxy pool so that your IPs are not banned, blocked, or blacklisted.
There are various reasons why using a proxy for web scraping is very important. We would list out some of the important reasons.
Using a proxy, especially a proxy pool, gives you reliable crawling access to websites. There is a much more reduced chance that you will be blocked or banned when crawling websites using proxies.
Using a proxy would enable you to send an HTTP request from specific geographical devices and regions, which will allow you to get more insight into the content of that website as displayed in that region or through that device. This is essential when dealing with product data scraping from online retail stores.
Using proxies will allow you to send multiple HTTP requests and a higher volume of requests to your desired or target website without the fear of getting blocked.
Some sites impose Blanket IP bans on certain HTTP requests. Using a proxy can allow you to get around such bans imposed by such websites. For instance, a website can block a request from AWS because of the known act of some users who overload websites using large volumes of requests from AWS servers.
Using a proxy allows you to have as many concurrent sessions on a particular website.
Many businesses and companies have created innovations and developed top-notch solutions from well-structured, data-driven strategies built around proper web scraping. Despite the great promise from web scraping, there is the challenge of your IP being blocked. This challenger can be overcome by making use of proxies to access the target sites you look to scrape data from.
Having such information can give you insight into customers’ behavior, design marketing strategies, carry out proper brand monitoring, marketing research, and even apply artificial intelligence to enhance business.
Here at ProxyScrape, we offer resources and tools needed for perfect web scraping. Are you looking for proxies to use with your web scraping project? Check out our product offering.