Guide to Web Scraping Using Proxies

Posted by Marta on November 11, 2022 Viewed 859 times

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We are accelerating our transition to a data-driven future. The rapid advancement of data analytics, the availability of big data, and the rise of computer power have resulted in the emergence of data-driven company growth methods.

Getting information from all these business websites for research purposes is very important. And how do you intend to get this information, legally?

This is where web scraping comes into play. To make it more effective and thorough with no trails, you then utilize a proxy.

In 2018, 26% of internet users used a VPN or proxy server to connect to the internet. When it comes to online scraping, employing a proxy server is at the top of the list of best practices since it protects and anonymizes the scraper.

Proxies are an essential component of any significant web scraping operation. Adding proxies to your scraping program has a lot of advantages, but getting started may be difficult. This is because monitoring and fixing proxy difficulties frequently takes more work than constructing and maintaining them.

How does a proxy fit into your scraping software? How many proxies will you require for your project? What kind of proxies do you need, and where is the safest place to obtain them?

In this guide, you will be taught all you need to know about web scraping with proxies, how proxies can be beneficial to you, the types you can utilize for specific uses, and how proxies generally make things easier.

You will also get to understand how using a residential proxy service can have an infinite number of concurrent sessions to the same website, avoiding blockages.

Understanding Web Scraping, Scrapers, And Proxies

Before we delve into proxies, we must first grasp what web scraping is, what IP addresses are, and how IP addresses work with proxies.

What is web scraping?

Web scraping is a technique for extracting massive amounts of data from selected websites to gather business insights, implement marketing plans, develop SEO tactics, or analyze the competitors in the market.

It has numerous applications, such as developing a price comparison tool, gathering data for a machine learning project, or any other innovation requiring a massive volume of data. While it is hypothetically possible to manually extract data, the limitlessness of the internet makes this method highly infeasible in many circumstances. Learning how to build a web scraper can be very helpful.

What’s a web scraper?

Web scrapers, also known as web crawlers, web spiders, or spider bots, are classes that govern how a certain site (or a set of sites) will be scraped, including how to crawl (i.e., follow links) and extract structured data from their pages (i.e., scrape items). In other words, they are where you set the custom crawling and parsing behavior for a certain site (or, in some cases, a group of sites).

Spiders methodically browse the web, extract data, and index it for users to analyze and utilize for a variety of reasons.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a numerical address provided to each device that connects to the internet, providing each device with a distinct identity. You can check any of your internet-connected devices for their IP addresses. It most likely looks like this: 302.162.1.2215

So, what’s the relationship between a proxy server and an IP address?

A proxy is a third-party server that allows you to route your internet browsing through their servers using their IP address. When you utilize a proxy, the website you are parsing through does not see your IP address, but the proxy’s IP address allows you to get what you want, such as scraping the web anonymously.

What is a proxy service?

Basically, a proxy service is for scraping and managing proxies being used in a scraping project. A basic proxy service for scraping might just be a group of proxies deployed one after the other to simulate several people viewing the site simultaneously.

Proxy services for scraping can be designed to identify and delete proxies that have been “burned” by anti-proxy systems. These systems are useful for big scraping projects as they help lessen the effect of anti-proxy defenses while also speeding up the processing of requests.

How to incorporate proxies into your scraping software

Several proxy providers provide simple proxy integration for your web scrapers as well as additional solutions to help you extract commercial value from scraped data.

The technique of incorporating proxies into scraping tools is rather simple. It entails routing the web scraper request via the specified type of proxy server and employing proxy rotation between requests on a regular basis to avoid being banned.

Why proxies are important for web scraping projects

Proxies are useful for data web scraping for several reasons, and some of them are listed below:

  • Businesses using internet scraping for marketing and sales may wish to monitor the offerings of websites (e.g., rivals) for a certain geographical location to provide relevant product features and prices.
  • The crawler may access all of the material accessible in the chosen region by using residential proxies (or mobile IPs), having IP addresses from that region.

Furthermore, requests from the same region appear less suspicious and are less likely to be blocked. When collecting product data from internet merchants, this is quite useful.

  • Using a proxy helps you avoid blanket IP blocks imposed by some websites. For example, because certain bad actors have a track record of overloading websites with huge numbers of requests utilizing AWS servers, it is common for websites to restrict access.
  • Using a proxy (particularly a proxy pool) makes crawling a website considerably more reliable. It significantly lowers the likelihood of your spider being banned or blacklisted.
  • Using a large enough proxy pool for scraping helps the crawler bypass rate constraints on the target website by issuing access requests from other IP addresses.
  • There is no way to detect whether a website is being scraped programmatically. The general principle is that the more activity a scraper has, the higher the chances of the antibot defenses tracking the scraper’s activity. Scrapers, for example, may browse the same website many times per day or at specified times of day, putting them in danger of being identified and blacklisted. Proxies give you anonymity and allow you to access many websites at the same time.

What Are the Types of Proxies?

There are three types of proxies:

Datacenter proxies

Datacenter proxies, the most prevalent sort of proxy, provide IP addresses of servers situated in data centers. Datacenter proxies are personal or private proxies that are not affiliated with ISPs (Internet Service Providers). This IP type is economical and can aid in the development of an effective web crawling system.

Residential proxies

These proxies provide IP addresses to private residences and help route your sessions and requests through residential networks. These are more difficult to obtain and more expensive. However, because target websites do not normally block residential IP addresses, they can provide much-needed benefits to businesses. These IPs give you the appearance of a genuine website visitor parsing a website.

Mobile devices proxies

These are private mobile device IPs that are difficult to get and maintain. Due to the lack of effective proxy management skills, datacenter and residential proxies provide identical outcomes.

What is the best proxy server?

If you want a simple, low-cost solution that satisfies your web scraping needs without requiring extensive proxy maintenance skills, datacenter proxies are an excellent option.

On the other hand, residential proxy services are your best alternative if you require a web scraping proxy to scrape significant volumes of data from websites that often block datacenter proxies.

In addition, mobile IPs outperform datacenter IPs in terms of advantages. They are, however, only suggested if you want to scrape the results that are expressly displayed to mobile users.

Apart from that, and as previously mentioned, mobile IPs may be incredibly expensive and difficult to get legally.

What is a proxy rotator?

A proxy rotator is a system that switches between proxies for each request made by a scraper or crawler. It is sometimes referred to as a rotator because, once the last available proxy is utilized, it returns to the beginning of the proxy pool.

Using a well-designed proxy rotator to rotate and run your proxy pool can prevent sets of crawler requests from being recognized as coming from the same IP, which might be seen as an indication of antibot system automation.

How many proxy servers are required?

It is common knowledge that people who extract more than a thousand pages from a target site end up needing to utilize proxy servers. However, without access to the code the target site uses to implement the rate limit, it is pure guesswork to abide by the limit, although there are ways to get it (rate limit).

It is highly likely that the target site does not want to stifle and frustrate legitimate human users who are consistent visitors to their site. Depending on the site’s content, a human user may make close to eight genuine requests per minute over an extended
period of time.

A human user may open a slew of links in newly opened tabs, making a good number of requests in a matter of seconds, and there will be a delay as these users read and examine the data on those pages before making further requests.

As an upper limit of what a reasonable, legitimate human user might do before things start looking suspicious, 250–400 requests per hour with a proxy rotator might do the trick. From experience, you can then pick 350 as a rule of thumb. It seems appropriate, don’t you agree?

Remember that this is pure guesswork – all we are doing is speculating on the rate limit of the chosen website. Some sites may decide to begin with low thresholds and get more aggressive with restrictions as requests from specific IP addresses increase and pile up.

Here is a tip: to calculate the number of proxy servers required, divide your web scraper (or proxy rotator’s) total throughput (quantity of requests per hour) by the 350 requests per IP per hour limit to get an idea of how many separate IP addresses you’ll need.

If you can crawl through 50,000 URLs per hour, you’ll need: 50,000/350 = 142 separate proxy IP addresses in your proxy rotator to be just at the rate limit.

That is, if you precisely rotate each of the 50,000 requests per hour over the 142 IP addresses, you will be limited to 350 requests per hour from a single IP address.

If you can afford it, adding a safety multiple (probably between two and three times) to that figure will make your life a lot simpler because you won’t be continually hitting the rate limits. So, for 50,000 queries per hour, you can use between 200 and 400 proxy server IP addresses.

How can I obtain proxies?

There are two ways to set up a proxy server.

Use a proxy vendor

The most straightforward approach is to outsource this to a firm specializing in this industry.

Set up an in-house proxy server

If you can do so, this gives you the greatest control because you can configure it to suit your business.

Is it legal to scrape proxies?

Scraping public data is permissible, according to the courts. If the data is in the public domain and is not copyright protected, it can be lawfully scraped regardless of whether a proxy is utilized. However, the data collected should be utilized in accordance with the law.

Conclusion

The world is now moving from IPv4 to a newer protocol known as IPv6. More IP addresses may be created with this updated version. However, in the proxy industry, IPv6 has some minor concerns, which is why most IPs continue to utilize the IPv4 standard.

More information will be scraped from more websites in the coming years. Gone are the days of manual scraping. Web scraping will always be utilized, and proxies will always be a big part of that.

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