Proxies for web-scraping: all you need to know
Anyone who tries to scrape some data from the web sooner or later faces the need to use proxies to bypass certain restrictions and make the process more streamlined and smooth. Moreover, if you’re dealing with large volumes of information, you absolutely must use a proxy. Otherwise, you simply won’t be able to reach your goals.
While proxies will make your life easier when it comes to scraping, you might feel overwhelmed, trying to understand how to use them properly. There are different types of proxies, and many important details you need to know. So let’s dive into this topic and clarify all the nuances.
What is a proxy?
First of all, you should understand clearly what is a proxy. It is basically a remote server you connect to in order to rotate your connection through it. Thus, you connect to the endpoint not directly, but through a proxy server as a medium. As a result, the destination server sees the IP address of the proxy, not the real one your device has.
The IP address is a sequence of numbers that a device receives once it gets connected to the Internet. This sequence plays the role of its address and works just as a street address we’re used to. Using an IP, it is possible to find out the location of the device. Also, the destination server remembers it and will recognize the visitor if they’re accessing the website from the same physical spot.
Why do you need a proxy for scraping?
As you might already know, most website owners try to protect their sites from scrapers for different reasons. That’s why they’d ban the IP addresses that generate suspicious traffic. And a scraper that sends tons of requests from the same IP is generating very much suspicious traffic.
Since the proxy hides and overlays your authentic IP address with its own IP, the destination server can see only the IP of the proxy. Hence, if you rotate proxies with each request, the website will recognize them as separate ones since they’re coming from different IP addresses. Thus, you can proceed to scrape the data without the risk of getting banned.
Also, proxies allow you to send requests from different locations and, therefore, see specific content users from a certain location can access. It is especially important when it comes to scraping data off e-commerce websites.
Moreover, proxies allow you to bypass general IP address restrictions. For example, a website might not allow traffic from certain locations or even companies. Many sites would block requests from Amazon Web Servers because they believe that a lot of malefactors use this provider to perform DDOS-attacks.
And finally, with proxies, you will be able to hold the unlimited number of simultaneous connections to one or multiple servers. It can accelerate the scraping and save a lot of resources for you.
What are the kinds of proxies?
To master this tool, it’s not enough to just figure out what is a proxy. There are different types of this technology, and it’s easy to get confused among them. Almost every provider will claim that its proxies are the best. But what is “the best” when it comes to this tool? Different proxies have different purposes and must be used accordingly to their features for the desired result.
That’s why experienced and responsible providers, Infatica, for example, don’t make such claims. Instead, they offer several types of proxies for each customer to choose the most effective one. So let’s see what are the kinds of this technology on the example of Infatica.
It is the most widely-used and cheap type of proxies. They come from a data center (read: some secondary corporation). They’re great for masking your real IP address, and they can work well for scraping if you know how to implement them correctly. This type of proxies offers high bandwidth, so you won’t struggle with low speeds.
Since they’re the cheapest option, a lot of users stick to datacenter proxies. And it creates certain difficulties – website owners learn to recognize these proxes and ban them. Therefore, the chances are high that you will not be able to use datacenter IP addresses you’ve bought. As a result, they will become useless instantly.
These proxies provide users with IP addresses that were issued by a real Internet Service Provider and, therefore, are utterly authentic. It is way harder to acquire such IPs, that’s why they’re more expensive than datacenter ones. But the result is worth the price. It’s very hard to detect that the user is masking their initial IP address because of the real IP address the proxy puts over the connection.
It is a great option for data scraping since you can forget about the worries of getting banned. However, the connection speed will be somewhat lower than with the case of datacenter IPs.
As you can tell from the name, these are IP addresses of mobile devices. Such proxies are also residential, but they specifically come from mobile gadgets. Such IPs are the hardest to acquire, that’s why mobile proxes are the most expensive.
To be fair, they’re somewhat excessive for scraping – simple residential IPs will be sufficient. But you can utilize mobile proxies if you need to analyze results mobile users see.
Public, shared, and private proxies
Looking for a solution, you will also notice that some providers have a different way of sorting proxies into groups.
First of all, there are public proxies that are often free. You should stay away from them because they’re available to anyone. That’s why many malefactors use them for their questionable requests. It means that public proxies are very likely already on all the blacklists you can imagine. Moreover, such proxies are frequently infected by some malware. So if you don’t have a sustainable security system, you risk spreading this disease over all your internal network.
If you’re looking for a cheaper solution, consider using shared proxies. They are much safer than public ones since they’re accessed only by the customers of the provider. Shared proxies usually come in a pool of proxies – a large number of IP addresses that pass from one customer to another.
Private proxies are the most secure since they belong only to you for the period you rent them out. But they’re the most expensive as well. And if you want to scrape data effectively, you will need to buy a large number of such proxies. It requires quite a vast budget.
Why do you need a pool of proxies?
Why are several IPs not enough? Simply because it’s easier for the destination server to recognize a scraper if its requests come from the same IPs. The pool of proxies is great for scraping since you will get another IP address with each request. Therefore, you will not create suspicious traffic.
Infatica offers different packages with various numbers of proxies in a pool. The volume you should stick to depends on:
- The number of requests per hour
- Destination websites
- The type of proxies you’re using (datacenter, residential, mobile)
- The complexity of your proxy management system
If you’re struggling to figure out how many proxies do you need, you can simply contact the support team of Infatica, and specialists will help you make a decision.
How to manage a pool of proxies?
Even though a provider rotates IPs among customers, it’s not enough to just get a pool of proxies. If you poorly manage it, proxies will get banned and stop fetching the high-quality data. That’s why you need to set up your pool:
- Detection of restrictions. Your system should be able to detect different types of restrictions – CAPTCHAs, rerouting, blocks, and so on. If the system faced any of these restrictions, it must send another request using a new proxy.
- User Agent – having control over this indicator is crucial for successful scraping.
- Proxy management – sometimes, the connection should be held through a single proxy, and sometimes IPs need to be rotated.
- Delays – to hide the scraping activity, randomize delays for requests and clicks.
- Geotargeting – sometimes, it’s necessary to use proxies from certain locations for specific websites.
It’s easy to manage the pool of 5-10 proxies. But if you have 100 or even 1000 IPs, the whole system can collapse really quickly. You can follow one of three solutions to prevent issues from happening.
It’s a “make it yourself” solution. You need to buy a pool of proxies and then create and set up the management system by yourself. On the one hand, you can create a custom solution that will fit all the requirements of your project. However, it will take way more time and, probably, money to create a new system. This approach fits you if you already have a team for scraping that is experienced in such things.
Some vendors like Infatica will provide you with the rotation of IP addresses. Then you won’t need to worry about this basic detail of the management of the pool. You will have a chance to pay more time and attention to other vital things.
If you can’t be bothered with anything that requires even a bit of technical knowledge and experience, you can use tools like Helium Scraper. It is an out-of-the-box solution that will take care of all the details. All you need to do is to sit back and enjoy the results.
Proxies are a necessity when it comes to scraping because many website owners block suspicious traffic scrapers create. A vast pool of high-quality proxies will help you hide this activity and acquire all the data you need without any issues. The only thing you need to do is to choose the kind of proxies that fit your budget and project, and the approach to the scraping itself. Remember that it’s better to spend a bit more in the beginning than trying to fix arising problems in the process.