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How to use proxies for web scraping – Zyte
If you are serious about web scraping you’ll quickly realize that proxy management is a critical component of any web scraping project.
When scraping the web at any reasonable scale, using proxies is an absolute must. However, it is common for managing and troubleshooting proxy issues to consume more time than building and maintaining the spiders themselves.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about proxies for web scraping and how they will make your life easier.
What are proxies and why do you need them when web scraping?
Before we discuss what a proxy is we first need to understand what an IP address is and how they work.
An IP address is a numerical address assigned to every device that connects to an Internet Protocol network like the internet, giving each device a unique identity. Most IP addresses look like this:
207. 148. 1. 212
A proxy is a 3rd party server that enables you to route your request through their servers and use their IP address in the process. When using a proxy, the website you are making the request to no longer sees your IP address but the IP address of the proxy, giving you the ability to scrape the web anonymously if you choose.
Currently, the world is transitioning from IPv4 to a newer standard called IPv6. This newer version will allow for the creation of more IP addresses. However, in the proxy business IPv6 is still not a big thing so most IPs still use the IPv4 standard.
When scraping a website, we recommend that you use a 3rd party proxy and set your company name as the user agent so the website owner can contact you if your scraping is overburdening their servers or if they would like you to stop scraping the data displayed on their website.
There are a number of reasons why proxies are important for data web scraping:
Using a proxy (especially a pool of proxies – more on this later) allows you to crawl a website much more reliably. Significantly reducing the chances that your spider will get banned or a proxy enables you to make your request from a specific geographical region or device (mobile IPs for example) which enables you to see the specific content that the website displays for that given location or device. This is extremely valuable when scraping product data from online a proxy pool allows you to make a higher volume of requests to a target website without being a proxy allows you to get around blanket IP bans some websites impose. Example: it is common for websites to block requests from AWS because there is a track record of some malicious actors overloading websites with large volumes of requests using AWS a proxy enables you to make unlimited concurrent sessions to the same or different websites.
Why use a proxy pool?
Ok, we now know what proxies are, but how do you use them as part of your web scraping?
In a similar way to if we only use our own IP address to scrape a website, if you only use one proxy to scrape a website this will reduce your crawling reliability, geotargeting options, and the number of concurrent requests you can make.
As a result, you need to build a pool of proxies that you can route your requests through. Splitting the amount of traffic over a large number of proxies.
The size of your proxy pool will depend on a number of factors:
The number of requests you will be making per target websites – larger websites with more sophisticated anti-bot countermeasures will require a larger proxy type of IPs you are using as proxies – datacenter, residential or mobile quality of the IPs you are using as proxies – are they public proxies, shared, or private dedicated proxies? Are they datacenter, residential, or mobile IPs? (data center IPs are typically lower quality than residential IPs and mobile IPs, but are often more stable than residential/mobile IPs due to the nature of the network) sophistication of your proxy management system – proxy rotation, throttling, session management, etc.
All five of these factors have a big impact on the effectiveness of your proxy pool. If you don’t properly configure your pool of proxies for your specific web scraping project you can often find that your proxies are being blocked and you’re no longer able to access the target website.
In the next section, we will look at the different types of IPs you can use as proxies.
What are your proxy options?
If you’ve done any level of research into your proxy options you will have probably realized that this can be a confusing topic. Every proxy provider is shouting from the rafters that they have the best website proxy IPs, with very little explanation as to why. Making it very hard to assess which is the best proxy solution for your particular project.
So in this section of the guide, we will break down the key differences between the available proxy solutions and help you decide which solution is best for your needs. First, let’s talk about the fundamentals of proxies – the underlying IPs.
As mentioned already, a proxy is just a 3rd party IP address that you can route your request through. However, there are 3 main types of IPs to choose from. Each type with its own pros and cons.
Datacenter IPs are the most common type of proxy IP. They are the IPs of servers housed in data centers. These IPs are the most commonplace and the cheapest to buy. With the right proxy management solution, you can build a very robust web crawling solution for your business.
Residential IPs are the IPs of private residences, enabling you to route your request through a residential network. As residential IPs are harder to obtain, they are also much more expensive. In a lot of situations, they are overkill as you could easily achieve the same results with cheaper data center IPs. They also raise legal/consent issues due to the fact you are using a person’s personal network to scrape the web.
Mobile IPs are the IPs of private mobile devices. As you can imagine, acquiring the IPs of mobile devices is quite difficult so they are very expensive. For most web scraping projects mobile IPs are overkill unless you want to only scrape the results shown to mobile users. But more significantly they raise even trickier legal/consent issues as oftentimes the device owner isn’t fully aware that you are using their GSM network for web scraping.
Our recommendation is to go with data center IPs and put in place a robust proxy management solution. In the vast majority of cases, this approach will generate the best results for the lowest cost. With proper proxy management, data center IPs give similar results as residential or mobile IPs without legal concerns and at a fraction of the cost.
Public, shared, or dedicated proxies
The other consideration we need to discuss is whether you should use public, shared, or dedicated proxies.
As a general rule, you always stay well clear of public proxies, or “open proxies”. Not only are these proxies of very low quality, but they can also be very dangerous. These proxies are open for anyone to use, so they quickly get used to slam websites with huge amounts of dubious requests. Inevitably resulting in them getting blacklisted and blocked by websites very quickly. What makes them even worse though is that these proxies are often infected with malware and other viruses. As a result, when using a public proxy you run the risk of spreading any malware that is present, infecting your own machines, and even making public your web scraping activities if you haven’t properly configured your security (SSL certs, etc. ).
The decision between shared or dedicated proxies is a bit more intricate. Depending on the size of your project, your need for performance and your budget using a web scraping IP rotation service where you pay for access to a shared pool of IPs might be the right option for you. However, if you have a larger budget and where performance is a high priority for you then paying for a dedicated pool of proxies might be the better option.
Ok, by now you should have a good idea of what proxies are and what are the pros and cons of the different types of IPs you can use in your proxy pool. However, picking the right type of proxy is only part of the battle, the real tricky part is managing your pool of proxies so they don’t get banned.
How to manage your proxy pool
If you are planning on scraping at any reasonable scale, just purchasing a pool of proxies and routing your requests through them likely won’t be sustainable long term. Your proxies will inevitably get banned and stop returning high-quality data.
Here are some of the main challenges that you will face when managing your proxy pool:
Identify Bans – Your proxy solution needs to be able to detect numerous types of bans so that you can troubleshoot and fix the underlying problem – i. e. captchas, redirects, blocks, ghosting, Errors – If your proxies experience any errors, bans, timeouts, etc. they need to be able to retry the request with different – Managing user agents is crucial to having a healthy ntrol Proxies – Some scraping projects require you to keep a session with the same proxy, so you’ll need to configure your proxy pool to allow for Delays – Randomize delays and apply good throttling to help cloak the fact that you are ographical Targeting – Sometimes you’ll need to be able to configure your pool so that only some proxies will be used on certain websites.
Managing a pool of 5-10 proxies is ok, but when you have 100s or 1, 000s it can get messy fast. To overcome these challenges you have three core solutions: Do It Yourself, Proxy Rotators, and Done For You Solutions.
Do it yourself
In this situation, you purchase a pool of shared or dedicated proxies, then build and tweak a proxy management solution yourself to overcome all the challenges you run into. This can be the cheapest option but can be the most wasteful in terms of time and resources. Often it is best to only take this option if you have a dedicated web scraping team who have the bandwidth to manage your proxy pool, or if you have zero budget and can’t afford anything better.
The middle-of-the-park solution is to purchase your proxies from a provider that also provides proxy rotation and geographical targeting. In this situation, the solution will take care of the more basic proxy management issues. Leaving you to develop and manage session management, throttling, ban identification logic, etc.
Done for you
The final solution is to completely outsource the management of your proxy management. Solutions such as Zyte Smart Proxy Manager (formerly Crawlera), which is basically a rotating proxy for scraping, are designed as smart downloaders, where your spiders just have to make a request to its API and it will return the data you require. Managing all the proxy rotation, throttling, blacklists, session management, etc. under the hood so you don’t have to.
Each one of these approaches has its own pros and cons, so the best solution will depend on your specific priorities and constraints.
Learn more about rotating proxies for web scraping
Here at Zyte (formerly Scrapinghub), we have been in the web scraping industry for 12 years. We have helped extract web data for more than 1, 000 clients ranging from Government agencies and Fortune 100 companies to early-stage startups and individuals. During this time we gained a tremendous amount of experience and expertise in web data extraction.
Here are some of our best resources if you want to deepen your proxy management knowledge:
Crawlera (Now Zyte Smart Proxy Manager) webinar series: Proxy management done rightHow to scrape the web without getting blockedHow to use Smart Proxy Manager (formerly Crawlera) with ScrapyDeveloper tools that make web scraping a breezeProxy management: Should I build my proxy infrastructure in-house or use an off-the-shelf proxy solution?
1/3 Marketer, 1/3 Ops, 1/3 Techie.
Currently Demand Generation Manager at Zyte.
Data analytics, knowledge graph enthusiast with a particular taste for its applications in financial services, cybersecurity, law enforcement & intelligence sectors.
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The Ultimate Guide to Web Scraping Using Proxies – Research
In 2018, ±26% of global online users utilized a VPN or proxy server to access the internet. When it comes to web scraping, using a proxy server is at the top of best practices because it keeps the scraper protected and anonymous. To learn more about web scraping, feel free to read our in depth article: What is Web Crawling? How it works in 2021 & Examples
How does a proxy server work?
A proxy is an intermediary server between the user and the target website. The proxy server has its own IP address, therefore when a user makes a request to access a website via a proxy, the website sends and receives the data to the proxy server IP which forwards it to the user.
Website owners use proxies to improve security and balance internet traffic. Web scrapers use proxies to hide their identity and make their traffic look like regular user traffic. Web users use proxies to protect their personal data or access websites that are blocked by their country’s censorship mechanism.
What are the different types of proxy servers?
There are many types of proxy servers which individuals and organizations use. Depending on the position of the proxy server relative to the internet user, proxy server types include:
A forward proxy is an intermediary that the user or group of users puts forward between themselves and any server. It allows the users to make requests to websites according to the administration’s internet use policies. Therefore, some requests may be denied (e. g. accessing personal social media accounts from work servers)
What types of IPs are used by forward proxy servers?
There are 3 main proxy IP types:
Datacenter IPs: IPs of servers housed in data centersResidential IPs: IPs of private residences in specific zip codes/regionsMobile IPs: IPs of mobile devices
Since residential and mobile IPs are most likely to be legitimate users, these are the most coveted IPs by web scrapers. However, they are harder to acquire.
A reverse proxy server is positioned at the web servers’ end. It intercepts requests from the user to access the web data and either accepts or denies access depending on the organization’s bandwidth load. This allows websites to not be overloaded with Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.
Benefits of using proxies for web scraping
Businesses use web scraping to extract valuable data about industries and market insights in order to make data-driven decisions and offer data-powered services. Forward proxies enable businesses to scrape data effectively from various web sources.
Benefits of proxy scraping include:
Using a proxy server adds an extra layer of privacy by hiding the user’s machine IP address.
Avoid IP bans
Business websites set a limit to the amount of crawlable data called “Crawl Rate” to stop scrapers from making too many requests, hence, slowing down the website speed. Using a sufficient pool of proxies for scraping allows the crawler to get past rate limits on the target website by sending access requests from different IP addresses.
Enable access to region-specific content
Businesses who use website scraping for marketing and sales purposes may want to monitor websites’ (e. competitors) offering for a specific geographical region in order to provide appropriate product features and prices. Using residential proxies with IP addresses from the targeted region allows the crawler to gain access to all the content available in that region. Additionally, requests coming from the same region look less suspicious, hence, less likely to be banned.
Enable high volume scraping
There’s no way to programmatically determine if a website is being scraped. However, the more activity a scraper has, the more likely its activity can be tracked. For example, scrapers may access the same website too quickly or at specific times every day, or reach not directly accessible webpages, which puts them at risk of being detected and banned. Proxies provide anonymity and allow making more concurrent sessions to the same or different websites.
How many proxies are needed?
The number of proxy servers needed to achieve the mentioned benefits above can be calculated with this formula: Number of proxies = number of access requests / crawl rate
Number of access requests depends on
Pages the user wants to crawlFrequency with which a scraper is crawling a website. For example, a website could be crawled every minute/hour/day
And crawl rate is limited by the requests/user/time period that are allowed by the target website. For example, most websites allow only a limited number of requests/user within a minute to differentiate human user requests from automated ones.
How to setup your proxy management?
There are two aspects to setup:
The software to route requests to different forward proxiesThe forward proxies that will make the requests from target websites
In-house vs. outsourcing proxy
In-house proxies ensure data privacy and give full control to the involved engineers. However, building an in-house proxy is time-consuming, and requires an experienced engineering team to build and maintain the proxy solution. Therefore, most businesses choose to use off-the-shelf proxy solutions.
Web scraping proxy vendors
Here’s a list of the web scraping proxy vendors depending on the IP type. Some vendors provide multiple types of IP proxies:
Source: Bright Data
Bright Data (formerly known as Luminati)My Private ProxyOxylabsSmart ProxyStormproxies
3G ProxyAirproxyBright DataLimeproxiesProximy
For more on web scraping
If you want to learn more about web scraping and how it can benefit your business, feel free to read our articles on the topic:
Complete Guide to Web Scraping for Tech Buyers in 2021 Top 18 Web Scraper / Crawler Applications & Use Cases in 2021The Ultimate Guide to Web Scraping Challenges & Best Practices
For a comprehensive view of web scraping, how it works, use cases, and tools, feel free to download our in-depth whitepaper on the topic:
Download Web Crawling / Scraping Whitepaper
If you are interested in investing in an of-the-shelf web crawling solution, feel free to check out our sortable and data-driven vendor list or let us help you directly:
Let us find the right vendor for your business
Alamira is an industry analyst in AIMultiple. She has a background in research and implementation of AI/ML algorithms in biomedical applications. Alamira earned her masters degree in biomedical engineering from Boğaziçi University, and bachelors degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Gaziantep University.
5 Things You Should Know About Proxy Location When Scraping …
There has been some contention in the past over the legality of web scraping. The US courts of Appeal in late 2019, denied LinkedIn’s request to stop HiQ from scraping its data. The courts determined that scraping public data is long as the data is available on the public domain and it is not copyright protected then it can be legally scraped. The data scraped should, however, be used within the confines of the law. Web scraped data has limitations in commercial an illustration, a data scraper can scrape YouTube video titles for information. It is illegal to re-post that information on a website because it is copyrighted. Copyrights over information are enforceable regardless of the scraping from a web source that requires authentication is also not legal. The authentication process is a security measure with terms and conditions that in most cases forbid automated data mining sites, however, do not have any authentication features and therefore do not have any terms and conditions that prevent data mining. This means that you can perform ethical web scraping for data websites prevent data scraping? Websites, nonetheless, have measures in place to hinder the practice of web scraping. Why? First, there are malicious internet users that spam websites with traffic in an activity that closely resembles the action of a web are data miners also that perform unethical data scraping activities that can swamp a website’s servers. Such activity will either take the website offline or considerably slow down browsing speeds. Some websites also restrict automated data mining due to stakes in will, therefore, enact security measures to hinder their competition from getting a hand on data for competitive business reasons. Web scraping tools, need proxy servers to bypass the scraping hindrances inbuilt on is a proxy server? A proxy server acts as a gateway between an internet-enabled device and the internet. The proxy separates the browsing activity from the end-user providing varying levels of online anonymity, security, and you have a proxy server in place, all website traffic to and from your computer will flow through the proxy server. The server, therefore, acts like a web filter and firewall and caches data from common requests to speed the internet all data passes through the proxy server, any computer with one will have a private online experience and will be better protected from malicious trackers and operations of a proxy serverEvery internet-enabled gadget has an internet protocol (IP) address. The IP address is your device’s unique identifier. The identifier is a string of numbers that can be defined as the device’s street looking at your computer’s IP address can access personal information such as your geographic location. They can also tell who your internet service provider is from your IP address. The IP address is designed to connect online gadgets and enable organized data sending. 5 things you should know about proxy location when data scrapingThe proxy server has its IP address. Since it stands as an intermediary between you and the internet, any web activity from and to your computer will only display the proxy server’s IP address. This factor is the reason why web scrapers require the use of high quality, residential IP address of the proxy server will hide the activity of the scraper to guarantee an anonymous web scraping experience. The ability to hide an IP address is especially important when the data access is restricted to certain 11 Best Web Hosting Services of 2021 (Starting At $1/Mo. )You can use proxies with IP addresses from various parts of the world to access geo-blocked Proxy server providers can provide Bangladesh proxies, to access data from areas in Asia that may not be accessible for users outside the continent. A proxy will prevent IP blocks or bans when web scraping by bypassing rate limit challenges. Poorly built web scraping tools are easily banned or blocked because they often send too many requests at a go. An enormous amount of traffic from one IP address is often a sure sign of web best web scraping tools use rotating pools of proxies. These tools can access a website via different IP addresses. Web scraping will, therefore, look just like any other human browsing are different types of proxies. Datacenter proxies are cheaper than residential proxies. Datacenter proxies are not the best proxies for data scraping because they do not have genuine IP addresses. Residential proxy sold by internet service providers offers better scraping functionality because they have valid IP cheap and free datacenter proxies when web scraping because most of them have either been blacklisted or banned from certain websites. They are also slow and could have data security nclusionWeb scraping automates the online data mining process. The practice has become a very popular activity amongst businesses that require constant streams of fresh data for various business needs. Businesses are now waking up to the benefits of data you need fresh data insights? Start web scraping with proxies today.
Frequently Asked Questions about ip proxy scraper
What is a scraping proxy?
A proxy is an intermediary server between the user and the target website. … Web scrapers use proxies to hide their identity and make their traffic look like regular user traffic. Web users use proxies to protect their personal data or access websites that are blocked by their country’s censorship mechanism.
Is proxy scraping legal?
The courts determined that scraping public data is legal. As long as the data is available on the public domain and it is not copyright protected then it can be legally scraped. The data scraped should, however, be used within the confines of the law. Web scraped data has limitations in commercial applications.Aug 26, 2020
Are rotating proxies legal?
They make many web activities faster and more efficient, including data scraping, crawling and security tasks. However, it’s important to be careful if you choose to use rotating proxies because they are illegal and will kill your social media accounts. It’s better to avoid them altogether.Jan 2, 2020