Web scraping involves using scripts and automated tools to extract data from different websites. The extracted data is then exported in a desired format, such as CSV or JSON.
As the world evolves, so does the need for data. Web scraping is thus an essential method to facilitate growth and improvement. It is relevant in business intelligence, data analysis, competitor monitoring, and decision-making. It is a great way to gather valuable data from multiple sources at scale.
These days, many websites have put up defensive measures against web scraping activities. Multiple tools and technologies are available to bypass these measures.
In this article, we will discuss one of such measures: proxies. Using proxies for web scraping masks your identity and provides anonymity so that you avoid getting blocked. We will explore different types of proxies and how they work.
How Do Proxies Work?
A proxy is a middleman server that facilitates communication between the scraper and the website. When you send requests using a proxy, it does not connect directly to the target website. It first goes to the proxy server, which then sends the request to the target. Using proxies conceals the user’s identity by sending requests via an IP address different from theirs.
Also, with proxies, you can work faster. They enable parallel scraping, i.e. distributing requests across different IP addresses.
If a website has all or some of its content restricted for different regions, proxies will grant you access to those websites. With proxies, you can use an IP address that shows you are from an entirely different location.
When your identity as a scraper is hidden, it makes it difficult for websites to track your activities or block your address. You can overcome rate limiting, CAPTCHA challenges, IP blocking, and other anti-bot detection techniques.
Different Types of Proxies
There are different kinds of proxies, each with their pros and cons. They include shared proxies, dedicated proxies, datacenter proxies, residential proxies, 4G proxies, etc.
These and more are the different kinds of proxies available. When you understand the features of each, you are empowered to make informed decisions depending on your scraping needs. Let’s see some of them:
1. Shared Proxies
Shared proxies are IP addresses that can be used by different users at the same time. They are easily accessible to the general public and typically cost little.
Although they sound fascinating, shared proxies have less reliability. Because different users are using the same pool of IP addresses, you are likely to encounter issues or slow speed. Shared proxies can be easily identified and blocked by anti-bot mechanisms. Use shared proxies for small, non-sensitive, or personal projects.
2. Dedicated Proxies
Unlike shared proxies, users are granted complete access to their IP addresses with dedicated proxies. Using them will provide you with improved performance and speed. It also means your activities are more secure, so you are less prone to getting blocked.
However, they are more expensive than shared proxies. Dedicated proxies are good for large-scale scraping tasks and sensitive projects.
3. Residential Proxies
Residential proxies send requests via real IP addresses obtained from ISPs. They are more effective at mimicking human interactions on websites, making it harder to be detected b websites. Use residential proxies for websites with active anti-bot measures.
Because of their nature, residential proxies are more expensive. However, they might also be slower because they are from real devices.
In this article, you read about how proxies work and the different types of proxies available.
Proxies are a bridge between scrapers and destination websites, concealing their identities while they focus on their work.
What’s best, however, is using an all-in-one solution like ZenRows’ web scraping API. With ZenRows, you do not have to pay separately for proxies and other anti-bot bypass mechanisms. It does all the background work for you while you focus on extracting data.