Scaling is one of the most challenging elements in web scraping, and proxies are one of the most significant instruments in scaling web scrapers!
A good proxy set can keep our web scraper from being blocked or throttled, allowing us to scrape faster and spend less time managing our scrapers. So, what constitutes a good proxy for web scraping, and what types of proxies are available?
In this introductory post, we will define what a proxy is. What types of proxies are there, how do they compare, what typical issues do they face, and what are the best practices in web scraping?
What’s a Proxy?
The role of a proxy is to act as a go-between for the server and the client. There are various uses for proxies, such as improving connection paths, but proxies for web scraping are most typically used to mask the client’s IP address (identification).
This disguise can be used to access geographically restricted content (for example, websites only available in a given country) or to disperse traffic across numerous identities.
We frequently utilize proxies in web scraping to prevent being prohibited because several connections from a single identity can be easily identified as non-human connections. NetNut is a tool that provides a solution to all of the problems with a single tool. In fact, NetNut rotating proxies are the proxies many startups use today.
Businesses may easily mask their real IP address and operate around geo-restricted material by employing NetNut’s global residential IP network without being prohibited.
To further grasp this, let’s review IP addresses and proxy types.
IP Protocol Versions
The internet now uses two types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6.
The main distinction between these two protocols is:
- Address quantity- The IPv4 address pool is limited to approximately 4 billion addresses, which may appear large. Still, the internet is a big place, and technically we have already run out of free addresses!
- Adoption– Because most websites still only support IPv4 connections, we can’t use IPv6 proxies unless we know our target website supports it.
What Does This Mean for Web-Scraping?
Because a few websites only support IPv6, we are still forced to use IPv4 proxies, which are more expensive (3-10 times on average) due to the limited address issue. However, some significant websites support it, which can significantly reduce your proxy budget.
Nowadays, two prominent proxy protocols are in use: HTTP and SOCKS (the most recent SOCKS5).
Regarding web scraping, there isn’t much of a practical distinction between these two protocols. In general, the SOCKS protocol is quicker, more reliable, and more secure. Contrarily, HTTP client libraries used for web scraping and proxy providers use HTTP proxies more.
There are four types of proxy IPs used in web scraping:
The primary distinctions between these four categories are pricing, dependability (connection speed, IP rotation, and so on), and stealth score (probability of being blocked).
Let’s dig deeper into each type and its importance in web scraping.
Unlike a standard IP address connected to an Internet service provider like any other web user, data center proxies are stored in bulk on a cloud server managed by a third party.
Simply put, one huge server hosts thousands of data center proxies. Furthermore, the enterprise-level infrastructure ensures that data center proxies are stable and fast, at least when paid for.
Notably, you may come across data center proxies that are solely free to anyone. While these may work as advertised in some cases, you may also open yourself up to hackers, so tread carefully.
These are the IP addresses that humans and computers connect with normal web users. An ISP hosts the proxy and has a physical address. In that respect, it does the best job of hiding your real IP address, which is the main objective of proxies.
While the proxy service provider does not need to maintain a large server hosting thousands of IPs, they must find and integrate many residential proxies in various locations. That’s excellent for you because you’ll have access to different geolocation choices to circumvent regional content limitations.
Mobile IPs are assigned by a mobile service provider. Because they are assigned dynamically to whoever is near the cell tower, they are not attached to a single person. This indicates they are less likely to be blocked or forced to complete a captcha.
Mobile proxies are simply more severe variants of residential proxies: maintaining the same IP address may be more difficult and expensive. These proxies are also slower and less dependable. However, current providers have made significant improvements recently.
Common Proxy Issues
Having a mediator between your client and the server can cause several problems.
The most severe issue is probably the support for HTTP2/3 traffic. To avoid blockage, newer HTTP protocols are often chosen in web scraping. Unfortunately, many HTTP proxies struggle with this type of traffic, so we recommend testing HTTP2 quality first when selecting a proxy provider for web scraping!
Connection concurrency is another common proxy provider concern. Typically, proxy services have a concurrent proxy connection limit, which may be insufficient for strong web scrapers. As a result, we recommend conducting research on concurrent connection restrictions and slowing scrapers slightly below that limit to avoid proxy-related connection crashes.
The use of proxies strategically can boost data collecting. However, they must be carefully secured and configured for success. It is critical to rotate your proxies frequently to avoid website blocking. Choose one that optimizes scraping requirements. Then, before performing data retrieval tasks, ensure proper setup.
A proxy is your best chance for quick and straightforward data collection. You can automate the procedure with a little setup. But remember to be cautious when exploring new cyberspace frontiers! Protect yourself by taking all required precautions before engaging in any online activity.