GENERALTECHNOLOGY

Accelerating Data Collection: The Advantages of Using Proxies for Scraping

Scraping websites for data, content, contact details, and production information can give business owners valuable insights into what the competition is up to. You can gather large amounts of historical data this way which when analyzed can help to identify trends and help to make marketing predictions for the future.

To scrape data you can either perform the task manually which is okay for small projects, or you use some of the many available tools that allow the process to be automated. Ideally, though, you will use some form of IP masking, which generally involves either a VPN or a type of proxy.

VPNs are well known to home computer users, and in 2021, 785 million VPNs were downloaded. These apps help to keep surfing the net anonymous and add encryption to any data sent to and from servers when online.

However, businesses are more likely to use proxies than VPNs, especially when scraping websites for data.

What are the benefits of using proxies when scraping data?

There are numerous gains to be made from using proxies for scraping projects. Thousands of requests can be sent to websites through proxies, and they are far more versatile than VPNs for data mining.

A residential proxy network will help your web scraping project run undetected, and you can use bots to automatically mine and extract data. In this short article, you can read about the nine advantages of using proxies for scraping projects. And, a few of the downsides too.

1 Proxies give anonymity

If you use one of the proxy options available, your true identity will be hidden. When you visit a website, your IP address will be logged. But, a data center proxy will mask this and assign you a new IP as do residential and mobile proxies.

2 Scraping is faster with proxies

There are many data collection techniques, but none are quite as effective as scraping. But, only when it is automated. If you try to manually gather data from websites you will need a team of people to carry out the process or spend an awful lot of time yourself visiting different pages.

If you use rotating proxies means that you can send hundreds of requests to websites all at once, and without being detected.

3 No IP concerns and blocking

If you try to scrape data without using proxies, your activity will be quickly spotted and shut down. This will result in your IP address being placed on a blacklist and you will no longer be able to access the website you wanted to scrape.

Rotating proxies make it appear that you are simply visiting the site as any regular internet user would, and you will be far less likely to be blocked.

4 Increased security

Your IP address will be hidden as mentioned above, and this can also make it harder for hackers to track your data. However, some caution should be taken here as proxies don’t provide encryption as VPNs do, so the most common cyber threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks are still possible.

5 No data limit

Depending on your proxy provider, your residential proxies could have unlimited bandwidth. This means that you can carry out large-scale scraping projects with no data limit concerns.

6 Huge pools of IP addresses

Proxy providers today are amassing vast pools of IP addresses. This will help you to scrape because whenever an IP address is detected, a new one can replace it. One of the biggest providers of residential proxies states that they have over 100 million legitimate IP addresses.

7 Avoid geo-restrictions

Some websites are only accessible to IP addresses in their region, or even within the country’s borders. This can be a problem if you want to access data from overseas servers for price comparison research for instance.

Never mind, because residential and mobile proxies allow you to appear as if you are located in whichever country you desire. You can set a specific location with a residential proxy even down to what city you’d like to appear to be in.

Mobile proxies use IP addresses from genuine telecom operators, so to all intents and purposes, if you use a US proxy network, any website you visit will think you are in that country.

8 Malware protection

Again, this will depend on which proxy service you decide to use, but many residential proxies come with malware protection. Using proxies will increase your scraping security and mask your IP which makes it hard for hackers to target you. 

And many proxies will also have some form of malware protection to ensure you aren’t inadvertently downloading malicious files.

9 Free proxies exist

You don’t always have to pay for scraping tools, and there are numerous free proxies available now. So, if you have a small business and you want to start a web scraping project, you can do so with a free proxy and cut costs further.

Are there any downsides to proxies when scraping?

Proxies are invaluable for anyone who wants to scrape websites for data, but they aren’t all perfect. It is worth understanding some of the drawbacks of different proxies when you are selecting your provider.

As a general rule, you can use reviews and comparison sites to get an idea of what the best proxies are, and what you can expect from them. Performance and security are two major concerns when data scraping with proxies, and so is the cost.

Here are some of the things to be mindful of when selecting proxy services.

No encryption

Unlike VPNs, proxies don’t encrypt the data you send. This means your personal data could be at risk when you are connected to a proxy service.

Residential and mobile proxies can be expensive

These types of proxies use real IPs that are provided by ISPs and mobile carriers. To do so legitimately involves some remuneration to the individual whose IP is being used. This makes them more expensive than data center proxies.

Data center proxies can be blocked

Many data centers use shared IP addresses. This means that if some other user is carrying out suspicious online activities then you could find yourself blocked along with them.

Free proxies aren’t very good

The appeal of using a free proxy service is clear, but these services have limitations, and security can be a concern. One study showed that less than 2% of free proxies work correctly and are reachable.

Not all proxies are ethical

Some providers use residential proxies without informing the main user or owner. This is sometimes done to cut costs, but you might not even see much of these savings.

Data center IP addresses are easy to spot

These proxies have blocks of IP addresses that are all very similar which makes them much easier to spot than residential proxies.

Summary

First and foremost, the main advantage of using proxies is to hide your IP address, and your activities when scraping. Residential and mobile proxies are the best options for scraping data and are almost undetectable.

There are, though, plenty of other advantages to using proxies for scraping including bypassing region restrictions and speeding up scraping projects by avoiding blocking or blacklists. Indeed, it is hard to imagine web scraping being successful today without the use of proxies.

Adil Husnain

Adil Husnain is a well-known name in the blogging and SEO industry. He is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the field, and has helped numerous businesses and individuals to improve their online visibility and traffic. He writes on business, technology, finance, marketing, and cryptocurrency related trends. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping others to grow their online businesses.