The internet has eased operations, making everything a mere click away. This one-click-away characteristic has endeared the internet to people and even large corporations. It’s this conglomeration of various facets of society that has subsequently made the internet a trove of information. But if you were to try to retrieve this data crudely, you’d take a very long time, and the results would be minimal if any. This is why web scraping has become popular for individuals and businesses alike.
Web scraping, also known as screen scraping or web harvesting, refers to the use of programming languages or software to collect information from websites. Scraping APIs utilize programming languages such as Python, while most web scraping applications incorporate proxies. This incorporation is solely because you can use a proxy to scour the web looking for information. However, the web scraping software simplifies the scouring process by including code specifically for the same.
A proxy – short for proxy server – acts as an intermediary between you, the user, and the internet. Thus, every web request from your browser or computer first goes through the proxy server, which then connects you to the intended website. Put simply, proxy servers redirect web traffic. They add privacy and promote cybersecurity because, by redirecting, they assign a new IP address.
It’s this added layer of protection that makes proxy servers perfect tools for web scraping. Some websites don’t support the idea of web scraping (even if their data is publicly available to anyone), or they have other reasons to incorporate measures that stop web scraping right in its tracks. The security standards entail monitoring IP addresses to detect snooping. The suspicious IP addresses are then blacklisted and blocked from ever accessing the websites.
Genode proxy servers solve this problem. For one, in the event nothing goes according to plan, your IP address won’t and can’t be blacklisted. Instead, the websites will blacklist the proxy server’s IP address. Even so, proxy servers have created a redundancy, given that they have an IP network that consists of millions of IP addresses. When one is detected, you’ll still have many others at your disposal.
Types of Proxies
With this in mind, several types of proxy servers exist, but some proxy servers do a shoddy job at masking your IP address or providing added security and anonymity. Below are the main types of proxies:
- Residential proxies
- Mobile proxies
- Datacenter proxies
- Reverse proxies
- High anonymity proxies
- Anonymous proxies
- Transparent proxies
- Web proxies
Despite there being these many types of proxies, you can’t use all of them for web scraping. For instance, let’s say you want to extract information from a social media platform. You can’t choose a data center proxy because such a proxy server will assign you a data center’s IP address. The social network from which you intend to extract data will surely block any further action.
Proxies vs. Web Scraping Tools
Using proxies, off-the-shelf web scraping tools, or scraping APIs can significantly help your business. With any of them, you can:
- Generate leads
- Monitor competition
- Optimize your prices
- Improve products
- Analyze reviews and customer sentiments
- Track marketing campaigns
The possibilities are endless. But realizing maximum benefits is anchored on finding the best option among the trio. Notably, web scraping and proxy servers go hand in hand because usually, you can’t extract data from a website without masking your IP address.
While you require a reliable proxy server as part of your web scraping tool, the proxy server you choose doesn’t have to be marketed as a web scraping tool for you to use to collect data online. In short, web scraping tools are dependent on proxy servers, but proxy servers aren’t reliant on web scraping tools.
However, the downside to the lack of specialization with regards to using proxy servers as web scraping tools is that you have to deploy additional resources to develop web scraping tools. In-house development of web scraping is:
- It needs plenty of maintenance in the early stages
- It requires the development of a monitoring system that detects any errors
This is all on top of the cost of a reliable proxy server.
Web Scraping Tools
In this regard, off-the-shelf web scraping tools are the best, provided they’re integrated with a reliable proxy server. But even if that were the case, they also need to be updated continuously to work well with new browser features. A good example is this Amazon scraper tool.
Some scraping APIs are so advanced that they can extract data from any website in a matter of seconds. By choosing to work with a reliable scraping API provider, you won’t need to take care of proxy maintenance. You can focus on data analysis rather than the data gathering process.
However, you should notice that most of them require the user to have a technical background, given that you have to issue commands in the programming language that its developers used to create it.
If you are interested in starting web scraping, we suggest you read more information on which option is suitable for you.
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