Web Crawling with Proxies

There’s no questioning the importance of data for businesses large and small. However, you don’t always know the exact sources you want to inspect in order to do some direct web scraping. That’s when web crawling with proxies backing you up can help you out.

Sometimes the terms ‘web scraping’ and ‘web crawling’ get confused. Let’s go over the distinctions and then cover how proxies come into the picture.

Web Scraping Simplified

Web scraping is when a script or bot accesses a website and collects some surface-level information from it, exactly as the name implies. This is necessary when you don’t have back-end access to the data you’re trying to harvest. An example use case would be checking prices and availability on goods to determine when to buy or how to set your own prices.

The programs can get fairly sophisticated, but they still need to be told where to go and what to pull. 

Web Crawling Simplified

Web crawling is when a bot colloquially called a ‘spider’ will do much deeper searches. They will wander around while following links to fully explore the site and any other referenced sites to index their metadata. This lets you know what is where so you can visit it when desired, or point your web scraper at it.

This is generally only needed for large-scale tasks. For example, Google has spiders crawling around the internet to index all their possible results for the searches people request. 

The spiders Google runs are integral to your SEO. Without them, they wouldn’t even know your site exists to be able to offer it as a result of any relevant searches.

Apart from search engines, though, web crawling can help you do your own indexing so you can direct your scraping accordingly.

Prepping to Do Your Own Scraping or Crawling

You can make an in-house scraper script fairly easily when you know what information you need and where to get it. 

That is, unless you’re after a sizable amount of data with only a small team. Or you are after something complicated enough that you’d rather not stress over designing and iterating the code yourself. 

In that case, there are a lot of pre-made solutions or APIs out there that will do the work for you.

However, you should consider using a crawler when you are:

  • Not sure of the URL addresses that have the data you want.
  • Looking to pull the entire page, not just small parts of it.
  • Running a SEO test on your own website to find things like broken links and images, duplicate title or metadata tags, and more.

There are some pre-made crawling solutions out there, like Netpeak Spider for self-SEO checks or Bright Data’s Search Engine Scraper. But generally they’re much less common than scrapers. Also, web crawling is a larger undertaking than most web scraping projects.

Because crawling pulls so much information, it can take a very large database to hold everything if you’re pulling full pages. It also requires checking for duplicates and removing them, or else you’re going to really bloat your results.

Relationship of Web Scrapers, Crawlers, and Proxies

Regardless of whether you’re scraping or crawling, proxies are a must-have. Doing repeated searches on websites will trigger their anti-bot countermeasures and get your IP blocked within moments. Having a proxy between you and the website providing alternate IP addresses can mask the fact it’s one bot making all of those requests.

There are several types of proxies out there, but what you want in this scenario are residential IP proxies. That’s because they look like regular people checking out the site. You also need them to be rotating sessions, maybe sticky sessions depending on if the site you’re inspecting requires a persistent login session.

It can be hard to decide what proxy service to go with, as there are so many out there. An easy decision, though, is to NOT go with a free one. There are a whole host of issues that can be associated with them, and the potential risks outweigh the benefits.

To help keep things simple, here are some recommended providers that have rotating residential proxies available in a spread of price ranges.

Storm Proxies

If you’re looking for a rotating residential proxy with unlimited bandwidth without breaking the bank, Storm Proxies is a great go-to. Each of their subscription plans automatically rotates at 5 minute intervals. You only need to pay based on the number of ports you’re looking for. 

They offer a 24-hour money-back guarantee on their basic 5 port subscription package. You also get instant access as soon as you sign up. 

For a web crawling project, a single port probably won’t cut it. But, if you’re so inclined, they do offer a single port option for $19/month. If you’re looking for a small-scale but still multithreaded project, their 5 port package at $50/month is a great starting point. Increasing port counts have successively lower cost per port in the larger bundles.

You can check out their detailed review here: Storm Proxies Review.

ProxyRack

ProxyRack offers a lot of great package options depending on the size and type of project you’re planning on. Their geo residential proxies provide access to a pool of up to 5 million IPs, but that’s for their metered plans that start at $49.95/10GB

For web crawling purposes, it’s worth considering their unmetered residential proxies. Those narrow the pool down to 2 million IPs, but then you have uncapped data and pay per the number of threads, starting at $199/month for 100 threads. Of course, the price per thread lowers as you go for larger packages.

They offer a whopping 14-day money-back guarantee on all of their plans. They also have a special 3 day trial of all their products for $13.95 so you can test out and see which of their services best suit your needs.

You can check out their detailed review here: ProxyRack.

Oxylabs

The premium service provider, Oxylabs, is one of the fastest on the market with an impressive average speed of .6s for their proxies. 

They hold a giant pool of over 100 million residential IPs from over 195 countries. Within that pool, they allow geo-targeting with your choice of country, city, or state-level targeting.

They offer unlimited concurrent threads and adjustable rotating session types. On top of that, they give all of their clients a free proxy manager that grants them a ton of customization options.

Their rotating residential proxies start at $300/month for 20GB. Their most popular plan is $600/month for 50GB, though they offer several higher stages as well for larger-scale projects.

However, they also offer Next-Gen Residential Proxies at $360/month for 20GB, or $750/month for 50GB, and upwards. Supported by advanced Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, these cutting-edge proxies can handle the most challenging targets with a virtually 100% success rate

In addition to the perks of regular rotating residential proxies, Next-Gen Residential Proxies also include:

  • Auto-Retry system, persistently repeating attempts until it gets your desired data.
  • AI-powered dynamic fingerprinting, making changes in real-time without needing to resort to headless browsers by replicating regular users and making CAPTCHAs and IP bans a thing of the past.
  • ML-based Adaptive Parser, able to adjust to website layout changes and return only the data you want.
  • JavaScript rendering, handling all the work on their end, saving you time and effort.

And more, all while being easily integrated into standard proxy configurations. 

You can check out their detailed review here: Oxylabs.

Conclusion

There are a lot of tools out there to choose between for your data needs. You can build your own bot from scratch, use a premade generic bot, invest in an API, or outright pay a service like Oxylabs to handle all of the data collection and parsing for you.

Just remember, do all of your web scraping and web crawling with proxies, lest your project comes to an abrupt halt. Depending on the size of your intended data harvesting project and allotted budget, Storm Proxies, ProxyRack, or Oxylabs will give you the protection you need.

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About Geminel

Geminel is a multi-format author, but is even moreso a giant nerd. With how many times they’ve fallen into several-hour-long research sprees just to accurately present a one-line joke, they realized they should probably use this power for good. To see their creative work, visit their personal site at: Team Gem

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