What is Web Scraping and How to Use It?

Cyber Security

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Web scraping and proxies can be very helpful for businesses. If you are wondering what these are and how it can help a business, you are on the right page. In this article, you will learn about what is web scraping, the different types of proxies, and its importance to web scraping.

What is Web Scraping?

Web scraping involves fetching and extracting data from a website. The fetching refers to the downloading of a page. After that, the extraction process takes place. The contents of the page can be reformatted, searched, or analyzed. It is then copied in other places such as spreadsheets to be used for the users’ intended purpose.

It is mostly used for contact scraping, which is obtaining customer’s email account information for marketing purposes. It can also be used for online price monitoring and comparison, data mining, web mining, and web indexing.

Here are some common and effective web scraping techniques that you should know about:

  • HTML Parsing
  • HTTP Programming
  • Text Pattern Matching
  • Human Copy-and-Paste

What is proxy?

One of the biggest issues in web scraping is bypassing the security systems of a website. This is where proxies come in. To answer the question of what is proxy, it is worth mentioning that it is a server that prevents your device from directly interacting with the page that you are scraping. It can also function as a “go-between” that makes requests and receives responses on behalf of your device. Proxies also mask your device’s location and IP address using its own.

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Different types of proxies cover different configurations. Here are some of the common types of proxies you might encounter when web scraping:

  • Residential Proxy

As its name suggests, residential proxies are issued to homeowners by internet providers. These use the real IP addresses from real computers. This is deemed to be the best type of proxy because servers recognize this as a regular client.

  • Transparent Proxy

Transparent proxies are the most basic type of proxy there is. It passes all your information minus the IP address of your proxy. However, this is also the proxy with the lowest level of security.

  • Anonymous Proxy

This type of proxy is one of the most widely used proxies in web scraping. It does not pass your IP address to the websites that you browse, so it keeps your activity private.

  • High Anonymity Proxy

High anonymity proxies have the highest level of security among the different types of proxies. It does not share your personal data and IP address. On top of that, it does not identify itself as a proxy when making requests on your behalf.

  • Distorting Proxy

This proxy is very similar to an anonymous proxy. Their only difference is that it passes an IP address that is incorrect.

  • Private Proxy
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There is an ambiguity with what are private proxies because they depend on the internet provider’s offers. This means that a specific client can only use it at a particular time.

  • Public Proxy

Public proxies are the most unreliable and most under the secured type of proxy there is. It can be set up by hackers to compromise or steal data. Although public proxies are free, using it is not worth the risks.

If you need more information about proxies, we suggest you to read Oxylabs’ What is a Proxy article.

The Importance of Proxies in Web Scraping

Since the biggest challenge of web scraping is the security system of websites, it is understandable that proxies are essential for the process. However, aside from that, there are also other reasons why proxies are important in web scraping. Here are they:

  • Proxies Can Access Geo-Blocked Websites

Geo-Blocking happens when the web administrator blocks users from particular areas. This is why you are unable to view several e-commerce websites that do not ship to your country. Since proxies can mask your location, you will gain access to the website and proceed to web scraping.

  • Avoiding Website Limits

Some website access is limited to a particular number of web requests in a specific period. When the website receives an unusual amount of requests, it will automatically flag the action as a bot.

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By using proxy and routing the IP address to multiple locations, you can avoid being flagged by the website’s security system. This will hide your scraping activity.

  • Going Around Government Internet Censorship

Several countries around the world have strict government internet censorship. With proxies, you will have multiple IP addresses from different countries, which means you will also have a wider reach for market research.

Final Word

Web scraping has a lot of benefits for a business. It can help them make better pricing strategies, improve customer satisfaction, and monitor competition. Because of this, it is also important to know about proxies because these play a major role in maximizing web scraping efficiency and effectiveness.