With so many complex and ever-changing parts, it is hard to imagine the entire internet as one entity. Immense storage of information and data traveling thousands of miles in a matter of seconds, the magnum opus of information technologies keeps surprising the average user with incomprehensible advancements and the quantity of available information.
In fact, the amount of data online creates new problems: the available knowledge outweighs the human capability to collect and process information. Thankfully, there is a modern solution – extraction of information with web scrapers.
In this article, we will talk about web scraping technology and how data scrapers extract and analyze information, as well as describe complementary tools that aid these processes. For example, serious web scraping operations threaten your IP address, as recipient servers that will recognize bot traffic will not hesitate to ban you. However, if you have, for example, a Turkey proxy with a big fleet of available servers, these identities can keep your address safe. To learn more about these tools, check out Smartproxy – a titan in the industry of proxy servers, to learn more about when to use a Check out and what proxies are the best for web scraping. For now, let’s stick to the technology of web scraping before we return to IP obfuscation.
Difference between a parser and a scraper
The term “web scraping” usually combines two different processes – the scraper and a parser. Let’s take a closer look at what these terms mean and how the combination of their work gives us a finished product – a neatly organized data set that is ready to aid you in making information-driven decisions.
While its functionality can be complex, a web scraper is a primitive part that sends an HTTP request to the server to extract the HTML code rendered in the browser. By going through multiple pages in a manner of seconds, we end up with tens or hundreds of downloaded pages.
But what is the purpose of downloading these pages? Do we just open them again? This is where the parser comes in. The second component takes the downloaded HTML content and extracts the desired data with the help of parsing libraries and algorithms to end up with a final product – a structured data set in a desired format that eliminates all the clutter from the HTML file, leaving only raw information.
Why do we need web scraping?
For one-time use cases, we can argue that a manual visit to the website is more efficient, as the user can quickly go through desired public data without ever needing an automated data extraction tool. However, with more targets and especially constantly updated websites, web scraping becomes a more efficient endeavor as the amount of required data keeps growing. In a big market full of competitors, many sources of public information can help you and your business: price intelligence, search engine optimization (SEO), product research, and more.
The challenges of web scraping
The parties that we target with web scraping have plenty of reasons to disapprove of automated data collection. If it is a competitor, stopping your aggregation tasks directly helps the company stay competitive with your business. Still, even if both parties are not in direct opposition, web scraping tasks send a lot more HTTP requests than the average user, and for servers receiving heavy traffic, automated bots are like parasites that can slow down or crash the entire system. Data aggregation is especially devastating when multiple web scrapers work simultaneously.
To stop the pressure on the web server, owners use rate limiting and DDoS prevention tools to block and ban the IP addresses of bots and other attackers affecting the server. Getting caught can be a big problem because not only will you lose access to the site, but a competitor can use the exposure of your address to their advantage.
Web scraping with proxy servers
Proxy servers are the best partner for web scrapers. Instead of running your bots through the main address, rerouting it through a proxy keeps your IP address hidden. Even more, if you want to scrape a website unavailable in your country, you can choose a remote intermediary server to carry out the HTTP requests for you.
There are two main types of proxy servers: datacenter and residential proxies. Datacenter addresses are fast and run on hardware in designated data centers. However, because these IPs are not given by internet service providers, recipients can inspect your connection and quickly learn that your connection is operating behind a proxy.
Residential addresses are slower but much more secretive. Their connections blend in with the internet traffic of real devices, making them indistinguishable from your average connections. While more expensive, the residential proxy server pools of top providers have millions of addresses, making them perfect for web scraper connections.
Proxy servers can be enhanced with a rotating option, letting you swap addresses every few minutes to assign a new identity to your bot before it gets into trouble. With multiple data scrapers rotating addresses, you can have a large army of scrapers, and none of them will get into trouble. Still, if your bot gets caught, you can always replace its IP address with a new one from a large fleet of servers and continue as if nothing ever happened.
Web scraping technology is very effective at extracting and processing valuable information, but you run a risk of getting your IP banned. However, with proxy servers, especially residential proxies with rotating options, you can get the most from data collection and eliminate all drawbacks.