GUEST ESSAY – Here’s how web-scraping proxies preserve anonymity while aiding data access

By Andy Larson

Data helps digital businesses make meaningful decisions and fast-track their growth in a global market so that companies that are skilled at harvesting data regularly and consistently tend to grow faster than those that only involve data scantily in making decisions.

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This has made data extraction one of the most crucial aspects of what makes a company strive in today’s economy.

Due to this importance and the fact that web scraping comes with its many challenges, several tools have been developed to make the process easier and less cumbersome.

Some of these tools are proxies. While there are several types of proxies, we can easily group them into two categories based on the types of internet protocols (IP) they offer.

These two categories are data center and residential proxies. And today, we will see what they are, how they are used, and whether there is a much better alternative to these proxies.

Proxies defined

Proxies are servers or computers that act as intermediaries and help route your requests to target destinations.

They stand between internet users and their target and help to accept connections, conceal the user’s IP address and deliver the connections to the target servers discreetly. Then they also receive results from those servers; filter them before returning them to the users safely.

This is important to keep users safe while on the internet. It also helps to maintain anonymity for both users and their activities. Proxies are also critical for preventing breaches that are commonly associated with connections on the internet. And their ability to select and switch locations keeps users away from geo-restrictions.

Proxies are used in automatic data gathering not only because they make the process seamless but because they provide extra security while at it. Below are some ways that proxies are essential in web scraping:

•Boosting Security Being on the internet today is risky both for individuals and businesses, from monitoring to stealing your data to those who want to target you with common internet harassment. This is why tools such as proxies are becoming increasingly popular.

Proxies hide all the users’ details, such as IP address and location, making it practically impossible to be seen or tracked online.

Proxies also filter returning results to ensure they are clean and do not contain malware. This is important to keep brands, their data, and systems safe at all times.

•Preventing Blocks. It is becoming increasingly easy for websites to block users who don’t want to interact with their content by simply blocking their IP.

Larson

And since IPs are the one item that makes everyone unique on the web, it is easy to use this as a form of targeting. Once your IP is blocked, you can’t get what you need from such websites.

Proxies help to prevent these scenarios by concealing your IP from the beginning. A target server will be unable to tell who it is, and because proxies use and alternate different IPs at once, you will hardly ever get blocked using one.

•Accessing Geo-Restricted Content. Some websites set out measures that prevent some users from accessing their content. This content is often called geo-restricted content, and the blocked users are called geo-restricted users.

The measure uses a technique similar to IP blocking but classifies users based on their physical location. Once a user is identified to be browsing from a blocklisted location, they are denied access partially or entirely. 

Proxies come with multiple locations and can select any time to avert restrictions and grant you access to restricted content.

Datacenter proxies

Datacenter proxies are the most affordable classes of proxies, and they offer simulated IPs generated and owned by third-party companies.

The IP addresses tied to these proxies are not linked to any physical location. While this may mean that it is easy for websites to see these proxies as bots, datacenter proxies do confer several benefits, which is why people use them.

For instance, aside from being very affordable, they are also fast and transfer connections back and forth faster than what is attainable with other kinds of proxies.

Some of the best use cases for this type of proxy includes:

•Accessing geo-restricted content

•Verifying and confirming ads across several platforms

•Carrying out intensive market research

•Monitoring and observing competitors

Residential proxies

A residential proxy is a network that allocates real IPs designated by an internet service provider (ISP).

This means they perform the usual roles of proxies but with real IP addresses tied to actual locations. This makes them resemble regular internet users, and harder for servers to ban them as they consider real users.

Consequently, they cost more and may work slower than datacenter proxies. However, you can browse any server without fear of ever getting blocked.

Below are some of the best use cases of residential proxies:

•For brand monitoring

•Market price and competition monitoring

•Ad verification across various platforms

•General web scraping from multiple data sources

•Sneaker accessing and copping

•SEO monitoring and compliance

•Internet marketing, campaign, and email automation

•Social media management

Alternative proxies

Datacenter proxies work fast and are cheap but stand a higher chance of getting banned in the middle of a critical operation. On the other hand, residential proxies rarely get banned but may be twice as expensive and not as fast.

Therefore, a sweet blend between these two worlds needed to exist. It’s called rotating ISP proxies, and they come with IPs allocated by an ISP which they can often rotate to prevent blocks.

Yet, they also have the speed and affordability of a data center proxy. This makes them the most effective option for performing web scraping. Check Oxylabs’ website for more information.

Proxies are necessary for extracting data at all times. The benefits range from providing the required security to preventing geo-restrictions.

When choosing a proxy type, you may pick datacenter or residential proxies, which have their different advantages and disadvantages, or you may decide to use rotating ISP proxies, which take the best of both worlds to provide a tool that gets the job done.

About the essayist: Andy Larson is a data protection specialist whose interest in technology sparked his enthusiasm to become a writer focusing on data security, web scraping) and other data topics. 

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