With the rise in demand for big data, web scraping has become a trending topic. Today, businesses are hungry for data to make informed decisions. Although a lucrative process, there are various challenges that web scrappers face, including IP blockages.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping refers to retrieving data from a target website. Web scrapers save you time manually extracting data which can be a painstaking process. The primary benefit of using web scrapers is that it uses automation to gather vast amounts of data that help businesses make decisions, thus enhancing their operation process and improving customer experience.
How Does Web Scraping Work?
Web scraping consists of two elements: the web crawler and the scraper itself. Although people use the terms interchangeably, they fulfill different functions.
This software tool extracts data from the web by pulling actionable information. Once the extraction process is complete, the scraper stores the data in its databases.
Crawlers surf the internet by searching for information based on the keywords a user types and indexes the information it finds.
How Websites Block Users From Scraping Their Data?
Website owners use different methods to block users from scraping their data. Highlighted below are some of them:
Websites commonly use CAPTCHAs to verify that it’s an actual human browsing their site. CAPTCHAs come in various forms and sizes; from image identifications to simple math problems, they are easy tasks for humans to solve. However, they tend to be problematic for bots since the verification process requires human thinking. Websites display CAPTCHAs to suspicious IP addresses you may use as you scrape the web.
To bypass this, use CAPTCHA-solving services. Additionally, you can use a proxy service to request access to the target website with a large pool of IPs. Regardless of your chosen method, remember that solving the CAPTCHA puzzle doesn’t prevent your data extraction from being detected.
Placing Honeypot Traps
Honeypot traps are security measures put in place by site owners to identify scrapers. Often, they are implemented as unidentifiable links in the HTML code. Honeypot traps are only noticeable by web scrapers. When a scraper accesses the link, the website blocks the requests made by the IP. Hence, checking for hidden links is critical before extracting your data.
Checking User Agents
A user agent request header contains a string that identifies the browser, its version, and the user’s operating system. Each time you get information from the web, the browser assigns a user agent to the request made. Therefore, ant-scraping structures can detect your bot if it makes a substantial request from one user agent and ultimately block it. To prevent this, you should have a list of user agents and change it whenever you make requests since no site will block genuine users.
Sending multiple requests from the same IP indicates that you’re automating HTTP(s) requests, and site owners can block your web scrapers by looking at their server log files. Often, site owners use different rules to identify bots on their sites. For instance, making more than 100 requests within an hour can result in a blocked IP.
To avoid this, use a rotating proxy or a virtual private network to send your request through several IP addresses. With this, your IP remains hidden, and you can scrape the web without any issues. Undeniably, there are different web scraping service providers in Canada and other countries that you can try.
Web Scraping Best Practices
Now that you’ve learned how to avoid getting blocked from accessing target websites, here are best practices you should keep in mind while scraping the web:
Use headless browsers
A headless browser allows you to extract data from sites faster since you don’t need to open up the user interface manually.
Respect the site rules
Sites use robot.txt files to tell crawlers which pages or files they can scrape and the ones which are off-limits. For instance, it contains information on how frequently you can scrape. If the anti-scraping markers find that you’re going against the rules by asking for too many requests, they will likely block you.
Proxies are great solutions for entrepreneurs that need to collect data regularly. Besides, they help you manage sophisticated blocks and avoid leaving fingerprints while accessing geo-restricted websites.
It’s no doubt that using proxy services can help you overcome anti-scraping measures. You should always play by the rules to avoid getting blocked from accessing your much-needed data. However, your deployment method depends on your expertise and web scraping needs.
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