Build awareness and adoption for your software startup with Circuit.

An Introduction To Web Scraping and Proxies With Bright Data.

An introduction to web scraping and proxy for beginners with Bright Data' services.

Web Scraping and Proxy with Bright Data Image created on Canva by Ukpong ZionCreated on Canva by Ukpong O. Zion

Web Scraping

You may wonder what web scraping is. Here's a little analogy to break it down a little. Visualise this: You want to cook a meal, and you don't have all the ingredients you need to prepare this meal, so you go to the market, and you have a list of all the things you need to prepare the meal, and you start going from one store to the next, looking for each item on the list. Whenever you get to a store and find any of the items on your list, you make a purchase, keep the thing in your shopping bag, and head to the next store until everything on your list has been bought.

This dear friend, is how web scraping works. We have a list of specific data we're searching for on the web. We can't possibly go manually from one website to the next to get this data, so we use web scrapers, otherwise called bots, to analyse each website for this information; when it receives the information, it stores it in a given location until all our needed data has been gotten. This data can be stored in several ways. You could keep them in a database like MYSQL, MongoDB, or local or cloud storage.

Putting all we've learned so far in a more sophisticated way, web scraping involves using automated software or bots to analyse a website or several websites for predefined information. These predefined information are the specific items that the bots are to find. They could be any data ranging from texts like descriptions of a product, images, job postings, and even real estate and weather data. The web scraping process is beneficial when dealing with extensive data because manually extracting data from every website is daunting.

The sole purpose of web scraping is to acquire data and information on a subject. However, the reason behind engaging in this process differs. It could be for an organization conducting research for a new or existing product or even just for competitor analysis, and it could also be for comparing product listings. Whatever the reason is, Web scraping MUST be done legally.

While web scraping has a considerable advantage, the perpetrators on the internet twist this advantage and make it a disadvantage by using it illegally. One might even mistakenly scrape data illegally and not know they did it illegally.

How So?

Some websites don't want to be scraped, or they have specific areas in their websites that they don't want to be accessed by web scrapers or bots; most others have strict rules set in place to ensure legal scraping; these rules could be contained in their Robots.txt files and their Terms of Service. It is considered illegal when a bot bypasses these rules and scrapes data that shouldn't be scraped from a website. Here are other ways data can be scraped illegally. They include:

  • When a bot sends too many HTTP requests at a time and overloads a website's servers, this could harm the functionality of that website.
  • When a bot scrapes sensitive user information like a person's data on a website, that's illegal because everyone has the right to privacy.

However, with Bright Data, you don't have to be worried about scraping data illegally because Bright Data is a well-known proxy service provider emphasizing their services' ethical and legal use. Also, Bright Data provides a lawful and transparent platform for getting data, making it clear to users that they must be willing to follow and obey its ethical standards and legal requirements.

Proxy Network

Remember our analogy? Let's use it to explain proxies further. So we get to each store, and we can't find what we're looking for, so a friendly store worker comes along and says, "You know what, I'll help you get what you're looking for while you wait right here, and make a purchase on your behalf and bring your items to you." He does just that, and soon enough, you're walking out of the store happily with a shopping bag filled with ingredients for your meal.

In the above example, we see that you have a large request (in this case, an HTTP Request), and you want to make that purchase anonymously because of how large the request is and so that your IP doesn't get banned, so the store worker (the proxy) goes ahead and helps you make that purchase. You get your required items (data), and the store owner (the website you're scraping) doesn't know the order was from you. I hope that analogy gave you an idea of how proxies work.

Proxies are the intermediaries or gateways between your device and the website you're trying to access. They work by taking your HTTP requests and hiding your device's IP address, providing a different IP address to replace the original one and then sending your requests through the new IP address. It works because when a website gets too many requests from an IP address, it could tag that IP address as suspicious and place an IP ban or restriction.

Types of Proxy Networks

Bright Data, the world's number one trusted web data platform, offers different proxy network services with a free trial period, good pricing options and features that make your web scraping process easier. In this article, we'll look at all four of them.

  1. Datacenter Proxy Network:  In this proxy service, a datacenter houses several IP addresses. When you send a request from your device through this proxy software, it first goes to the Datacenter, gets a replacement IP address, and then goes to the website you want to scrape, gets your data and returns them to your device. Bright Data's Datacenter proxy service has a 99.9% network uptime and 770,000 datacenter IPs. Its pay-as-you-go plan starts at $0.11/GB, and its prepaid plan ranges from $0.066/GB to $0.094/GB depending on the amount of traffic. This proxy service option consists of shared and dedicated datacenter IP addresses from 98 countries. For clarity, A shared datacenter IP address is an IP address that multiple users or devices can use within a datacenter. A dedicated datacenter IP address, as the name implies, is for a single user or device within a datacenter. Bright Data's Datacenter proxy is helpful for things like social media monitoring or managing multiple online accounts, as it is fast and reliable.
  2. Residential Proxy Network: In Residential proxies, the new IP address assigned to the device is obtained from a residential area. It is also called a peer-to-peer proxy. This proxy allows its users to send their requests through residential IPs. By doing this, the website gets the impression that the requests are coming from those residential areas. Bright Data has a Residential proxy network of over 72 million IPs from 195 countries. This proxy service option has its pay-as-you-go plan starting at $10.50/GB and its prepaid plan within the range of $6.30/GB to $8.04/GB, depending on the traffic. With the Residential proxy network, your bot can access a target website like a real user. The Residential proxy will be the go-to option if the Datacenter proxies and Mobile Proxies yield low success rates. Sample use cases of the Residential proxy network are for business intelligence, competitor analysis and ad verification.
  3. ISP Proxy Network: ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. As the name implies, the ISP proxy network replaces the original IP address with an IP address from a given ISP. The IP addresses the ISP offers are also called static residential IPs. The ISP proxy is similar to Datacenter but has a higher success rate when dealing with more challenging sites than the latter. Bright data has 700,000 static residential (ISP) proxy IPs. This service is of high speed. Its pay-as-you-go pricing option starts at $15.00/GB, and its prepaid plans range from $9.00/GB to $12.75/GB depending on the amount of traffic.
  4. Mobile Proxy Network: In the mobile proxy network, the proxy software masks the device's IP address and assigns it a new mobile IP address. This IP address is from a mobile network. The mobile proxy network aims to make it look like the device connects to a website via a mobile network. Useful for ad verification and geo-specific information, amongst others. The mobile proxy network has the best reputation because it's almost impossible for a website to identify it as a proxy. Bright Data has 7 million mobile IPs. The pay-as-you-go plan for this proxy service starts at $24.00/GB, and its prepaid plans range from $14.40/GB to $20.40/GB, depending on the amount of traffic. It offers Automatic IP rotation, a technique used to change the IP address of a device regularly. This is done to maintain anonymity.

Why Use Bright Data's Proxy Service?

When choosing the right proxy service for a task, you must consider some factors. These factors include:

  • Location: This is important if you need data restricted to a particular geographic area. With Bright Data, you can use any proxy network option that fits your geographic needs.
  • Scalability: Bright Data's proxy service is designed to handle large-scale tasks.
  • Security: Bright Data's proxy service is trustworthy and secure and strictly follows legal requirements. They offer encryption, especially for sensitive data, so the data transferred between your device and the target website are encrypted.
  • Cost: Bright Data's proxy service offers bandwidth-based pricing. You only pay for the number of bandwidth you need. This way, you save costs and get value for your money. It also has a pay-as-you-go plan.
  • Customer Support: If you encounter any difficulties with Bright Data's proxy services, Bright Data offers a 24/7 customer support system with an average response time of 10 minutes.

These factors all play out in Bright Data. Bright Data is a leading web data platform that has proven reliable and trustworthy in the long run. For more details on Bright Data's diverse and innovative services, visit their website.

Continue Learning