Scraping API vs. Proxies: Main Differences


Websites have become crucial communications tools for most businesses, especially with the rise of e-commerce. Older ways of advertising and information dissemination are in decline, and sites are becoming the primary connection a company has with its consumers. Business needs websites to make an income. Therefore they are digitizing most of their information to create online entities.

Many web users only need standard web protocols such as CSS, JavaScript, or CSS to access all the information that they require from a particular website. These protocols make it very easy also for businesses to sell services and products to a consumer network that has become very accessible.

This accessibility of data can be advantageous to other businesses as well. Information technologists have designed other web protocols that open the doors to data collection for business applications. Such protocols rely on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) or proxy server use.

What is a proxy?

Proxy servers act as intermediaries between your business’ computer networks and the internet. If you have a proxy server installed in your browser, it will route all web requests through it to the queried web pages. These web pages cannot view your IP address. They will only see the proxy server’s IP address instead.

The proxy, therefore, acts as a gateway between the external online world and your computer, giving you anonymity when online. The proxy server will also enhance your data protection strategy since the servers keep your identity hidden from trackers, hackers, and any other malicious actors online.

These servers can also enhance your network’s performance because they cache regular web requests, speeding up the connection.

What is a scraper API?

A scraper API is a communication method between a computer and a website. API’s are designed to receive requests from browsers, and then respond with data in file formats different from HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. They, for instance, will provide XML or JSON file types for the data they contain.

Scarper APIs are complicated in design, but they have a lot of documentation for interested parties. Better still, large corporations like Bloomberg, Bing News, or the New York Times all create their APIs to enable easy web scraping of their archived data.

What are scraper tools?

To access large amounts of data online via web scraping, you can either use a scraper API or scraper tools. Scraper tools are custom built and easy to use applications that extract mass information using a few lines of code.

They can be configured to run manually as point and click tools with a user interface. They can also run programmatically on provided APIs where possible. They store in various formats such as CSV, JSON, or XML. Scraper tools require proxy servers to prevent detection by websites that block web scraping.

Different kinds of proxies

Datacenter proxies

There are two main types of proxy servers that can be used by web scraping tools. The most common and affordable type is the datacenter proxy. These proxies are sold and, at times, given out free by third-party cloud-hosted providers. They are cheap and easy to access, especially in bulk.

Web scraping needs rotated proxies because websites can easily detect when a single IP address is sending too many requests. They will flag or block that IP address, and hinder web scraping. To overcome this issue, web-scraping tools use a pool of rotating IPs to imitate multiple user activity on a website.

While datacenter IPs are cheap in bulk, they are also very easily detected by blockers. They are not actual IP addresses but are rather a combination of numbers. Any keen website administrator can pick out rotating datacenter IPs and still block them from scraping data.

Residential proxies

Residential proxies, on the other hand, are actual IP addresses sold by internet service providers. They are harder to detect when online, but they can be blocked too if used in data scraping without the benefit of a rotating IP pool.

A pool of residential proxies is perfect for web scraping since their activity will look like genuine user activity on a website. If the web administrator decides to investigate them, he will trace their details, such as physical location and internet service provider.

The best web scraping solution for a business

Businesses have very different uses for web scraped data. The data requirements of your business should influence the choice between a web scraper tool and scraper API. The scraper API, for instance, is perfect developers who are willing to dig into its documentation and apply it as required. The API can develop scrapers that can access massive amounts of data with a simple API call.

These scrapers will manage all proxies needed from different proxy providers and will throttle requests to prevent CAPTCHAs and IP bans. Developers will find scrapers APIs very beneficial for news sites, e-commerce prices, search engines, social media, and ticker scraping.

An API, while powerful in its operation, can also be restricted in usage. The Bing News API, for instance, can pull information such dates of publications, descriptions of articles, photos, URLs, or titles, but it has a freemium feature. You can only use it to scrape 100 requests in a day, which can hinder massive data use applications.

The New York Times API, on the other hand, can retrieve information from the newspaper’s database of articles. It is easy to use and navigate but cannot be utilized for commercial purposes. You can not use it to scrape articles that are not published by the New York Times.

Businesses with robust IT departments can build their web scraping tools whose infrastructure is maintained by the department. All such a business requires to do is to purchase the best proxies for its web scraper tool.

Smaller businesses that need web scraping functionality can find it very expensive to build a scraper tool and maintain it. The best solution for such companies is to pay subscription fees for a web scraper tool that is provided, supported, and maintained by a professional developer team.

This will save the business a lot of money since they do not have to pay IT personnel. The remote run tool and its proxy infrastructure will be updated and efficient so long as it is provided by a top-notch and highly reviewed provider.

Conclusion

Scraper APIs can be very challenging for small businesses that do not have developers in their personnel. They are nevertheless very robust web scrapers for use in particular applications. A web scraper tool can easily be customized to fit any business need or size, making it very affordable. It also has an easy to use interface, to ensure that business will not need to hire specialized personnel to use it.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTime

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