Skip to content

Cloudflare Error 1015: What Is It and How to Avoid It?

As an expert in web scraping and proxies, I know how frustrating it can be to get stopped dead in your tracks by a cryptic Cloudflare error message. Believe me, I‘ve dealt with my fair share of "Error 1015" screens when trying to gather data!

In this post, let‘s take a deep dive into what exactly Error 1015 means, why it happens, and most importantly—the techniques I recommend for preventing it from interrupting your web scraping and automation projects.

What Does the Cloudflare 1015 Error Mean?

The full message for the dreaded Error 1015 reads:

"Error 1015 – You are being rate limited."

This notification indicates that Cloudflare has detected your requests and blocked you from accessing the site you were querying.

Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) that provides DDoS protection and security services for millions of websites. Experts estimate that Cloudflare handles an astonishing 10-20% of all requests on the internet.

When you make requests to a site protected by Cloudflare, your traffic first passes through their servers to be assessed for threats before reaching the destination site.

If Cloudflare determines your requests are abusive or bot-like in nature, they will intervene and "rate limit" how many get through—completely stopping your scraper if you hit their limits.

Here are some quick stats on Cloudflare‘s massive scale:

  • 20 million+ internet properties use Cloudflare
  • 100+ billion cyber threats blocked per day
  • 70+ million HTTPS encrypted web requests

With this much traffic under their control, Cloudflare has immense power to identify and block scrapers and bots. Let‘s look at why that happens.

What Triggers the Cloudflare 1015 Rate Limit Error?

There are several typical reasons you might bump up against Cloudflare rate limits and receive Error 1015 messages:

1. Too Many Requests Too Quickly

This is the most common cause. If you send requests to a Cloudflare-protected site too rapidly, their system will see it as a potential denial-of-service attack. After all, even well-intentioned scrapers can look like DDoS bots if they are aggressive.

To put some numbers around it, if you are submitting hundreds or thousands of requests per second, you are likely to hit Cloudflare rate limits eventually.

However, even tens of requests per second could be flagged if done persistently over time from the same IP addresses. The limits really depend on the site‘s sensitivity and security settings.

2. Highly Sensitive Target Sites

Some Cloudflare-protected sites are more tightly locked down than others when it comes to rate limiting. For example, sites handling financial transactions or sensitive user data may have very low thresholds before triggering Error 1015.

I‘ve also found certain categories like social media, ecommerce, and news sites seem generally more restrictive than sites in other industries.

3. Lack of IP Diversity

If you are web scraping from one IP address or a small, confined pool of IPs, it‘s much easier to get flagged for abusive behavior than if you use a varied, ever-changing pool of IP addresses across requests.

Rotating through different IP addresses makes your traffic appear more human since real users likely have varying IPs based on their internet service providers.

4. Poor Bot Disguise

Beyond raw request volume, Cloudflare also looks for other signs of bot activity, including:

  • Repeating user agents: Using the same browser/device fingerprint over and over is bot-like

  • No browser cookies: Human browsers save cookies, but scrapers often don‘t store or return them

  • No JavaScript execution: Bots don‘t necessarily execute JS which helps differentiate from real browsers

  • Repeated query patterns: Hitting the same pages in the same order looks robotic

So if you aren‘t properly disguising your scraper, other behavioral signals may trigger Cloudflare protections beyond just the speed of requests.

5. Overtaxed Proxies

If you are routing your scraper through proxies, be cautious that the proxy service isn‘t oversubscribed and struggling to support the load. Slow, overloaded proxies can themselves trigger Cloudflare rate limits.

I‘ve found proxy services boasting millions of IPs don‘t necessarily translate into high performance proxies. As a rule of thumb, 100-200 requests per minute per proxy IP is a reasonable load.

What Happens If You Don‘t Solve Error 1015?

Left unchecked, Cloudflare Error 1015 can completely cripple your scraper‘s ability to gather data. Here are some likely outcomes if you aren‘t able to address rate limiting issues:

Data Loss

Since your scraper is blocked from accessing the site, any information you hoped to collect will be lost. For time-sensitive data like prices or inventory, this data loss can be especially painful.

No one likes spending days building scrapers only to have them stalled by Cloudflare!

Difficulty Scaling

If your scrapers are frequently hitting rate limits, it becomes very challenging to scale up traffic and increase requests. Any time you push more volume, you‘ll just hit Cloudflare walls.

Figuring out these scaling issues can be frustratingly time consuming for development teams.

Blocked IP Addresses

If you continue pounding sites with requests after receiving initial Error 1015 warnings, Cloudflare may fully blacklist your IP address or hosting provider.

Having entire IP ranges permanently blocked makes it difficult to complete future scraping work without constantly changing providers.

Wasted Resources

There‘s nothing worse than coming back after hours or days to see your scrapers have been running yet collected zero useful data. All the spent computing power and time is wasted.

I can‘t tell you how many AWS instances I‘ve shutdown in frustration after coming back to find them stalled by Cloudflare errors!

The overall impact is significantly decreased efficiency and ROI from your web scraping efforts if Error 1015 is not resolved.

9 Expert Techniques to Avoid the Cloudflare 1015 Rate Limit

Now that you understand Cloudflare errors, let‘s explore proven methods to avoid and overcome them while web scraping and crawling.

After extensive trial and error in my career, here are my top 9 tips:

1. Use Proxy Rotation Services

The number one technique I recommend is leveraging proxy rotation services.

By constantly rotating your web scraping requests through different proxy IP addresses around the world, you can effectively "mask" your traffic and avoid detection by Cloudflare rate limiting algorithms.

Proxy rotation works by dispersing your requests through a large, ever-changing pool of IP addresses. To Cloudflare, it appears that a wide variety of organic users are accessing the site rather than one bot from a fixed IP range.

I‘ve found proxy rotation services to be the most reliable way to scrape Cloudflare-protected sites at scale without errors.

Some prominent proxy rotation options include:

  • BrightData – 40+ million rotating IPs worldwide
  • Oxylabs – Residential and datacenter proxies
  • GeoSurf – Location-specific proxies
  • Soax – General purpose proxies
  • Smartproxy – Scraper-focused residential proxies

The key is choosing a service with a large enough pool of proxies to properly emulate realistic user traffic. My rule of thumb is targeting at least tens of thousands of available IPs, with hundreds of thousands ideal for heavy scraping usage.

Beyond avoiding Cloudflare blocks, proxies also provide other benefits like geospatial flexibility and anonymity. But their proxy rotation capabilities make them worth the price alone in my book.

2. Randomize Request Attributes

In addition to routing through different proxies, you should also add randomness to various attributes of your web scraping requests. This makes your traffic appear more human.

Here are some examples of aspects you can randomize:

  • User Agent – Rotate between common browser + device combos
  • Headers – Vary order, change languages, etc.
  • Request Timing – Use random delays to throttle requests
  • Scroll Depth – Scroll random percentages down the page
  • Data Ranges – Pull different date ranges, categories etc.

Table: Examples of Random Values for User Agents

PlatformBrowserDeviceUser Agent String
iOSMobile SafariiPhoneMozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 12_2 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/605.1.15 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/12.1 Mobile/15E148 Safari/604.1
AndroidChromeSamsung GalaxyMozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 8.0.0; SM-G960F Build/R16NW) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/62.0.3202.84 Mobile Safari/537.36
WindowsChromeDesktopMozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/74.0.3729.169 Safari/537.36

You don‘t necessarily need hundreds of variations, but having a few common options makes you appear less bot-like. Just be sure your web scraper or proxy service can handle rendering through different user agents.

The key is adding variability across any dimension Cloudflare may use to fingerprint bots vs. real users. With randomness, each request looks unique.

3. Solve Captchas and JavaScript Challenges

In addition to analyzing traffic patterns, Cloudflare also actively tries to differentiate humans from bots using visible challenges:

  • Captchas – Must solve visual/audio puzzles to proceed
  • JavaScript – Must execute browser JS code to access content

These are explicitly designed to stop automated scrapers in their tracks.

To avoid getting stuck in this trap, I recommend using specialist services that can programmatically solve CAPTCHAs and execute JS challenges on your behalf:

  • Anti-Captcha – Solves CAPTCHAs with human teams
  • 2Captcha – Another popular CAPTCHA solver
  • Puppeteer – Headless Chrome can handle JS challenges

By essentially "outsourcing" these challenge solutions, your core scraper code doesn‘t have to worry about getting stuck. You can focus on actually extracting and processing the data you need.

4. Distribute Traffic Over Time

One simple yet effective tactic is spreading your scraper requests over a longer period of time, rather than attacking a site continuously in one intensive blast.

For example, rather than scraping at 100 requests per second for 1 hour, you could distribute an equivalent 360,000 requests over 24 hours at ~150 requests per minute.

Stretching traffic over a day or week significantly reduces your chances of bumping into Cloudflare limits compared to pounding the site nonstop.

I like to use the "boil the frog" analogy here—slow and steady traffic avoidance detection, while short intense bursts are more noticeable.

Just keep in mind that spreading requests over days or weeks may impact data freshness, as the site content will evolve over those periods. Plan your scraping schedule accordingly.

5. Use Browser Automation Tools

Browser automation tools like Puppeteer, Playwright and Selenium directly control Chrome, Firefox and other real browsers programmatically.

This has the advantage of better mimicking genuine user traffic since you are utilizing actual browser environments and behaviors.

For example, Puppeteer scripts generate the same cookies, headers, JS execution etc. as a normal Chrome user session. This helps mask bot patterns that tip off Cloudflare protections.

Just be sure to implement randomness and throttling practices even within browser automation to fully simulate organic user actions over time. The browsers alone don‘t necessarily solve rate limiting issues.

6. Rotate Different Browser Automation Tools

To take the browser mimicking strategy even further, you can rotate between different browser automation tools over time:

  • Rotate Puppeteer and Playwright – Both drive Chromium, so switching between them varies the underlying fingerprints
  • Rotate Headless and Headful – Headful opens actual browser windows, which anti-bot systems may trust more
  • Use Multiple Browser Types – Cycle between Chrome, Firefox, WebKit etc. for greater variance

By constantly switching up your browser automation patterns, you create more user-like unpredictability that avoids patterns.

7. Monitor and Respond to Error Patterns

Even with all the above precautions, you may still encounter occasional Cloudflare 1015 errors. When this happens:

  • Log and aggregate errors to identify any patterns in terms of pages, frequency etc.
  • Adapt your configurations such as lowering request volume, varying timings or adding more proxies.
  • Try different evasion tactics like routing through new proxy providers or switching browser automation tools.

By actively monitoring and responding to any error trickles, you can quickly plug any small holes in your scraping strategy leaking Cloudflare errors. Just don‘t ignore the errors!

8. Use Web Scraping APIs

Another option is leveraging dedicated web scraping APIs like ParseHub, Scrapy Cloud, or ScraperAPI.

These services provide proxy management, captcha solving, and other tools pre-configured specifically to avoid issues like Cloudflare rate limiting.

The benefit is you can focus just on writing your parsing logic and extracting the data you need. The APIs handle all the underlying challenges of navigating target sites at scale.

Just keep in mind you lose some customization flexibility compared to controlling your own proxies and scraping infrastructure. And scraping APIs charge monthly subscription fees, so evaluate if the convenience is worth the cost.

9. Talk to the Site Owner

If you are scraping a site extensively and struggling to avoid rate limits, you can always appeal directly to the site owner as a last resort.

Many are open to allowing well-intentioned scraping if you explain you are not malicious. They may grant an exemption or provide guidance on scales and patterns that will not trigger blocks.

Of course this depends on having an existing relationship with the site, and them believing you have a reasonable use case for large-scale data collection from their properties. But it can offer a way forward when other options fail.

Key Takeaways to Stop Cloudflare Error 1015

Dealing with Cloudflare effectively as a scraper requires using the right tools and techniques. If you are seeing Error 1015, here are my top recommended next steps:

  • Implement Proxy Rotation – This is #1 protection and allows smooth scraping at scale
  • Randomize Attributes – Vary details like user agents, headers, timings etc.
  • Solve CAPTCHAs/JS – Don‘t let challenges grind your scraper to a halt
  • Monitor and Optimize – Analyze errors to continuously improve your approach
  • Use Browser Automation – Mimic real user browsing for better disguise
  • Spread Traffic Over Time – Avoid intense bursts that trigger limits

With the right precautions, you can confidently scrape past Cloudflare protections without pesky Error 1015 disrupting your data collection. Careful bot disguising and traffic distribution are key.

I hope these tips, tricks and tools empower you to scrape freely without the headaches I endured earlier in my career! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *