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Introduction To Proxies in Web Scraping

Web scraping is an invaluable tool for gathering large amounts of data from the internet. However, many websites actively try to prevent scraping through various blocking methods. Using proxies is one of the most effective ways for scrapers to avoid blocks and access more data.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore everything you need to know about using proxies for web scraping.

What is a Proxy?

A proxy acts as an intermediary between your scraper and the target website. When you send a request through a proxy, it will forward your request to the target site instead of connecting directly. This allows you to hide your scraper‘s true IP address and appear to be someone else.

There are two main types of proxies:

  • HTTP Proxies: These forward HTTP requests specifically. They are the most common proxy type used for general web scraping.

  • SOCKS Proxies: SOCKS proxies are more advanced and can forward nearly any type of internet traffic. They tend to be faster than HTTP proxies.

By routing your requests through proxies around the world, you can avoid having all your traffic come from a single identifiable IP address. This makes it much harder for sites to pinpoint and block your scraper.

Why Use Proxies for Web Scraping?

There are two major reasons scrapers rely on proxies:

1. Avoid Blocking – Websites don‘t want to be scraped and may block IP addresses that send too many requests. Proxies allow you to rotate IP addresses and appear less suspicious.

2. Access Restricted Content – Some sites restrict content based on geographic IP location. Proxies let you spoof your location and access region-locked content.

Good proxies are essential for successful large-scale web scraping. Let‘s look at the different types available…

Types of Proxies

Not all proxies are created equal. When selecting proxies for your scraper, you‘ll generally encounter four main types:

Datacenter Proxies

  • Assigned to servers in datacenters, not residential ISPs.

  • Can be detected as proxies and easily blocked.

  • Low cost and high availability make them good for basic scraping needs.

Residential Proxies

  • Assigned to home ISP connections around the world.

  • Appear as legitimate residential traffic, much harder to detect and block.

  • Limited availability and higher costs than datacenter proxies.

  • Often use dynamic IP addresses, requiring re-authentication.

Mobile Proxies

  • Assigned dynamically by mobile carriers to devices.

  • Nearly impossible for sites to identify as proxies.

  • Most expensive proxy type, but highest success rate.

  • Dynamic IPs require constant re-authentication.

ISP Proxies

  • Datacenter proxies registered under major ISP IP ranges.

  • Get residential proxy benefits with datacenter proxy reliability.

  • Offer good blend of stealth and affordability.

As you can see, residential and mobile proxies offer the best protection against blocks since they mimic real user traffic. But datacenter and ISP proxies are far more affordable if you don‘t require the highest-level stealth.

Key Proxy Features for Web Scraping

Beyond just the type of proxy, there are several key features to evaluate when selecting a proxy provider:

  • HTTP/2 Support – Many sites now block HTTP/1 traffic common with scrapers. Look for proxies supporting HTTP/2.

  • Bandwidth – Scraping can use immense bandwidth, make sure your proxy provider won‘t cap or throttle you.

  • Latency – The ping time for proxies to reach your targets. Lower is better.

  • Success Rate – Percentage of requests successfully completed through a provider‘s proxies.

  • Concurrency – Number of concurrent threads proxies can handle without errors.

  • Rotation – Frequently rotating IPs is vital to avoid blocks.

  • Stickiness – Using the same IP for a user‘s whole session avoids re-authentication needs.

  • Locations – More proxy locations help mimic real users worldwide.

  • Reliability – Proxies should have minimal downtime and errors to avoid scraping disruptions.

  • Anti-Captcha – Some providers offer built-in captcha solving to improve success rates.

  • Customer Support – Proxy issues can cripple scraping, fast and knowledgeable support is a must.

Proxy Challenges & Solutions

Proxies don‘t come without their difficulties. Here are some common challenges scrapers face with proxies and mitigation strategies:

IP Blocks

Target sites may detect and block specific proxy IP addresses. The best solution is using proxy services that rapidly cycle IP addresses and have large pools to rotate from. Avoiding blocks entirely isn‘t realistic, the key is making them short-lived.


When sites detect scraping activity, they‘ll prompt CAPTCHAs to confirm human users and block bots. Some providers offer automated captcha solving built into their proxies to handle this. Alternatively, you can integrate a dedicated captcha solving service with your scraper.

Bandwidth Costs

Scraping at scale consumes immense bandwidth, which adds up fast. Use proxies intelligently, avoid downloading unnecessary content, and enable caching in your scraper code to minimize this expense. Compress downloaded data as well.

Poor Performance

Scraping is very latency sensitive – delays from proxies can significantly slow data collection speed. Test proxies under load to ensure sufficient capacity and minimal latency for your use case. Tweak concurrency settings until optimal.

IP Geolocation

If your targets restrict geographic access, proxy IP geolocation becomes critical. Verify the proxy provider offers IPs matching all required locations before integrating them.


Dynamic residential/mobile IPs often require re-authenticating sessions. Design scrapers to detect and handle authentication flows automatically rather than relying on static IPs.

HTTP Protocol Support

Many sites now block HTTP/1.1 connections that proxies rely on. Migrate to providers offering robust HTTP/2 proxy support.

Unreliable Connections

Proxy connections can occasionally fail and disrupt scraping jobs. Make sure to implement robust retry logic in scrapers to resume from errors quickly. Alerting helps catch prolonged proxy problems.

Best Practices When Using Proxies

Follow these guidelines to maximize success when integrating proxies into your web scrapers:

  • Evaluate targets – Assess anti-scraping measures, geo-restrictions, data volumes. This will determine the needed proxies.

  • Isolate proxy configs – Don‘t hardcode proxies. Maintain them in a separate config to easily switch proxy providers if needed.

  • Implement retries – Connection issues are likely. All requests should be retryable across multiple proxies.

  • Limit concurrent requests – Too many concurrent threads per proxy will cause failures. Tune for optimal concurrency.

  • Utilize multiple providers – Rotate across multiple proxy providers to avoid overusing specific IPs.

  • Analyze costs – Monitor data usage and resulting proxy expenses. Tweak approaches to lower costs.

  • Check locations – Confirm proxies work from required geographic areas, don‘t just trust advertised locations.

  • Cache intelligently – Implement caching in your scrapers to avoid repeated downloads killing proxy bandwidth limits.

  • Test under load – Benchmark proxies with concurrent requests well above your target volumes.

  • Have backup plans – Be prepared to immediately shift proxy providers if your current ones falter.

Top Proxy Providers for Web Scraping

Now let‘s look at some of the most popular and reliable proxy services used by web scrapers today:


BrightData offers all proxy types with over 40 million IPs worldwide. Features include HTTP/2 support, 99.9% uptime, unlimited bandwidth, and starting at just $500/month for 40GB of traffic. They also provide integrated captcha solving. BrightData is among the most well-rounded providers for serious scraping.


Oxylabs provides over 100 million global residential and mobile IPs optimized specifically for web scraping. With unlimited bandwidth and 99.99% uptime, they excel at supporting the largest scale scrapers. Plans start at €500/month. Oxylabs claims over 99% of requests successfully scraped using their proxies.


GeoSurf offers a wide range of residential proxy plans, starting at $290/month for 5 million requests. They stand out with very customizable plans based on locations, IP types, fixed vs rotating IPs and more. Support for HTTP/2, 97% success rate, and integrated captcha solving make them a strong contender.


NetNut provides datacenter, residential, static residential and mobile proxies starting at $0.65 per million pages scraped when prepaid. With unlimited bandwidth and connections, NetNut focuses on delivering reliability and flexibility at low costs but with fewer premium features.


Luminati operates one of the largest paid proxy networks, with over 40 million IPs worldwide. They allow over 200k concurrent connections per proxy. With an enterprise-grade proxy network starting at $500/month, Luminati is ideal for only the most demanding scraping needs where cost is less of a concern.

Smart Proxy

Smart Proxy offers datacenter and residential backconnect rotating proxies supporting HTTP/2. Plans start at $65/month for 1 GB of traffic and unlimited concurrent threads. With over 10 million IPs, Smart Proxy is easy-to-use and affordable for low to mid-level scraping needs.

Should You Use Free Proxies?

New scrapers are often tempted by free public proxy lists that can be found online. However, free proxies have major downsides:

  • Very slow, unreliable connections
  • Frequently offline with no replacements
  • Easily detected and blocked by sites
  • High risk of malicious/compromised exit nodes

Free proxies may be useful for small hobby projects. But for any professional web scraping, you should use reliable paid providers. The costs are well worth it for the benefits provided.


Web scraping without proxies leaves you vulnerable to blocks, captchas and geolocation restrictions. Carefully selecting the right proxies enables scalable, resilient scraping.

The proxy landscape can be complex – there are many protocol types, IP sources, and features to weigh. This guide provides a comprehensive overview so you can make informed proxy decisions for your specific web scraping needs.

With robust proxies in place, you can scrape valuable data at scale without limits!


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