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A Comprehensive Guide on Using cURL with Proxy in 2023

cURL is a versatile command-line tool that lets you transfer data to and from servers. With cURL, you can use various protocols like HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, and more. Equipping cURL with proxy takes your web scraping and API testing to the next level.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about cURL and proxies:

What is cURL?

cURL stands for "client URL". It‘s a command-line tool that allows you to make requests to servers and transfer data. With cURL, you can:

  • Download files from the internet
  • Upload files to servers
  • Test APIs
  • Debug network issues
  • Automate tasks
  • Scrape web pages

Essentially, cURL lets you communicate with servers and transfer data without a web browser. It supports numerous protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, SMTP, POP3, TELNET and more.

Key Features and Capabilities of cURL

  • Supports multiple protocols: HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, SMTP, POP3 etc.
  • Can download and upload files
  • Sends custom HTTP requests with headers, body, methods etc.
  • Handles authentication via usernames and passwords
  • Works on Linux, Windows, macOS, Unix etc.
  • Can be used for automation and scripting
  • Open source and free

This wide protocol support and flexibility make cURL a popular choice for developers, testers and anyone working with APIs.

Why Use Proxies with cURL?

Using proxies with cURL unlocks additional capabilities:

  • Bypass geographic restrictions – Access region-restricted content by routing through a proxy in that location.

  • Scrape anonymously – Scrape without revealing your true IP address and identity.

  • Test from different locations – Check how your app or website looks from different geographic regions.

  • Load balance requests – Spread requests across multiple proxies to avoid getting blocked.

  • Debug network issues – Isolate and identify network problems by testing through different proxies.

So proxies enhance cURL with privacy, geo-targeting and troubleshooting abilities.

How to Use cURL with Proxies

There are a few different ways to configure cURL with proxy:

1. Set Proxy in the cURL Command

You can specify the proxy right in the cURL command using the -x or --proxy option:

curl -x http://IP:PORT

Or with authentication:

curl -x username:password@IP:PORT  

This sets proxy for that specific command only.

2. Use Environment Variables

Set the HTTP_PROXY, HTTPS_PROXY or ALL_PROXY environment variables:

export HTTP_PROXY="http://IP:PORT"
export HTTPS_PROXY="http://IP:PORT" 

cURL will use these proxies by default for all requests.

3. Use a cURL Config File

Create a .curlrc file with:

proxy = IP:PORT
proxy-user = username:password  

Save it to your home directory. cURL will read proxy settings from this file.

Key cURL Options for Using Proxies

Here are some useful cURL options for proxy connections:

  • -x, --proxy <[protocol://][user:password@]proxyhost[:port]>: Sets proxy to use
  • -U, --proxy-user <user:password>: Proxy user and password for authentication
  • --noproxy <no-proxy-list>: List of hosts to connect directly, not through proxy
  • -k, --insecure: Allow insecure SSL connections to proxy

These provide greater control when using cURL with proxies.

Rotating Proxies with cURL

To rotate proxies and IPs with each request, use a proxy service that provides many different proxy endpoints.

For example, with Smartproxy:

curl -x 
curl -x

The different ports will assign new proxy IPs randomly.

Debugging with cURL

cURL is great for testing and debugging connections. Use options like:

  • -v for verbose output
  • -I to show response headers only
  • -w to select output to show
  • -o to save response to a file

These help inspect requests and responses in depth.

Common cURL Commands

Here are some common cURL commands to test:

  • curl – GET request
  • curl -I – Show headers only
  • curl -d "data" – POST with data
  • curl -H "Header: value" – Set request header
  • curl -o file.html – Save response to file
  • curl -v -x proxy:port – Use proxy and verbose mode

The possibilities are endless with cURL. Consult the manual for advanced techniques.

cURL vs wget

Both cURL and wget are popular command-line clients for transferring data, but they have some differences:

  • Protocols – cURL supports more protocols including HTTP, FTP, SFTP, SMTP, POP3 etc. wget just supports HTTP and HTTPS.

  • Options – cURL has more options for customizing requests and handling authentication, cookies etc. wget is simpler.

  • Scripting – cURL is better for use in scripts and automation.

  • Libraries – cURL can be used as a library in various programming languages. wget is usually just a standalone app.

So cURL is more flexible and featured for programmatic use cases. But wget can be easier for simple downloading tasks.


cURL is a powerful tool for transferring data, enhanced by pairing it with proxies. With the techniques outlined in this guide, you can leverage cURL and proxies for tasks like:

  • Scraping data at scale
  • Testing APIs and apps
  • Automating research and data gathering
  • Debugging network issues
  • Accessing geo-restricted content

The key is using reliable, high-performance proxies to complement cURL‘s flexibility. With some practice, you‘ll be able to harness cURL and proxies to speed up and enhance your web scraping, automation and testing workflows.


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