Do you need to scrape some data off the internet, but not sure what to do about proxies? In our proxies APIs for scraping, we will cover several options for that as well as the pros and cons compared to using regular proxies
At a certain point in time, all companies or individuals came across the need to do some scraping. Regardless of how small scale or big scale, the scraping was supposed to be, one thing all had in common was the need for proxies.
Over the years, as the usage of proxies and scrapers increased, so did their sophistication and improvement of features. Today there are multiple ways to implement proxies, and using scraping proxy APIs is a popular choice.
Considering how sophisticated today’s services and applications are, it is understandable why some would be hesitant to add an additional service that can complicate things even more. When it comes to scraping, users have two choices – regular proxy servers or proxy APIs. Both work entirely different, and in this article, we are going to outline the details of proxy APIs as well a compare them to using regular proxies for your scraping projects.
What is a Scraping Proxy API?
API or Application Programming Interface is a protocol that provides some kind of service upon your requests. In the case of the proxy APIs, your scraper will be the one that is sending out the requests to the proxy API and gets some kind of service, in this case, a proxy service.
For this scenario, your scraper would be sending requests to the proxy API, and the service would be in charge of handling the proxies, managing them, providing you with the full service. Just to be clear, the API will only be in charge of taking care of the proxy side of the scraping, while you will be in charge of working with the scraper.
Pros and Cons of Using Proxy API Compared to Regular Proxies
As with most things, you will have some advantages and disadvantages to using some kind of service, and proxy APIs are not an exception.
Starting off with the positive sides, there are a few that we should cover. When utilizing the service of a proxy API, you have zero contact with the proxies the service uses, so you are eliminating the need to managing the proxies. When we say management, we mean following how the proxies perform. From time to time, some of the proxies may start putting out errors, or have reduced performance, get banned, etc. in these cases, the service will be in charge of handling that to ensure that you are getting the most.
This also includes the option for throttling or adding delays to prevent the server you are scraping from figuring out that someone is grabbing data off it. Another advantage is the fact that most proxy APIs have some kind of an artificial intelligence system working in the background and making minor tweaks to the proxies. Compared toa human, this is much faster, so you will be able to scrape as much as possible as fast as possible.
There are some negative sides to using proxy APIs. The lack of control over the proxies may be a good thing from a time-consuming point of view, but it can be a negative side because you will be relying on someone else choosing and working with the proxies. Next, we need to talk about the price. Getting the proxies yourself will be a lot cheaper than paying for a proxy API service.
The reason for that is the service will be providing and managing the proxies, and the company will charge you for that. Someone else managing your proxies is also a downside, mostly because you do not have the flexibility that you would have if you would be doing that yourself. The last drawback that you should be aware of is data privacy. This does not apply for all proxy API services, but it should be mentioned. The data that you scrape may sometimes be shared with third parties, so if privacy is your biggest concern, avoid proxy API or at least verify if they would share the data.
Best Proxy API Services
You will not find too much proxy API services on the internet, at least not as much as proxy providers, but there are more than enough to get your scraping project on track. In this section, we are going to cover a few of our recommendations.
One of the most popular proxy API services is ScraperAPI and with good reason. This service will give you access to over 40 million proxies in 12 locations. The proxies come from several providers in multiple countries with the option to request additional access to 50 more locations ensuring that you get more accurate geo-dependant results.
Regarding the proxies, you get a mix of residential, mobile, and datacenter proxies for optimal performance, which also depends on the pricing package you choose. Speaking of, when it comes to plans, Scraper API enables you to pay by the number of API calls instead of bandwidth.
You are also limited by the geo-location of the proxies, type of support, type of proxies, and JS rendering. Apart from that, you get unlimited bandwidth, so planning your budget should be more comfortable. If you want to try before you buy, you can get a free trial with only 1000 API calls to see how the proxies perform.
In many instances, Crawlera is considered to be a competitor to Scraping API. Brought to you by the guys from ScrapingHub, Crawlera is a proxy API with a proven record of its success. The details regarding the proxies and their locations are not available on their website, but they claim to offer the smartest proxy network on the internet. Regarding the features, it provides just about anything that you might need from a proxy API – managing proxies, rotating them, adding delays, etc.
One thing it does not have is a CAPTCHA solver, which is why you might run into a problem if the site you are scraping has them. The pricings are a bit limiting and seem like it is a bit more expensive than Scraper API. The features are also dependant on the features you want to be included in your subscription. Unlike Scraper API, Crawlera’s trial period is better. You get a 14-day free trial period with 10000 requests, meaning that you can test the service more thoroughly.
Those of you that are already deep in the scraping business must have heard of ScapingNinja. They rebranded the company into ScrapingBee, and we decided it is a good idea to have this service on our list. Similar to most proxy API providers on the internet, you will not be able to find any details on the number of proxies or their exact locations. What you do get is the info that they have a large pool of IP addresses.
On top of that, you also get the standard proxy management solution with the ability to target specific locations, based on your scraping requirements. At first glance, it might seem like this is a cheaper option, but when you look at the fine print, you will notice that it is not. If you are going for regular scraping without the need for geo-targeting or premium proxies, then it is cheap. If you need to use some of the advanced features that we mentioned, you will be spending more than one credit for a request. The good news is that you only pay for successful requests.
Unlike some of the other companies on this list, Scraping Robot is a company that has partnered up with a popular proxy providing company, Blazing SEO. The point of this partnership is to have a bigger pool of proxies, making sure that you are getting the best possible performance. The details regarding the proxies and their location is unknown, but this is nothing new, and we keep seeing it in a lot of proxy API services.
Scraping Robot claims that their partnership with Blazing SEO enables them to provide you with a cheaper service without sacrificing the performance. That is not entirely true. If you compared the prices with other proxy API services, you would notice that it is relatively expensive, but the addition of the proxies from Blazing SEO might make it worth it. You also have the chance to test them via their free trial option, which offers 5000 scrapes per month.
Last, but certainly not least on this list is ProxyCrawl. The list of proxies is not something spectacular, like with Scraper API. The list of locations is unknown, but they claim to offer over a million proxies worldwide. In addition to that, the pool of proxies consists of residential and datacenter proxies. The API management service will be taking care of the proxies regarding the throttling, delaying, removing banned proxies, and so on, while you will have the option to choose how long you want to keep your proxy sticky for your scraping project.
Also, you have the opportunity to mix and match the duration of the sessions with the locations of the proxies. The prices, considering what they offer is decent, and the included features vary depending on the package you go for. There is also a difference in how many proxies you can have access to, depending on the pricing plan. In addition to that, you have the flexibility to create your own custom plan based on your exact needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to calculate how many requests I will need?
This will depend entirely on your scraping project. Before going out to buy some of the proxy API services, sit back and see your scraping project. Calculate how much you will need, and based on that, you will have a rough idea of how much requests you will need.
Also, a lot of the providers out there will offer you a chance to pay extra to get more requests, so you should have no problem with that. One thing to keep in mind is the bandwidth. Some proxy API services will offer a limited amount of bandwidth, something that you should take into consideration.
Is it better to use proxies or proxy APIs?
It is a tough question to answer. Going for one solution or the other will depend on you, your needs, and your expectations. If you have the time to fiddle with regular proxies and you are on a tight budget, then regular proxies should do just fine.
If you have a looser budget and do not have the time to mess with the proxies, then APIs would work just fine. Check out our pros and cons section in this article, and you should get an idea of which one would work best for you.
Is scraping legal?
It is, but do not get too excited. Even though there is no law against scraping, websites are very much against that. That is the reason why most of them have some kind of protection against scrapers and proxies.
Is it legal to use proxy API?
Yes, as long as you do not purchase the service from a shady company. Doing so may also lead you down a scam, meaning that you will pay, but will not get your service.
Are there free proxy API solutions?
No, there are not. Since these types of services rely on someone developing the software that manages the proxies, it is very unlikely that you will find one that will offer the service for free. Even if you do manage to find it, you might find that there will be some conditions that you may not be too happy about.
Do proxy APIs guarantee success?
In a manner of speaking, yes. The service will do all in its power to make sure you are getting the most performance, but in some rare cases, you may not have much success with scraping the data. That is why it is a good idea to utilize a free trial option before you decide to pay for the service.
If you are in the process of setting up a scraping project, proxies are something that you must think about; otherwise, you will have very little success. In our article, we mentioned an alternative with less hassle than using regular proxies – proxy API. We also outlined the pros and cons and provided a few recommendations. With all of that, you should be able to decide on which road to take and how to proceed regarding the proxies.