Perhaps, web scraping is one of the best ways through which you can gain a competitive advantage over your competitors. Crawl their websites, scrape the important information (read: products, services, pricing plans, contact information and the like), and feed the valuable data to your database to derive useful insights and to make data-driven decisions.
However, web data extraction is not as simple as it might sound. Quite predictably, websites and portals are not willing to share their data, and thus, they employ various anti-scraping measures. Although web scraping is not illegal if done ethically, some websites just make it tough.
This is when the entire concept of proxy rotation comes in the picture and helps you scrape useful information without breaking a sweat. So how do you do it? To understand the things vividly, let’s start with the square one.
What is an IP Address?
You might argue as to why we are discussing an IP address here. Simply, because it is relevant.
When we talk about rotating proxies, we are basically talking about rotating IP addresses and this is what makes it important to know about an IP address.
Consider an IP address as a unique identifier that identifies your device connected to the internet. An IP address, in many ways, resembles a lot to your physical address. Just like the address of your house is used to send and receive parcels and mails, an IP address is used to communicate over the internet.
Technically, IP stands for internet protocol which is a string of numbers based on a particular set of rules related to networking.
Thus, whenever you visit a URL, a connection request is made by your computer to the destination server. In this process, your IP address is revealed, and you are able to visit the required website over the World Wide Web.
This is when the concept of IP address rotation comes into the picture.
What is IP Address Rotation?
This is no brainer that IP address rotation is a practice through which one can rotate their IP addresses. As a matter of fact, your internet service provider provides your device with an IP address that is rotated randomly or at a scheduled interval.
For instance, when you are connected to the internet, you are provided with an IP address. However, the moment you disconnect, this IP address could be passed on to someone else. When you connect to the internet back again, you will be assigned a different IP address from the pool of IP addresses. This whole process is called IP address rotation.
It is important to mention here that most internet service providers keep on rotating the IP addresses because at any point in time – they have more users than IP addresses at their disposal. Thus, whenever a user disconnects, they assign that particular IP address to someone else.
As is evident, IP address rotation is a common process adopted by most ISPs. But can you rotate your IP address forcibly and willingly?
The simple answer is:
Yes, you can.
All you need to do is use proxies for this purpose. This brings us to another important question – what are proxies? Let’s find out.
What is a Proxy?
A proxy, as the name indicates, is a pretentious server located between your computer and the destination server. Essentially, a proxy acts as an intermediary and helps your device communicate with the destination server without revealing your IP address.
A proxy server has its own IP address. Thus, whenever your computer is made to communicate with a destination server, it first shares its request with the proxy server. The proxy server then forwards its IP address along with the request to the destination server.
In this whole process, the destination server is made to believe that the request originally originated from the proxy server instead of your computer. This way, your IP address remains hidden, and you are able to browse the websites anonymously and securely.
This is how proxies help in web scraping. They sit in front of your computer and process all the scraping requests anonymously by masking your IP address.
But even proxies get banned or blacklisted. This is because if you are using the same IP address allocated to your proxy to scrape an advanced website with high-end security features in place, it is likely that they will recognize your ulterior motive and ban you. This is why businesses and enterprises choose to rotate their proxies. The process is called proxy rotation.
What is a Proxy Rotation?
When your IP address is rotated by your internet service provider, this process is logical and transparent. But when you, as an internet user, want to rotate your IP address explicitly, you can do this with the help of proxy rotation.
Proxy rotation is a simple process wherein you rotate your IP address from a pool of proxy IP addresses. This enables you to manage numerous connections from a single device. In other words, proxy rotation provides your device with different IP addresses, whenever required. This makes web crawling and data extraction a lot easier, safer, and anonymous.
Why Rotate Proxies?
Although we have discussed the importance of rotation proxies above, it is important to mention here that proxy rotation not only helps in web scraping but it can also serve various other purposes.
- SEO firms, for instance, use proxies to check their rankings on various keywords anonymously from various locations. They also use proxy rotation to create different backlinks without getting banned
- Marketing agencies, on the other hand, use web proxies to circumvent geo-blocking and to access blocked websites on the go. They also use it for various social media monitoring purposes.
- Similarly, data intelligence companies use web proxies to scrape varied websites automatically and anonymously for analytics and performance process.
- On the same lines, data triangulation companies rotate their IPs to verify the validity of the content.
- Even big names like Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and Bing rely on IP address rotation to distribute the load evenly on all their networks.
Basically, the use cases are unlimited and find varied applications in the B2B industry. If you are also convinced of the usefulness of proxy rotation and want to explore various options through which you can rotate the proxies on the go, we are doing to discuss this in the next section.
How to Rotate Proxies?
Thankfully, there are various ways through which you can rotate proxies on the go. Let’s have a look at how to rotate IP address:
Rotating proxy software
There is a range of software that can rotate your proxy address periodically. In addition to rotating the proxies, they can also help you in testing proxy, and changing the proxy settings of a web browser.
Most of the software adopts an intuitive and user-friendly approach. You just need to download and install the software and add the owned proxies. Most tools allow you to add proxies either one by one or copy-paste or import from a file. Next, you are required to select the IPs that you want to rotate and add the duration after which rotation must happen.
And that’s all. Such software is highly effective as they rotate your proxies from the available pool automatically without overusing a certain IP, thus keeping it safe.
Rotate proxy browser extensions
Thankfully, there are various browser extensions through which you can rotate the proxies on the go. These extensions also work the same way as the proxy software.
All you need to do is download and install the extension. Next, add the required proxies along with their username and password information. Next, define the behavior by providing the rotation interval, and that’s all!
Backconnect rotating proxies
Using reverse backconnect proxy can also help you in rotating proxies on the go. Such a system works by forwarding the web requests to a random proxy from a proxy pool. It ensures that different IP address is assigned every time a proxy connection is initiated.
Depending on your pool of proxies, rotating backconnect proxies could either be data center IP proxies or residential proxies. The major advantage of these proxies over other proxies is the fact that they do not need any additional proxy rotation software to rotate the IPs. However, the only downside associated with these proxies is the fact that they are a bit expensive.
Asking your proxy service provider
Another easiest way through which you can rotate your proxies is by contacting your proxy server provider and asking them to do so. Although standard tools do not offer any such feature, there are various paid proxy services which allocate a dedicated resource to you and configure your proxy server in a way that your proxies are rotated automatically without failing.
Commonly Asked Questions
1. What are the most common mistakes related to proxies and IP rotation?
Although rotating proxies and IPs is not a tough task, many of us go wrong. This is because of the simple fact that they try to rotate proxies on their own. Amid all the chaos and hectic schedule, they forget to rotate, and this leads to the over usage of proxies.
Additionally, a lot of users configure their proxies incorrectly which leads to the disaster,
The basic rule of thumb is to configure your proxy in the same way. If you use one proxy with multiple configurations, websites will become suspicious and start blocking them altogether, thus doing more harm to you than any good.
2. What is the best practice of IP rotation?
To ensure flawless rotation of IPs, it is essential to have a sufficient pool of proxies at your disposal. Essentially, you must continuously check them for their health. You can either assign a dedicated resource for this purpose or ask your proxy service provider to take care of it on your behalf.
Additionally, it is highly recommended to divide your proxies into groups. The more proxies and groups you use, the more effective your IP rotation will turn out to be.
3. Do IP rotation ensure higher success when it comes to web scraping?
Definitely! If you scrape websites on a regular basis, it is important to rotate proxies to mimic organic user behavior. This will prevent you from getting blocked and you will also be able to access geo-restricted websites without any problems.
The Wrap Up
It is easy to conclude that using a combination of proxies for rotating your IP can help you in data extraction and web crawling. This is why it is highly recommended to make use of a high-quality proxy service which provides reliable proxy rotation to boost your success rates and to keep your digital infrastructure safe and anonymous.
The good news is that rotating proxies is not a tough task. You can achieve this flawlessly with the help of varied proxy rotating software, browser extensions, backconnect proxies, and APIs.
So what are your views on this? How does your organization extract information from the web? Do you employ proxy rotation, and how important is it in your views? Let us know in the comments below.
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