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WFH web scraping: tips on tools and proxies

donaldcr profile image donaldCR ・4 min read

Web scraping is one of these services that have a great demand in the business world and plays an important role when working with market research, SEO, trying to find out more about the target audience and its habits, checking on competitors and looking for possible opportunities for business to grow. With the current situation with coronavirus putting more and more people working from home, web scraping can also be easily done from your home office. In this article, you can find some useful tips on the tools to choose for work as well as for proxy services that are needed to complete web scraping tasks.

What tool should you use?
Currently, the market is full of various web scraping tools so sometimes it’s difficult to choose one that would meet all of your needs. From my personal experience, I would recommend using these tools.

SCRAPY
Scrapy is one of those tools that you just like to use and this is why so many people choose this scraper to complete web scraping tasks. You might already know that Scrapy is an open-source and collaborative framework. This tool is one of the most favorites of those who work with the Python library and it can definitely offer you a lot. Here are some of the features you can find in this web scraping tool:
-Built-in support for selecting and extracting data from HTML/XML sources;
-Built-in support for generating feed exports in multiple formats;
-Robust encoding support and auto-detection;
-Wide range of built-in extensions and middlewares;
-It handles the requests asynchronously;
-It automatically adjusts scraping speed using the Auto-throttling mechanism.
Scrapy is a free web scraping tool and available for anyone. Even though Scrapy was originally designed for web scraping, it can also be used to extract data using APIs or as a general-purpose web crawler.

PARSEHUB
ParseHub can be your gateway into scraping. There’s no need to know any coding — just launch a project, click on the information that needs to be collected and let ParseHub do the rest. This is why this tool is very useful for those who just started web scraping and don’t have much knowledge of programming. Nevertheless, this tool is pretty advanced and can complete various difficult web scraping tasks. Here are some ParseHub features:
-Extract text, HTML, and attributes;
-Scrape and download images/files;
-Get data behind a log-in;
-Infinitely scrolling pages;
-Search through forms and inputs;
-Dropdowns, tabs, and pop-ups.
ParseHub’s versatility is fully unlocked once you learn how to use its commands. Think of them as the different actions you can ask the scraper to do. This tool is very popular because of its functionality and the fact that it is pretty easy to understand how to work with it.

OCTOPARSE
Octoparse is a free and powerful web scraper with comprehensive features. The point and click user interface allow you to teach the scraper how to navigate and extract fields from a website. Below you can find several of the Octoparse’s features:
-Ad Blocking technique feature helps you to extract data from Ad-heavy pages;
-The tool provides support to mimics a human user while visiting and scraping -data from the specific websites;
-Octoparse allows you to run your extraction on the cloud and your local machine;
-It allows you to export all types of scraped data in TXT, HTML CSV, or Excel formats.
You can use Regex tools and XPath to help extraction precisely. XPath can resolve 80% of data missing problems, even in scraping dynamic pages. However, not all people can write the correct Xpath. Thanks to Octoparse, this is definitely a life-saving feature. Moreover, Octoparse has built-in templates including Amazon, Yelp, and TripAdvisor for starters to use. The scraped data will be exported into Excel, HTML, CVS and more.

But it’s not enough to have a scraping tool. You also should use proxy services since proxies can mask your tool and help you to stay undetected while gathering data you need. Besides, since there are many obstacles that arise while scraping, proxies are a good choice to overcome most of them. Here you can find some suggestions for proxies to use.

Smartproxy
Smartproxy has over 10 million rotating residential proxies with location targeting and flexible pricing. In addition to some of the best proxies, they also offer all sorts of niceties like rotating sessions, random residential IPs, geo-targeting, sticky sessions, and automatic proxy rotator and more. One of the nice things about this service is that they are pretty good about overage pricing, once you exceed the limits of your plan, you can use them on a pay-as-you-go basis for every GB that you go over, instead of having to upgrade to the next plan. And with the coupon SMARTPRO you can get a 20% discount for your first purchase so it’s worth checking them out.

Microleaves
Microleaves boasts the world’s largest pool of residential proxies, with over 26 million in its pool at any given time. For the specific use case where you are looking for rotating or dedicated residential proxies but don’t want to get charged for bandwidth, these might be one of the best choices in the market for you.

GeoSurf
GeoSurf offers premium residential proxies at premium prices with more than 2 million IPs. While this may not be the best proxy provider for those on a tight budget, this is one of the instances where you get what you pay for, these are some of the best residential proxies around. They offer special pools of proxies for certain use cases, web scraping included.

If you need more ideas for proxy providers, you can find them on this blog post or check Proxy Market research 2020 to get more knowledge on this topic and the importance of proxy services for business.

Originally this post was published on Medium: https://medium.com/@donald.crofts/wfh-web-scraping-tips-on-tools-and-proxies-8d2a1dc5b90e

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