DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for Tips on how to avoid the main obstacles while web scraping

Tips on how to avoid the main obstacles while web scraping

RichyDalline
Tech enthusiast, professional in I.T. programming, digital design, and web scraping
Updated on ・4 min read

Web scraping has become a very important service in today’s business world and can benefit you in many various ways. Data science helps improve your business, take a better look into the situation of the market, let you get better ideas about your business prospects and find new ways on how to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness.
But web scraping isn’t an easy task and even the professionals usually meet with various obstacles that slacken their work or even make it almost impossible to execute. This article is about some of these obstacles that web scrapers usually meet in their way and tips on how to avoid them.

Top 5 obstacles while web scraping:

Captchas.
You definitely saw many of these while you were trying to access the content you wanted and it was asked to you to prove that you aren’t a robot. It can really bother you sometimes but mostly you deal with it pretty easily. But it’s definitely an issue when you have to scrape a website and these CAPTCHAS are stopping you.
Many CAPTCHA solvers can be implemented into bots to ensure non-stopping scrapes. Although the technologies to overcome CAPTCHA can help acquire continuous data feeds, they could still slow down the scraping process a bit. There are some other ways to avoid CAPTCHA so you should always check them out.

IP blocks.
Web scraping is an automatic action that can be easily detected by the website. IP blocking is a real issue in many scraping cases. IP blocking typically happens when a server detects an unnaturally high number of requests from the same IP address or if the web scraping tool makes multiple parallel requests. This usually ends in you being banned from the website without the possibility to gather data you want.
Nevertheless, this can be solved by simply using proxy services. Proxies mask your own IP address (for privacy matters) and help imitate natural human activity on the website so you are safe using your scraping tool to gather data you need without being blocked.

Geo-restrictions.
Many websites limit access to some geographic regions. They detect locations by checking the IP addresses of every device that tries to connect to their servers. People use proxy servers to hide their IP address and change it to the proxy server’s IP. This means that anyone using a high quality US proxy (or any other, depending on the country/region you have to access) can access any US-only content without restrictions.

Real-time data scraping.
Real-time data scraping is essential when it comes to price comparison, inventory tracking, etc. With so much data online the data can change very quickly and may lead to some great issues for business. This is why the scraper needs to monitor the websites all the time and scrape data constantly. Even so, it still has some delay as the requesting and data delivery take time.
In some cases, this is a pretty big obstacle and it’s not easy to solve it. So if you’re scraping data that has the potential to change quickly and more than several times a day, you have to invest in a reliable web scraping tool that would have the capacity to deal with such issues. The market can offer some great real-time crawlers/scrapers that can be used, so it is worth investing in them.

The need to log in.
Some protected information may require you to log in first. When you’re using an automatic tool for scraping, the need to log in to the website definitely stops your performance for quite some time. These logins are important because of the cookies that are installed at the moment you log in to the website so the website would know you’re the same person who just logged in earlier. When scraping websites requiring a login, be sure that cookies have been sent with the requests.
Some web scraping tools have features that help with this login policy and thus help you to avoid unnecessary issues, so once again there is great importance in your choice of the tool you will be using. Right tools always help you to perform better when scraping and help bypass many obstacles in your way.

In reality, web scraping alone is as good as you’re capable of solving the problems that come in your way. When dealing with the most common problems the most common solutions would be always using proxy services and to be smart about the tool you choose to use. I would highly recommend using proxy services that could provide you a big pool of IPs from various locations and since this is crucial in many cases. Here are some of the recommendations you can check:
Smartproxy — fast and reliable services. This provider can offer you more than 10 million IPs from more than 195 locations and really great pricing plans according to your needs. Besides, with the coupon SMARTPRO you can get a 20% discount for your first purchase so it’s worth to check;
GeoSurf — this provider can offer you not only reliable residential proxies but you can also try their VPN. GeoSurf’s pool of IPs is about 2 million and you can choose proxies from the US, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and Australia;
Stormproxies — the provider can offer you fast proxy services to optimize your performance. The pool of IPs isn’t very impressive in its size, nevertheless, it’s more than enough when you have to complete various web scraping tasks.

You can find more recommendations for proxy providers in this great Medium article — https://medium.com/@ronaldidohen/top-5-best-residential-proxy-providers-of-2019-b980d043f92a

As for the tools with the best performance and advanced features that are very useful and can help you to avoid various web scraping issues, I would suggest checking these:
Scrapy;
BeautifulSoup;
Octoparse;
ParseHub;
Cheerio.

Discussion (0)

Forem Open with the Forem app