Free Proxies are the web servers that act as intermediaries between computers and the internet, and allow you to request data from a wide range of websites without need to reveal your IP address or location.
September 7, 2023
Free Proxies are the web servers that act as intermediaries between computers and the internet, and allow you to request data from a wide range of websites without need to reveal your IP address or location. Free proxies for web scraping have their added benefits as well as some drawbacks.
Benefits of free proxies for Web Scraping
While using a free proxy, you do not need money to hide your identity using the internet.
These proxies can help you protect your privacy and anonymity by masking your IP address and location.
These proxies are readily available so anyone can use them free of cost. These proxies can be found on various websites that offer proxy lists or databases.
These proxies enable you to scrape data effectively from various sources at the same time.
These proxies help you to bypass restrictions and blocks that prevent you from accessing valuable data that you need.
You can use these proxies to access geo-targeted content from the websites that are restricted in specific locations or countries.
Drawbacks of using free proxies for web scraping
Free Proxies are both unreliable and slow. They may have low uptime, high latency and poor speed. Free proxies are Unreliable, you may face issues with connectivity, they may disconnect any time without a warning, that can result in your scraping process to be incomplete or even failed as well.
Free proxies are limited and scarce. They may have a limited number of IP addresses available for you, you may not be able to access certain websites or regions, the IP addresses they offer are sometimes shared by many other users as well, increasing risk for you to get blocked or banned from a target website.
Free web proxies are not secure at all, they can be risky too. These proxies can sell your own data to third party servers, or they can alter the HTML of the web pages you request and can give you false information.
Free proxy services have a high risk of infected proxies as well. These proxies can be infected by malware or spyware that can harm your computer and compromise your privacy as well.
Free web proxy Services available for web scraping
Here’s a list of top-of-the-line free proxies available on the internet that you can use for web scraping purposes. These services are listed here along with brief details about them.
Google Search ResultsScraper API, which is an API tool that allows you to scrape Google Search Engine Result Pages and extracts various data like ads, organic results, Maps, Images, Shopping Data, Reviews, Knowledge Graph Information and other things like that.
Amazon Product Scraper API, which allows you to get Amazon Product data from all categories and countries. This API even scraps product information like reviews, prices, descriptions, ASIN data, best sellers list, news releases, deals and others, and this data is extracted in JSON, CSV or HTML formats as per your choice.
ScraperAPI is a web scraping service that can handle proxies, browsers and CAPTCHAs, so that you can get HTML from any web page or site using a simple API call. ScraperAPI offers you various important features like:
ScraperAPI is a paid service but it offers a free trial of around 5000 API requests on sign up. You can choose different plans based on your will and needs. You can use ScraperAPI with various languages and frameworks like Node.js, Python, Scrapy, PHP, Ruby, JAVA and others, you can even use it with Puppeteer to scrape dynamic websites as well.
Spys.one is a proxy list database that offers you IPs from 171 countries, it has sorting options like anonymous free proxies, HTTP or SSL proxy, SOCKS proxy, HTTP and transparent proxies as well. All of the options available are rated and listed with their latency, speed and uptime, you can choose them as per your requirement, you can use spys.one to find and select free proxies for web scraping by selecting your desired country, port, level of anonymity and even the type of proxy you want. These proxies are sometimes not reliable, as you may face some of the drawbacks like latency, slow speed, limited availability and some potential risks as well so they are not recommended at all.
Proxy11 is a free proxy service that provides you thousands of working HTTPS and SOCKS proxies which are added to their IP pool on a daily basis. This service focuses on security, reliability, and even claims to have a 99.9% uptime as well.
These are some of the best free proxy services that you can choose to scrape data, to get high quality results that you want. However, you need to do lots of research before choosing the proxy for scraping purposes in order to avoid any inconvenience in future.
Security Risks of using Free proxy for web scraping
Some of the security risks associated with using free proxy for web scraping are listed here :
These proxies may not use HTTPS encryption, that means that your connection to the servers is not secure and anyone on the internet can intercept your data as well.
These proxy servers can monitor your connection and sell your data to third party clients as well. Or they can even alter the HTML of the page you are requesting, and give you false information which affects the quality of data you are looking for.
These proxy services can infect your computer with malware or called spyware, which can harm your computer and compromise your privacy as well.
These proxy services can even use your IP address for malicious purposes like participating in distributed denial-of-services or DDoS attacks on websites, or to commit frauds and crimes online.
These are the security threads that you can face while using free proxy services, so it is always recommended to use either a paid proxy service or web scraping tools instead, that offer you more security and reliability for your scraping process.
Alternatives to Free Proxies for web scraping
Free proxies may come with some drawbacks so we have a list of some of the most reliable alternatives of these proxy services as well.
Virtual Proxy Network or VPN
VPN is a service that encrypts your internet traffic on unsecured networks to protect your online identity, it can hide your IP address, and shield your online data from third parties giving you a secure and private internet access for your online needs, and even prevents others from snooping your internet activities by routing web traffic through a secure connection to its own servers for your safety. That makes it the best way to protect your online privacy.
What is better for web scraping, free proxy or VPN ?
Difference between free proxy and a VPN
Web scraping is the process of extraction of data from websites using automated tools. Web scrapers often use proxies to hide their identity and make their traffic look like regular user traffic. You can use Proxies, that are intermediary servers, have their own IP addresses and forward requests from users to websites.
A free proxy is the one that anyone can connect to, without the need for special credentials, while VPN is a service that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a secure tunnel to a VPN server. Both free proxies and VPNs can help you access websites that are blocked or restricted by your country or network as well, However, there are some differences between free proxies and VPNs for web scraping which are listed here:
Free proxies are usually slower than VPNs because they have many users sharing the same bandwidth. VPNs usually have dedicated servers that offer faster speeds.
Free proxies are less secure than VPNs because they do not encrypt your data and may inject ads or malware into your responses. A malicious proxy could alter the HTML of the website you requested and give you false information, while a VPN encrypts your data and protects it from third party servers.
Free proxies are less reliable than VPNs because they may disappear without warning or stop working at any time. VPNs usually have stable connections and customer support.
Free proxies are more likely to be banned by websites than VPNs because they are exposed for anyone to take and abuse. Websites can detect multiple requests from the same IP address and block it. VPNs use different IP addresses for each connection and rotate them frequently.
Therefore, if you want to scrape websites effectively, securely, and reliably, you should use a VPN rather than a free proxy for web scraping.
How to choose a good, reliable and secure VPN service for web Scraping ?
Choosing a suitable VPN connection is a tricky thing, but it's not impossible. You can compare the services depending on your needs, by considering some essentials criteria that is listed here:
Speed : You want a VPN that offers fast and consistent connections, so you can scrape websites without delays or interruptions. A VPN with a large and well-maintained server network can provide better speed and stability.
Security : You want a VPN that encrypts your data and protects it from hackers, trackers, and malicious proxies. A VPN with strong encryption protocols, a kill switch feature, and a no-logs policy can ensure your security and privacy.
Reliability: You want a VPN that works reliably and does not disconnect or leak your IP address. A VPN with high uptime, multiple connection options, and DNS leak protection can ensure your reliability.
Flexibility : You want a VPN that allows you to change your IP address frequently and access websites from different locations. A VPN with unlimited IP rotation, geo-spoofing capabilities, and proxy integration can provide more flexibility for web scraping.
Affordability : You want a VPN that offers reasonable prices and plans for your web scraping needs. A VPN with free trials, money-back guarantees, discounts, and customer support can provide more value for your money.
What are similarities and differences between a VPN and Scraping tools ?
VPN and scraping tools are different but complementary solutions for web scraping. VPN is a service that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a secure tunnel to a VPN server while scraping tool is a software that extracts data from websites using automated methods.
A VPN can help you with web scraping by:
Hiding your IP address and identity from the target website.
Bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship that may block your access to some websites.
Protecting your data and privacy from hackers, trackers, and malicious proxies.
A scraping tool like Piloterr can help you with web scraping by:
Parsing HTML and extracting relevant information from web pages.
Automating requests and handling errors, redirects, retries, etc.
Storing, cleaning, and analyzing the scraped data.
Providing a user-friendly interface or a programming framework for web scraping
You can use both a VPN and a scraping tool alongside each other for better experience in web scraping. A VPN will provide you with security and flexibility while a scraping tool will provide you with efficiency and functionality. However, depending on your web scraping needs and goals, you may prefer one solution over another or use them in combination.
Top of the line VPN services for web scraping
Bright Data is a feature-rich proxy service that offers over 72 million IPs across four network types like residential, data center, mobile, and ISP. It provides a generous 7-day free trial and a pay-as-you-go pricing model as well.
Smartproxy is an affordable proxy service that offers over 40 million residential IPs from over 195 locations. It provides unlimited threads, browser extensions, mobile IPs included, and even gives you a 3-day money-back guarantee.
Oxylabs is a versatile proxy service that offers over 100 million residential IPs and over 2 million data center IPs from over 180 countries. It provides some advanced web scraping tools and solutions for various industries.
NordVPN is the most reliable VPN service that offers over 5,400 servers in 59 countries. It also provides strong encryption, no-logs policy, kill switch feature, split tunneling feature, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is the most speedy and reliable VPN service that offers over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. It also provides you with strong encryption, no lags and latency, offers you a kill switch feature and a 30-day money-back guarantee as well.
Alternative Scraping tools
You can use some Scraping tools that offer you proxy services in themselves which are listed here :
ProWebScraper is a cloud-based web scraping service that allows you to extract data from any website without coding. It offers you a user-friendly interface, a free trial and various features like API, scheduling, pagination along with some other useful features.
PromptCloud is a completely managed web scraping service which provides custom data solutions for enterprises as well. It offers you high-quality data extraction, scalability, reliability and support for various formats and platforms of your choice.
Zyte is a web scraping platform which offers you various tools and services for your scraping project. One of the most prominent features of Zyte (formely Scrapinghub) are:
Scrapy Cloud, a cloud-based service that runs you spider automatedly
Zyte Smart Proxy Manager, a proxy service that manages IP rotation and throttling for you.
Zyte AutoExtract, an AI-Powered service to extract data from web pages for you
Zyte Data on Demand, a fully managed web scraping service for enterprise users to extract custom data from websites that they want.
ScrapeHero provides you ready made data feeds and custom data solutions and even offers you various data sets like store locations, product prices, reviews along with other custom scraping services for any website as per user requirements.
Security Precautions to avoid getting infected
While using a free proxy, there are lots of security threats but you can avoid them by doing some practices listed here:
Install and update Security Software frequently and always use a firewall for your connection. These software can help you detect and remove malware from your device and firewalls can help you block unauthorized network connections as well.
Avoid clicking on suspicious links or opening unknown attachments in your email. Malware can be planted into your device using phishing emails, fake pop-ups and malicious websites as well. You need to always check the sender of the email, website URL and spellings before clicking or downloading anything from the web.
Practice safe browsing habits, avoid visiting unsafe, untrusted and illegal websites on the internet and downloading free stuff from them. Malware can be implanted on all these kinds of free file sharing services and can get to your computer as soon as you try to get that free content.
Avoid using public Wifi networks, that are without any encryption. You need to use strong passwords and always enable two-factor authentication for your online accounts as well to avoid security breaches for your data.
Always backup your data on a regular basis so that if in any case your computer gets infected by malware and especially ransomware, you can restore your data without any trouble.
Get enough knowledge for yourself about the latest malware threats and the remedies you can use to avoid them. Stay informed about the common signs of malware infections, types of malware attacks and the best you can do to prevent them.
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