Terms such as data and proxies are becoming increasingly popular and for good reasons too. Brands need data to make intelligent decisions consistently, and they need proxies to pave the way to these necessary data.
Relevant data can be the key thing that gives a company a winning advantage, with proxies being one of the best instruments for harvesting these data. But while many e-commerce businesses are familiar with the concept of accessing target websites and copying some information, many are yet to know how to do this on a larger scale.
Firms, whether small or big, need to learn how to collect data in today’s competitive market and what tools assist in instances like that. Today, we will consider proxies and what exactly they can be used for.
What Is A Proxy?
A proxy is defined as a device, computer, or software that stands anywhere between a client and the web and helps to transfer communication. Proxies are the first tools to get familiar with when learning how to extract data from a website. That’s because proxies stand as intermediaries, accepting requests, transferring them, and returning results.
That is to say that traffic flows through them to the target server and returns through them as well and the benefits of this type of arrangement are numerous.
First, they help conceal the client’s identity by hiding the client’s internet protocol (IP) address and location. This ensures that the client is anonymous and does not suffer any form of bans or attacks.
Secondly, proxies make it possible for clients, from whichever location, to access content from any website or server without restrictions. This is especially useful for brands that stay in forbidden geo-locations.
More so, proxies make data gathering safe, fast, automatic, and more rewarding. It is possible even to say that brands will find it impossible to gather a sufficient amount of valuable data without the aid of tools such as proxies.
How Does a Proxy Work?
Generally speaking, the way a proxy works can be summarized in the lines as below:
- All internet-enabled devices are assigned IP addresses with which they connect to the internet
- These unique addresses are important to indicate to the servers where to send results of searches but can also be the same component that can be used to ban, block, or attack a device
- When clients use proxies to send out their request, the proxy uses its IP and location and conceals the user’s information
- This keeps the users and their activities a secret. And results are also returned via the proxies, which check and screen them for harmful contents before finally transferring to the internet user.
- Aside from changing IPs, proxies, and locations, some proxy servers can also encrypt data to make them unreadable while in transit.
- Some proxies (known as Reverse proxies) can block users’ access to certain web contents, thereby protecting the servers.
Main Types of Proxies
There are many types of proxies, but in the confines of this article, we will focus on two broad classes:
The forward proxies are this class of proxies that serve and protect internet users. Their job is to stand in and represent the people browsing the internet. They accept requests connections, change information, encrypt data, transfer and return data, all for the clients.
Individuals and companies that just want to browse the internet and carry out large sensitive operations anonymously usually use forward proxies.
Reverse proxies sit between a network and other networks or internal resources but are specifically built to protect servers and websites. They allow and deny access based on IP address and location.
They also help in increasing server speed and response time as well as balancing traffic load to prevent crashing.
A reverse proxy can also reduce bandwidth, compress files, and store and use caches. All these are necessary for boosting the overall performance of servers and websites.
Main Use Cases of Proxies
The most common use cases of proxies include the following:
Providing Protection and Security
Proxies by concealing users’ information play a very important role in protecting them from the ills of the internet. They also encrypt data to ensure its security. And lastly, the screen returning traffic first before delivering them to the user, which helps to make sure the user is kept safe from harm.
Accessing Restricted Contents
Sometimes, the contents that people need to access may be restricted to some locations or IP addresses. Using a proxy is one of the most effective ways to circumvent these restrictions and ensure people access the contents they need.
Gathering data is a very crucial business activity as data is considered to be the glue that holds business decisions together. And proxies do not only make web scraping possible, but they also make it easier by automating the process and removing any form of restrictions from the path. With the help of proxies, brands can gather data from multiple sources at once anonymously and at a very quick pace. If you are interested in the topic and want to dig deeper, then read a blog post “How to Extract Data From a Website” and learn more.
Proxies can help you do more than just data gathering; they help in other business operations and ensure the continuous safety of both users and their data. Understanding this is the first step towards learning how to extract data from a website.