Trouble-Free Web Crawling: Top 12 Hints On How To Crawl a Website Without Getting Blocked
Even though you do nothing bad when web scraping, it’s vital to understand the point of website owners. All that they want to do is to prevent hacker attacks and ensure that all the valuable data stays safe. But what to do if you got blacklisted and is it easy to bypass an IP ban? Keep reading to find answers to these questions.
What Does IP Ban Mean and Top Reasons Why Your IP May Be Blocked
It doesn’t matter whether you are web scraping with good intentions and just trying to collect data for your business or using automated means to get access to valuable information. In both cases, such an activity can lead to an IP ban. Admins usually act fast and don’t warn you that your access will be restricted. It’s quite understandable as they want to protect themselves from hacker attacks and try to prevent possible consequences. But what is an IP ban and what reasons may cause it?
IP ban is a special block set by a server that rejects any requests from a specific IP address or a range of them. In most cases, this action is triggered automatically and can be caused by such reasons as:
- multiple accounts
- restricting access from your location
- web parsing
- visiting websites using such browsers as Multiloginapp, Linken Sphere
- hacking attempts, etc
Currently, there are plenty of ways and tools that help detect web crawlers. Websites monitor users’ activity and if they find any suspicious behavior, they can easily ban an account. For instance, users may receive CAPTCHAS and if they don’t prove they aren’t bots, their access to a service will be blocked.
12 Useful Recommendations On How to Crawl a Website Without Getting Blocked
But how to continue web scraping without getting banned? Check out these 12 useful hints that will help you get around an IP ban while crawling a website:
Rotate IP Address
If you send lots of requests from one IP address it may easily lead to an IP ban. However, if you rotate IP addresses, websites won’t detect any strange activity as for them it will look like requests are coming from multiple users. Hence, it’s important to change your IP address when you are scrapping on a regular basis. The good thing is that there are plenty of proxy rotator services available nowadays that help you automate this process.
Use the Right Proxy Server
Undoubtedly, proxy servers are inevitable tools nowadays as they not only help prevent possible attacks on your PC but also provide access to locked resources. But how to select the right one for web scraping among all the suggestions available on the market? To make the choice you need to evaluate your goals. For some cases, it will be enough to use residential IP proxies while other situations will require datacenter ones.
Pay Attention to APIs
It’s essential to pay attention to both APIs suggested by a website you are crawling and the ones you are using while collecting data. APIs make crawling and scraping more efficient as they help get access to valuable information faster and avoid downloading unnecessary stuff.
But you need to read the documentation in order to understand how the API of a service you use works. For example, you need information about live thread updates but don’t know how to make the spider get this data. In such cases, documentation is right up your alley.
Use Real User Agents
Don’t forget to update your user agent so that it stays legitimate and up-to-date. Some websites analyze this information and it’s pretty easy to get caught in case your bot uses an outdated user agent that is no longer supported by browsers.
Pick a Headless Browser
Selecting anti-detect browsers such as Chrome with Puppeteer or Firefox with Selenium is another trick that will help you get around an IP ban. Indeed, the interface of such browsers lacks visual interaction features but this con is covered by such pros as:
- possibility to perform repetitive tasks automatically
- possibility to emulate interactions with a particular website (clicking, downloading, and scrolling)
Don’t Crawl During Peak Hours
Monitor peak and off-peak hours of service in order to find the best time for crawling. Crawlers may negatively affect users’ experience by slowing download times. Therefore, it’s better to wait for a bit and start your activity when most users leave the service.
Don’t Use JS and Don’t Scrape Images
- memory leaks
- application instability
It’s also a bad idea to scrap images as they are data-heavy objects that can be copyright-protected. It may lead to a higher risk of copyright infringement and will also require lots of additional storage space. Plus, it will slow down scraping and also make the data acquisition process more complicated.
Pay Attention to Honeypot Traps
These links aren’t visible to organic users and are mainly implemented for identifying and blocking web crawlers. Hence, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t trapped and your software can deceive honeypot traps.
Use Services With CAPTCHA Solving Solutions
CAPTCHA is probably the biggest web crawling challenge as it keeps improving and makes it even more difficult for computers to overcome. For example, it may include pictures that are nearly impossible to read for bots.
The good news is that there’s always an option and you can use special CAPTCHA solving services with ready-to-use crawling tools.
Monitor Website Changes and Change Crawling Pattern
Websites can unexpectedly change and if your scraper isn’t ready for the adjustments it may easily crash. Regularly monitor changes and adapt the crawler to them. It’s also a good idea to have unit tests for each type of page in order to verify their consistency. It will help save time and ensure that crawling is useful.
Also, pay attention to crawling patterns and regularly change them. Otherwise, it will be easy to get caught as websites detect monotonous browsing patterns that are not peculiar to real users.
Pick Trustworthy Scraping Software
There are many options available and you just need to find software that you will be comfortable with. Most modern scraping tools offer the same set of features and let clients adjust changes in accordance with their needs. Still, you need to be careful with unknown web scraping software as they could be outdated, and using them will result in getting blacklisted.
What If Your IP Address Has Been Banned: How To Bypass IP Ban
Don’t think that you can do anything if your IP address has already been banned. Here are some tips that will help you bypass it:
Uninstall a Browser or App and Clear Cache
The first thing that you need to do if your IP address has been banned is to completely uninstall a browser or app you’ve used. It’s vital to delete all the related files as some of them could link you back to the ban.
When you uninstall the software, it’s time to do the cleaning. Make sure that there are no traces left on your computer, clear cache and cookies, and restart your PC.
Use VPN or Proxy Server to Mask Your IP Address
VPN is quite a helpful tool for avoiding IP bans on various platforms including social media. But note that not all of them are safe. For example, free VPNs may be dangerous for your privacy so the best option is to select only trusted ones.
If you don’t like VPNs or can’t find the one that will satisfy your needs, you may select a proxy server instead. Fortunately, there are plenty of free and reliable ones so that all clients can find something they will be comfortable with. But note that proxy servers only hide your IP address while VPN can encrypt all your web activity.
Reinstall a Browser or App and Create a New Account
After you’ve selected a proxy server or a VPN, reinstall a browser/app and create a new account. It will help you bypass the ban and continue your crawling activity.
Overall, getting an IP ban isn’t as scary as it seems. Sometimes, you may be temporarily blocked and get access to the service back within 24 hours. In other cases, there are plenty of hints that will help you to bypass the ban. You may use VPN or proxy servers, create new accounts and keep rotating your IP address on a regular basis. Or, you can prevent blocking by following the recommendations mentioned above. Just make sure that you regularly monitor changes, modify your crawling patterns and use up-to-date scraping software.