Proxies vs. Scraper API: Making the Right Choice
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Mantas Miksenas

May 11, 2020 7 min read

We covered in great detail what is a proxy, its advantages, and benefits for businesses. What’s more, Oxylabs’ web scraping API “Real-Time Crawler” is an excellent solution for web data collection operations. 

However, we have never compared the two. Which solution would be the best choice for a business? Proxies, or a scraper API? 

There is a reason why different solutions exist and why one is chosen over the other, but before we jump into the why’s, let’s do a quick recap on the basic definitions of proxies and scraper API. To clearly understand the differences, we’ll also compare web scraping vs. API definitions and usage purposes.

What is a proxy?

A proxy acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. When you’re using a proxy server, your request runs through the proxy server (which changes your IP address) first, and only then connects to the website.

Web scraping vs. API? The differences

The main purpose of an API is to deliver your request for information to the provider and then deliver a response back to you. Meanwhile, web scraping is when you take publicly available and not copyrighted data for your needs and import the information into any local file on your computer. So, what are web scraping vs. API usage differences? If you only need to extract data from the website, web scraping is a better choice. APIs are a much superior option if you need to interact with the system.

What is a scraper API?

A scraper API is a data collection tool built for data extraction from different sources. Scraping API can either be a customized scraper for heavy-duty data retrievals or a scraper built for scraping various, more accessible sources than search engines or e-commerce websites.

Keep in mind that these are only general definitions. There are different kinds of proxies and different sort of scraping APIs, and each is meant for a different problem to solve. The issues can vary greatly, but it really comes down to what kind of business you are – a big company with a lot of resources or a smaller company seeking to grow big. Without further ado, let’s go over what is the best solution for either of the businesses in this quick guide of web scraping for beginners.

Best solutions for bigger businesses

As a more prominent company, you have the right resources and a trained team to maintain an infrastructure that holds. This means you already have invested in an in-house solution that will scrape the targets of your choice, so, probably, you don’t need a web scraping API, all you need now are proxies. 

But then it comes to choosing the right ones. There are two main types of proxies the proxy market usually has to offer – datacenter and residential proxies

Datacenter proxies

What are datacenter proxies?

Datacenter proxies are private proxies that are not affiliated with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They come from a secondary corporation and provide you with entirely private IP authentication and a high level of anonymity.

Data Center proxies explained
Datacenter proxies explained

Datacenter proxies have 3 key benefits:

  • They have a fast response time.
  • From the right provider, they offer a high level of anonymity.
  • They are relatively cheap.

Datacenter proxies are the best solution for market research, brand protection, and email protection. Check out our GitHub page to learn more about integrations.

Residential proxies

What is a residential proxy?

A residential proxy is an IP address provided by an ISP to a homeowner. It is a real IP address attached to a physical location. Basically, whenever you move to a new place and set up your internet, your ISP will provide you with an IP address. If curious, you can check what is your IP address by simply googling it.

How Residential Proxies work
How residential proxies work

Residential proxies 3 key benefits are: 

  • High anonymity due to it being from an ISP.
  • Good for data harvesting.
  • Slight to no chance of getting blocked.

Residential proxies are best used for ad verification, and to scrape flight prices for building travel fare aggregation websites.

However, there is a different kind of proxy solution that can meet residential and datacenter proxies in the middle. They are known as static residential proxies

Static residential proxies

What are static residential proxies?

Static residential proxies have a contract officially assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). It has the high anonymity of residential proxies combined with the speed of datacenter proxies.

So, what static residential proxies are is basically the best of both worlds. They are as fast as datacenter proxies and as reliable as residential proxies.

Best solution for smaller businesses 

What about smaller companies that have fewer resources and a minor team? Building your own scraper and maintaining a proxy infrastructure simply isn’t a viable option. But to stay amongst your competitors and grow your business, some solution is required. 

Luckily, there are quite a few scraper APIs readily made and supported by a proxy infrastructure maintained remotely by professional developer teams. Oxylabs has Real-Time Crawler scraping API product. We’ll go over this step by step to understand this web scraper APIs, so let’s get started.

Real-Time Crawler

What is Real-Time Crawler?

Real-Time Crawler is a data collection tool specifically built for data extraction from search engines and e-commerce websites. It is a customized scraper designed for heavy-duty data retrieval operations.

Here’s a quick video on what Real-Time Crawler is and how it works:

We have gone into great detail all about real time web scraping that Oxylabs’ Real-Time Crawler can offer, so make sure to check it out!

Our Real-Time Crawler works best with search engines, e-commerce websites, and it is an excellent solution for product page intelligence. 

Conclusions 

Whether you need proxies or a scraper API depends on your resources and business needs. If you are a bigger company with a scraper solution and a developer team ready to maintain your proxy infrastructure, proxies are the better choice. 

However, if you are a smaller company that has fewer resources but a high competition, web scraper API, like a Real-Time Crawler is a must. With this scraper API, you won’t need to build your own scraper, and you won’t need a whole team managing your infrastructure.

But, big or small, it’s essential to choose the right solution for your needs, whether it is proxies or a web scraper API.

If you need a consultation which would be the best option for you, contact us, and our experienced team will help you choose the best option!

People also ask

What are the differences between datacenter and residential proxies?

Datacenter proxies are cheaper and faster, but residential proxies are more secure. Actually it depends on what purposes you need to use proxies. For example, dedicated residential proxies are perfect for identity sensitive data. If you want to know more, check out our blog post: Datacenter Proxies vs Residential Proxies.

Is it worth for small businesses to start web scraping?

No one could argue that data emerges as one of the most important assets nowadays. Every business, small or big, has to know their competitors, public opinion, the demand, where it stands in the market, or even much more. Understandably smaller businesses have fewer resources and a minor team, but to grow your business and to stay an important player in the market, you should consider some solutions. Oxylabs has a tool to offer: Real-Time Crawler

What is the difference between web scraping vs. web crawling?

To put it simply, crawling means going through and clicking on different targets, while scraping is the part where you take the found data and download it. In most cases, scraping and crawling are used together. If you want to dig deeper into this topic, check out our blog post: Web Scraping vs Web Crawling: The Differences

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Mantas Miksenas is a Sales Development Representative who believes he needs to keep moving forward by pushing the limits. The tech industry compliments the latter aim as it expands boundaries and helps to build the future. While he pushes his limits, he likes to put on a soundtrack of smooth Jazz and improvisational music to keep himself energized while answering your proxy related questions.

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All information on Oxylabs Blog is provided on an "as is" basis and for informational purposes only. We make no representation and disclaim all liability with respect to your use of any information contained on Oxylabs Blog or any third-party websites that may be linked therein. Before engaging in scraping activities of any kind you should consult your legal advisors and carefully read the particular website's terms of service or receive a scraping license.