2 min read

The Future of Web Scraping: How Proxy Servers are Evolving Beyond Anonymity

There is little agreement regarding the history of the proxy server; however, many link it back to the 70s when Bolt, Beranek, and Newman built the first internet network.

Proxy solutions in their infancy were basic. They could perform simple requests, but they weren't refined.

Since these early stages, proxy solutions have become the bedrock of many different software, from price aggregators to web filters.

One of these uses is in web-scraping, which, as an industry in 2022, was valued at up to 330 million dollars. Here, proxies ensure anonymity and bypass IP address blocks.

When making many access requests to a single site, an IP address can often be blocked, essentially bringing the web-scraping operation to a halt.

A good proxy solution can counteract this by automatically cycling through multiple proxy servers or "self-healing" to prevent an IP address from being blocked. This has the additional bonus of allowing software to continue to work if one IP address is blocked.

This has been the foundation of every web-scraping software. However, proxy solutions are beginning to evolve.


A key driver in the evolution of proxy solutions has been the integration of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

An API makes it easy for an application to replicate capabilities from another.

This means that proxy servers are more refined when coupled with an API. When you use an API, you can send structured requests, which increases the accuracy of the requests from the proxy server.

For example, imagine you are searching for the price of a singular product on a website with thousands. An API will allow you to customise the request to present only the relevant data.

This development reduces time-intensive tasks such as manual look-ups, giving you accurate and relevant reports, which are essential for informed decision-making.

Today's web scraping APIs can bypass complex bot prevention challenges such as CAPTCHAS and JavaScript, which previously required human intervention. This would significantly slow down the process of data scraping.

The refinement of APIs also means that there are fewer "redundant" requests. When blindly scraping the entire site, each proxy server will have to make thousands more requests than when using an API due to a lack of structure.

This high amount of redundant requests increases the load on your software but can also increase the likelihood of your proxy's IP getting blocked due to an excessive request rate on the website.

Residential and Data-Centre Proxies

Another development in proxy technology and the web scraping space is the growth of residential proxies.

There are two types of proxies: residential and data-centre.

Datacenter proxies are hosted in a large data centre and have been popular with most web-scraping software.

In comparison, residential proxies are located on an actual device, think someone's smartphone or laptop.

Until recently, most websites couldn't detect a data-centre proxy server. However, thanks to the introduction of new scanning techniques, it is far more common for data centre proxies to get blocked almost immediately.

While a good proxy solution should be able to "self-heal" and replace these IP addresses, known data centre locations can even be blacklisted. This could completely shut down your web scraping operation.

In response, the residential proxy market has grown, especially in the service of web-scraping software. This has resulted in an advanced network of premium residential proxy solutions, which makes it easier to get around IP blocks for scraping.

Networks with up to 70 million plus proxy IPs that correspond to a real-time address and device have been developed.

The rise of residential proxy networks has meant that web-scraping software is now harder to detect, even in large-scale web-scraping operations.

Moving forward

It may seem obvious, but the capability of modern web-scraping software far outweighs even tech from just five years ago.

What once took a long time and required manual referencing to get right can be done in just a few minutes.

The coupling of APIs with a good proxy solution, on top of modern residential proxy networks, has increased the quality of the results while decreasing the likelihood of an IP being blocked.

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