Five Reasons to Never Use Free Proxies for Web Scraping with Python

Never Use Free Proxies
Image by Kevin Morison from Pixabay

Proxies are perhaps the most important component for web scraping. You’ll need them to get past any anti-scraping program the target site has put up against attacks. Generally, it’s best to avoid attempting web scraping without a proxy server, as that makes your success chances slimmer. Below we will present you five reasons to never use free proxies for web scraping.

However, not using a proxy server isn’t the only mistake you can make when web scraping. Using a Free Proxy is just as dangerous, with many underlying consequences you may not realize.

Expectedly, many Python web scraping enthusiasts might have considered free proxies at some point, partly due to the desire to avoid spending on paid alternatives. We’re here to tell you that’s never a good idea. In this piece, you’ll find reasons to never settle for free proxies for web scraping with Python.

How Does a Proxy Work?

A proxy is a remote server that accesses a destination server on behalf of the user. Essentially, you use a proxy to disguise your IP address as you access a server’s resources. Web scrapers need proxies, as many sites prohibit scraper bots.

Modern websites have mechanisms in place to repel DDoS attacks and scraping attempts. Since you’ll send thousands of inquiries per minute to the target site when scraping, the target site may consider it a DDoS attack and promptly deny all the inquiries.

You can avoid all that with proxies, as they can send seemingly independent requests to the target site without raising suspicion. If you have enough of them, you can send thousands of requests, and the anti-scraping system will think they’re from different computers.

Since the requests are distributed among the proxy servers, they don’t hit the inquiry limit to trigger the security system.

Why Shouldn’t You Use Free Proxies for Web Scraping with Python?

Given how handy proxies are for web scraping projects, it goes without saying that you’ll need them sooner than later. However, not all proxies are the same, and free alternatives are the worst options you can get.

Below are some of the primary reasons why you should avoid free proxies, no matter how attractive they may be:

1. The “Free” Is Just an Illusion

First things first, you must understand that there are no true free proxies available anywhere. In fact, no product or service is truly free, even when we think we get them at zero cost. While you might not be plonking some money down for free proxies at the start, we’re positive you’re paying for it in another form.

Generally, proxies utilize several modern technologies and resources to remain functional as you use them. The components cost money, and all proxies need to recoup that money – including the “free” ones.

But it gets more precarious from there. If a particular free proxy doesn’t ask you for money upfront, how does it make money down the line? Most of the time, it resorts to shady alternatives that might harm you as you scrape a site.

2. Lack of Proper Encryption

Another characteristic of free proxies is that they either have poor encryption protocols or none at all. That means whatever data you send to and from the server isn’t protected from an unauthorized third party. Depending on what website you’re scraping, some of that scraped data is too sensitive to get into the wrong hands.

Therefore, it’s essential to understand what you’re getting into if you decide to settle for free proxies. Your data can get stolen. Even worse, someone can use it against you legally or illegally.

3. A Front for Hackers

Free proxies often hold much more than they’d let the users know from the onset. While you may think you’re using a remote server service at no cost, it can really be a front for hackers and con artists to rob you of your data.

Beyond putting your scraped data at risk, free proxies can house more malicious backdoors with the intent to gain access to your private and digital life. We’re talking ransomware attacks, data wipes, and any other vices a creative hacker can think of with their free proxy services.

4. Lack of Customer Support

Even if you find half-decent free proxies for web scraping with Python, you’re likely not to get any customer support after the fact. If the service crashes, you won’t get any representative to help you.

Free proxies are grossly unreliable, especially for large website scraping, and you’re solely liable for whatever trouble you run into when using a free proxy server.

In a worst-case scenario, you can have a malware attack that you’d have to solve on your own. That seems like a hefty price to pay for a service that’s advertised entirely free of charge.

5. Blocked or Dead IPs

Did you know that some free proxies contain blocked or dead IPs? It’s a common occurrence for anyone who has used a random proxy list from the internet. Generally, free proxies developers often have other plans than to care about the state of the IPs they offer.

They often lug thousands of IP addresses in a list, most of which are no longer usable due to bans. As a result, you’ll be lucky to have even a tiny fraction of the entire list useful for your web scraping project.

Also, what happens when you use blocked IPs to send requests to a site? You’ll run into several challenges that can jeopardize the entire operation.

Conclusion

You should have realized that proxies are practically compulsory if you intend to embark on web scraping using python. However, selecting the right proxy service for the operation to work is essential. With that, you’ll want to avoid free proxies for web scraping with Python entirely.

They are fraught with several limitations, and we’ve discussed some of the more obvious ones above. Overall, there’s often always more to the “free” tags that the services carry. Paid proxies offered by KocerRoxy are a more economical option in the long run and are most suitable for any web scraping projects you might have.

By Geminel

Geminel is a multi-format author, but is even more so a giant nerd. With how many times they’ve fallen into several-hour-long research sprees just to accurately present a one-line joke, they realized they should probably use this power for good. To see their creative work, visit their personal site at: Team Gem

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