Web scraping for product page intelligence. Web scraping for brand protection. Web scraping for reputation management. If you are deciding between the building and maintaining your proxy infrastructure in-house or with an automated tool, it is likely for those three reasons. 

And when you consider both the scraper API option and done-for-you alternative, you’ll start to notice some pros and cons in each case. 

But to have a good idea of the weight of either decision, it is smart to consider what a full-featured proxy infrastructure looks like. 

Then you can decide on what scale you need to be operating your proxy pool to get the best performance and comprehensive data each time. From there, you can compare your needs with the capabilities you can build in-house. 

Do you feel building and maintaining your own proxy infrastructure, say for scraping, is too much work? Or do you think you can cut it out by using a ready-made, full-featured, automated platform? Make your decision accordingly.

Read More: 5 Tutorials on Web Scraping in Python

So, here comes. 

What does good proxy infrastructure comprise of?

Whether you are building from scratch or subscribing to an off-the-shelf solution, here are crucial components you’ll absolutely need: 

1. Geographical targeting

To ensure optimal resources use, you’ll sometimes want to only use specific proxies to make specific requests based on your target geographical location. So, your solution–whether in-house or ready-made must cater to that.  

2. Session management 

Web scrapers know that for some projects, it is vital to maintain using a single proxy throughout a session to successfully reach a goal. If you are using a network of proxies in a pool, especially rotating IPs, you need to configure your scraping API to cater to that as well.  

3. Request headers

Think managing cookies and user agents, for example. Both are healthy crawl factors you’ll want to design your solution to cater to as well.  

4. Headless browsers

When you have a project that requires your in-house team to use a headless browser to extract complete data, you’ll need your proxy infrastructure to be compatible. 

5. Ability to identify bans

Ban identification is a crucial part of building and maintaining a reliable proxy infrastructure. You need to have a ban database for every website you scrape. You also need to manage that database to optimize its integrity. 

Still, your solution must have the capability to identify hundreds of bans. This includes redirects, captchas, cloaking, and outright blocks. That identification will help you get through modern websites’ restrictions and capture the data you need.   

6. Add delay capabilities

Keep in mind, you need to respect the site from which you decide to extract the web data you need.

So, your solution must be able to change request throttling and automate randomized delays to keep your activity from being detected and banned. 

To do that without a glitch, your proxy infrastructure needs to “know” the characteristics of your target website. And read then act on the real-time optimal crawl rate feedback it is getting from that site.

From that data, it should then be able to dynamically execute delays with success.       

7. Figuring out retry errors 

You have thousands of web pages to scrape, a data-backed decision to make, and a deadline to beat. The last thing you need is scraping API components that will require you to intervene manually in case of a proxy error.

Instead, you need to design your infrastructure in such a way that if any proxy errors occur, it will automatically switch to retrying the request with different proxies. 

Automated tool vs. in-house proxy infrastructure management 

So, which is better? Should you do the proxy management work in-house? Or, does going the ready-made route the better option?

Each option has its pros and cons.

Go for in-house proxy management solution if:

  • You have a skilled team of web scraping and proxy management professionals in-house
  • You have a need that only requires building and maintaining a small proxy infrastructure
  • You need a custom-solution you just couldn’t configure elsewhere 
  • When getting a ready-made solution is much more expensive than building and managing your infrastructure from scratch–and you have a tight budget 

Go for an automated proxy management solution if:

  • You don’t have a skilled proxy infrastructure management team 
  • When you could be using the time and personnel you need to maintain your own infrastructure elsewhere–and more productively, too
  • When building and maintaining just makes more sense–financially and otherwise
  • You just don’t want to deal with the sustained hassle of managing multiple components of a dynamic system 
  • If you need a robust proxy management logic, you can start using right away and start achieving your goals.
  • You plan on scaling your proxy infrastructure to handle even bigger projects in the foreseeable future 

The biggest difference? 

If you have the know-how, experience, and experienced team to go DIY, you can build and maintain your own proxy infrastructure. If not, and you need all the help you can get to start right away instead of waiting to test your own scraping API, an automated tool is the smarter decision.

Over to you.

Read More: Octoparse – For All Your Web Scraping Needs