What kind of proxy setup is recommended for Zoopla scraping?

Scraping a website like Zoopla, a UK real estate platform, requires careful consideration of both legal and technical aspects. Before setting up any scraping operation, you should always review Zoopla's terms of service to ensure that you're not violating any rules. Unauthorized scraping can lead to legal repercussions and technical measures to block your access.

Assuming you have confirmed that your scraping activities are compliant with Zoopla's terms and any applicable laws, you will likely need to use proxies to prevent your scraper from being detected and banned. This is because frequent requests from the same IP address can be identified as bot-like behavior, leading to IP bans.

Here is a recommended proxy setup for scraping a website like Zoopla:

1. Use Rotating Proxies

Rotating proxies automatically change the IP address you use for each request or after a certain number of requests. This makes it harder for the website to detect and block your scraper.

2. Choose Residential Proxies

Residential proxies use IP addresses assigned to real residential users, making your requests appear more legitimate than those from data center proxies. They are less likely to be flagged as suspicious.

3. Implement Throttling

Set up your scraper to mimic human behavior by adding delays between requests and randomizing the intervals.

4. Respect robots.txt

Although not legally binding, respecting the rules set out in robots.txt can prevent you from scraping pages that the website owner does not want to be scraped, which could lower the risk of your scraper being detected.

5. Use User-Agent Rotation

Rotate user-agent strings to mimic different browsers and devices. This further reduces the risk of detection.

6. Use a Proxy Pool

Have a pool of proxies and cycle through them. If one gets banned, remove it from the pool and continue with the others.

7. Implement Error Handling

Your scraper should be able to handle errors such as connection timeouts or HTTP 4xx/5xx responses and retry the request with a different proxy.

Example in Python with Scrapy and Proxies

import scrapy
from scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.retry import RetryMiddleware
from scrapy.utils.response import response_status_message

class ZooplaScraper(scrapy.Spider):
    name = 'zoopla_scraper'
    start_urls = ['https://www.zoopla.co.uk/']

    custom_settings = {
        'RETRY_TIMES': 10,
            'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.retry.RetryMiddleware': None,
            'myproject.middlewares.TooManyRequestsRetryMiddleware': 543,
            # ... add more proxies
        # ... other settings

    def parse(self, response):
        # Your parsing code here

class TooManyRequestsRetryMiddleware(RetryMiddleware):
    def __init__(self, crawler):
        self.rp_list = crawler.settings.getlist('ROTATING_PROXY_LIST')

    def _retry(self, request, reason, spider):
        # Change proxy here if needed
        proxy_to_use = random.choice(self.rp_list)
        request.meta['proxy'] = proxy_to_use
        return super()._retry(request, reason, spider)

    def process_response(self, request, response, spider):
        if response.status == 429:
            reason = response_status_message(response.status)
            return self._retry(request, reason, spider)
        return response

Things to Remember:

  • Always check if the proxy provider offers good documentation and customer support.
  • Test your proxies before starting a large scraping job to ensure they work and are not already blacklisted.
  • Monitor your scraper's performance and adjust the delay and rotation settings as needed.

Finally, please remember that any web scraping should be done responsibly and ethically. Overloading a website with requests can cause performance issues and might be considered a denial-of-service attack. Always seek permission where possible and follow best practices.

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