With the increase in big data, there has also been a significant increase in the demand for large-scale web scraping. The fact is that earlier, the art of data scraping was a manual process.
Manual data scraping processes are now obsolete as they are a daunting and time-consuming activity. Since websites have thousands of pages, manually scraping becomes an impossible job.
Many organizations see the immense business value in extracting data from several sources. With its power, they can unlock opportunities and discover new avenues of growing the business.
What are the web scraping challenges?
But this also gives rise to numerous challenges, such as blocking mechanisms. These obstacles drastically increase the web scraping challenges, which can cause major impediments to the people who are getting the data.
Therefore, today we will focus on several challenges in web scraping in detail. So without any further delay, let's start with the article.
This happens in a case where a normal web scraper bot will continuously send numerous parallel requests per second.
Getting banned might also occur when with an extremely high number of requests because there are chances you might cross over the fine line of ethical and unethical scraping. This will cause a red flag on your request, and ultimately it will get banned.
You can avoid this if the web scraper is smart and has enough resources. Then they can easily handle the countermeasures and always stay on the right side of the law and get what they came for.
Changing the structure frequently
Websites generally undergo several regular and proper changes to ensure they are up-to-date with the advancements in the UI/UX. They do this to add some improvements made along the way.
While the web scrapers are made, they are not always made to stay updated with the frequent changes. This is a new data scraping challenge, and web scraper faces a difficult time managing the results.
Although not every change affects the scraper design, any substantial change will result in immediate data loss. Hence, professionals suggest keeping a tab on changes.
Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA) is mainly used by professionals to separate humans from robots by showing images or problems.
For humans, those obstacles are easy to solve. Whereas for web scrapers, these are almost impossible to solve. Several CAPTCHA solvers have found a way to implement bots to ensure non-stopping scrapes.
However, the ways that can overcome the CAPTCHA can also be used to get continuous data. They slow down the scrapping processes by a bit.
Slow loading speed
Slowing down or long load time is the ultimate result of a website receiving too many access requests at once. This occurs when bots send access requests to the website.
However, humans will generally reload the page and give the website time to recover. Slow load speed is a result because the scrapping is broken, and the scrapper is unaware of how to deal in an emergency.
Several solutions help set up auto-retry options in times of these emergencies to helping solve the issue. These solutions can even execute a custom workflow under preset conditions.
Real-time data scraping
A business knows the importance of real-time data scraping when it comes to making some important decisions. The ever-changing rates of the stocks and the product prices in the ecommerce section is the main reason for gains or loss for a business.
A more important task is deciding which task is more important. Hence, the scrapper should always inspect the websites and scrape data whenever possible.
This also causes a delay in requesting and delivering the data. Getting hold of such huge data is also a task that is a big obstacle in itself.
Requiring log in
Some several websites and data need the user to log in first and then access the data. Once the user submits the appropriate log in credentials, the browser will automatically append the cookie value to several user requests on most sites.
This helps the website confirm that you’re the actual user who logged in earlier. Hence, when you’re scraping for data, ensure that the cookies have been previously sent with the necessary requests.
This saves a lot of time, and also, the browser will know for sure that you’re the genuine user with the credentials requesting access to the data.
The websites have the complete authority to choose whether or not they will allow web scrapers bots on their websites to scrape the data. Several websites do not allow the bots to scrape the data automatically.
The reason being, most of the time, bots scrape the data with an ulterior motive of getting the data to get competitive gain. They also drain the website's server resources from which they are scraping the data during the process.
This drawing of their sources has a severe effect on the performance and the ability of the website to perform properly.
Honeypot traps are mainly traps set up by the website holder to catch these web scrapers. They achieve this by adding links on their websites that are invisible to the naked eyes but are visible to the scrappers.
Once the scrappers fall prey to the links, the website will utilize the information it receives from the scraper, such as the IP address, and use the information to block it. The websites use several honeypot traps to ensure their data is safe and secured.
IP blocking is probably the most common and well-known method that stops web pages from accessing the data from the website. The process is very simple. If a website gets requests from the same IP address multiple times, the IP is then blocked.
Usually, the website blocks the IP, while some websites also restrict the access to break down the scraping process.
Websites use several well-known IP proxy services, such as the Luminati. These proxy services have integrated automated scrappers that save the website and block the IP of such scrapers.
Due to the recent advancements, several websites have been applying AJAX that helps in updating the dynamic web content. For example, lazy loading images, infinite scrolling, and getting more information with a click of a button via AJAX calls.
Applying AJAX becomes very convenient for the users, as it helps view more data on the websites. But the only matter is that it is visible for the user and not the scrapers.
Legal risks of web data scraping
If you intend to scrape enormous numbers of data, we must warn you that it is illegal. If you’re requesting data at a normal rate or intervals, it does not bring you any legal issues.
But if your requests rates are more per second, then the high crawl rates will harm the website's servers. In a court of law, such incidents can be misconstrued as a DDoS attack.
However, there is no legal limit on the number of requests per second. But if the number of requests overloads the server, the user responsible for the request will be prosecuted under the law.
When the user is scraping a considerable amount of data, anonymization will help protect your interest. However, you can also be doing competitor monitoring covering several hundreds of ecommerce websites.
During this time, you'll be needing an infrastructure capable of handling this robust proxy management.
If you have been working with a provider who has a habit of handling the information at a small scale, they might not be able to accommodate the resources that are needed for your size.
In such cases, you cannot have a deficit in your anonymization capabilities. If you do have deficits, then you’re yourself exposing yourselves to several lawsuits.
These were a few challenges in web scraping faced by organizations. If your business wants to overcome these challenges, then you can explore the potential of custom data scraping solutions offered by us at Wersel. Our data extraction capabilities help you gain crucial insights and achieve a competitive advantage. Connect with us today to know more about our competencies on enterprise and web data scraping.