Experienced programmers know all about cURL – a command line tool that allows you to communicate with URLs from the terminal. cURL’s greatest advantage over APIs is the ease of use and quick access to web data. It is the most convenient solution for web scraping.
Though you can use it for many other things, that is cURL’s most frequent application. If you’re reading about cURL, the chances are you need it to that end. There’s a catch, though – if you’re going to use cURL for web scraping, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get blocked.
That’s why we use cURL with proxies.
Let’s talk more about these two solutions and how they pair together.
What is a proxy server?
You’ve probably used a proxy before, but let’s explain it just in case.
A proxy server is a computer or router that creates an anonymous connection between users and the internet. It’s the incognito way of browsing and sharing data, only much better than your browser’s incognito mode – when you have a proxy, your IP and location are hidden.
Here’s how that works in practice.
If you need to run competitive research for your business and gather a vast volume of data from a competitor’s website, the competitor may not allow that. Why give you access to all the marketing tricks they’ve spent a lot of time and money on if they can just block your IP?
So, this website will notice that you’re trying to scrape data. It’ll read your IP address and forbid access from that IP. What a proxy does is hide your IP address from the target website. The best proxy server is undetectable, meaning the website will not notice it or any unusual activity.
What is cURL?
cURL is short for client URL, a command line tool that allows you to communicate with URLs from the terminal. You can use it to send requests and read data, so it’s essentially a transfer protocol that relies on URL syntax that programmers know and love for its relative simplicity.
Some of the cURL’s frequent use cases include:
- Testing APis
- Testing websites
- Sending form data
- Downloading data
- Following redirects from the terminal
In addition to the ease of use, another plus for cURL is that it is available for many programming languages, and you can use it in all environments. All macOS and some Windows and Linux devices have built-in cURL in their terminals, so you don’t even have to install it.
cURL offers more than 200 pre-built commands, making your job quick and easy. The libcURL client-side URL transfer library supports HTTPS, FTP, and SMTP, among many transfer protocols. cURL requests may even include authentication credentials and website cookies.
Most importantly, cURL allows you to add proxies to your requests.
Types of proxies you can use with cURL
There are many different proxy types, and you can use any of them with cURL. The best kind of proxy server for web scraping with cURL depends exclusively on your specific needs.
If you already have a proxy you use for web scraping, there’s no need to get a different one for cURL. However, if you’re looking for the best type of proxy server to start using with cURL (and possibly for other use cases, too), you should know a couple of things before you get one.
The best proxy type for web scraping is a residential proxy. Here’s why.
A proxy must replace your IP address with another one to hide it. Different types of proxy servers solve this problem differently. Datacenter proxies give you an IP address from a data center, shared proxies give you an IP address you need to share with others, and so on.
Residential proxies can guarantee access to any website because they borrow IP addresses from real devices. Because they are 100% authentic, residential proxies are 100% incognito.
If you’re using a proxy for the first time, you should know that proxy servers don’t encrypt your data. You should add an extra layer of security around your device by getting a SOCKS5 cURL proxy. That feature comes with three authentication types – null, username/password, and GSS-API.
How to use cURL with your proxy
Here’s how to add a proxy to your cURL requests:
Step 1. Start with the following command:
Step 2. Choose this option from the output list:
-x, –proxy [protocol://]host[:port]
Enter proxy credentials, and you’re good to go.
If you want to add authentication, use this cURL SOCKS5 command:
curl -x “socks5://user:pwd@Proxy_IP_or_FQDN:Port” https://www.reddit.com
For Example –
$ curl -x “socks5://testuser:[email protected]:3128” https://www.reddit.com
Want to learn more? One of the market-leading proxy providers wrote a blog post on how to use cURL with proxies, so check it to easily start using cURL.
Whether you need them for web scraping or something else, cURL and proxies make a fantastic team. This combination is one of the most straightforward, flexible, and – with the addition of the cURL SOCKS5 command – one of the safest ways to download and share data online.