Data mining refers to the process of collecting, homogenizing, analyzing, and warehousing the data made available through direct or indirect methods. Since organizations use big data to refine their approach toward marketing, operation, fraud detection, and customer satisfaction, the use of data mining has become an integral part of every B2B and B2C business.
Data mining, on an industrial level, is used to train the machine learning algorithms that suggest optimal operational and marketing decisions. The data mining and ELT technologies are also employed on a production level to develop neural links and test applications.
Role of Proxies in Data Mining
The process of data mining consists of several steps that require specialized tools and expertise. The proxies come in handy at the initial stage of data collection.
Data scraping refers to automated data collection from the internet and publicly available sources. Despite being a sub-part of data collection, data scraping isn’t the only way to collect data. Some organizations generate their raw heterogeneous data to be analyzed.
For the purpose of data scraping, you need to develop bots that initiate frequent requests to the servers. This practice, although not illegal, can put a lot of pressure on the servers that are providing the information. To prevent traffic management issues, companies develop policies that restrict the access of these bots to a maximum number of requests at a given time. These policies make data scraping a challenging endeavor.
The servers mostly track the requests by the IP address. Thus, masking the very thing limits the probability of being restricted or blocked entirely. A list of free proxies, specifically designed to rotate the IP addresses in a predefined frequency, is used for that purpose.
If your company employs data scraping as a means of data collection, proxy servers are necessary add-ons that make the process more anonymous and safe. Let’s discuss the best 4 proxies that are used for data mining.
Best Proxies for Data Mining
Proxies come in different shapes and sizes. But not every proxy can be used to mine data. The proxies that work for data mining are:
Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is essentially a set of rules that dictate the transfer of files on the internet. HTTP initiates a connection between the user and the server.
HTTP proxies work like an intermediary to transfer data between you and the server. Your data scraper sends a request to the HTTP proxy, which is then forwarded to the server and the output is returned to you through the proxy. Furthermore, HTTP allows multiple users to connect to the servers simultaneously. Thus, you can send multiple requests with multiple IP addresses to the server without getting tracked.
The HTTP proxies generate an HTTP request header that contains the browser information to send the request to the servers. 5 subsets of HTTP request headers are mainly used to convey the details of the browser to the server. The subsets are:
- HTTP header User-Agent (Identifies the application, OS, software version, etc.)
- HTTP header Accept-Language (The language that the browser and user understand)
- HTTP header Accept-Encoding (Compression algorithm)
- HTTP headers accept (Data format)
- HTTP header referer (Any reference URL like Google to be inserted before the target, helps imitate an organic search pattern)
SOCKS proxies work by sitting between you and the server to redirect your request through a firewall. As SOCKS reroutes any kind of traffic generated by any protocol, the limitations of HTTP proxies are minimized.
The SOCKS proxies are generally more secure than HTTP proxies but are comparatively slower.
This kind of proxy server reroutes your requests through other dedicated servers with different IP addresses by forming User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and TCP connections. SOCKS establishes the TCP or UDP connection with the server that sits behind a firewall that prevents you from data mining.
And as it doesn’t interpret or change the user data, the sessions are forwarded as it is and don’t cause interpretation issues like HTTP proxies to do.
Two types of SOCKS proxies are frequently used to mine data. Although costlier, the SOCKS5 proxies have significant benefits over SOCKS4 proxies. The benefits include:
- SOCKS5 supports a variety of user authentication methods.
- SOCKS5 supports UDP connections.
- SOCKS5 proxies usually don’t require special setups.
- As SOCKS5 doesn’t rewrite session packets, the chances of error are minimized.
Datacenter proxies are proxy servers that are not affiliated with the ISPs. They are sourced from third-party providers who make use of data centers and cloud servers to host several users simultaneously.
As the proxies aren’t enlisted as ISPs, the web servers often try to block the connections even before the data scraping requests start going through. Although there are methods available to bypass the issue, it still is an inconvenience.
Datacenter proxies are used for data mining because they are more cost-effective than dedicated proxies. And as data scraping doesn’t require a great security policy, the shared cloud servers don’t introduce much concern.
As with any other proxy, the application of data center proxies doesn’t differ much. The cloud-based servers take your request and forward it to the target web server after changing the IP address. They also support multiple connections and can be used for fast-paced data scraping requirements.
Residential proxies provide your data scraping bots with real IP addresses of ISPs to establish a secure connection with the servers. The IP addresses are sourced from real physical devices and replicate organic human behaviors to not raise suspicion.
Residential proxies use real physical devices of homeowners with their consent. Thus, it presents some challenges that are hard to neglect. The issues are mostly associated with proxy providers that don’t source the devices with proper ethics. Such issues are:
- Disruption of operation
- Reputational damage
- Legal battles
The Bottom Line
Data mining is used for various purposes in various niches. The first step of data mining, the data collection step, requires you to use proxies that hide your requests from the servers. The best proxies for the purpose are HTTP and SOCKS5 proxy, but data center proxies and residential proxies that reroute your connection can also be used for the purpose.