The Ultimate Guide to Rotate Proxy Servers in Selenium/Python?

If you’re new to web scraping and browser automation, you’ll often hear or read a few staple best practices, especially useful for beginners. One of them is that it’s best to use user-friendly programming languages like Python. Another one is the usual recommendation to explore browser automation tools like Selenium. Additionally, of course, you should make sure to rotate the proxy servers you’re using for your efforts.

While well-intentioned, all the advice and details can get overwhelming. Selenium? Proxy? Python? What are we even talking about and how do you go from one best practice to the next? This guide is a high-level discussion of three of the usual recommendations when it comes to web scraping: Python, Selenium, and proxy servers. More specifically, it will delve into the fundamentals of each and then culminate in a discussion of how to rotate proxies in a Selenium-based web scraping setup supported by Python.


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What is Python?

What is Python?

Python is a commonly used, high-level, and all-purpose programming language. Its design philosophy focuses on the clarity of code through the use of whitespace for readability. The syntax allows coders to express concepts with fewer lines than in other coding languages such as C++ or Java. Python supports object-oriented, imperative, functional, and procedural programming styles while also incorporating dynamic type structures and automatic memory management, making it suitable for scripting tasks that need quick development but not necessarily performance.

Python is highly versatile. Combined with its ubiquity and popularity, it can be used in a significantly wide array of activities:

  • Web Development: Python can be used to develop server-side web applications with frameworks like Django, Pyramid, Flask, and Bottle.
  • Data Science: Python is the most popular data science language due to its vast libraries of modules for mathematics, statistics, and analytics such as NumPy and SciPy or Pandas for data manipulation.
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning: It provides efficient libraries such as TensorFlow, allowing developers to work with deep learning algorithms without having much upfront knowledge about them.
  • Desktop GUI Applications: Python also supports cross-platform GUI Application development using tools like wxWidgets along with PyQt or Kivy.
  • Software Development: Python has wide support in areas of software development & Quality Assurance testing using frameworks like Robot Framework (for Test Automation), Jenkins (for Continuous Integration), and more.
  • Web scraping: Python can also be used for web scraping. There are various libraries and frameworks like BeautifulSoup, Scrapy, and Selenium, available to make the job of extracting data from websites easier. These libraries can help you extract structured information from websites in an automated way so that it is easy to process and analyze the extracted data according to your needs.

Note that Python can be used for web scraping, but it isn’t really, strictly speaking, the best way. Python might not be the most suitable language for certain types of cases such as when extracting highly dynamic data or dealing with a lot of javascript. But because it can sufficiently handle web scraping — and again because of it being so popular with readily accessible tutorials, videos, troubleshooting guides, forums, and other resources — it’s also used for this purpose as a very beginner- and user-friendly option.

In conjunction with additional tools, Python becomes an even more powerful approach for web scraping. This is where Selenium comes in.

What is Selenium?

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an open-source automated testing framework used for web applications. It can be used to test on different browsers and operating systems and supports multiple programming languages such as Java, C#, Python, Ruby, etc. Selenium can also be used to automate the execution of user scenarios (or “test cases”) that would otherwise have to be performed manually by a human tester.

Due to Selenium’s capabilities, it sees widespread use in the following use cases:

  • Regression Testing: Ensuring an existing application works as intended after the implementation of new changes (bug fixes, feature additions, etc.).
  • Functional Testing: Making sure all the functionalities of a web application work as expected by users and don’t have any bugs or glitches.
  • Performance/Load/Stress Testing: Verifying the performance and stability of a system under different conditions such as high traffic or extreme load scenarios to make sure it meets speed and performance requirements.
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility Tests: Checking that sites render properly across multiple browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge) to optimize the user experience on different web platforms
  • Automated UI Tests: Automating tests for specific user flows in a website or an app which would otherwise be done manually by testers.
  • Web scraping: Selenium is often used as an alternative to headless browsers and other scraping tools because it allows you to interact with the page directly in a browser window to gather data that would otherwise not be accessible. This capability makes it great for gathering data from dynamic sites or pages where traditional techniques may fail due to JavaScript or AJAX elements on the page.

What are Proxy Servers?

What are Proxy Servers?

Proxy servers help to mask the identity of a user when accessing websites or applications, making it harder for them to be tracked by the servers of said sites or apps.

More specifically, proxy servers are a type of server that acts as an intermediary between a client and another server. They provide access control by intercepting requests from the client (user) and passing them forward to the main server (e.g. target website or app). They also act as gateways for responses coming back from the main server to the local network or even entire organizations. In this way, proxy servers can limit access to certain areas of content, restrict types of traffic on networks, or cache commonly requested web pages to improve performance.

Additionally, they offer generic levels of privacy by default through their ability to mask IP addresses associated with user requests. This is their foremost advantage for activities like web scraping, as this feature makes it difficult (though not impossible) for target servers to find the client’s real IP address. Proxy servers can also allow users behind firewalls to work normally. Otherwise, their access to specific ports or protocols might be blocked.

You can use proxy servers with both Selenium and Python.

What is a Rotating Proxy?

Rotating proxy servers means using a sequence of different proxy servers instead of using the same server for all requests. This is often done to maintain anonymity or mitigate risks associated with being tracked by a single IP address, such as censorship or cyberattacks. Professionals might use rotating proxies when conducting research online, as they allow them to make multiple requests from various locations while not having their actual identity revealed.

When using rotating proxies to scrape websites or apps, they may appear as if they are being accessed by many different users, since the requests will come from multiple IP addresses. Depending on how often the proxy server is rotated and how well it is done, it can be difficult for websites or apps to detect this activity. Additionally, some proxies employ additional measures such as spoofing user agents, making detection even more difficult. In short, these apps or sites would “think” that all the requests being sent are from actual human users, instead of automated proxy servers.

What is a Python Proxy?

A Python proxy is simply a proxy server used by a Python-based script. The proxy itself is not specific to Python but can be accessed by any programming language or API that is calling it.

How to Rotate Proxy (Python)?

Again, in this case, a rotating proxy specific to Python merely refers to a list of proxy servers rotated in turn via Python.

In Python, rotate proxy servers by storing different ones in config files and accessing them when executing web scraping operations on remote websites. This is the ideal and most straightforward method, though, of course, there are some additional considerations and best practices.

What is a Selenium Proxy?

A Selenium proxy is a proxy server used in Selenium-powered automation projects, such as web scraping. Again, the proxies aren’t specific to Selenium.

You would use Selenium proxy servers exactly the same as you would in Python or any other programming language or application. They are used to configure web browser settings so that requests sent from the automated test scripts appear as if they come from a legitimate source — instead of an automation tool like Selenium.

The only difference is how you go about it.

How to Rotate Proxy (Selenium)?

In the case of Selenium, you can set up the proxy server in your browser configuration and then rotate them through Selenium’s RemoteWebDriver instance.

For this, create a list of desired proxies (or acquire them from an external source such as third-party APIs) and pass each proxy as part of your driver setup before beginning web scraping. After achieving success with one set of IPs, move on to another and continue until all have been used or an acceptable number has been used — whatever fits best within the specific project constraints.

Using Selenium with Python for Web Scraping

Using Selenium with Python for Web Scraping

Selenium is often used in Python-based testing and automation frameworks. It provides libraries that enable automated web browser interaction from Python programs, allowing developers to quickly create robust functional tests. Additionally, the combination of Selenium and Python makes it an ideal tool for building test scripts for web applications with various user interfaces.

Selenium and Python, individually, can be used for web scraping, but it is typically better to use Selenium in conjunction with Python as this will give you a more powerful and automated approach to data gathering. Using both Selenium and Python will allow you to write scripts that are able to interact directly with web pages, populate forms, or click on elements of the page which would not be possible using only one of the two tools.

Using Selenium Proxy (Python)

When using Selenium for web scraping with Python, proxies are typically used to create a virtual private network (VPN). This allows the user’s requests to be identified as coming from a different location instead of their own. By doing so, the request appears to be more human and can bypass geographical blocks and other anti-scraping measures that websites may impose. Proxies also allow users to make multiple simultaneous requests while still appearing as though they are coming from just one source — this is essential in speeding up web scraping processes.

Obviously, the basic principles of using proxies are essentially the same as when using them with either Python or Selenium alone. However, there may be some subtle differences depending on which application you use and how exactly your project is set up. For example, with Python, you can store different proxies in config files whereas Selenium requires that each proxy be passed through a RemoteWebDriver instance before being used.

So, it would be fair to say that the “how” in the case of Selenium-Python proxy usage is more specific to Selenium than it would be to Python alone. This means that you will need to set up each proxy through a RemoteWebDriver instance before being able to use them in your web scraping project. Additionally, you may also need additional setup or configs depending on the situation and how exactly you are trying to scrape remote websites with Selenium.

Selenium Rotating Proxy (Python)

If you’re running a web scraping project using both Python and Selenium, you would usually need to go through the Selenium method. Set up each proxy through a RemoteWebDriver instance. You wouldn’t need to rotate proxy Python-style where a list of servers is accessed in config files.

How to Set Up Rotating Selenium Proxy (Python)

How to Set Up Rotating Selenium Proxy (Python)

So, in your Python-Selenium web scraping setup, we need to follow Selenium’s rotating proxy rules. Step-by-step:

Install the Selenium Webdriver for Your Browser

First things first: install the Selenium web driver for your browser of choice (e.g. Chrome, Firefox). This can usually be found on the official website of each respective browser or from a third-party provider such as Install the driver by following the instructions provided with it. Usually, you need to unzip and run an executable file or set up environment variables to access it from anywhere on your system.

Once installed, you should be able to open up a command line/terminal window and type “selenium” followed by any additional parameters needed to launch an instance of that particular driver.

Find Reliable Rotating Proxy Providers

You can usually find services such as Rayobyte by searching online or asking around in forums/communities dedicated to web scraping/automation tasks. Once you have signed up, you will be provided with access credentials that should include a list of available proxies that can be used when making requests through Selenium. This would include details such as IP addresses and port numbers. Make sure to keep this information safe and secure as it is required for your script’s requests to go through successfully.

Configure Your Selenium Webdriver to Use the Rotating Proxies

Configure the Selenium web driver to use the rotating proxy settings from your chosen provider when making requests to websites you are scraping. You can view the documentation on how to do this depending on what driver you’re using. For example: In ChromeDriver, set “–proxy-server=<IP address>:<port>” to use a specific IP address and port number when making requests through that driver instance. Alternatively, set “–proxy-auto-detect” if you want it to automatically detect/rotate proxies as needed while running tests/scraping data.

Make sure that all your code is properly configured so that it uses these new settings whenever it makes requests via Selenium during its scraping operations. You will probably need to set up the appropriate headers or cookies for requests sent out by your script to new websites. After all, no two domains will have exactly the same cookie settings, authentication credentials, and other details.

Understanding Proxies and Proxy Types

Understanding Proxies and Proxy Types

To better illustrate the relationship between proxy servers and Python and Selenium, you can think of it as infrastructure supporting code, that in turn uses browser automation. The proxy servers are the infrastructure, Python is the programming code, and Selenium is the automation tool.

As for proxy servers, the breadth of the subject matter may not be as vast as Python or Selenium, but you need to understand at least the basics. There are a few different types of proxy servers, broadly categorized into public and private.

Public proxies are third-party servers that can be used to access the web with an anonymous IP address. They are often free and open for anyone to use, allowing users to visit websites without revealing their own identity or location. The drawback of using a public proxy is that it could be insecure. You never know if your data is safe as they may store logs or sell user information.

Another thing to consider when using public proxies is the possibility of IP banning. If you use a public proxy to access a website or application that does not allow it, your IP address can be blocked from further access. This is because the IP address is possibly associated with historically negative actions. So, even if you yourself didn’t do anything wrong, you’re still using a known malicious IP address. This could result in limited online activity and an inability to enjoy certain websites or apps. To avoid this issue, make sure you only use trusted proxies with secure protocols that protect your privacy and data while browsing online.

Therefore, it’s recommended to use private proxies from a paid and reputable service provider like Rayobyte.

Private proxies can further be subdivided into:

  • Transparent Proxy: A transparent proxy is mostly used for caching, reducing bandwidth usage, or blocking malicious content. This type of proxy is usually configured on the router or gateway level and does not require any client-side software configuration to be set up.
  • Anonymous Proxy: An anonymous proxy hides your IP address from websites you visit. So, they cannot trace it back to you directly without additional information from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). This type of proxy requires some basic setup at both ends — client-side configuration in addition to server-side changes that must be done by administrators with access rights on their network/server infrastructure.
  • Reverse Proxy: A reverse proxy works similarly to an anonymous one but in reverse. It sends your requests to the website server and then returns what it receives back to you, but without revealing where the request came from. This means that if someone were trying to trace activities back to your IP address, they would have difficulty in doing so since all their data points would appear from another location instead.
  • Distorting Proxies: Also known as “Type II proxies,” they distort the source Internet Protocol addresses when making requests outwards. That is, if a website were requested through this kind of proxied connection, then the website’s records would show an IP address other than what was actually sent. This makes tracking down original sources virtually impossible unless additional information is obtained.
  • High Anonymity Proxies: These types of proxies offer complete anonymity by changing all identifying data points attached to requests. They leave no traces in logs, cookies, or other places. This makes them massively popular among privacy advocates who wish to protect their online activities.

In addition, there are residential proxies with IP addresses associated with a physical address of an individual or business. There are also data center proxies with IPs from data centers that specialize in providing internet services, such as hosting and other web-based tasks. Finally, there are ISP proxies usually run by ISPs to provide access to their customers who need certain websites blocked or accessed from outside the country.

These three types can be used for all five kinds of proxy mentioned above but offer varying levels of anonymity depending on what type you choose and how it is configured.

Residential, data center, and ISP proxies are the sources of IP addresses while the five types from transparent to high anonymity are how they are configured. The type of proxy server will determine how secure and anonymous your connection is when using it for activities such as web browsing or streaming video content online.


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Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, understanding the basics of web scraping and browser automation — including the role of rotating Selenium proxy (Python) servers — can help you take your data-gathering efforts to new heights. When using both Python and Selenium proxies together in a project setup specifically for web scraping, make sure that all necessary configurations are properly in place to ensure user anonymity while making requests. This includes researching services like Rayobyte to find reliable rotating proxy providers as well as ensuring that any chosen private proxy is set up with secure protocols. So, your data remains safe when interacting with websites or apps on the web.

Proxy servers from Rayobyte are ideal for any webs cramping effort. We also offer an advanced Scraping Robot that could help with your projects. Check out our proxies today.

The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.

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