What is cURL, and how to use it with HTTP/HTTPS proxy?

One of the most powerful and simple tools for developers is cURL, a command-line solution that can transfer data over the internet. With cURLyou can communicate with a server by specifying your location in a URL and then the data you want to send. Among many use cases, cURL is often used with proxies to retrieve important information. A well-known example is geo-localization. Retail websites use cURL to display prices in customers’ local currency. Without this tool, you would see original prices from the webshop country.

What can cURL do?

cURL is supported on most operating systems like Windows 10 or macOS, and you can install it on Linux-based distributions. At its core, cURL is used for data transfers over internet protocols. The tool supports over 20 protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS, POP3, SMTP, IMAP, and others.

One of the basic commands you can try instantly is:

Curl ipifno.io

It will quickly check your IP address and location.

You can also open the Terminal or command prompt and send this command:

curl https://www.google.com

You can retrieve the HTML of the page and view it on the console.

How to get cURL

If you’re using Windows 10 or 11, macOS, and most Linux distributions, you will already have cURL. For the Linux distros that don’t come with this powerful tool, you can install it. The most widespread Linux is Ubuntu, and you can get cURL with this command in the Terminal.

sudo apt install curl

Using cURL with HTTP/HTTPS proxy

A proxy server is the middleman between you and the target server. If you combine it with cURL, you can retrieve or send information using internet protocols. To connect with a proxy server, you will need its address, port, protocol, and for quality proxies, username, and password for authentication.

HTTP/HTTPS are the most popular proxies. In most cases, providers will allow you to connect to the proxy with HTTP and then create an HTTPS connection with the destination website. Your connecting command will look the same for both HTTP and HTTPS proxy servers. Here is an example of the command for using cURL with the proxy:

curl https:/proxyway.com

How to configure cURL always to use proxy

There are a couple of ways you can configure cURL to always run through the proxy server. First, you can do it by creating an alias.

$ alias curl=’’curl -x http://proxyway.com

After this, reloading your shell and running cURL will use the alias and consequently – the proxy server.

$ curl https://proxyway.com

Another way to do it is by using .curlrc. The tool has its way of setting a default option. When starting with cURL in the command prompt or Terminal, it will look for the -/.curlrc file. So, we can add this line to -/.curlrc and make it always go through the proxy.

proxy=http://proxyway.com

You can also make cURL use proxy by default by using environment variables.

$ export http_proxy=http://proxyway.com

You must add this variable to your shell profile to make it a permanent way to use cURL.

Use cases for proxy server projects

Data is the new gold, and while there are terabytes of information, you need an effective tool to gather essential information. Web scraping is getting information from third-party websites for marketing, espionage, or other reasons.

cURL with proxy can help you retrieve substantial data sets without anyone noticing. However, if you try web scraping without a proxy, chances are the websites you are investigating will detect unusual activity.

Another popular use case for proxy servers is avoiding region-specific limitations. Because a proxy changes your IP address, you can use it for scraping marketing or sales, monitoring competition, or testing a particular market or region for products and features. In addition, when combined with cURL, you can use a proxy to gain access to content in the region you can’t usually see from your country’s IP address.

Proxy servers also provide an added layer of security for all your actions connected to the cURL tool for extracting information. Moreover, because proxies hide your IP address, you’re less likely to get blocked when doing activities like scraping,or other data transfers over internet protocol and proxy servers with capable cURL tools.

Bottom line

If you’re looking for a powerful automation tool, cURL is an extremely popular tool that includes proxy integration. In addition, the tool supports most internet protocols, and its library works perfectly with PHP. This means you can use this combination to automate web scraping projects.

Seamless retrieval and transfer of information with the help of cURL makes this tool incredibly useful for marketers that scrape data or for webshops that use geo-localization. There are countless possible use cases for cURL with proxy.

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