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How to Bypass Cloudflare Protection? Tutorial for 2024

Vilius Dumcius

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Cloudflare is one of the most popular content delivery networks in the world, serving countless websites with protection against DDoS and other attacks. Unfortunately, Cloudflare bot protection can also target web scraping initiatives , ruining the capabilities of collecting data.

Bypassing Cloudflare, as such, becomes nearly a necessity for anyone engaging in large-scale projects. There are various Cloudflare bypass methods, none of which are the perfect solution. However, a combination of them can significantly improve your success rates.

What Is Cloudflare?

While Cloudflare is most widely known for its anti-bot protection features, its original intention was slightly different. One of their primary offerings is a content delivery network that works by providing IP addresses closer to user origin points , allowing websites to load content faster.

As such, Cloudflare has servers in hundreds of cities across the world, which stand between the user and the origin IP address. They take requests from users and forward these requests to the original destination. Cloudflare servers can also provide cached versions of websites for better performance.

One of the drawbacks of the original Internet was that too many users trying to connect to the web server at once could cause the machine to crash, which then made content unavailable for everyone. Since Cloudflare’s network intercepts requests, the company also developed load balancing and anti-bot protection features.

Now, these anti-bot protection features are the better-known side of Cloudflare. The company has some of the most capable security and protection features that protect websites from malicious bots.

These features, while providing immense value to businesses and individuals alike, also have their drawbacks. Mainly in that Cloudflare active bot protection can also block various web scraping tools that may not be malicious at all.

How Does Cloudflare Detect Web Scrapers?

Web scrapers inevitably employ bots that go through a long list of URLs on a website. Most active bot protection techniques do not attempt to differentiate between benign and malicious bots due to how complex and difficult it might be to do so. Cloudflare’s anti-bot techniques are no different, and they’ll often ban web scrapers.

Anti-bot protection is an extremely complicated and nuanced topic. There are numerous methods to detect bots , but some of the most common ways are:

  • Number of requests per minute

Regular users will send significantly fewer requests than any bot as they will have to take time to read and process the content on the page. Bots have no such limitations.

  • User behavior

Most internet users have a somewhat predictable pattern of navigation. They may visit the homepage, go to one of the many pages from there and continually browse until clicking out of the page. Bots will be much more methodical in their approach.

  • Honeypots

Some websites will implement hidden URLs that are only visible through HTML code. Bots will try to visit these URLs, which will get them banned. Avoiding these honeypots isn’t necessary for bypassing Cloudflare as the company doesn’t implement these methods, although they may exist in the website itself.

  • User agent and IP address evaluation

Both the Cloudflare and origin server will often evaluate the request metadata they receive to assess whether it could be coming from a bot. Some basic bots will actually send user agents that tell web servers that they are bots. Additionally, some IP addresses may be flagged or banned due to previous botting actions.

Listed above are only some of the anti-bot protection techniques. Cloudflare’s anti-bot protection likely uses a combination of those above and possibly some more advanced implementations such as machine learning.

Some of the techniques used by Cloudflare’s anti-bot protection are relatively clear-cut. It is highly likely that they measure the number of requests per minute (as they also protect from DDoS attacks), evaluate user agents and IP addresses, and, potentially, a few other metrics.

Detecting the number of requests is especially vital to Cloudflare’s anti-bot protection, as most web scrapers run a large number of them per second or minute. As such, it’s extremely easy for web scrapers to trip up the bot protection algorithm.

If you run into issues with a Cloudflare-protected site, you’ll likely receive one of the following errors:

While not very descriptive, it’s highly likely that the Cloudflare-protected site considers you a bot and prevents you from accessing data. You’ll need to apply one of the many methods outlined below.

  • Cloudflare Error 1010: Access Denied

Another frequent error, which is issued if your headless browsers leak fingerprint information. You’ll need to switch up the user agent and overall fingerprint.

  • Cloudflare Error 1015: You are being rate limited

Fairly self-explanatory - your web scraping tool has been blocked for sending too many requests. You’ll need to either reduce the amount of requests or separate them through an IP address pool.

  • Cloudflare Error 1009: Your country is blocked

Another simple Cloudflare challenge that has nothing to do with bots. Your IP address is simply blocked as the server intends to serve people from a specific location. Switching your proxy IP address usually resolves the issue.

How to Bypass Cloudflare Bot Protection

While we can’t know for certain what methods are used to detect web scrapers, you can bypass Cloudflare bot protection with a few tried and tested techniques. Using several of them in conjunction or one after another may bring even better results, allowing you to bypass Cloudflare more frequently.

1. Send Requests Directly to the Origin IP Address

Sometimes, the Cloudflare bypass method is as simple as sending requests to IP addresses instead of the website domain. Cloudflare relies on users attempting to access the website through regular routes and putting a server in between.

If you know the IP address of the origin server, you can always try to connect to it directly. In some cases, that’ll completely circumvent the Cloudflare challenge. It often won’t be as easy, however, as you have to first find the IP address.

Using lookup services or various commands available through the terminal might not provide you with the results. You’ll have to snoop around and look in various databases (such as Censys or Shodan) or use dedicated software (such as CloudFlair ). If you find the IP address of the origin server, you can send requests to it directly, completely bypassing Cloudflare.

This method, however, relies on the fact that someone has left the IP address of the origin server publicly available. Generally, that could be considered a mistake, so while it’s the most effective Cloudflare bypass method, it’s also one that you’ll rarely be able to utilize.

2. Scrape Google’s Cache

Google provides a cached version of most websites, which you can access by using the URL: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:[YOUR_WEBSITE_URL]

Alternatively, there are many other caching services, such as the Wayback Machine . While that will completely bypass Cloudflare anti-bot protection, the method isn’t perfect either.

One of its major drawbacks is the fact that most caches and archives save snapshots irregularly and, usually, infrequently. As such, it’s only viable for web scrapers that intend to collect static data. If a website or the necessary data changes frequently, caches will provide outdated information.

3. Use Headless Browsers With Plugins

Most headless browsers were intended to test website functionality and automate actions. As such, they have several weaknesses that make bypassing Cloudflare anti-bot protection a little difficult.

There are, however, versions of headless browsers that attempt to fix all the leaks that trip up Cloudflare’s active bot protection techniques. Such headless browsers usually have a stealth plugin (such as Puppeteer or Playwright) or have optimized webdrivers (such as Selenium).

While it can be extremely effective in bypassing Cloudflare, this method runs into the problem of a cat-and-mouse game. As soon as someone discovers a way to bypass Cloudflare using these plugins, the developers of the Cloudflare network are also made aware and attempt to create a patch for it.

As such, these tools usually bypass Cloudflare effectively for a short while and completely stop working afterward. Cloudflare bypass developers then attempt to find a new way while the company creates a patch for any method that’s found.

So, it’s a good method to have in your toolbox and keep an eye on any updates to Cloudflare bypass methods through headless browsers, but it can’t be the only way, as you’ll sometimes be stuck without a way to access data.

4. Use Proxies and IP Address Rotation

One of the ways Cloudflare detects bots is through checking how many requests an IP address attempts to send to the server. If the origin server Cloudflare protection is set up properly, it’ll quickly block any web scrapers that send too many requests.

IP address rotation is a simple fix to that issue, as it’ll completely reset the number of requests sent. Additionally, while there are no dedicated Cloudflare bypass proxy providers, most residential proxies work fairly well at evading active bot detection techniques.

With a large enough IP address pool, you can keep switching them as soon as your web scrapers get detected. That’ll usually resolve most Cloudflare active bot detection methods.

One of the exceptions to the above Cloudflare challenge script are user agent detection and JavaScript leaks from headless browsers. These need to be optimized separately, as changing your IP address will do nothing if your user agent is detected as coming from a bot.

The CloudFlare JavaScript challenge is a little more complicated as headless browsers leak their fingerprints through JS. You can either use a headful browser or a headless browser with a stealth plugin as outlined above.

5. Use a CAPTCHA Solver

Finally, there’s always the Cloudflare CAPTCHA bypass, which is useful when all other methods fail while no access denied error is produced. Cloudflare will often first test the waters by throwing out a CAPTCHA to an offending IP address without resorting to an instant ban. Web scrapers, in fact, will often run into CAPTCHA tests first.

With residential proxies, the Cloudflare CAPTCHA bypass method can be somewhat simple as changing your IP address should resolve the issue. Sometimes, however, you’ll need a second way to bypass Cloudflare.

In those cases, there are plenty of ways to circumvent CAPTCHA tests with one of them being using a dedicated service. There are many companies out there that will automatically help you bypass the CAPTCHA Cloudflare challenge for a small fee.

You simply add their API to your web scrapers, and whenever a CAPTCHA test is delivered, it will be sent to their endpoint, which will then be solved, allowing you to continue scraping. These solutions, however, can definitely build up costs for your projects.

Final Thoughts

As most modern websites use Cloudflare, its bot detection mechanisms present one of the biggest challenges for web scraping. The outlined methods to bypass Cloudflare protection will help you ensure you carry out your web scraping projects with minimal downtime. They will also work just as efficiently with all other anti-bot systems with similar detection techniques.

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Vilius Dumcius

Product Owner

With six years of programming experience, Vilius specializes in full-stack web development with PHP (Laravel), MySQL, Docker, Vue.js, and Typescript. Managing a skilled team at IPRoyal for years, he excels in overseeing diverse web projects and custom solutions. Vilius plays a critical role in managing proxy-related tasks for the company, serving as the lead programmer involved in every aspect of the business. Outside of his professional duties, Vilius channels his passion for personal and professional growth, balancing his tech expertise with a commitment to continuous improvement.

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