How to Fix Cloudflare Error 1020 When Web Scraping

If you've tried scraping a website protected by Cloudflare, chances are you've encountered the dreaded Error 1020 at some point. This firewall error essentially means that Cloudflare has detected and blocked your scraper's requests, preventing you from extracting data from the site.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the reasons for Error 1020, how Cloudflare detects bots and scrapers, and most importantly – the best methods and tools to bypass this blocking issue.

What Causes Cloudflare Error 1020?

Cloudflare is one of the most popular CDN and DDoS protection services used by millions of websites. It offers a web application firewall (WAF) that aims to prevent malicious bots and scrapers from abusing sites under its protection.

When Cloudflare detects suspicious non-human activity from an IP address, it will trigger Error 1020 and block any further requests coming from that source.

Here are some of the common signs of automation that can prompt Cloudflare to block you:

  • Suspicious User-Agent: The User-Agent header identifies your client to the server. If you're using a library like Requests in Python that has a non-browser UA, it's easy for Cloudflare to detect.
  • High Frequency Requests: If you're hitting a site too aggressively without any human-like delays, the rate of requests from your IP will stand out as bot behavior.
  • Headless Browser Properties: Headless browsers like Puppeteer and Playwright are great for automation, but can be detected via properties like browser version, OS, etc.
  • Same IP Address: Scrape from the same IP too many times, and your address will be flagged at some point.
  • Distinct Behavior: Any activity perceived as unusual for a human visitor could trigger Error 1020, such as following certain crawl patterns, clicking elements in rapid succession, etc.

Essentially, if your web scraper lacks techniques to mimic human behavior, Cloudflare will be able to detect and block it, leading to Error 1020.

5 Methods to Bypass Cloudflare Error 1020

Now that you know what causes Error 1020 on Cloudflare protected sites, let's explore proven techniques to prevent and bypass it:

1. Use a Rotating Proxy Service

One of the most reliable ways to bypass Cloudflare Error 1020 is using a rotating proxy service.

The main issue with scraping from a static residential IP is that it gets blocked once Cloudflare identifies it as a scraper. A rotating proxy service gives you access to a large pool of IP addresses and rotates them automatically with each request.

This prevents the same IP from hitting the target site multiple times. Since the requests come from diverse residential IPs mimicking real human visitors, Cloudflare finds it much harder to detect and block them.

The key is using a high-quality proxy service optimized for web scraping, such as:

  • BrightData – Reliable rotating proxies with unlimited bandwidth. Ideal for heavy scraping.
  • Oxylabs – Provides both residential and datacenter proxies for versatility. Excellent infrastructure.
  • GeoSurf – Specializes in location-specific residential IPs. Great for scraping sites that detect VPNs.

Tip: Avoid free public proxy lists, as they are usually very unreliable and easily detected by Cloudflare. Invest in a paid rotating proxy service for smooth web scraping.

2. Randomize the User-Agent Header

Recall that one sign of bot activity is having a suspicious User-Agent header. The UA identifies your client to the web server and proxy services like Cloudflare.

Many libraries and tools use a default, non-browser User-Agent that makes it easy to detect automation. For example, the Requests library in Python has a signature of:

User-Agent: python-requests/2.25.1

To prevent Cloudflare from recognizing your scraper client, you can randomize the User-Agent header in your requests.

The easiest way is installing a module like fake-useragent that provides a large list of real browser headers. You can configure it to automatically pick and rotate the UA with each request as follows:

import requests
from fake_useragent import UserAgent

ua = UserAgent()
header = {'User-Agent': ua.random} 

response = requests.get(url, headers=header)

This makes your scraper traffic blend in like any real visitor browsing the web. Some other ways to get working UAs include:

  • Browser User-Agent Switcher extensions to find latest browser UAs.
  • Scraping Bee browser REST API provides real browser UAs.
  • Crawlera and Smartproxy also offer thousands of real UAs.

Rotation is key – reuse the same UA excessively and your scraper can still be flagged.

3. Mimic Human Behavior with a Headless Browser

Another great tool for bypassing Error 1020 is using a headless browser like Puppeteer or Playwright.

Since headless browsers render and execute pages the same way a real browser does, they can perfectly mimic natural human behavior to avoid bot detection. This includes:

  • Native browser User-Agent.
  • Mouse movements, clicks and scrolls.
  • Dynamic page handling via JavaScript.
  • Human-like delays between actions.

For example, here is Puppeteer Javascript code to scrape a page with natural delays:

// Navigate to target page
await page.goto(url); 

// Scroll down slowly like a user
await autoScroll(page);

// Wait some time before clicking elements  
await page.waitFor(5000);

// Click buttons and extract data...

// Crawl next page after some time
await page.waitFor(4000);

This human-like crawling is very difficult for Cloudflare to detect as a bot.

However, there are some limitations to headless browsers:

  • Detectable Properties: Cloudflare can fingerprint properties like Chrome browser version, OS, etc. to detect automation.
  • No IP Rotation: Using the same IP limits the effectiveness since it can still get blocked after many requests.

To maximize success, you can mask the headless browser properties and combine it with an IP rotator.

4. Mask Headless Browser Properties

As mentioned above, one issue with headless browsers is that they can be detected via properties like user agent, browser version, operating system, etc.

Cloudflare maintains a frequently updated fingerprint database of various automation tools. So even advanced ones like Puppeteer and Playwright can get flagged.

To mask these detectable properties, you can use a plugin like Undetected ChromeDriver.

This is a patched version of ChromeDriver with the following protections:

  • Scrambles and randomizes the user agent.
  • Removes headless flags and emulator traces.
  • Spoofs fingerprinting parameters like timezone, languages, etc.

Here is how you can integrate Undetected ChromeDriver with Puppeteer:

// Import patched chromedriver
import { UndetectedChromedriver } from 'undetected-chromedriver'

// Use it with Puppeteer    
const driver = await UndetectedChromedriver.start()
const browser = await puppeteer.launch({executablePath: driver.path}) 

// Open pages for scraping
const page = await browser.newPage()
await page.goto(url)

This makes your headless browser extremely difficult for Cloudflare to detect as automation, allowing you to scrape unhindered.

5. Leverage a Web Scraping API

If you want to skip the complexities of configuring browsers, proxies, and detection avoidance…then consider using a web scraping API.

API services like ScraperAPI and ZenRows handle all the heavy lifting of bypassing anti-bot services like Cloudflare behind the scenes.

They provide an API to extract data by simply sending scraping requests to their servers. Here are some benefits of using a scraping API:

  • Automatic Proxy Rotation – Uses thousands of IPs to prevent blocks.
  • Browser Engine – Real browser rendering minimizes detections.
  • Captcha Solving – Handled automatically to avoid interruptions.
  • Powerful Integrations – Easy to use with Python, R, Postman, Zapier, etc.
  • Reliable Uptime – Get your data without infrastructure headaches.

For example, here is a Python script to scrape a site protected by Cloudflare using the ZenRows API:

import requests

api_key = 'ABC123' 

api_url = f'{api_key}&url=target_page'

response = requests.get(api_url) 


The API abstraction allows you to focus on data extraction without worrying about handling proxies, browsers, and mouse movements.

So if you want an easy and reliable solution for bypassing Error 1020, look into leveraging a web scraping API service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions around resolving Cloudflare Error 1020 that many web scrapers have:

How can I bypass the “Error 1020 Access Denied” message?

The main methods to bypass Error 1020 are using a rotating proxy service, customizing the User-Agent, mimicking human behavior with a headless browser, masking detectable browser properties, or leveraging a web scraping API. Combining multiple such techniques is most effective.

Why am I getting “Error 1020 Forbidden” even with a VPN?

VPNs can often trigger Error 1020 themselves, since many sites block traffic from known VPN IP ranges. Your best bet is using residential proxies optimized for web scraping. They provide thousands of real IP addresses from ISPs, not flagged as suspicious.

Does Cloudflare block all web scrapers?

Not necessarily. Well programmed scrapers that closely mimic human behavior are able to scrape Cloudflare sites reliably. Techniques like proxy rotation, stealthy browsers, and good crawling patterns are key to avoid blocks.

What happens if you ignore the Cloudflare 1020 error?

If you continue scraping from an IP address that has been flagged with Error 1020, Cloudflare will completely block all your requests. New accounts and sessions from that source will also get blocked instantly. It's important to use proxy rotation to scrape reliably.

Is web scraping legal if a site is protected by Cloudflare?

In most cases, web scraping public sites not protected by strict Terms of Service is perfectly legal. Just make sure to carefully crawl sites to avoid aggressive scraping patterns that can disrupt servers. Using residential IPs and scraping data responsibly is recommended.

Scrape Cloudflare Websites Without Errors

And there you have it – a comprehensive guide on bypassing the common Cloudflare Error 1020 that hinders many web scraping projects.

The key techniques to remember are:

  • Rotating Proxies – Avoid blocks by constantly switching different residential IPs.
  • Custom User-Agents – Scrape like a real visitor by spoofing browser headers.
  • Headless Browsers – Render pages like a human and mimic natural behaviors.
  • Undetected ChromeDriver – Mask detectable headless browser properties.
  • Web Scraping API – Simple abstraction for proxy handling and bot detection avoidance.

Taking the time to properly implement measures like these will allow you to scrape Cloudflare protected sites with minimal interruptions.

While it may seem daunting at first, a bit of careful programming and the right tools make it easy to extract the data you need. With these actionable tips, you can now scrape Cloudflare successfully and overcome Error 1020.

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