Jobs: pausing and resuming crawls

Sometimes, for big sites, it’s desirable to pause crawls and be able to resume them later.

Scrapy supports this functionality out of the box by providing the following facilities:

  • a scheduler that persists scheduled requests on disk
  • a duplicates filter that persists visited requests on disk
  • an extension that keeps some spider state (key/value pairs) persistent between batches

Job directory

To enable persistence support you just need to define a job directory through the JOBDIR setting. This directory will be for storing all required data to keep the state of a single job (ie. a spider run). It’s important to note that this directory must not be shared by different spiders, or even different jobs/runs of the same spider, as it’s meant to be used for storing the state of a single job.

How to use it

To start a spider with persistence supported enabled, run it like this:

scrapy crawl somespider -s JOBDIR=crawls/somespider-1

Then, you can stop the spider safely at any time (by pressing Ctrl-C or sending a signal), and resume it later by issuing the same command:

scrapy crawl somespider -s JOBDIR=crawls/somespider-1

Keeping persitent state between batches

Sometimes you’ll want to keep some persistent spider state between pause/resume batches. You can use the spider.state attribute for that, which should be a dict. There’s a built-in extension that takes care of serializing, storing and loading that attribute from the job directory, when the spider starts and stops.

Here’s an example of a callback that uses the spider state (other spider code is omitted for brevity):

def parse_item(self, response):
    # parse item here
    self.state['items_count'] = self.state.get('items_count', 0) + 1

Persistence gotchas

There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be able to use the Scrapy persistence support:

Cookies expiration

Cookies may expire. So, if you don’t resume your spider quickly the requests scheduled may no longer work. This won’t be an issue if you spider doesn’t rely on cookies.

Request serialization

Requests must be serializable by the pickle module, in order for persistence to work, so you should make sure that your requests are serializable.

The most common issue here is to use lambda functions on request callbacks that can’t be persisted.

So, for example, this won’t work:

def some_callback(self, response):
    somearg = 'test'
    return Request('http://www.example.com', callback=lambda r: self.other_callback(r, somearg))

def other_callback(self, response, somearg):
    print "the argument passed is:", somearg

But this will:

def some_callback(self, response):
    somearg = 'test'
    return Request('http://www.example.com', meta={'somearg': somearg})

def other_callback(self, response):
    somearg = response.meta['somearg']
    print "the argument passed is:", somearg