Web Scraping simply is the process of gathering information from the Internet. Through Web Scraping Tools one can download structured data from the web to be used for analysis in an automated fashion.
This article aims at providing you with in-depth knowledge about what Web Scraping is and why it’s essential, along with a comprehensive list of the 8 Best Web Scraping Tools out there in the market, keeping in mind the features offered by each of these, pricing, target audience, and shortcomings. It will help you make an informed decision regarding the Best Web Scraping Tool catering to your business.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Web Scraping
- Uses of Web Scraping Tools
- Factors to Consider when Choosing Web Scraping Tools
- Top 8 Web Scraping Tools
Understanding Web Scraping
Web Scraping refers to the extraction of content and data from a website. This information is then extracted in a format that is more useful to the user.
Web Scraping can be done manually, but this is extremely tedious work. To speed up the process you can use Web Scraping Tools that would be automated, cost less, and work more swiftly.
How does a Web Scraper work exactly?
- First, the Web Scraper is given the URLs to load up before the scraping process. The scraper then loads the complete HTML code for the desired page.
- The Web Scraper will then extract either all the data on the page or the specific data selected by the user before running the project.
- Finally, the Web Scraper outputs all the data that has been collected into a usable format.
Uses of Web Scraping Tools
Web Scraping Tools are used for a large number of purposes like :
- Data Collection for Market Research.
- Contact Information Extraction.
- Price Tracking from Multiple Markets.
- Lead Generation.
- News Monitoring.
Factors to Consider when Choosing Web Scraping Tools
Most of the data present on the Internet is unstructured. Therefore we need to have systems in place to extract meaningful insights from it. As someone looking to play around with data and extract some meaningful insights from it, one of the most fundamental tasks that you are required to carry out is Web Scraping. But Web Scraping can be a resource-intensive endeavor that requires you to begin with all the necessary Web Scraping Tools at your disposal. There are a couple of factors that you need to keep in mind before you decide on the right Web Scraping Tools.
- Scalability: The tool you use should be scalable because your data scraping needs will only increase with time. So you need to pick a Web Scraping Tool that doesn’t slow down with the increase in data demand.
- Transparent Pricing Structure: The pricing structure for the opted tool should be fairly transparent. This means that hidden costs shouldn’t crop up at a later stage; instead, every explicit detail must be made clear in the pricing structure. Choose a provider that has a clear model and doesn’t beat around the bush when talking about the features being offered.
- Data Delivery: The choice of a desirable Web Scraping Tool will also depend on the data format in which the data must be delivered. For instance, if your data needs to be delivered in JSON format, then your search should be narrowed down to the crawlers that deliver in JSON format. To be on the safe side, you must pick a provider that provides a crawler that can deliver data in a wide array of formats. Since there are occasions where you may have to deliver data in formats that you aren’t used to. Versatility ensures that you don’t fall short when it comes to data delivery. Ideally, data delivery formats should be XML, JSON, CSV, or have it delivered to FTP, Google Cloud Storage, DropBox, etc.
- Handling Anti-Scraping Mechanisms: There are websites on the Internet that have anti-scraping measures in place. If you are afraid you’ve hit a wall with this, these measures can be bypassed through simple modifications to the crawler. Pick a web crawler that comes in handy in overcoming these roadblocks with a robust mechanism of its own.
- Customer Support: You might run into an issue while running your Web Scraping Tool and might need assistance to solve that issue. Customer support, therefore, becomes an important factor while deciding on a good tool. This must be the priority for the Web Scraping provider. With great customer support, you don’t need to worry about if anything goes wrong. You can bid farewell to the frustration that comes from having to wait for satisfactory answers with good customer support. Test the customer support by reaching out to them before making a purchase and note the time it takes them to respond before making an informed decision.
- Quality Of Data: As we discussed before, most of the data present on the Internet is unstructured and needs to be cleaned and organized before it can be put to actual use. Try looking for a Web Scraping provider that provides you the required tools to help with the cleaning and organizing of data that is scraped. Since the quality of data will impact analysis further, it is imperative to keep this factor in mind.
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Top 8 Web Scraping Tools
Choosing the ideal Web Scraping Tool that perfectly meets your business requirements can be a challenging task, especially when there’s a large variety of Web Scraping Tools available in the market. To simplify your search, here is a comprehensive list of 8 Best Web Scraping Tools that you can choose from:
ParseHub is an incredibly powerful and elegant tool that allows you to build web scrapers without having to write a single line of code. It is therefore as simple as simply selecting the data you need. ParseHub is targeted at pretty much anyone that wishes to play around with data. This could be anyone from analysts and data scientists to journalists.
Key Features of ParseHub
- Clean Text and HTML before downloading data.
- Simple to use graphical interface.
- ParseHub allows you to collect and store data on servers automatically.
- Automatic IP rotation.
- Scraping behind logic walls allowed.
- Provides Desktop Clients for Windows, Mac OS, Linux.
- Data is exported in JSON or Excel Format.
- Can extract data from tables and maps.
ParseHub’s pricing structure looks like this:
- Everyone: It is made available to the users free of cost. Allows 200 pages per run in 40 minutes. It supports up to 5 public projects with very limited support and data retention for 14 days.
- Standard($149/month): You can get 200 pages in about 10 minutes with this plan, allowing you to scrap 10,00 pages per run. With the Standard Plan, you can support 20 private projects backed by standard support with data retention of 14 days. Along with these features you also get IP rotation, scheduling, and the ability to store images and files in DropBox or Amazon S3.
- Professional($499/month): Scraping speed is faster than the Standard Plan(scrape up to 200 pages in 2 minutes) allowing you unlimited pages per run. You can run 120 private projects with priority support and data retention for 30 days plus the features offered in the Standard Plan.
- Enterprise(Open To Discussion): You can get in touch with the ParseHub team to lay down a customized plan for you based on your business needs, offering unlimited pages per run and dedicated scraping speeds across all the projects you choose to undertake on top of the features offered in the Professional Plan.
- Troubleshooting is not easy for larger projects.
- The output can be very limiting at times(not being able to publish complete scraped output).
Scrapy is a Web Scraping library used by python developers to build scalable web crawlers. It is a complete web crawling framework that handles all the functionalities that make building web crawlers difficult such as proxy middleware, querying requests among many others.
Key Features of Scrapy
- Open Source Tool.
- Extremely well documented.
- Easily Extensible.
- Portable Python.
- Deployment is simple and reliable.
- Middleware modules are available for the integration of useful tools.
It is an open-source tool that is free of cost and managed by Scrapinghub and other contributors.
OctoParse has a target audience similar to ParseHub, catering to people who want to scrape data without having to write a single line of code, while still having control over the full process with their highly intuitive user interface.
Key Features of OctoParse
- Site Parser and hosted solution for users who want to run scrapers in the cloud.
- Anonymous Web Data Scraping to avoid being banned.
- Free: This plan offers unlimited pages per crawl, unlimited computers,10,00 records per export, and 2 concurrent local runs allowing you to build up to 10 crawlers for free with community support.
- Standard($75/month): This plan offers unlimited data export,100 crawlers, scheduled extractions, Average speed extraction, auto IP rotation, task Templates, API access, and email support. This plan is mainly designed for small teams.
- Professional($209/month): This plan offers 250 crawlers, Scheduled extractions,20 concurrent cloud extractions, High-speed extraction, Auto IP rotation, Task Templates, and Advanced API.
- Enterprise(Open to Discussion): All the pro features with scalable concurrent processors, multi-role access, and tailored onboarding are among the few features offered in the Enterprise Plan which is completely customized for your business needs.
OctoParse also offers Crawler Service and Data Service starting at $189 and $399 respectively.
- If you run the crawler with local extraction instead of running it from the cloud, it halts automatically after 4 hours, which makes the process of recovering, saving and starting over with the next set of data very cumbersome.
4. Scraper API
Scraper API is designed for designers building web scrapers. It handles browsers, proxies, and CAPTCHAs which means that raw HTML from any website can be obtained through a simple API call.
Key Features of Scraper API
- Easy to integrate.
- Geolocated Rotating Proxies.
- Great Speed and reliability to build scalable web scrapers.
- Special pools of proxies for E-commerce price scraping, search engine scraping, social media scraping, etc.
Scraper API Pricing
Scraper API offers 1000 free API calls to start. Scraper API thereafter offers several lucrative price plans to pick from.
- Hobby($29/month): This plan offers 10 Concurrent requests, 250,000 API Calls, no Geotargeting, no JS Rendering, Standard Proxies, and reliable Email Support.
- Startup($99/month): The Startup Plan offers 25 Concurrent Requests, 1,000,000 API Calls, US Geotargeting, No JS Rendering, Standard Proxies, and Email Support.
- Business($249/month): The Business Plan of Scraper API offers 50 Concurrent Requests, 3,000,000 API Calls, All Geotargeting, JS Rendering, Residential Proxies, and Priority Email Support.
- Enterprise Custom(Open to Discussion): The Enterprise Custom Plan offers you an assortment of features tailored to your business needs with all the features offered in the other plans.
- Scraper API as a Web Scraping Tool is not deemed suitable for browsing.
Mozenda caters to enterprises looking for a cloud-based self serve Web Scraping platform. Having scraped over 7 billion pages, Mozenda boasts enterprise customers all over the world.
Key Features of Mozenda
- Offers point and click interface to create Web Scraping events in no time.
- Request blocking features and job sequencer to harvest web data in real-time.
- Best customer support and in-class account management.
- Collection and publishing of data to preferred BI tools or databases possible.
- Provide both phone and email support to all the customers.
- Highly scalable platform.
- Allows On-premise Hosting.
Mozenda’s pricing plan uses something called Processing Credits that distinguishes itself from other Web Scraping Tools. Processing Credits measures how much of Mozenda’s computing resources are used in various customer activities like page navigation, premium harvesting, image or file downloads.
- Project: This is aimed at small projects with pretty low capacity requirements. It is designed for 1 user and it can build 10 web crawlers and accumulate up to 20k processing credits/month.
- Professional: This is offered as an entry-level business package that includes faster execution, professional support, and access to pipes and Mozenda’s apps. (35k processing credits/month )
- Corporate: This plan is tailored for medium to large-scale data intelligence projects handling large datasets and higher capacity requirements. ( 1 million processing credits/ month )
- Managed Services: This plan provides enterprise-level data extraction, monitoring, and processing. It stands out from the crowd with its dedicated capacity, prioritized robot support, and maintenance.
- On-Premise: This is a secure self-hosted solution and is considered ideal for hedge funds, banks, or government and healthcare organizations who need to set up high privacy measures, comply with government and HIPAA regulations and protect their intranets containing private information.
- Mozenda is a little pricey compared to the other Web Scraping Tools talked about so far with their lowest plan starting from $250/month.
Webhose.io is best recommended for platforms or services that are on the lookout for a completely developed web scraper and data supplier for content marketing, sharing, etc. The cost offered by the platform happens to be quite affordable for growing companies.
Key Features of Webhose.io
- Content Indexing is fairly fast.
- A dedicated support team that is highly reliable.
- Easy Integration with different solutions.
- Easy to use APIs providing full control for language and source selection.
- Simple and intuitive interface design allowing you to perform all tasks in a much simpler and practical way.
- Get structured, machine-readable data sets in JSON and XML formats.
- Allows access to historical feeds dating as far back as 10 years.
- Provides access to a massive repository of data feeds without having to bother about paying extra fees.
- An advanced feature allows you to conduct granular analysis on datasets you want to feed.
The free version provides 1000 HTTP requests per month. Paid plans offer more features like more calls, power over the extracted data, and more benefits like image analytics, Geo-location, dark web monitoring, and up to 10 years of archived historical data.
The different plans are:-
- Open Web Data Feeds: This plan incorporates Enterprise-level coverage, Real-Time Monitoring, Engagement Metrics like Social Signals and Virality Score along with clean JSON/XML formats.
- Cyber Data Feed: The Cyber Data Feed plan provides the user with Real-Time Monitoring, Entity and Threat Recognition, Image Analytics and Geo-location along with access to TOR, ZeroNet, I2P, Telegram, etc
- Archived Web Data: This plan provides you with an archive of data dating back to 10 years, Sentiment and Entity Recognition, Engagement Metrics. This is a prepaid credit account pricing model.
- The option for data retention of historical data was not available for a few users.
- Users were unable to change the plan within the web interface on their own, which required intervention from the sales team.
- Setup isn’t that simplified for non-developers.
7. Content Grabber
Content Grabber is a cloud-based Web Scraping Tool that helps businesses of all sizes with data extraction.
Key Features of Content Grabber
- Web data extraction is faster compared to a lot of its competitors.
- Allows you to build web apps with the dedicated API allowing you to execute web data directly from your website.
- You can schedule it to scrape information from the web automatically.
- Offers a wide variety of formats for the extracted data like CSV, JSON, etc.
Content Grabber Pricing
Two pricing models available for users of Content Grabber:-
- Buying a license
- Monthly Subscription
For each you have three subcategories:-
- Server($69/month, $449/year): This model comes equipped with a Limited Content Grabber Agent Editor allowing you to edit, run and debug agents. It also provides Scripting Support, Command-Line, and an API.
- Professional($149/month, $995/year): This model comes equipped with a Full-Featured Content Grabber Agent Editor allowing you to edit, run and debug agents. It also provides Scripting Support, Command-Line along with self-contained agents. However, this model does not provide an API.
- Premium($299/month, $2495/year): This model comes equipped with a Full-Featured Content Grabber Agent Editor allowing you to edit, run and debug agents. It also provides Scripting Support, Command-Line along with self-contained agents and provides an API as well.
- Prior knowledge of HTML and HTTP required.
- Pre-configured crawlers for previously scraped websites not available.
8. Common Crawl
Common Crawl was developed for anyone wishing to explore and analyze data and uncover meaningful insights from it.
Key Features of Common Crawl
- Open Datasets of raw web page data and text extractions.
- Support for non-code based usage cases.
- Provides resources for educators teaching data analysis.
Common Crawl Pricing
Common Crawl allows any interested person to use this tool without having to worry about fees or any other complications. It is a registered non-profit platform that relies on donations to keep its operations smoothly running.
- Support for live data isn’t available.
- Support for AJAX based sites isn’t available.
- The data available in Common Crawl isn’t structured and can’t be filtered.
This blog first gave an idea about Web Scraping in general. It then listed the essential factors to keep in mind when making an informed decision about making a Web Scraping Tool purchase followed by a sneak peek at 8 of the best Web Scraping Tools in the market considering a string of factors. The main takeaway from this blog, therefore, is that in the end, a user should pick the Web Scraping Tools that suit their needs. Extracting complex data from a diverse set of data sources can be a challenging task and this is where Hevo saves the day!
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