Comparison and review of the top web scraping cloud services and platforms where you can build and deploy web scrapers to collect web data. Platforms are compared based on the pricing, features and ease of…
Web scraping is the process of automating data extraction from websites on a large scale. With every field of work in the world becoming dependent on data, web scraping or web crawling methods are being increasingly used to gather data from the internet and gain insights for personal or business use. Web scraping tools and software allow you to download data in a structured CSV, Excel, or XML format and save time spent in manually copy-pasting this data.
Web scraping tools (free or paid) and self-service software/applications can be a good choice if the data requirement is small, and the source websites aren’t complicated. Web scraping tools and software cannot handle large scale web scraping or complex logic and do not scale well when the volume of websites is high. For such cases, a full-service provider is a better and economical option.
Custom data scraping providers can be used in situations where scraping tools and software are unable to meet the specific requirements or volume. These are easy to customize based on your scraping requirements and can be scaled up easily depending on your demand.
In this post, we take a look at both free and paid web scraping tools and software. We will first give a brief description of the tools and then quickly walk through how these tools work so that you can quickly evaluate if these work for you.
The best web scraping tools
- ScrapeHero Cloud
- Data Scraper (Chrome Extension)
- Scraper (Chrome Extension)
- Visual Web Ripper
- Web Scraper (Chrome Extension)
- Web Harvey
- Apify SDK
- Content Grabber
Scrapy is an open source web scraping framework in Python used to build web scrapers. It gives you all the tools you need to efficiently extract data from websites, process them, and store them in your preferred structure and format. One of its main advantages is that it’s built on top of a Twisted asynchronous networking framework. If you have a large web scraping project and want to make it as efficient as possible with a lot of flexibility then you should definitely use Scrapy. You can export data into JSON, CSV and XML formats. What stands out about Scrapy is its ease of use, detailed documentation, and active community. It runs on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows systems.
To learn how to scrape websites using Scrapy you can check out our tutorial:
ScrapeHero Cloud is a browser based web scraping platform. ScrapeHero has used its years of experience in web crawling to create affordable and easy to use pre-built crawlers and APIs to scrape data from websites such as Amazon, Google, Walmart, and more. The free trial version allows you to test the scraper for its speed and reliability before signing up for a plan.
ScrapeHero Cloud DOES NOT require you to download any tools or software and spend time learning to use them.
In three steps you can set up a crawler – Open your browser, Create an account in ScrapeHero Cloud and select the crawler that you wish to run. Running a crawler in ScrapeHero Cloud is simple and requires you to provide the inputs and click “Gather Data” to run the crawler.
ScrapeHero Cloud crawlers allow you to to scrape data at high speeds and supports data export in JSON, CSV and XML formats. To receive updated data, ScrapeHero Cloud provides the option to schedule crawlers and deliver data directly to your Dropbox.
All ScrapeHero Cloud crawlers come with auto rotate proxies and the ability to run multiple crawlers parallely. This allows you to scrape data from websites without worrying about getting blocked in a cost effective manner.
ScrapeHero Cloud provides Email support to it’s Free and Lite plan customers and Priority support to all other plans.
ScrapeHero Cloud crawlers can be customized based on customer needs as well. If you find a crawler not scraping a particular field you need, drop in an email and ScrapeHero Cloud team will get back to you with a custom plan.
Data Scraper is a simple web scraping tool for extracting data from a single page into CSV and XSL data files. It is a personal browser extension that helps you transform data into a clean table format. You will need to install the plugin in a Google Chrome browser. The free version lets you scrape 500 pages per month, if you want to scrape more pages you have to upgrade to the paid plans.
Scraper is a chrome extension for scraping simple web pages. It is easy to use and allows you to scrape a website’s content and upload the results to Google Docs or Excel spreadsheets. It can extract data from tables and convert it into a structured format.
Parsehub is a desktop app available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users and works as a Firefox extension. The easy user-friendly web app can be built into the browser and has a well written documentation. It has all the advanced features like pagination, infinite scrolling pages, pop-ups, and navigation. You can even visualize the data from ParseHub into Tableau.
The free version has a limit of 5 projects with 200 pages per run. If you buy Parsehub paid subscription you can get 20 private projects with 10,000 pages per crawl and IP rotation.
OutwitHub is a data extractor built in a web browser. If you wish to use the software as an extension you have to download it from Firefox add-ons store. If you want to use the standalone application you just need to follow the instructions and run the application. OutwitHub can help you extract data from the web with no programming skills at all. It’s great for harvesting data that might not be accessible.
OutwitHub is a free tool which is a great option if you need to scrape some data from the web quickly. With its automation features, it browses automatically through a series of web pages and performs extraction tasks. You can export the data into numerous formats (JSON, XLSX, SQL, HTML, CSV, etc.).
Visual Web Ripper
Visual Web Ripper is a tool for automated data scraping. The tool collects data structures from pages or search results. Its has a user friendly interface and you can export data to CSV, XML, and Excel files. It can also extract data from dynamic websites including AJAX websites. You only have to configure a few templates and web scraper will figure out the rest. Visual Web Ripper provides scheduling options and you even get an email notification when a project fails.
With Import.io you can clean, transform and visualize the data from the web. Import.io has a point to click interface to help you build a scraper. It can handle most of the data extraction automatically. You can export data into CSV, JSON and Excel formats.
Import.io provides detailed tutorials on their website so you can easily get started with your web scraping projects. If you want a deeper analysis of the data extracted you can get Import.insights which will visualize the data in charts and graphs.
The Diffbot application lets you configure crawlers that can go in and index websites and then process them using its automatic APIs for automatic data extraction from various web content. You can also write a custom extractor if automatic data extraction API doesn’t work for the websites you need. You can export data into CSV, JSON and Excel formats.
Octoparse’s free version allows you to build up to 10 crawlers, but with the paid subscription plans you will get more features such as API and many anonymous IP proxies that will faster your extraction and fetch large volume of data in real time.
If you don’t like or want to code, ScrapeHero Cloud is just right for you!
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Web scraper, a standalone chrome extension, is a free and easy tool for extracting data from web pages. Using the extension you can create and test a sitemap to see how the website should be traversed and what data should be extracted. With the sitemaps, you can easily navigate the site the way you want and the data can be later exported as a CSV.
Dexi (formerly known as CloudScrape) supports data extraction from any website and requires no download. The software application provides different types of robots in order to scrape data – Crawlers, Extractors, Autobots, and Pipes. Extractor robots are the most advanced as it allows you to choose every action the robot needs to perform like clicking buttons and extracting screenshots.
The application offers anonymous proxies to hide your identity. Dexi.io also offers a number of integrations with third-party services. You can download the data directly to Box.net and Google Drive or export it as JSON or CSV formats. Dexi.io stores your data on its servers for 2 weeks before archiving it. If you need to scrape on a larger scale you can always get the paid version
WebHarvey’s visual web scraper has an inbuilt browser that allows you to scrape data such as from web pages. It has a point to click interface which makes selecting elements easy. The advantage of this scraper is that you do not have to create any code. The data can be saved into CSV, JSON, XML files. It can also be stored in a SQL database. WebHarvey has a multi-level category scraping feature that can follow each level of category links and scrape data from listing pages.
The tool allows you to use regular expressions, offering more flexibility. You can set up proxy servers that will allow you to maintain a level of anonymity, by hiding your IP, while extracting data from websites.
One of the advantages of PySpider is the easy to use UI where you can edit scripts, monitor ongoing tasks and view results. The data can be saved into JSON and CSV formats. If you are working with a website-based user interface, PySpider is the Internet scrape to consider. It also supports AJAX heavy websites.
With its unique features like RequestQueue and AutoscaledPool, you can start with several URLs and then recursively follow links to other pages and can run the scraping tasks at the maximum capacity of the system respectively. Its available data formats are JSON, JSONL, CSV, XML, XLSX or HTML and available selector CSS. It supports any type of website and has built-in support of Puppeteer.
The Apify SDK requires Node.js 8 or later.
Mozenda is an enterprise cloud-based web-scraping platform. It has a point-to-click interface and a user-friendly UI. It has two parts – an application to build the data extraction project and a Web Console to run agents, organize results and export data. They also provide API access to fetch data and have inbuilt storage integrations like FTP, Amazon S3, Dropbox and more.
You can export data into CSV, XML, JSON or XLSX formats. Mozenda is good for handling large volumes of data. You will require more than basic coding skills to use this tool as it has a high learning curve.
Puppeteer is a Node library which provides a powerful but simple API that allows you to control Google’s headless Chrome browser. A headless browser means you have a browser that can send and receive requests but has no GUI. It works in the background, performing actions as instructed by an API. You can simulate the user experience, typing where they type and clicking where they click.
Playwright is a Node library by Microsoft that was created for browser automation. It enables cross-browser web automation that is capable, reliable, and fast. Playwright was created to improve automated UI testing by eliminating flakiness, improving the speed of execution, and offers insights into the browser operation. It is a newer tool for browser automation and very similar to Puppeteer in many aspects and bundles compatible browsers by default. Its biggest plus point is cross-browser support – it can drive Chromium, WebKit and Firefox. Playwright has continuous integrations with Docker, Azure, Travis CI, and AppVeyor.
Even though these web scraping tools extract data from web pages with ease, they come with their limits. In the long run, programming is the best way to scrape data from the web as it provides more flexibility and attains better results.
If you aren’t proficient with programming or your needs are complex, or you require large volumes of data to be scraped, there are great web scraping services that will suit your requirements to make the job easier for you.
You can save time and obtain clean, structured data by trying us out instead – we are a full-service provider that doesn’t require the use of any tools and all you get is clean data without any hassles.
Need some professional help with scraping data? Let us know
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Note: All the features, prices etc are current at the time of writing this article. Please check the individual websites for current features and pricing.