Web scraping tools automate web-based data collection. These tools generally fall in the categories of tools that you install on your computer or in your computer’s browser (Chrome or Firefox) and services that are designed to be self-service. Web scraping tools (free or paid) and self-service websites/applications can be a good choice if your data requirements are small, and the source websites aren’t complicated.
However, if the websites you want to scrape are complicated or you need a lot of data from one or more sites, these tools do not scale well. The cost of these tools and services pales in comparison to the time and effort you require to implement scrapers using these tools and the complexity of maintaining and running these tools. For such cases, a full-service provider is a better and economical option.
In this post, 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
scrapy-web-crawling-frameworkScrapy 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 as you want, 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. It can also be used for a wide range of purposes, from data mining to monitoring and automated testing. 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. If you are familiar with Python you’ll be up and running in just a couple of minutes. It runs on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows systems. To learn how to scrape websites using Scrapy you can check out our tutorial:
data-scraper-logo 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. Download the extension from the link here.
scraper-chrome-extensionScraper is a chrome extension for scraping simple web pages. It is easy to use and will help you scrape a website’s content and upload the results to Google Docs. It can extract data from tables and convert it into a structured format. You can download the extension from the link here.
outwit-hub-logoOutwitHub is a data extractor built in a web browser. If you wish to use it 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.).
dexi-logoDexi (formerly known as CloudScrape) supports data collection from any website and requires no download. The 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
web-harveyweb-harveyWebHarvey’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 help you to maintain a level of anonymity, by hiding your IP, while extracting data from websites.
mozenda-scraping-platformMozenda 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 get the 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 need more than basic coding skills to use this tool as it has a high learning curve.