Top 5 tools for web data collection


By Luke Fitzpatrick

Source: Pexels

Web intelligence gathering is the practice of extracting information from various public online sources to facilitate or improve business operations. Although the extraction process is often referred to as web scraping, intelligence is the ultimate goal of all data collection and allows businesses to make informed decisions that help them stay ahead of the competition.

Finding such information is a complex process. There are several steps, from finding the necessary data sources to analyzing the collected data, each of which has its own challenges. Fortunately, businesses do not need to develop web information solutions themselves. As the industry has advanced in leaps and bounds in just a few years, there are many providers that can provide unlimited access to real-time data from almost any source.

1. Web Downloader (Oxylabs)

One of the most advanced solutions for web data collection is Oxylabs Web downloader. More than a standard data acquisition solution, the company boasts of various artificial intelligence and machine learning enhancements over the competition, creating a major selling point for the product.

Most web blocking features focus on providing access to real-time data without facing any restrictions. Many of these features are fully automated and handled by the provider, so customers can take full advantage of data acquisition processes.

But still the downside is that the web killer doesn’t have a user interface. Customers must integrate the solution in code, which can be a steep learning curve for small teams. But it handles most web pages better than many of its competitors, allowing for a more reliable flow of information from sources to databases.

Web Unblocker can handle the most difficult features of websites such as JavaScript translation, various anti-botting techniques and many others that make data extraction difficult.

However, it should be noted that OxyLabs limits the use of their products to publicly available and non-personal information. Some sources of information may be blocked outright due to the enormous risks of misuse of such tools. Make sure your use case is legitimate as you will have to provide it during the registration process and it will be reviewed by the company’s teams.

Web Uninstaller is available for a one-week trial, so even if the product doesn’t meet your needs, there’s no risk in trying it out.

2. Smartproxy (various Scraper APIs)

Smart proxy It may seem obvious from its name as a proxy provider, but it is a company that has expanded its business cycle beyond providing infrastructure. Now the company has a variety of web scraping tools called Scraper APIs.

While there is no good solution for Smartproxy’s differentiation, they differentiate their services for different industries. The company also offers a no-code Scraper that uses pre-made templates and a visual interface to collect data. While it may be a bit slower than a code-based solution, it’s perfect for smaller projects.

Also, due to the previously mentioned industry separation, their Scraper APIs make it very easy to understand what goes into the job. Ecommerce Compressor does exactly what it says on the tin, so there’s no doubt about its capabilities.

Finally, since Smartproxy seems to be more suited to SMEs, their prices are some of the most competitive in the market. There is also a free playground where users can learn the ropes and see what they can get out of the Scraper APIs.

3. Octoparse

in Octoparse’s Case, their equipment is often called the same as the company. Offering pre-built datasets for specific industries, Octoparse is best known for its no-code-scraping solution.

Unlike some of the companies on the list, Octoparse offers a single web data collection solution (although there is a separate version for enterprise-level companies) that is a codeless scraper. As such, it has a highly visual interface that provides users with a click-and-collect method of interaction.

Although preferred as an enterprise-level solution, Octoparse is great for smaller projects. The upgrade provides access to significant additional features, many of which can run cloud-based servers faster than most local hardware.

Finally, there are many quality-of-life features in Octoparse’s scraper, such as scheduling and various file export formats. These make it easy to collect data on a regular basis, which is extremely helpful for projects that require long-term data.

4. ScraperAPI

As the company’s name suggests, it is a service that provides access to one. An API-based scraping solution. While there are several services provided, the general purpose scraper API is the most widely used.

Like many other companies on the list, ScraperAPI’s solution manages most of the process itself. Although it requires some coding to achieve the solution, no proxy management, infrastructure maintenance and anti-bot system evasion is required by the client.

While the ScraperAPI solution may be less powerful than some of the companies on this list (because it uses a smaller proxy pool and lacks AI integration), it’s certainly sufficient for small to medium-sized projects. Also, while coding is required, ScraperAPI provides a lot of resources for regular users and developers, so the learning curve is definitely not as steep as some of the entries on the list.

Finally, there is both a free plan and a free trial. Both provide an amount of credit (1,000 for the former and 5,000 for the latter) that can be used freely for any project. Therefore, some small projects can use the free plan, which allows them to collect data without spending a single penny.

5. ParseHub

It is another basic web data collection solution that provides a no-code approach to data collection. ParseHub. As a company offering a single solution, it’s probably the weakest entry on the list, and while it can’t boast artificial intelligence integrations or other fancy features, ParseHub still has a place in a business’s scraping arsenal.

One of the main advantages is the no-code approach, which is based on an interface that allows users to click on the data points they want to extract. There’s no tutorial for the solution, but even so, ParseHub has plenty of material for people who want to learn more about web scraping.

Additionally, there is a free version available, although it is very limited in features. No schedule or IP rotation is provided, low level customer support is available in case of any problem. Still, the free plan can be a great introduction to basic online data retrieval processes.

Finally, it’s worth noting that ParseHub’s pricing is quite high, as the entry point is just over $100 for a premium plan. While it offers a lot of features (pages, as the company calls them), it’s still a steep price to pay for most small or medium-sized projects.

About the author

Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo News and Influencer. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Sydney, teaching in the Cross-Cultural Management and Pre-MBA programme.

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