Web scraping has proven to be an invaluable tool for individuals and companies alike, to gather data for a variety of purposes such as academic research, training machine learning models, price monitoring, keyword research, lead generation, and consumer sentiment analysis.
However, web scraping at scale is not an easy task.
Setting up your own custom scraper from scratch requires significant coding knowledge; and frequent developer interventions are necessary to update the code if the website changes its structure or layout. Not to mention interactivity requirements such as CAPTCHA , geo-location blocks, rate-limiting, and IP/device fingerprinting.
This is where instant data scraping tools can be of great help. Instead of spending resources developing and maintaining your own custom scraper, you set up these ready-made tools and extract data from websites in real-time, automating your data extraction at scale.
Without further ado, let's discuss the 5 best instant data scraping tools in terms of their features, ease of use, and how well they guarantee almost instant results.
The 5 Best Instant Data Scraping Tools
1. Bright Data - A full-fledged web scraping IDE
This is a one-stop solution. The IDE is a managed service hosted on Bright Data's website, meaning:
- You don't need to invest in additional internal software or hardware infrastructure for your data extraction needs.
- You won't need to manually update your code every time the website's structure changes; the templates are auto-updated regularly.
Ready-made templates offered by Bright Data
But that's not all. Bright Data also offers several additional powerful features:
- Scheduling data extraction according to your preferences (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.), including the choice of a preferred storage location (e.g. Amazon S3, Google Sheets, etc.).
- In-built debug tools so you can easily inspect a past crawl to identify what went wrong and what needs to be fixed in the next version. Particularly useful if you encounter any errors, such as missing or incomplete data, during the scraping process.
- Dynamic scraping - the ability to capture browser network calls, configure a proxy, extract data from lazy-loading UI, and more.
- An unblocker infrastructure that bypasses IP/device fingerprint-based blocks for web scraping. It automatically configures relevant header information (such as User-Agent) to avoid detection as a "crawler" and seamlessly emulates browser fingerprint information such as plugins, fonts, cookies, HTML5 canvas element, WebGL fingerprint, Web Audio API fingerprint, operating system, screen resolution and more to avoid getting blocked.
- Bypassing rate-limits, ReCAPTCHAs, and throttling via automated IP rotation through four different types of proxy services: residential proxies, data center proxies, ISP proxies and mobile proxies. This enables complex sequences - like bypassing ReCAPTCHA on sensitive pages using the waterfall solution, which involves sending requests with data center IPs first, then residential IPs when crawling sensitive pages, and finally, mobile IPs if the previous two fail.
- Even if the site you wish to scrape isn't listed among the ones that have ready-made templates available, you can put in a request (24/7 live support via Chat, Phone, and Email) and the Bright Data team will set it up for you.
Whatever your use case may be, Bright Data's Web Scraper IDE offers a comprehensive solution for collecting highly accurate data at scale. Moreover, since Bright Data complies with major data protection laws such as the EU data protection regulatory framework, GDPR, and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), you do not have to worry about the legality of your operation.
Bright Data also offers a free trial and then a pay-as-you-go option, along with other enterprise-grade plans.
Get started with a free trial: Web Scraper IDE - The #1 Website Data Scraper
2. ParseHub - Easy point & click web scraping
ParseHub is a versatile cloud-based web scraping tool that can be used to access online data easily, whether static or dynamic. ParseHub's biggest advantage is its ease of access. With its simple point-and-click interface:
- Users can simply open a website of their choice and start selecting the data they want to extract, with no coding required.
- After selecting or clicking on the specific elements you want to scrape data from, you can either export the current data as JSON/CSV, or set an interval for scraping these specific elements.
ParseHub comes in the form of a desktop app that you can start when you're on your targeted website, and is ideal for users who want to access data from websites without having to interact with any code.
Some additional features:
- ParseHub also offers an API that allows you to automate the data extraction process. Every request that you send to the ParseHub server can fetch the latest data. This feature is helpful to make sure the data you receive is fresh and accurate, as well as to integrate it with other apps/services.
- ParseHub also offers IP rotation, allowing you to overcome geo-location blocks and making it more difficult for websites to block or detect your scraping requests.
- It uses regular expressions to clean text and HTML before downloading the data, which helps to ensure that the data is accurate and well-organized.
- ParseHub supports infinitely scrolling pages and the ability to get data behind a login.
ParseHub is a good choice, especially if you just want to get data fast, easy, and without any code interaction at all. However, it falls short when it comes to overcoming complex website blocks, where merely having a rotating IP address may not suffice (such as sites requiring the waterfall solution described above). This means it may not be the best option for more sensitive websites as the uptime of your scraping operation may be limited.
To get started, visit the ParseHub website.
3. Apify - Build scrapers, then deploy, publish, and monetize them.
Apify is another cloud-based web scraping tool that offers a completely different approach - you write your code using popular open-source libraries (Scrapy, Selenium, Playwright, Puppeteer, or Apify's own Crawlee), host it on Apify's cloud, and schedule them to run as and when needed.
After the scraper is run, you can collect the scraped data in Apify's storage system, where you can collect it either in JSON, CSV, or XML files.
Apify provides a dashboard for you to monitor the entire scraping process, so that you have control over what is executed and see possible errors. Here are some other features of Apify and their benefits:
- You can even run jobs written in anything at all - as long as they can be packaged as Docker containers.
- Extensive logging and resource-usage monitoring for each job.
- Every scraping script ("Apify Actors") you deploy on Apify can be published and monetized...or kept free and open source. It's your call.
- Provides built-in integrations for popular platforms like Slack, Zapier, Google Drive, and GitHub, making sure you're covered whether you need to send a notification after a job is done, save the results to cloud storage, or manage bugs and issues whenever your data extraction script fails.
Apify is very flexible as a cloud host for all your data extraction jobs, but its obvious downside is that you simply have to invest time and effort into coding. This is something that might be a deal breaker if you do not have that programming expertise on your team.
Get started for free on the Apify website.
4. Octoparse - AI/ML-powered data extraction
Octoparse is another cloud-based web scraping tool that allows users to extract data from static or dynamic websites without any code whatsoever, using a point-and-click interface.
What sets Octoparse apart is that it doesn't rely on the classical method of using HTML selectors (CSS, xPath, etc), but instead uses Machine Learning to extract the text from a webpage, parse it, and turn it into structured data - JSON, CSV, spreadsheets, whatever you like.
Further benefits of Octoparse include:
- Like the other tools mentioned, Octoparse too is a cloud-based platform which eliminates the need for investment in internal scraping infrastructure.
- Offers an API in addition to the Point-and-Click interface, making it suitable for technical and non-technical users alike.
- Automatic IP rotation for truly anonymous scraping - making sure you aren't traced, or flagged as a crawler and blocked.
- Offers scheduled data extraction, with auto-scaling storage.
Octoparse offers a convenient, effective, and novel AI/ML solution for web scraping tasks - making it perfect for websites which change frequently. However, it's important to note that if you want to unlock all of Octoparse's features, you must purchase their plan.
Furthermore, while its proxy services are excellent, they are not as robust as Bright Data's, and you may still encounter website blocks when attempting to access data from sensitive pages.
5. Mozenda - Data extraction for businesses, at scale.
Home-grown scrapers using jQuery, Selenium, Puppeteer, Playwright, etc. see diminishing returns quickly as you scale beyond a company of 5-10 people. Software infrastructure must scale with business requirements - and this is what Mozenda enables - data extraction, for commercial needs, at scale.
Mozenda is a powerful and versatile web scraping tool that has been making waves in the data extraction industry for years. With over a third of the Fortune 500 companies utilizing its capabilities, Mozenda has established itself as a leader in the field.
Mozenda offers multiple tiers of solutions, depending on the needs of your business.
- Its cloud-hosted solution lets you build scrapers ("Agents") and host it on Mozenda servers, which then do the scraping for you, and let you retrieve data via an API, or direct downloads of harvested data.
- If you want full control - their On-Premise solution is local software that is installed on your organization's systems or data centers, and the scraping is done via your own hardware infrastructure, and the results stored on your own storage solutions.
- If scraping is a critical part of your business and it needs the utmost care, Mozenda offers a Managed Services tier. The Mozenda Services team has the expertise to help you tackle even the most challenging projects, and they will handle everything for you - from building Agents, to scraping sites, and cleaning and parsing the exact data you want, published directly to you, on time. You would require absolutely no hardware or software.
Whether you need to scrape product catalog information, financial data, lease data, location data, company and contact details, job postings, reviews, or ratings, Mozenda has you covered. The software's real-time data harvesting capabilities and job sequencing and request blocking tools make it the ideal choice for businesses that need to collect and publish web data quickly and efficiently.
However, do bear in mind that compared to the other solutions mentioned in this list, Mozenda is by far the most expensive, and is geared towards businesses - not hobbyists.
To get started, visit the Modenza site for a free trial.
In conclusion, web scraping has become an essential tool for various purposes, but it has its challenges. The 5 instant data scraping tools, discussed in this post, offer a convenient solution to this problem - each offering a range of features and applications.
Bright Data stands out as a best solution since it's an enterprise-grade scraper that gets around almost all the major web scraping limitations encountered by other software without sacrificing on accessibility in terms of ease of use. ParseHub, on the other hand, is more suitable for non-technical users, with its simple point-and-click interface; while Mozenda is ideal for businesses that have very specific needs.
The other tools mentioned in this piece also excel in several areas, but ultimately, the choice of tool will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the user, and on the specific use case.