What is an instant data scraper? And how do you choose the best data scraping tool? We explain data scraping and give you the top 5 free instant data scrapers in 2023.
What is data scraping and what is it used for?
Data scraping is a suitcase term, like sports. If I say I like sports, you have no idea whether I enjoy kicking people in the face in a kickboxing ring or doing something harmless and remarkably boring like curling. It’s the same with data scraping.
Data scraping covers a whole range of legitimate and illegitimate data extraction activities, from third-party transactions and monitoring the weather for surfing to gathering private or copyrighted data for nefarious purposes.
Data scraping has become part of the technological stack of companies, both great and small. Businesses use instant data scrapers to extract information for price monitoring, product tracking, lead generation, tracking trends, marketing, brand sentiment, and more. Individuals use instant data scrapers to collect data for academic research in the fields of science, medicine, literature, and psychology.
The term data scraping covers two technical variants: screen scraping and web scraping. Screen scraping is the programmatic collection of visual data from a user interface instead of parsing data as in web scraping.
Web scraping focuses on getting data from websites. Most web pages are designed for human end-users rather than easy automation. That’s why tool kits that scrape web data were created. These tool kits are known as web scrapers, which automate data extraction from web browsers.
So, if you want to extract data with an instant data scraper, then a web scraping tool or screen scraping tool is probably what you’re looking for.
What does an instant data scraper do?
An instant data scraper is a ready-made online tool designed for data extraction. So, if you want to extract data from Amazon, you can almost instantly get the data you’re looking for with Amazon Product Scraper. If you want to get data from Google Maps, you can get the information instantly with Google Maps Scraper. That means you don’t need to build your own scraper, and you don’t need to use code to configure it. The work has all been done for you. All you need to do is run the tool based on the search terms and the number of results you want, and that’s it. Job done!
Is data scraping legal?
If you’re wondering whether data scraping is legal, you’re not the first and probably won’t be the last. But the answer is yes, on the condition that you’re extracting publicly available data. Not convinced? Well, tell that to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This court recently affirmed that scraping is legal if the data is publicly available, so anything published on the open web is fair game for scraping. If that’s not enough to convince you, data scraping was even used in the famous (or infamous?) Johnny Depp - Amber Heard court case:
How do I choose the best tool for data scraping?
So, you know you want to collect data from the web, and I bet you want it to be free and easy. But how do you choose the best tool for the job? This answer isn’t arbitrary. There are certain attributes to look for (apart from being free). These are the attributes the best data scrapers should have:
Does it function without failure? If you want to scrape a lot of data, you want a scraper that can operate free of failures for an extended period of time.
Is it easy to use? The last thing you need is to waste your time figuring out how to make the wretched thing do what you want.
Is the tool compatible with other devices? Chances are, you’re going to want to integrate your data with other apps and devices. So you’ll want an instant data scraper that has an integrations feature.
Does it get the job done without hassle? How much work do you have to put in to get the desired result? An instant data scraper should automate the process efficiently, so there’s as little work for you to do as possible.
Is it easy to learn how to use it? If you’re going to use an instant data scraper, you don’t want to spend ages trying to understand how it works.
What is the best free tool for data scraping?
With these attributes in mind, let’s take a look at the top 5 free instant data scrapers in 2023 ⬇️
1. Instant Data Scraper
This instant data scraper is a Google Chrome Extension that extracts data from web pages and exports it as CSV or Excel files. It doesn’t require website-specific scripts. Instead, it uses heuristic AI analysis of the HTML structure to detect data for extraction. I recommend watching the video tutorial just for the banjo music at the beginning:
2. Web Scraper
One data scraping tool that gets a big fat tick next to every one of the above attributes is Web Scraper. This reliable and efficient tool can be integrated with other services and apps. It exports the data as HTML table, Excel, CSV, JSON, XML, and RSS feed. What’s more, it’s easy to learn how to use. How to scrape any website for beginners will give you some solid step-by-step guidance. Alternatively, you can watch this video tutorial (no banjo music):
3. Data Collector
Like Apify’s Web Scraper, Bright Data’s Data Collector allows you to extract data at scale without any coding and with zero infrastructure.
4. Data Scraping Tool
This powerful tool from ParseHub is a no-code, GUI (graphical user interface) based data scraper. Follow the link for a guide on how to use it, or watch this video:
5. Data Miner
Data Miner is a Google Chrome Extension and Edge Browser Extension that helps you crawl and scrape data from web pages and put it into a CSV file or Excel spreadsheet. The above link contains a tutorial on how to use it. Alternatively, you can watch this video:
If you want to know more about web data scraping, why you should do it, and how to get started, read Web Scraping: The Beginner's Guide.