How to decide when to use a web scraping service
When deciding whether to gather the data yourself or avail of the expert services of a web scraper, consider the pros and cons of web scraping tools and applications.
Web scraping tools pros and cons
- The most prominent pro is that it is easy to use
- Some options that come with scraping tools are free, and others offer a free trial
- You can extract data using several languages and save the information in several formats (like XML, RSS, and JSON), mine anonymous data, acquire data in real-time, and use other features, as well. However, the features you use would depend on the scraping tool you choose and the tariff plan.
- It takes time to learn the scraping tool mechanics.
- The major drawback is in the quality of data extracted. You may be able to extract 80% of the data. But, the remaining 20% which you were unable to reach without the assistance of a professional could be valuable for your purposes.
- Sudden changes In code or page layout affects your scraping solutions.
Web scraping services pros and cons
- Data extraction done by a professional is time-efficient and cost-saving
- Results collected are fast and accurate. This pro gives you the edge of timely decisions where necessary.
- Can deliver results in many formats (such as JSON and CSV) via API
- Changing codes or layout is not much of a problem as service companies have experts who can track the changes and modify the scraper accordingly.
- Unless you have done your research, it is best to be cautious in using web scraping services. You will be left hanging when a service company stops the services due to bankruptcy.
- The volume of web scraping may cause damage to the pages
- The mismatch between the scales of web scraper and the units of measure of the source may make difficult to interpret the data
Choosing between doing data extraction yourself through web scraping tools or hiring the services of a web scraping has pros and cons. The use of scraping tools may sound attractive to you. But, you may not have sufficient know-how to pass through the anti-scraping mechanisms of some websites.
On the other hand, web scraping service does cost money. But the time you save may be valuable, especially if analysis and monitoring of data is not your field.
Before making your decision, go over the pros and the cons carefully. You can also do more research to arrive at an informed decision.