Ever since the world wide web started growing in terms of data size and quality, businesses and data enthusiasts have been looking for methods to extract this data from the web. Today, there are various ways to acquire data from websites of your preference. Some are meant for hobbyists and some are suitable for enterprises. DIY software belong the former category. If you need data from a few websites of your choice for a quick research or project, these tools are more than enough. DIY tools are much easier to use in comparison to programming your own data extraction setup. Here are some of the best data acquisition software available in the market right now.
Outwit hub is a Firefox extension that can be easily downloaded from the Firefox add-ons store. Once installed and activated, it gives scraping capabilities to your browser. Out of the box, it has data points recognition features that can make your scraping job easier. Extracting data from sites using Outwit hub doesn’t demand programming skills. The set up is fairly easy to learn. You can refer to our guide on using Outwit hub to get started with extracting data using the tool. As it is free of cost, it makes for a great option if you need to scrape some data from the web quickly.
Spinn3r is a great choice for scraping entire data from blogs, news sites, social media and RSS feeds. Spinn3r uses firehose API that manages 95% of the crawling and indexing work. It gives you the option to filter the data that it scrapes using keywords, which helps in weeding out irrelevant content. The indexing system of Spinn3r is similar to Google and saves the extracted data in JSON format. Spinn3r works by continuously scanning the web and updating their data sets. It has an admin console packed with features that lets you perform searches on the raw data. Spinn3r is an ideal solution if your data requirements are limited to media websites.
Fminer is one of the easiest to use scraping tools out there that combines top-in-class features. Its visual dashboard makes extracting data from websites as simple and intuitive as possible. Whether you want to scrape data from simple web pages or carry out complex data fetching projects that require proxy server lists, ajax handling and multi-layered crawls, Fminer can do it all. If your project is fairly complex, Fminer is the software you need.
Dexi.io is a web based scraping application that doesn’t require any download. It is a browser based tool that lets you set up crawlers and fetch data in real-time. Dexi.io also has features that will let you save the scraped data directly to Box.net and Google drive or export it as JSON or CSV files. It also supports scraping the data anonymously using proxy servers. The data you scrape will be hosted on their servers for up to 2 weeks before it’s archived.
Octoparse is a visual scraping tool that is easy to configure. The point and click user interface lets you teach the scraper how to navigate and extract fields from a website. The software mimics a human user while visiting and scraping data from target websites. Octoparse gives the option to run your extraction on the cloud and on your own local machine. You can export the scraped data in TXT, CSV, HTML or Excel formats.
Although tools can handle simple to moderate data extraction requirements, these are not a recommended solution if you are a business trying to acquire data for competitive intelligence or market research. When the requirement is large-scale and/or complicated, tools fail to live up to the expectations. DIY tools can be the right choice if your data requirements are limited and the sites you are looking to scrape are not complicated. If you need enterprise-grade data, outsourcing the requirement to a DaaS (Data-as-a-Service) provider would be the ideal option. Dedicated services will take care of end-to-end data acquisition and will deliver the required data, the way you need it.
If your data requirement demands a custom built set up, a DIY tool cannot cover it. For example, if you need product data of the best selling products from Amazon at a predefined frequency, you will have to consult a data provider instead of using a software. With a software, the customization options are limited and automation is almost non-existent. Tools also come with the downside of maintenance, which can be a daunting task. A scraping service provider will set up monitoring for the target websites and make sure that the scraping setup is well maintained. The flow of data will be smooth and consistent with a hosted solution.