Free Web Scraping Software Tools

5 min read

Short for Software as a service, SaaS has become a common software licensing and delivery model for many business applications.

The website scraping software is an online data extraction service (SaaS), which allows you to automatically integrate the contents from websites in a very quick and convenient way and export them into various formats like Excel, CSV, MySQL, HTML, Text and so on.

Often this kind of SaaS software allow you to extract the information from websites without much technical knowledge. Only little knowledge of Javascript, XPath, Regular Expression are required for most of web scraping SaaS. This kind of SaaS is often very flexible, for it allow you to filter the domains, improve extraction speed, and schedule data extraction.

How Web Scraping SaaS Works

Web pages are fetched by the web scraping SaaS, and then processed automatically by a script which is responsible for extracting and formatting the selected contents. Therefore, at most times all you need to do is to install the software and follow the steps to configure a rule to extract the data. Then the software could automatically do the rest for you.

Most of web scraping SaaS provides proxy services, API access and cloud-based extraction, which enable you to get the real time data. Some even set everything up for you. You only need to send them an email to describe what you want to extract, and then the data extracted will be sent to you directly.

Pros of Web Scraping SaaS

For most of companies especially e-commerce retailers without much financial support to hire a data analyst, web scraping SaaS is definitely a high cost-performance service. They don’t need to hire many programmers to write the source codes to extract the information or safeguard their network security, which could greatly reduce the budget. Also, other aspects like accessing to the big data services from those big companies are also included, for SaaS companies will seek to collaborate with them to make their products stand out among the competitors.

Cons of Web Scraping SaaS

  • Data security is concerned by most users, because the data is stored on the SaaS companies’ servers.
  • Some data is even sensitive (like the user’s personal information), which may violate the data governance regulations. It is risky to extract such kind of data.
  • SaaS softwares are hosted in the cloud, far beyond the users, which may not provide responses in the milliseconds.

In short, though there are still many challenges for web scraping SaaS, it is still a trend in the big data era.

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