Whether browser-based or cloud-based, web scraping tools can be useful for everyone from small businesses to large companies. Because of that, many tools have been developed for various use cases, everything from sales prospecting, recruiting candidates sourcing, and research data gathering, to influencer marketing.
If you’re new to the whole web scraping game, it can be a pain to find the perfect one which fulfills your requirements. Cloud? Browser? API? Technical jargon like this can send your head spinning.
In this article, we’ll resolve your confusion regarding different kinds of scrapers, and also recommend the top 7 that can fit your use case!
Types of web scrapers
There’s no one-size-fits-all web scraper. What might work for one user might not work for you and vice versa. They fall into three categories, browser-based or cloud-based, and hybrid.
If you want to find a scraper that fulfills your requirements most efficiently, it helps to know how these three differ.
- Browser-based: These are scrapers that operate from the browser itself, whether that be Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. Browser-based scrapers run locally, your data stays with you so they are more secure with better data privacy. But they operate from your local IP address, so they are generally more suitable for non-intensive scraper operations. In line with that, these also usually have the most user-friendly UI.
- Cloud-based: These scrapers operate from a separate cloud server, securing your local IP from getting blocked. They’re usually more expensive but provide a good option for those interested in high-volume scraping operations. These are also available as downloadable local apps on your desktop.
- Hybrid: If you can’t decide between the above two, why not just go for a hybrid scraper?! Based on your current use case, these offer both browser- and cloud-based scraping features.
We’ve included all three types of scrapers in this article. Now, let’s go through each of them in detail.
Time and time again, users who scrape data from a webpage (like text, link or image) also add it or edit it further in another web app like Google Sheets, Notion or Airtable. With Bardeen, you can scrape the data you want, and then send it to various web apps automatically, with no code. Here are a few examples.
Want to automatically scrape links from a Google search and add them to Google Sheets? Done!
No code needed. Want to send the PDF of a webpage to a colleague in Slack?
Done! Want to copy company data on LinkedIn and save it to Airtable? Done!
The Bardeen scraper is capable of more than just extracting data from a website. It can also enrich data from a list of links and monitor a website for changes, along with features like pagination, deep scraping, and click actions. All done with no code. You can create your own scraper templates, send the data to integrated apps, and create automations using the visual automation Builder, like save tweets related to a keyword to Notion or create an email draft using OpenAI! We hope you’re getting the drift. Here’s a demo of the scraper in action.
Interested? Download Bardeen for free on Chrome.
Do you have experience with web development or coding? If yes, you’ll like Webscraper.io. Once installed, it becomes a module in the Developers Tools menu. When you click on the extension icon, you’ll be shown this.
As you might expect, once you open it in Developer Tools, the overall design is also very cut-and-dry. This can be a plus point for some users. You can create or import a sitemap that can be used to scrape data from a website. After specifying a name and a URL, you can add selectors to extract data. It supports text, link, image, and many more data types.
Keep in mind, this is a hybrid web scraper, so it can scrape a website both from your local IP or a server. This means that it’s flexible based on your need. Are you just scraping a list of groups from Facebook? A browser-based scraper will do. Are you planning on getting data about a large number of LinkedIn profiles? In that case, you better use the cloud version!
Besides having a scheduler and IP rotation like any other cloud scraper, Webscraper.io comes with many other options to simplify the process. You can also automatically export the scraped data to Dropbox, Google Sheets, or Amazon S3. You can also integrate this scraper into an API and manage it from there!
Of course, only the browser extension is free. If you want to get access to their servers, you’ll need to choose from their various plans ranging from $50 to $300 per month.
Flexibility is what sets Webscraper.io apart from the pack. It might have a cut-and-dry design and carry a learning curve for non-developers, but once you get used to it, you’ll love using it over the long term. You can get it on Chrome and Firefox or check out the cloud version.
3. Instant Data Scraper
Most of the web scrapers we’ve talked about build extra and powerful features on top of just scraping. It can be powerful, but also add more complexity to the platform. If your purpose is only to get the data from a web page, Instant Data Scraper is the way to go.
Because of the limited functions, the tool UI is straightforward. Activate the scraper and it’ll try to detect what you want to scrape. You can edit the scrape template if necessary. Available for both Chrome and Edge, it’s fully browser-based and allows you to download scraped data in XLV file format.
It’s completely free and only takes up less than a megabyte of space. Check out their website for more details.
If you’re dedicated to more professional data scraping, then browser-based options don’t work for you. ParseHub might be the way to go. It has no browser extension, only desktop clients on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
When you open the client on your computer, you’ll see a built-in browser from which you can do your data scraping operations.
Enter the website URL that you want to extract data from. After it loads, on the left side you’ll see various commands and settings. In the middle will be an interactive view of the website which you can click on to select elements. You can preview the selected data at the bottom in CSV or JSON format. Once set in place you can ‘Run’ the scraping operation on their server.
When the data has been scraped, you can also download it in CSV/Excel, JSON, or API or import it into Google Sheets or Tableau.
Operating exclusively from the cloud presents many benefits like IP rotation, scheduled collection, and more. Unfortunately, that extra functionality is reflected in the costs: with the free plan you get 200 pages per run and 5 public projects. You can opt for the Standard and Professional plans to increase that limit, costing $189 and $599, respectively. So, it’s definitely expensive but might be worth it based on your use case. You can check further pricing details and download the app.
If you want something similar to ParseHub, but cheaper, you’ll like Octoparse. Similar to ParseHub, it doesn’t have any web extensions, only desktop clients on Windows and Mac. Simply visit the website you want to scrape data from in the built-in browser and get started.
As we previously discussed in the review for ParseHub, scraping from the cloud has many benefits, like IP rotation and scheduling. But in some cases, it also makes sense to do the scraping locally. Since Octoparse is a hybrid scraper (can operate both from your local IP and the cloud), you can choose to run the scraping operations from your computer itself too!
As your business grows and your requirement increases, you can also look into Octoparse’s professional data scraping service. For now, be sure to check out their website and download the app to your computer.
Do you want a scraper with a higher focus on automations rather than just plain data? Byteline operates on ‘Flows’ where you can connect various web apps. These can be triggered by either an HTTP API, a scheduler, or an in-app update.
For data scraping, it allows you to pick elements with the Chrome extension, but they are scraped using their server. They also auto-rotate between residential servers to ensure the highest level of reliability.
Notice how a link had been copied when the elements were selected? You can paste that link into the console and configure the selection further. Once it’s done, you can export the data to Airtable, Google Sheets, or any other Byteline-integrated apps.
Love it already?! Time to talk about pricing. With the free plan, you get 500 actions per month. If you want more, there are paid plans available ranging from $9 per month to over $749 per month based on your requirements. Check out their website for further info.
If you’re new to this whole web scraping thing and need a tool that can guide you through the process, you’ll dig Grapsr! It works similarly to all the other web scraper tools we’ve looked at so far. Go to the website you want to scrape data from and start clicking on elements. When you’re doing it for the first time, Grepsr will define the steps for you and make sure you get a hand of the process!
Being a cloud-based scraper, you can save the scraped data to storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, and even FTP. If you only want to set it up once and then automate it, you can use the built-in scheduler and define an extraction timeline to get the most up-to-date data. Unfortunately, this feature is only available with the Basic and Advanced plans.
OK, so let’s talk about these plans. The Free plan is fairly generous by itself, but the Basic or Advanced plans are also available if you have a higher requirement.
Grepsr also saves your scraped data to its own servers. With the Free plan, your data is saved for 30 days, and that goes up to 60 and 90 days for the two paid plans. Similar to other cloud-based scraping tools, they also offer a personalized data service, for both data acquisition and integration with third-party platforms.
All in all, Grepsr is a good cloud-based web scraping tool. It’s beginner-friendly but also has the high-tech features we’ve come to expect. If you liked what you saw here, download the extension for Chrome or check out their website.
What can you use scrapers for?
Web scrapers can often be hard to wrap your head around. They can scrape data from the web, which brings to mind some obvious use cases, like product listings from Amazon, followers from Instagram, or job postings from LinkedIn. But, what else? Can they also be leveraged to save time in everyday life?
This is where Bardeen stands out from the rest. Whereas most of them are designed to scrape data and not much else. With Bardeen you can connect the scraped data with different automations. Plus, you can connect to third-party apps like Zillow and LinkedIn.
Here are some noteworthy pre-built automations.
As you might’ve picked up by now, browser-based scrapers are usually the best bet for most users since they are easier to get started and more powerful, especially when scraping data is only part of your workflow. You’ve already got the hang of Bardeen, but there are also many other ones that are worth checking out for certain use cases. In this article, we’ve talked about eight of the best scraper extensions.
In 2023, web scrapers are more popular now than ever before. But it’s important to not get carried away by the hype. Avoid chasing the next shiny object- instead, choose the scraper which fits your use case best.
If learning about these tools has aroused your curiosity about scrapers and web technology in general, you’d love to read our guide on monitoring website changes.
Now, where to go from here? Just download or sign up for the scraper you believe is the best for you and get started!