A web scraper is a piece of software that extracts particular data from the web. This data is then stored in a database or file to gain insights via analysis. If you’ve ever taken data from the internet for a report, you’ve already done some necessary web scraping. Since a machine is doing the work, and not a personal copy-pasting data, web scraping is highly scalable. That means web tools can collect information way faster than even a team of humans could.
The thought of designing your web scraper might sound daunting. Luckily, there are tons of amazing tutorials online that are available for free. Even better, many of them are based on entirely free software, so you don’t have to spend a dime. All you need is some time and a laptop, and you can build your basic web tool from scratch!
So, if anyone can make their scraper, why would you spend money on a premium service? Well, each option has its benefits and drawbacks! Let’s compare the two approaches so you can get a clear understanding of which is the better one for you.
You’re probably thinking, “Making my web scraper is free. There’s no way any paid solution could be more cost-effective than a free one.”
The truth is, it depends on how much time you end up spending designing your in-house solution. Does your team have an IT specialist and programmer? Are you familiar with the different web protocols? These are some key questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to begin coding.
Making your web tools does have its advantages. Since you’re building from scratch, it can be tailor-made for the needs of your company. You’re also free to tinker with the code, adding new features as you need them.
Consider the resources you’ll need to maintain your web tool. How many people do you need to keep it running, maintain its database, troubleshoot any issues? With a premium solution, you get all this included in a monthly or annual plan. Outsourcing can be much cheaper than hiring employees to manage your new technology.
If you have a team of in-house IT professionals, explore the idea of an in-house scraper. For everyone else, a premium solution will be the cheaper choice.
It’s important to remember how urgent your company’s need for a web scraper is. When do you need your web tool to be available? Will it be completely functional by that time?
There’s no beating a professional solution when you’re strapped for time. With a little research, you can find a web tool that’s suited for your company’s needs. Naturally, it might not be as perfect a fit as a custom-made grader, and you’ll need time to figure out its interface.
Developing your web tool takes time, planning, and many iterations. It’s also difficult to predict when a new piece of software will be ready for use. You’ll have to deal with the bugs and the testing process before your in-house tool is prepared. If you need a web tool right now, go out and research a professional provider.
Troubleshooting & Maintenance
One part of the development process that even seasoned pros underestimate is troubleshooting. You can get a web scraper prototype up and running in a matter of days. It’s once you put it through its paces that you’ll find some things aren’t working as planned.
How much time can you afford to put into finding bugs and fixing code? Do you have the personnel capable of implementing new features down the line? You’ll find that the time cost of maintenance can explode as new problems crop up. Is your team prepared to handle support in the long term?
Web code and development practices change all the time. A change in standards could make your current web scraper ineffective. Once that happens, you’ll have to spend resources to get your implementation up to snuff. That means more time and money spent and another source of headaches.
Outsourcing to a professional means you spend less time thinking about troubleshooting. That’s more time and resources that can go into work that directly affects your bottom line. Premium web tool services will have entire teams dedicated to ensuring your web scraper is always working. It’s much easier for them to find and fix problems as they’ve been dealing with the same software for years.
The development of an in-house web scraper doesn’t stop once the system goes live. It’s an ongoing, never-ending process of troubleshooting and upgrading and maintenance. Premium web scraper services already have all these things in place. Their entire business revolves around how excellent their web scraper services are. Can you spend the resources to get that level of quality in your web scraper implementation?
The insights gained from the analysis of scraped data is invaluable for remaining competitive. You can conduct basic web scraping tasks with little to no money investment. Grab your laptop and follow along with the many tutorials available online. It’s once you start scaling up your web scraper that you’ll find problems with your code.
How prepared is your company to spend the work hours and money resources to develop a robust web scraper? Software development requires a dedicated team, technological expertise, and lots of iteration.
Developing a web scraper isn’t a little side project. It’s a never-ending process that requires a full team of experts. If you don’t have that– or that sounds like a significant investment — consider premium options. Ideally, you should seek to partner up with the leading web scraping tools provider, such as Oxylabs. Check out their unmatched solution within the market, Real-Time Crawler, which is optimized to capture data even from the most challenging data sources, with a guaranteed 100% data retrieval success rate. If you would like to learn more about web scraping tools and solutions, visit this website.
Professional services are built around the quality of their web scraper. Unlike you, they don’t have to worry about the central money-making part of their business — this is it. You spend fewer resources worrying about your web scraper working, resources best spent in other parts of your business.