Web scraping vs API is the comparison of popular data extraction methods that are used to collect a wide range of data and process them for analysis purposes. Allied Market Research says that the data extraction market value will reach $4.90 billion by 2027. Anything and everything you see around you is data. Performing necessary and suitable operations on this raw data can turn it into a significant tool to derive insights. People use many different data extraction processes to collect data from multiple sources. Keep reading this comparative study on “Web Scraping vs. API” to learn more about the different types of data extraction processes.
As we are surrounded by pools of data, people will likely never face a data shortage. What is more challenging is extracting data from multiple websites. Data extraction is the process of collecting data from disparate sources and processing them for further analysis purposes. There are multiple ways to collect data. People still have the option of reaching every website and manually collecting data from there. This is the most uncommon practice nowadays because manual data collection is not possible for huge stockpiles of data.
It is quite easier to scrape data from websites using automatic data extraction techniques, like web and API scraping. These automatic data scraping methods request data from websites through web scraping tools or web scraping software.
Once web users collect data from the websites, they further subject those raw data to many processing steps, like cleaning, filtering, and aggregating. Through this process, business people can analyze historical data and obtain a pattern from it. This analysis process will produce a detailed report on where their product works and how.
Web scraping is the automated process of collecting huge amounts of data from websites. The web scraping process scrapes the structured or unstructured data along with the HTML format so the scraper can replicate the page whenever and wherever needed. Web scraping is the process of collecting data on a website from which users will perform further filtering processes to extract the specific data they seek.
Example: A web user needs to perform market research on finance to find the best financial institution to invest in. So, the user wishes to collect data from many sites and analyze them to find the best one. In this case, the web scraping tools will collect all the data from each financial site. They bring the company’s history, interest rates, loan options, and investment options, as well as customer information. Out of all these, people can make use of the necessary data.
Another option is, scraping with Application Programming Interfaces (API). Before getting into API scraping, we should first understand API. It is software that acts as an interface between two software and allows them to communicate. They enable communication and data transmission among the software tools.
People can make use of API software to scrape data from the targeted sites. API software works slightly differently from the web scraping process. Unlike web scraping, the API collects only the required data from the websites. They establish a pipeline between the user and the website so that the system keeps updating users with new or changing data from the website. Websites nowadays have dynamic data that may change according to dynamic market trends.
Example: Let us consider scraping financial data from websites as a user who needs to decide on investments. The user requires ‘interest options’ and ‘interest rates’ from popular banks. The API scraping solution will create a communication link between the user and the website’s API. Through this link, the system keeps updating the specific data point the user wants.
Both web scraping tools and API software work to collect data from multiple sources. They scrape data from target websites and use them to obtain valuable results after analysis. Though these methods work for the same purpose, they vary with certain factors.
Let us compare and contrast Web scraping vs API in terms of their working style. The web scraping process uses manual or software tools to collect data from various websites. This method collects all the data from targeted websites and brings in every single piece of information. This web scraping method has fewer restrictions as it can scrape from most of the websites that appear in the search engines’ results.
The API method is quite different from web scraping. The API technique does not gather all the data from the sites. They access only the required data as well as handle concurrent requests. As the API has a pipeline connection with the users, they are capable of dynamic data extraction.
As both methods work as an automated process, users may need a proper solution to undergo the data extraction process. Here we will discussw Web scraping vs API in terms of their tools availability.
The web scraping technique does not need any specific solutions. Users can scrape any data from any website on the internet. But there are some cases, where websites can restrict users from scraping some of their information. To learn the restrictions and permissions, scrapers have to visit the website’s file named “robot.txt.”
Users need API software to scrape data from particular sites. Each website provides API on its own. Only then, people can make use of those APIs to access data from their sites. Not all websites provide APIs. In these cases, users can not scrape data from the sites. To learn who provides API and their pricing range, go through the API directory. You can also, access the particular site and check if they provide API.
Users can extract data using both methods. But, to what extent they can is the actual question. Let us understand the data accessibilty of Web scraping vs API in terms of their working style.
The web scraping technique does not have any limits, users can scrape as much data as they want. Users can scrape public data from the sites with no restrictions.
The API has limits in scraping. The scrapers should cross-check with the API directories to know their scraping limits.
Both tasks require technical knowledge, but which is simpler is the basic “web scraping vs API comparison” that people should undergo people should undergo.
Web scraping solutions require basic coding knowledge. But, there are many third-party scraping solutions out there in the market that make it easy for users to adopt one and proceed with the scraping process.
API is quite a complicated one because users have to build the codes and specify the data that needs to be accessed. All the websites that support API solutions also provide a guide to the API codes.
“Is it legal to scrape data from websites?” This may be the first question people would have come across while thinking of scraping. Let us discuss the web scraping vs API comparison in terms of legality.
Web scraping does not require permission from the targeted website and there isn’t any scraping limit. So, people may go beyond the limit and scrape huge amounts of data or sometimes they may try scraping the restricted data using proxy servers. In this case, the scraping may be considered illegal.
The API has limits in extracting data, which can eventually stop the users from scraping restricted information from the sites. Thus extracting data using API is considered legal.
Analyzing the cost efficiency is another major factor to consider before choosing a suitable method. Web scraping solutions, if built by the users themselves, are then free of cost or, if the users should choose an external solution, it will cost a small amount. In the case of APIs, there are free and paid APIs. So, the cost-efficiency depends on the individual websites if you are API scraping.
Both methods provide quality scraping services and help the user conduct market research. It is hard to declare one of the two methods as the best. Rather than sticking to one method and considering the best, it is better to choose according to the scenario. If you intend to extract public data from popular sites, it is better to use web scraping tools. If you do not want to lose the data and would rather scrape with permission, it is better to use an API service.
High Bandwidth – The proxies for Proxyscrape are of high bandwidth which makes it easy for scraping unlimited data.
Uptime – Proxyscrape ensures 100% uptime. As these proxies function 24/7, these proxies can assist in scraping solutions always.
Multiple Types – Proxyscrape provides proxies of all types of protocols like HTTP, Socks4, and Socks5. They also provide shared proxies, like data center proxies, residential proxies, and dedicated proxies, like private proxies. Their proxy pools have millions of proxy addresses that are used uniquely for each request.
Global Proxy – We offer proxies from more than 120 countries.
Proxyscrape is the proxy provider solution that leverages proxies for multiple applications. One among them is proxy sites or proxy servers that bypass geographical restrictions. The anonymity and the scraping features of the Proxyscrape proxies allow the users to unblock the restricted content. Dedicated proxies will have a unique IP address for each user so that the web servers and ISPs will not easily track the identity of the users. Shared proxies like data center proxies and residential proxies provide proxy pools with different proxy types to unblock the blocked sites with multiple proxies.
|Web Scraping||API Scraping|
|It is possible to extract data manually or automatically using web scraping tools.||API scraping definitely requires API software.|
|The web scraping process can scrape the entire data of the web page along with the HTML format.||API Scraping collects only the required data. Scrapes only the needed information through the API pipeline.|
|Web scraping hardly has limits.||API scraping has many restrictions.|
|Each site will have a Robot.txt file that contains the information on the scraping limits.||The API directories will contain the details regarding the scraping limits.|
|Any scraping tool is enough to extract data.||API scraping method requires API software of the respective website.|
|As web scraping does not have many limits, scraping extensively can turn illegal.||With a proper guide on restrictions, API scraping is always legal.|
You can either check the website to find if there is any API software or use the API documentation to check for the sites that provide APIs.
Some websites do not let people of particular locations access their sites. Scrapers make use of global proxies of desired geographical locations to remove the geo-blocks and perform scraping operations.
Shared proxies, like residential proxies and datacenter proxies, are suitable proxy servers for web scraping. As they provide proxy pools with multiple IP addresses of different locations, the scrapers do not have to extract data from all sites with the same IP address. Using different IP addresses for different sites reduces the chances of IP blocks.
Marketing and Research fields deploy data harvesting or data extraction techniques to make use of the data from a wide range of sources and convert them into business plans and insights. From the available data extraction options, go for web scraping techniques if you expect a cost-efficient and low complexity scraping solution. The web scraping method is the best option to scrape without limits. If you are expecting to scrape dynamic data and want to get updated with the changes, you should use the API scraping process.