Data collection and analysis benefit businesses looking to study their market and competition. However, the amount of data available on the internet is large and challenging to digest. Data scraping tools offer a simple and reliable solution to businesses interested in starting data collection.
The Best Tools To Automate Scraping
Scraping (also known as data harvesting) can be a grueling task. However, with the right tools, you can scrape (or collect) thousands of pages in minutes, giving you an edge over your competition.
Here are a few tools to help ease the process for you;
VPNs are handy tools for any business. They do more than scrape data; they protect the data saved within the business’s database.
While data scraping:
- VPNs can mask your IP address preventing sites from blocking you as you scour through their data.
- A VPN will also conceal your traffic, making it very difficult for websites to track your activities online.
- With a VPN, you can bypass any restrictions the site you’re scraping may have.
There are two main types of data scraping VPNs; tunnel broker VPNs and site-to-site VPNs. Tunnel broker VPNs secure your connection to third-party servers, while site-to-site VPNs connect two sites over the internet.
2. IP Location Spoofing With Virtual Machines
Virtual machines can assist with IP location spoofing, allowing you access to any site cantions. These machines can run multiple operating systems in one physical computer and access many websites simultaneously.
If you have more than one IP address, each IP address can have its virtual machine. Virtual machines are usually isolated, so there is no risk of one machine’s activities affecting another. It is also quicker to customize your virtual machine than to install an existing one onto your computer.
This setup would also help prevent websites from detecting the use of an alternate IP address. The only caveat of using virtual machines is that it requires some technical skill or investment.
3. Proxy Servers
Proxy servers are a reliable way to hide your true identity when browsing the internet. With a proxy server, your computer communicates with the proxy server instead of directly with the host. Likewise, the host responds to the proxy, which passes the information to you.
Like VPNs, proxies can conceal your IP address, protect your privacy, and bypass website restrictions. There are several types of proxies available on the internet, but clients usually prefer residential proxies for data scraping because of several advantages:
- A residential proxy is tied to an actual consumer device, avoiding typical restrictions for datacenter proxies.
- Residential proxies are local to the same region or country as the content they are scraping, bypassing geo-blocks.
- Residential proxies are generally faster than public proxies due to fewer concurrent users.
For the safety of your business, you could also install trial proxies that limit users to just one person. This way, only the owner can access the mined data and control its distribution to the team. Trial proxies may not offer all the perks of other options, but they can increase your security significantly.
4. Automation Tools
Automation tools simplify the guesswork out of website scraping. They make it easy and quick to gather and organize scrapbook pages. You can, therefore, retain an organized folder and access the information from any computer or device.
Numerous automation tools are available that also support customization and systemization of accessed data. Popular tools include;
- Scrapy spider.
- BeautifulSoup library.
- Requests library.
It is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the different automation tools before deciding on one. For instance, the Scrapy spider is best suited for extracting data organized in hierarchical structures. On the other hand, the Requests library is better for flat data outside of such a hierarchy.
Another essential factor to consider when selecting an automation tool is the type of data that you want to extract. Scrapy spider, for example, is best suited for data written in Python than the others.
Remember To Stay Safe
Although data collection is vital for the growth of your business, it is crucial to guard your private information. Whether you pick proxies, VPNs, or Automation tools, do your due diligence, and read reviews. Once data is on the internet, it is there forever. So when it comes to online security, the adage holds that prevention is more valuable than a cure.