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Web Crawling: 9 Best Free Web Crawlers for Beginners in 2020

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

If you are looking to get online web data, three mostly used methods for this purpose are using open-to-public APIs connection, building a web crawler program and resorting to automated web crawling tools.


The former two both require knowledge in computer language. With a focus on beginners in web crawling, this article will be talking about free web crawlers for easy use.


Table of Contents

Why do you need a web crawling tool

How to choose a free web crawler

9 best free web crawlers for beginners


· Why Do You Need A Web Crawling Tool?

With automated web crawling tools, crawling for web data (or web scraping, data harvesting, data extraction) is no longer the only privilege for programmers. Pick a free web crawler to start, you can:

  1. Get the needed data with no need of copy and paste.
  2. Export your data well-organized in different formats such as Excel, CSV.
  3. Save you a lot of time and effort thereafter.



· How to Choose a Free Web Crawler? 

Besides the easy-to-use quality, what you should take into account when you are choosing a free web crawler:


Scalability / limit of use

What data you are looking for and how much are you aiming to scrape? If you want to start from a free web crawler and at the same time meet your need for data extraction, you should pay attention to how scalable the tool is and is there any limit of use for a free plan.

Data quality

In most cases, data is not the final end. What people are expecting from data is to generate ideas and insights or to guide their decision-making process. However, raw data from the web may not be applicable to analysis right away. What you have to do is to clean the data so that the computer can understand and help analyze. To make this easier, you can choose a web crawler integrated with data cleaning features to free you from repetitive manual jobs.

Customer service

Even though automated web crawling tools have simplified much of the web scraping process for beginners, users could still encounter unexpected problems. Web crawling tools are not omnipotent because of the existing challenges in web scraping. With support by your side, you can have a smooth start and go further.



· 9 Best Free Web Crawlers for Beginners


1. Octoparse

Octoparse is a web crawling tool for non-coders on Windows/Mac devices. After entering the target url, it can help detect data you would like to scrape on the website. Crawlers can be easily built by choosing the set of data you want.


Using Octoparse, you can scrape tables, texts, figures and urls of images for bulk download on web pages. A free plan user can build 10 different crawlers and scrape from unlimited pages per crawl. 


Step-by-step tutorials and Youtube guidance are available for users to get started. You can also contact support if you have trouble building the crawler you need, or encounter any other technical issues.


2. 80legs

80legs is a Javascript-based application that offers the custom web crawling service for users to configure their crawler and scrape from public web pages. As the crawling task is completed, users can download the data to their computer. 


Free plan users can run concurrently one crawl at a time and scrape from 10,000 urls per crawl. No clear customer service and support access shown on the site. 


3. WebHarvy

WebHarvy is a point-and-click web scraping software. You can use WebHarvy to scrape web data including texts, images, urls and email information and save the data to your computer. It also provides built-in scheduler and proxy support to avoid being banned because of frequent visits.


WebHarvy offers new users a free evaluation version for 15 days and under the evaluation period you can scrape 2 pages of data from websites. 


There are a series of tutorials in both text and video versions on WebHarvy home page and you can find support for technique assistance.


4. ScrapeStorm

ScrapeStorm is a client-based visual web scraping tool. Like Octoparse’s auto-detection, ScrapeStorm can intelligently identify the content and paging for easy crawler configuration. The scraped data can be exported in multiple formats, including Excel, CSV, TXT, HTML, MySQL, MongoDB, SQL Server, etc.


You can scrape unlimited pages per task and export 100 rows of data per day for a free plan. Its document center offers tutorials and you can also watch Youtube videos from its website.


Octoaprse free web crawler


5. Parsehub

Parsehub is a desktop application for web crawling in which users can scrape from interactive pages. Using Parsehub, you can download the extracted data in Excel and JSON and import your results into Google Sheets and Tableau.


A free plan can build 5 crawlers and scrape from 200 pages per run. There is a 14-day data retention for your scraped data so do remember to backup. Text and video tutorials are both available.


6. Fminer

FMiner is a visual web crawling tool. You can use the tool for web scraping, data extraction, screen scraping and you can get web support for Windows and Mac OS.

Fminer runs with features such as drop-down selections, url pattern matching, integrated scheduling, etc.


Fminer offers a 15-day free trial and the paid version starts from $168 (Basic plan). Video tutorials can be found on its website and you can also join its Forum to engage in discussion on certain topics.


7. Dexi.io

Dexi.io is a cloud-based web crawling tool and there are four types of robot you can choose from: Extractor, Crawler, Pipes and ButoBot.


The tool itself can be highly functional while no automation framework is available for new starters to pick up quickly. If you have experiences in web scraping, you can have a try.


8. Web Scraper (Chrome)

Web Scraper is an extension tool with a point and click interface integrated in the developer tool. You have to build your own crawler by selecting the listing information you want on the web page.


In a paid plan, Web scraper is equipped with functions such as cloud extraction, scheduled scraping, IP rotation, API access. Thus it is capable of more frequent scraping and scraping of a larger volume of information. 


9. Outwit Hub Light

You can download OutWit Hub Light for free on the Outwit website. The tool integrates dozens of data extraction features to simplify data searching on websites, including collection of documents, images, etc.


The applications for images and docs extraction are free for use. More advanced functions are provided for paid users. The service provider also offers tech support and you can reach the team by submitting a ticket.



Author: Cici  Edited by: Cici

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