Data scraping and data crawling are two phrases that you often hear used , as if the two words are synonyms that mean the exact same thing.  Many people in common speech refer to the two as if they are the same process. While at face value they may appear to give the same results, the methods utilized are very different.  Both are important to retrieving data but the process involved and the type of information sought after vary in different ways.


It is kind of like asking do you want the shortest route to your destination, or do you want the fastest route to your destination.  While one way might be shorter in distance, it could end up taking you twice the time to arrive based on traffic conditions. But if you are short on gas, you may want to take the shorter way.  The same applies here.  For some data extraction, a person will  want scraping, for other types, crawling is necessary.  To clear up some of this confusion we have decided to describe the differences in layman’s terms so that you don’t have to have an IT professional on hand to understand what one process is versus the other.  Understanding the difference between the two is important for understanding the method of retrieving your desired information.

What Exactly is Data Scraping?

Data scraping is the finding of data and then scraping it. It pulls data directly from a page. This doesn’t pull exclusively from the web, it can be taken from anywhere that data exist.  This could include spreadsheets, storage devices, etc, anywhere data exist in any form. Any  of the above doesn’t have to come from the internet or from webpages. It is the scraping of data, not the web.    

This process is required for filtering and distinguishing different types of raw data from different sources into something that is useful and informative. Data scraping is much more specific in what it extracts than data crawling.  It can pull things such as commodity prices and more hard to reach information.  One of the minor annoyances of data scraping consist in the fact that it can result in duplicate data since the process doesn’t exclude this from different sources that it acquires it from.  

Data scraping tools online are able to execute actions that data crawling tools are unable to accomplish including javascript executing, submitting data forms, disobeying robots etc.  

Now What About Data Crawling?

Web crawling is digging deep into the nooks and crevices of the world wide web to retrieve the stuff you missed in spring cleaning.  Think about spiders (not the kind that spin webs and leave nasty bites, but friendly programed crawlers) or bots, scavenging through the web to find whatever is relevant to your quest.  The spiders act on an algorithm to follow instructions. Web crawling services operate much like Google or Bing. The process of crawling follows links to many different pages.  Crawlers scrape in this process.  They don’t only scan through pages, they collect all relevant information indexing it in the process, they also seek out all links to relevant pages in the process. They can pull out duplicate information from a blog post that may have been copy-pasted since they don’t know the difference.  Hopefully one day we will be able to have spider bots that can distinguish this difference, but for now, we have to sort through the duplicates that they bring us.

Online Etiquette is a Must

The web crawling done by these web spiders and bots must be done carefully with attention and proper care. The depth of the penetration must not violate the restrictions of websites or privacy rules when they are crawling different websites.  Any infringement of such can result in lawsuits from whatever big data domain that could have been offended, and that is something that nobody wants entangled in.  Always be sure to crawl with care. Modern crawling bots are developed to better understand what the limits of operations are and abide within the constraints to avoid legal entanglements. Due to these technological advancements, the risk of offending are minimal.

Compare and Contrast

Data scraping tools have a narrow function that can be adjusted or customized to any scope. Data scraping can pull current stock prices, hotel rates, real estate listings etc.  Data crawling is much more sophisticated and goes into the intricacies of digging deep, whatever their mission may be, these bots are on a quest. They will check all the backlinks and not stop until everything that is even remotely related has been scrutinized. Data crawling is done on a grand scale that requires special care as not to offend the sources or break any laws.  

Professional Services are Required

To understand which of the two better suit your business needs one must seek consultation from the professionals so that safe and legal data extraction is done with care and accuracy, in other words, don’t try this at home kids.  It is essential to the success of your business that you utilize the best web data crawling tools available today.  By utilizing the help of professional data scraping and data crawling professionals you will have all necessary and relevant data that your business requires delivered to you in a convenient, easy to use  format.  This way you don’t have to spend painstaking hours that only result in an improperly done job that involves risking legal trouble.  When done right, by the people who know what they are doing, these services will result in providing the valuable help that you need to get ahead in your industry.  Please feel free to contribute in the comments section located below.

Many people don’t understand the difference between data scraping and data crawling.  This confusion results in misunderstandings over what service a company requires.  We hope here to have put an end to this confusion.


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