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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

My Experience in Choosing a Web Scraping Service

Recently I decided to outsource a web scraping project to another company. I typed “web scraping service” in Google, chose six services from the first two search result pages and sent the project specifications to all of them to get quotes. Eventually I decided to go another way and did not order the services, but my experience may be useful for others who want to entrust web scraping jobs to third party services.

If you are interested in price comparisons only and not ready to read the whole story just scroll down.

A list of web scraping services I sent my project to:

    www.datahen.com - Canadian web scraping service with nice web design
    webdata-scraping.com - Indian service by Keval Kothari
    www.iwebscraping.com - India based web scraping company (same as www.3idatascraping.com)
    scrapinghub.com - A scraping service founded by creators of Scrapy
    web-scraper.com - Yet another web scraping service
    grepsr.com - A scraping service that we already reviewed two years ago

Sending the request

All the services except scrapinghub.com have quite simple forms for the description of the project requirements. Basically, you just need to give your contact details and a project description in any form. Some of them are pretty (like datahen.com), some of them are more ascetic (like web-scraper.com), but all of them allow you to send your requirements to developers.

Scrapinghub.com has a quite long form, but most of the fields are optional and all the questions are quite natural. If you really know what you need, then it won’t be hard to answer all of them; moreover they rather help you to describe your need in detail.

Note, that in the context of the project I didn’t make a request for a scraper itself. I asked to receive data on a weekly basis only.

Getting responses

Since I sent my request on Sunday it would have been ok not to receive responses the same day, but I got the first response in 3 hrs! It was from web-scraper.com and stated that this project will cost me $250 monthly. Simple and clear. Thank you, Thang!

Right after that, I received the second response. This time it was Keval from webdata-scraping.com. He had some questions regarding the project. Then after two days he wrote me that it would be hard to scrape some of my data with the software he uses, and that he will try to use a custom scraper. After that he disappeared… ((

Then on Monday I received Cost & ETAT details from datahen.com. It looked quite professional and contained not only price, but also time estimation. They were ready to create such a scraper in 3-4 days for $249 and then maintain it for just $65/month.

On the same day I received a quote from iwebscraping.com. It was $60 per week. Everything is fine, but I’d like to mention that it wasn’t the last letter from them. After I replied to them (right after receiving the quote), I received a reminder letter from them every other day for about a week. So be ready for aggressive marketing if you ask them for a quote )).

Finally in two days after requesting a quote I got a response from scrapinghub.com. Paul Tremberth wrote me that they were ready to build a scraper for $1200 and then maintain it for $300/month.

It is interesting that I have never received an answer from grepsr.com! Two years ago it was the first web scraping service we faced on the web, but now they simply ignored my request! Or perhaps they didn’t receive it somehow? Anyway I had no time for investigation.

So what?

Let us put everything together. Out of six web scraping  services I received four quotes with the following prices:

Service     Setup fee     Monthly fee

web-scraper.com     -     $250
datahen.com     $249     $65
iwebscraping.com     -     $240
scrapinghub.com     $1200     $300

From this table you can see that  scrapinghub.com appears to be the most expensive service among those compared.

EDIT: These $300/month gives you as much support and development needed to fix a 5M multi-site web crawler, for example. If you need a cheaper solution you can use their Autoscraping tool, which is free, and would have costed around $2/month to crawl at my requested rates.

The average cost of monthly scraping is about $250, but from a long term perspective datahen.com may save you money due to their low monthly fee.

That’s it! If I had enough money available it would be interesting to compare all these services in operation and provide you a more complete report, but this is all I have for now.

If you have anything to share about your experience in using similar services, please contribute to this post by commenting on it below. Cheers!

Source: http://scraping.pro/choosing-web-scraping-service/

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