Many organizations perform web scraping to extract information from the internet and arrange and analyze it to fuel their business processes.

However, if you go on performing web scraping by manual means, visiting hundreds of websites, and extracting data continuously, it might become a painful task (and risky).

You might face geo-restrictions or get banned from those sites since everyone wants to protect their data.

Therefore, using a tool such as a data collector can be a good way to go about it.

A good data collector will help you scrape data with speed, security, and reliability. Thus, you can use quality data to make predictions, streamline processes, and shape your operations.

In this article, I’ll discuss what data collection means, its types, and techniques, and then introduce you to some of the best data collection tools.

Let’s start!

What Is Data Collection?

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Data collection is a process of collecting and analyzing specific pieces of information to solve certain questions and assess the results. It aims at finding everything about a given subject matter. After collecting data, it is then subjected to a hypothesis testing process in order to explain a particular thing or event.

Data collection could be done for a number of reasons, such as predicting future trends and probabilities.

And the tool that helps perform data collection is a data collector or data collection software. It comes with amazing features and benefits to aid in the complete data collection process.

Types of Data Collection

Data collection falls under these two main categories – primary and secondary data collection.

Primary Data Collection

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Primary data collection involves the process of collecting raw data at the source or original data for a specific purpose, be it web scraping, research, or any other goal. It’s further divided into two types:

  • Quantitative data collection: There are many methods employed in quantitative data collection, such as data collection through phone, email, online, or face-to-face. These methods require a math calculation to comprehend and are presented in numbers. Examples of these methods could be questionnaires having close-ended questions, regression, median, mean, and mode.
  • Qualitative research: This is a data collection method involving no mathematical calculation or numbers. It’s based on elements that aren’t quantifiable, such as the emotions or feelings of the researcher. Such techniques could include open-ended questionnaires, in-depth interviews, web surveys, and data collected from online communities, online forums, groups, etc.

Secondary Data Collection

Secondary data collection involves collecting second-hand data that is collected by someone who isn’t the original user. This means that, in this process, you collect existing data from published books, online portals, journals, etc. This process is easier and less expensive.

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In this type of data collection, you can get all the information analyzed by someone before. Secondary data collection involves two types of data:

  • Published Data: It could be from government publications, a podcast, websites, public records, statistical and historic documents, trade journals, technical files, business documents, etc.
  • Unpublished Data: It could be from letters, diaries, and unpublished biographies.

So, choosing one between primary and secondary data collection depends on your specific area of research, niche type, opportunity, project goal, and so on. Choose the one that’s most suitable for you to make smart decisions. 

Benefits of Data Collection Tool

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As explained above, a data collection tool or data collector is software used for data collection through paper questionnaires, surveys, case studies, research, observation, and so on.

Since a study, analysis, research, or web scraping is done for various purposes, you must ensure to collect of genuine, quality data to lead to credible solutions for a given problem. This is where using a good data collection tool is necessary. It offers plenty of features and benefits to make your data collection process effortless and satisfying.

Here are some of the benefits of using a data collection tool.

Accuracy

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Modern data collection tools boast a vast library of reliable information. This database is also being updated frequently to offer you fresh, up-to-date information that is not only relevant for your organization but also accurate. 

Faster

Data collectors help accelerate the process of web scraping or research. The reason is it’s connected to a database with vast, useful information that you can access from anywhere and at any time with a few clicks. Hence, you can conduct your research on the go or at your office or home. It speeds up the complete data collection process and saves you plenty of time.

Fewer Errors

While you can manually collect data for your use case, it may involve human errors. However, using a dedicated data collection tool will provide you with accurate and consistent information to fuel your business processes and goal. It will also help you maintain the integrity of your research, study, or web scraping.

Better Outcomes

Since you are getting complete, reliable, error-free, and relevant data using a data collection tool for your intended purpose, you will achieve better outcomes instead of making mistakes that can lead to more problems. Using precise, relevant, complete, and reliable data will help you make better business decisions and correct predictions. 

Data Collection vs. Traditional Web Scraping Solutions

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Traditional web scrapers might be versatile but they can be time-consuming and require more effort. It’s evident, especially if you are dealing with large data volumes. Since the internet has trillions of data, consisting of so many surveys, forums, online sites, reports, and so on, extracting relevant, useful information is challenging.

However, using an advanced data collection tool such as Bright Data Collector, you can collect data quickly, easily, and in a bit more exciting way. 

With so many data collectors available on the internet, many find it difficult to choose one. So, here’s how to choose the right data collection tool for your needs.

How to Choose the Right Data Collection Tool?

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When choosing a data collection tool, look for these aspects:

  • Useful features: Choose a data collector that has features useful to your use cases. Assess your requirements and then choose the tool that can offer you the features that you are actually going to use. It must also integrate with other tools to make the work easier using just one tool.
  • Easy to use: If you want to get the most out of a data collector, find one that’s easy to use. It must have a simple but powerful interface, easy navigation, and effortless accessibility.
  • Affordability: Invest in a tool that comes under your budget but has a good set of useful features. It’s all about finding the balance. Also, check for a free trial to test how it works for you.

So, if you are looking for a good data collection tool, Bright Data Collector is a good option. Let’s get to know about this tool to decide if it will work for you.

How Can Bright Data Help?

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Bright Data Collector is one of the best platforms to perform data collection and web scraping. It scrapes data from the internet at scale with no infrastructure requirements. It can instantly extract data publicly available from any site so you can fuel your web scraping or research requirements.

You can choose to scrape web data either in batches or in real-time. Just evaluate your requirements and use Bright Data Collector to fulfill your needs.

Bright Data Collector: Key Features

Some key features of Bright Data Collector are:

No Code platform

Simplify your web scraping efforts using the no-code platform of Bright Data Collector. This means you don’t have to deal with any coding to use this solution and perform scraping.

Previously, this process was complicated, requiring programmers to configure the tool correctly. It also required data acquisition specialists in web data scraping and proxy management.

Therefore, with a no-code platform, Bright Data Collector becomes easy to use for all, whether or not you are a programmer or an expert data extraction specialist. It will save you plenty of hours, resources, and time that you can dedicate to other important tasks.

Pre-Made Coding Templates and Functions

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You will get pre-made coding templates and functions in the hosted solution of Bright Data. This will make it easier to create a web scraping tool easily at scale. This way, you can collect publicly available web data faster in real-time using its JavaScript IDE. You can also connect their API to a workflow and enjoy a streamlined and smooth data collection process.

Bright Data Collector offers web scraping templates for Amazon product searches, Zillow houses, Instagram profiles and posts, Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook post details, Walmart product description pages, and more.

Seamless Structuring

Bright Data Collector uses AI algorithms to seamlessly match, clean, process, structure, and synthesize the unstructured data of a site before delivery. Thus, the datasets obtained could be ready for analysis faster.

Automated Flexibility

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Page structures on websites keep on changing. So, scraping data from such sites could be challenging and confusing. But don’t worry; Bright Data Collector offers an excellent solution to this problem. It can quickly adapt to the structural changes in websites and extract useful data to fuel your analysis process.

Enterprise-Grade Scaling

Collecting data at scale requires robust hardware and software infrastructure as well as time and resources. This is a costly deal and could be a possible roadblock for organizations with limited budgets in hand.

But Bright Data Collector can help you here. It will collect accurate, useful data easily and reliably at scale. It won’t need you to invest in costly hardware or software infrastructure, thus, saving money.

Compliance

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Complying with applicable rules and regulations in your region or country is important. It will not only save you from penalties but also helps preserve the trust of your clients, customers, and employees.

Bright Data Collector is fully compliant with data protection regulations, including GDPR, EU, and CCPA. Thus, you can conduct web scraping without worries. This attempt toward data protection will also help you pass audits quickly.

Versatility

Bright Data Collector has established best practices and comprehensive guidelines on how to use this platform while ensuring data protection. This is why it’s trusted not only by corporations of all shapes and sizes but also by governments and universities.

Robust Proxy Network Infrastructure

Bright Data has a patented and industry-leading proxy network infrastructure. And Data Collector is built over this infrastructure. Therefore, you will face no difficulty accessing any public website. It will overcome all the roadblocks, such as geo-restrictions, accessibility, etc. So, you can extract data from anywhere you want that’s publicly available.

Works Like a Business Partner

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You can either use this self-service platform or leverage its development resources. Its developers, product managers, and account managers can help you at every step of the way to solve your business issues and meet your needs to help you register more growth.

How Does Bright Data Collector Work?

Using Bright Data Collector does not require you to be a coder or a web scraping specialist. Instead, you can install and use this platform easily without requiring the necessary help.

You can work with it in three simple steps:

Choose a Template

Choose a pre-made ode template from the given options according to your requirement. You also have the option to build one from scratch instead of using pre-made templates.

For example, if you are searching for product listings on Amazon, you might want to use the template for Amazon product search.

Customize

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The next step is customizing or developing your intended web scraper using Bright Data Collector’s prebuilt scraping functions.

If you don’t know how to code, it’s okay. This no-code solution is your go-to software to build a web scraper from scratch using the available option. However, if you know to code, you can do much more than that. You can edit the code to make the scraper more suitable for your requirements. 

Real-time or Batch

After creating the web scraper for your specific use case, choose when you want to receive the data – in batches or in real-time. The data frequency depends totally on your needs. So, evaluate your needs first and then choose one option to proceed with the next step.

Format and Delivery

In this step, you must choose the file format in which you want to retrieve data. It could be CSV, JSON, XLSX, or NDJSON.

Next, select the option where you want to send the data you have collected. You will get these options – email, webhook, API, Google Cloud, Amazon S3, MS Azure, and SFTP.

Customer Support

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If you are stuck somewhere, you can seek help from Bright Data’s 24/7 technical support. They are helpful and knowledgeable to solve your issues round the clock.

Pricing: Bright Data Collector

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Bright Data Collector offers two types of pricing – self-server collectors and custom collectors.

Self-Serve Collector: You will get access to advanced features such as Bright Data’s IDE to create your web scraper, alerts, success rate monitoring, faster performance, industry-grade proxy, and more. Its pricing plans are:

  • Pay As You Go: $5 per 1,000 page loads
  • Monthly Plan: Starts from $500 per month
  • Annual Plan: Starts from $450 per month

For custom collectors, the pricing starts from $1,000 per month.

There’s also a FREE trial option for a limited period to decide whether it will suit your use case.

Alternatives to Bright Data Collector

Not every product suits everyone. Whether it’s pricing, features, or policies, some people might not like Bright Data Collector for some reason. So, if you are that someone, let’s check out some of the best alternatives to Bright Data Collector.

Oxylabs

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The popular platform, Oxylabs, offers excellent web scraper API so you can collect data effortlessly.

Key Features

  • Quality data collection from any website using its patented proxy rotator
  • Gathering data from 195 countries
  • Easy to bypass geo restrictions 
  • Maintenance-free
  • You will pay only for data that are delivered successfully

You can try it free for 7 days or choose a plan starting from $99 per month.

Smartproxy

If you are looking for a no-code platform for web scraping other than Bright Data, try Smartproxy. It will help you schedule your web scraping tasks and securely store data without coding. 

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Key Features

  • Awesome ready-made scraping templates
  • Single-click set up
  • Data export in CSV or JSON
  • Cloud data storage
  • Free Chrome extension

Try Smartproxy FREE for 3 days, or choose a plan starting from $50 per month.

Zyte

Zyte offers an automated web data extraction API to enable reliable, faster, and secure data collection without getting banned from sites. It has a patented AI technology for automated extraction to help you serve quality data in the structure. 

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Key Features

  • Fast responses
  • High-quality data from ten types
  • Simplified HTTP API
  • 40+ language support
  • Adapts to site changes
  • Built-in anti-ban management
  • Unlimited scale

Its price plan starts at $60 per month, and the FREE trial is available for 14 days.

Conclusion

Using a data collection tool like Bright Data Collector can make your web scraping process way easier with its intuitive interface, reliable performance, and useful features. 

So, if you are an organization, university, or research firm, this platform could be a good option. However, if you are still looking for Bright Data alternatives, check out the options above and choose the one based on your needs. 

You may also explore some popular cloud-based web scraping Solutions.