Web Scraping vs APIs: Which is better Scraping Method?

Two tools that have made data extraction from websites easy are web scraping vs APIs. But which is the better and more effective method? Continue reading to get the answer!

With everything being available digitally, the internet is a huge source of data about businesses. Various organizations and companies collect this information for research and busines analysis. 

Consequently, software developers came up with data collection tools to ease data extraction. Two tools that have made data extraction from websites easy are web scraping and APIs.

But which is the better and more effective method? Continue reading to get the answer!

Web scraping tools and Scraping Application Programming Interface are similar in terms of output. Whereas they are different in real.

Scraping data is vital for businesses because it lets you:

  • Analyzing the competitors
  • Getting information about new markets
  • Updating websites
  • Discover what is trending

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Web Scraping

Web scraping refers to extracting data from websites. Mostly, web data extraction is for getting a specific set of information from various websites. For instance, you may be looking for the price of your competitor’s products. Using web scraping tools, you can extract this information.

Web scraper copies all the content from the webpage. It is then converted into a user-friendly format. Then stored in a structured format like an excel spreadsheet or CSV file. 

Along with web scraping tools, some programming language libraries support web scraping too. Among all, Python is one of the best for developing a web scraper. It is easy to use, has a rich library, etc. Python libraries that support web scraping are BeautifulSoup and Scrapy. 

web scraping vs api

Related: Web Scraping VS Web Crawling

Scraping Using API

API is another data scraping methodology. If you are good with programming, you can use scraping APIs to extract the required data. Application Programming Interfaces acts as an intermediary that allows two software or website to communicate. 

In simple words, API lets users open the data and functionality for other businesses and developers. It is a commonly practiced way of data exchange between companies. This technique is getting more popular every day. 

Mostly scraping APIs use JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). The website will send the data in a specific syntax. However, the data will be raw and can’t be used. For this, the developer has to convert the data. Then the data is stored in an excel spreadsheet or CSV file. 

Some social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even youtube store information in APIs. The information is updated regularly in the API whenever a user joins or accesses the platform. So if you want to extract information, you should query the website API with a scraping API. 

Both web scraping and API scraping are used for data crawling widely. Data collection is important, but it’s more important to figure out which scraping method should you use. 

What is Web Scraping vs API?

The main goal of both the web scraping tool and scraper API is to access the data. 

Web scraping lets you extract data from websites using web scraping software. Whereas API gives you direct access to the data that you are looking for. There might be a scenario, where there might not be any API to access the required data. So access to API might be limited and even expensive.

Likewise, web scraping lets you access the data as long as the information is available on the website. For example, you can use a web scraper tool for extracting information from Amazon. Since Amazon does not give you API for accessing this data. 

Web Scraping vs API which is better?

Nevertheless, for regular data scraping, you should choose a method with minor limitations. Web scraping software provides its users with convenience. Whereas, if you are using scraping API, it’s important for the user to know programming languages.

API does have limitations, making web scraping tools and software superior.  

Is scraping a website or web scraping API legal?

No, the action of data extraction is not illegal. However, there are some rules. Web scraping is legal as long as you are extracting publicly available data. You should not get into non-public data, either it’s illegal. 

Some things you need to be careful about for keeping data extraction legal is

  • In case an API is provided by a platform, try to avoid Web Scraping that page. 
  • Always keep an interval of 12-15 seconds before sending a request to the website. 
  • Do not use the extracted data for commercial purposes. You should take proper consent from the owner.
  • Before data scraping, do read the Terms of Conditions and follow their policies to stay safe. 
  • If someone has put restrictions on accessing their data. It would be better if you take permission before going in. 


Choosing what to use for scraping depends on your needs. Both methods are used for the same purpose, for accessing the data. However, web scraping is a better choice for gathering large amounts of data from multiple resources. Also, they are easier to use and have point and click interface. They normally do not require coding knowledge. 

Whereas for APIs you should know coding. Using API is a perfect option if you have to extract data from just one website all the time.

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